Can a "Hybrid" Model Save the Post Office?

January 16, 2013

A Washington think tank recently announced it will conduct an independent study of how the U.S. Post Office, a quasi-government agency, could cede much of its operation to private companies, says the Washington Post.

  • The review by the nonprofit National Academy of Public Administration will analyze the benefits of restoring the agency's financial health by using a "hybrid" model, which would farm out to the private sector postal operations other than the last delivery mile.
  • A letter carrier would still drive or walk that last part, dropping letters and packages in mailboxes.

The study is likely to bring more attention to a public-private model as a viable -- and controversial -- substitute for the Postal Service's existing structure, which relies on a unionized workforce of more than 650,000 employees to sort, package, transport and deliver the mail. With first-class mail volume plummeting as Americans conduct more business and communications through the Internet, the Postal Service lost $16 billion in fiscal 2012.

The idea of taking postal operations private is popular in conservative circles but will be a non-starter in others. It is staunchly opposed by congressional Democrats and postal unions, which stand to lose tens of thousands of members.

The study is being underwritten by Pitney Bowes, a Connecticut company that makes postage meters, shipping software and other equipment for business mailers.

Source: Lisa Rein, "Think Tank to Study Privatizing Most Postal Service Operations," Washington Post, January 4, 2013.

 

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