Mailers Council: USPS Makes Passing Grade — Barely

The nation's largest coalition of mailers gave the U.S. Postal Service barely passing grades on productivity in a report card issued yesterday.

The Mailers Council, which represents more than 50 corporations, nonprofits and mailing associations, gave the USPS a D+ in revenue-per-work-hour and volume-per-work-hour productivity. The postal service got Cs from the organization for productivity in retail services and unit labor costs and a C- for delivery. The sole B, the highest grade given, went to productivity in mail processing.

“Overall, I think it shows the postal service needs to improve in a number of areas,” said Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council. “Today was sort of like setting a benchmark and letting the postal service know we're looking at this.”

The one B grade represents the USPS' efforts to automate its letter mail processing equipment, McLean said.

But the USPS needs to upgrade its processing of flat mail — magazines, newspapers and large envelopes — much of which is still sorted by hand, McLean said. However, the most glaring need for productivity improvements is in the USPS' work-force management, he said.

The postal service must learn how to squeeze more revenue and volume from its work force, McLean said. This means reducing staff.

“The postal service has got to find ways to do more work with fewer people,” he said. “It doesn't take as many people to move mail as it did 10 years ago.”

McLean said the council would issue quarterly report cards on the USPS' efforts to improve productivity from now on. The report cards give the council evidence to use in lobbying for better productivity in the USPS and for keeping the USPS focused on productivity issues.

The report card was the second critique of USPS productivity issued by the Mailers Council this year. In March, the council issued a report saying that the USPS' productivity had not kept pace with comparable private-sector industries and had contributed to increased postage costs.

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