The Washington Post

Postal Service could save money by reducing door-to-door delivery, report shows

A recent watchdog report shows that the U.S. Postal Service could save a substantial amount of money by cutting back on door-to-door deliveries in exchange for dropping off mail at curbside and community mailboxes, the likes of which are often seen in office parks and new residential developments.

The Government Accountability Office said in its analysis that the alternative delivery methods cost 35 percent to 55 percent less than shuttling mail to every doorstep.

(Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

In 2012, the agency spent $380 annually for every door-to-door dropoff, compared to $240 for curbside deliveries and $170 for community cluster-boxes, according to the report.

The analysis, released Monday, came out days after the Postal Service announced it lost $1.9 billion during the second quarter of fiscal 2014. Last year, the agency finished the year $5 billion in the red, despite gaining revenue for the first time in five years.

The findings could be used to justify long-sought postal-reform proposals, such as a bipartisan bill from Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would allow the Postal Service to phase out some door-to-door mail delivery in exchange for curbside and cluster-box dropoffs.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) proposed mandating conversions to cluster-box delivery in legislation he proposed in 2011 and last year to overhaul the postal system.

But comprehensive postal reform has proven elusive in recent years, with various bills failing in part because many members of Congress oppose the service cuts they would entail.

The GAO said any plans to switch to alternative delivery methods would face resistance from customers, industry groups and postal employees.”Stakeholder concerns include personal safety, mail security, and difficulty finding suitable urban locations for boxes to deliver mail to a curbside or centralized location,” the report said.

USPS already implemented new regulations in 2012 that require the less-costly modes of delivery for new addresses unless the agency approves exceptions. The agency also began allowing businesses to convert voluntarily to the alternative methods last year.

Despite the Postal Service’s recent financial report, the National Association of Letter Carriers claims the agency could make a profit if not for a 2006 congressional mandate that requires the USPS to prefund its employee healthcare benefits to the tune of about $5.6 billion per year.

Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett rejected the NALC argument, saying that “nothing could be further from the truth.” He noted that the agency’s liabilities exceed its assets by $40 billion and that it still needs to invest billions in new equipment.

The USPS has defaulted on its past three annual payments, and Corbett said the agency expects to do so again this year.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
It's in the details: Five ways to enhance your kitchen makeover
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Border collies: A 'mouse trap' for geese on the National Mall
Play Videos
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
What you need to know about Planned Parenthood
Play Videos
How to save and spend money at college
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Josh Hicks · May 15, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.