10 Remedies for an Ailing Postal Service
The merits of "decoupling" were pitched in a report issued Thursday by the U.S. Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General.
"Decoupling of the delivery and retail network has the potential benefit of improving service, increasing revenue, reducing cost and improving productivity," it said.
At issue is the long-standing (nearly 150-year-old) tradition of the Postal Service combining retail and delivery functions in its facilities, management and employees."Retail is too often ignored, receiving secondary managerial attention when competing with delivery for time and resources," the report says. "Decoupling could help transform retail into a growth and best-practices driven, strategic business unit. Despite the long history of coupling, the operational needs between retail and delivery are actually few, relatively minor, and can be overcome. The key need that does exist -- shared clerk work hours -- could better be addressed with a reasonable increase in work hour flexibility." The report makes the case that foreign postal services have engaged in various forms of decoupling, as have major private delivery companies in the United States, such as the United Parcel Service and Federal Express. "Delivery and retail operations each have important contributions to make to the Postal Service's long-term viability and financial health," the report adds. "Developing an integrated strategy that maximizes the potential value of both functions has the potential to be extremely beneficial to the Postal Service and its customers." Customer service, the report says, could also be improved, because "a clerk's first priority is often back-room operational support activities -- even if that means a retail customer waits longer in line."
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