John Potter, the head of the U.S. Postal Service, went before Congress today to deliver a 6,577-word statement on the state of the USPS, and, of course, to ask for help.
For those of you who don’t have the time to read 6,577 words in one sitting (Potter clearly hasn’t heard of Twitter), here are some highlights:
- The Postal Service “is experiencing a very serious financial crisis because of the downturn in the economy.”
- “Mail volume is running 12 percent below 2008 levels.”
- “The gap between revenue and costs has become a chasm, widening each day.”
- “We are facing losses of historic proportions.”
- “Our situation is critical.”
- The losses are “not indicative of any lessening in the actual or perceived value of the mail.”
- “Stability, by itself, cannot be our goal.”
- “Assuming that we achieve our planned $5.9 billion in savings, the Postal Service is still projecting a loss of $6 billion in 2010. This follows last year’s loss of $2.8 billion, and, in 2007, a loss of $5.1 billion.”
- “Current law does not permit us to adapt our service offerings to a changing business environment. The Postal Service, which does not receive taxpayer subsidies, is required to operate like a business, but the law constrains us from taking the businesslike actions necessary to fully and properly align our institutional cost base with reduced and evolving customer demand. Having the flexibility to change delivery frequency will overcome one of our structural barriers.” Translation: five days of mail delivery, instead of six.
- And, perhaps tellingly, just 40 of those words were devoted to the USPS Web site: “We are improving our Web site, usps.com, making it easier for online customers to access our service—quickly, easily, and conveniently. A clean new look, easy-to-navigate features, and expanded functionality will make usps.com a more valuable growth channel than ever.”