The entrance to New York's James A. Farley Post Office is inscribed, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." These ancient words have come to symbolize the dedication of America's mail carriers.
Today, the Postal Service is weathering a different kind of storm.
The nation's economic climate has affected the Postal Service. Housing, financial services, the credit and insurance industries are among the biggest users of the mail. Their struggles initiated the biggest decline of mail volume in history.
In 2008, volume declined by 9.5 billion pieces (4.5 percent from the previous year) with a net operating loss of $2.8 billion, after paying a law-mandated $5.6 billion to prefund retiree health benefit liabilities.
Operations in the South Georgia District mirror the national trend. Locally, letter mail volume was down more than 10 percent in January compared to the same period last year.
E-mail, online bill paying, and escalating costs have impacted the bottom line of businesses everywhere, and the Postal Service is no exception. Tax dollars do not fund our operations. We rely solely on the sale of postal products and services.
We're making changes to operations, staffing, and facilities to match the drop in volume so we can continue to affordably service American families and businesses. While these changes will affect our people and be difficult for some, it would be fiscally irresponsible not to take action.
We're working to match workforce to workload by offering early retirements, reorganizing delivery routes, adjusting Post Office hours, and relocating blue mailboxes from underused to high-volume areas.
We're adapting products and services to contemporary lifestyles and working to improve our customers' experience in Post Offices, on usps.com, and by phone. We're launching competitive shipping prices, driving technology, and using our service to every home and business in new ways to create value for customers.
Focus remains on customer service. Nationally, IBM Consulting Services rated our customer satisfaction at a record-breaking 93 percent for the recent year and on-time delivery of overnight First-Class Mail set another record at 97 percent. We're working hard to maintain that level of trust and quality as we make changes to weather this economic storm and continue our service to America.
Paula M. Fuller