For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.

6-Year Mail Decline Prompts USPS Changes

Letter Submitted By Michael Furey
USPS Northern Virginia District Manager

America needs a financially-stable Postal Service. Toward that end, the Postal Service is taking aggressive actions to preserve the long-term affordability of mail and to adapt to a changing marketplace and evolving mailing needs.

Subject to adoption of a final rule changing its delivery service standards, the Postal Service is pursuing a significant consolidation of its national network of mail processing facilities that will reduce the number of facilities from 461 to fewer than 200 by the end of 2013. No consolidations will occur before May 15, 2012.

Declining mail volumes and substantial fixed costs dictate that we take this bold action to preserve and protect the world’s leading Postal Service for our customers and our employees.

From 1940 to 2006, the Postal Service oversaw a continuous expansion of mail processing and retail facilities to meet growing demand for mail delivery.

This expanded capacity was built to handle high mail volumes that peaked at 213 billion pieces of mail in 2006.

However, since 2006, First-Class Mail volume has rapidly declined as the economy recessed and the age of digital communications advanced.

In 2011, 168 billion pieces of mail were delivered. By 2020, the Postal Service expects to deliver as few as 130 billion pieces.

By any standard, this is a steep decline.

In just the past quarter, the Postal Service lost $3.3 billion and is projecting further losses for the remainder of the year.

No one is to blame. Times have changed. So must the Postal Service. The American public and businesses are relying more on electronic communications. Bills are paid online. Friends and family interact through Facebook and Twitter.

Nevertheless, the demise of the Postal Service is greatly exaggerated. The Postal Service sustains a $900 billion industry that employs over 8 million people. Every day, we deliver to more than 151 million locations.

Even in a digital age, mail remains a powerful communications, marketing and delivery tool.

The aggressive steps we are taking to realign our mail processing network will keep mail affordable, valuable and viable for generations to come. These are responsible steps any business would take.

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  • squrlnutz

    Over the past few days, Postal Service District Managers across the country have submitted “opinion” pieces to their local news media, and somehow they all stumbled upon the same words.  At least thirteen DMs have written one of these “opinions,” and they’re all the same, almost word for word.
    The Postal Service pulled the same PR stunt a few months ago at Christmas time, when almost 30 DMs each “authored” the same opinion piece and letter to the editor for their regional news publications.  We’ll keep track to see how many weren’t embarrassed enough the first time around and were willing to do it again.
    “America needs a financially stable postal service to best adapt to a changing marketplace and evolving mail needs,” begin the District Managers.  That’s why the Postal Service is proposing a “significant consolidation of its national network of mail processing facilities” — reducing the total number of facilities from 461 to a little more than 200 by the end of 2013.
    From there on, the piece is all spin designed to exaggerate the Postal Service’s financial problems in order to justify the downsizing.  The piece points, for example, to declining mail volumes — 212 billion in 2006, 168 billion in 2011, and a projected 130 billion by 2020.  There’s no mention of the recession as the cause for most of the lost volume, and no explanation why the Postal Service has decided things will get even worse than the 150 billion that its consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group, projected for 2020.
    “In just the past financial quarter,” the DMs go on to say, “the Postal Service lost $3.3 billion and is projecting steep losses for the remainder of the year.”  The DMs don’t mention that during the first quarter, the Postal Service actually showed a $200 million profit.  They don’t explain that the loss of $3.3 billion was due almost entirely to unnecessary payments to the retiree health care fund — a double payment, in fact, since the Postal Service skipped the payments last year.
    The piece then says, “No one is to blame.  Times have just changed.”  As usual, it’s all about the Internet: Don’t blame us, say the District Managers, blame Facebook and Twitter.  Postal management would thus have us believe they didn’t see e-diversion coming and just got caught off guard.  We’ll see how that kind of excuse goes over with shareholders when the Postal Service is privatized.
    “In spite of all this,” write the District Managers, “the demise of the Postal Service is greatly exaggerated.”  That’s strange to hear, since it’s the Postal Service that is doing most of the talking about its imminent demise if Congress doesn’t give it permission to dismantle itself.  The opponents of the downsizing are the ones trying to calm down the rhetoric and advise caution.  But it’s hard to get that message out there when the Postmaster General and his team are going around telling everyone how bad things are and feeding the media frenzy with shocking headlines about multi-billion dollars losses.
    There’s one interesting note at the end of the “opinion” piece.  The District Managers say that there’s a moratorium on closings until May 15, “to give Congress and the Administration the opportunity to enact an alternative plan.”  Does that mean the Postal Service might not proceed with the post office closings and consolidations if Congress and the White House come up with something better?  Is the threat of post office closings and plant consolidations just a way of blackmailing our elected leaders? 
    One wonders how the editors at all of these news outlets would feel if they knew that the “opinion” piece they published was not written by someone in their area, but by an anonymous person in postal headquarters in Washington, DC. 
    Perhaps we should let them know.  If your local news source has published one of these pieces, why not write a letter to the editor responding to the argument in the piece and noting that it wasn’t even written by the person whose name appears on it?  Or just give the editors a phone call and let them know what’s up.

  • Rubyredspets

    According to, the opinion piece submitted by Michael J. Furey was not written by him but by an anonymous person at postal headquarters in Washington, D. C.  Close to 30 postal district managers submitted this same piece as their own throughout the country.  I wonder why?  Apparently the same technique was used during the Christmas holidays. 

    The postal headquarters is trying to get their opinion out to the the public but instead of making a statement as “the postal headquarters”, they are getting their district managers to pretend these opinions are their own.  I can’t understand why they are using this ploy, but it does make me think something underhanded is going on.

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  • George Taft

    Yesterday, December 7, I tried to purchase Christmas stamps for overseas airmail and domestic mail. I was told by the Rose Hill Post office, 22310, and the Wyeth Street PO that they were out of stock. The latter said they could not reorder at this time. The same thing happened last year at Rose HIll. That is inexcusable. To be out of stock a couple of days before Christmas is understandable perhaps. This state of affairs may be due to bad luck, incompetence, anti-Christian sentiment or some other reasons. I have notified Senators Warner and Kaine. I will notify the Washington Post, as appropriate. Where can I get the stamps and what will you do to prevent this fiasco from reoccurring? Failing that I may send my overseas cards to a friend in Canada and ask him to send them for me. He will have a great laugh and do so and notify the Canadian press, I expect. You cannot blame this mess on Congress or changes in technology. Thank you.

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