This primer explains how the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) works and why it needs reform, and discusses some options for addressing reform issues. GAO provides answers to questions about basic aspects of USPS and postal reform issues in a concise and easy-to-understand format. These answers are based largely on GAO’s prior work.
This primer highlights key issues to help Congress consider the future of USPS, including consideration of the level of postal services the nation requires, the extent to which USPS should be financially self-sustaining, and the most appropriate institutional structure for USPS that best supports changes. USPS’s financial viability has been on GAO’s High-Risk List since 2009. USPS has made efforts to cut costs and adjust its operations to adapt to declining mail volumes. However, the cost savings from these efforts have dwindled in recent years. USPS must meet several statutory requirements and has a wide variety of stakeholders (see figure). Reaching compromise and agreement among stakeholders regarding further changes will be difficult. USPS’s deepening financial problems could put its mission to provide universal postal service at risk, along with the well-being of its retirees and the repayment of its debt. Since 2010, GAO has stated that while USPS needs to cut its costs, congressional leadership and action are essential to restore USPS to financial viability.