What’s in Store for the U.S. Postal Service?

2020 has been tough. What happens next?

Sep 03, 2020
Logistics, Business and Public Policy

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  Between the COVID-19 pandemic and harsh hurricane season, 2020 has proved to be a challenging year for the United States Postal Service. If you're looking for a quick bounce back, don’t get your hopes up.

An organization already managing years of financial woes, the Postal Service now finds itself in an even more difficult situation that warrants changes down the road, said Maryland Smith’s Philip T. Evers in a recent interview on the Logistics Matters Podcast with DC Velocity.

“I'm not sure that there is an answer here. Otherwise, I believe the U.S. Postal Service would already be doing it,” said Evers, associate professor of supply chain management at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “Unfortunately, the timing, with the current pandemic, and of course, the upcoming election – it's an unfortunate time to be making changes.”

One potential starting point for the Postal Service could be cutting back on its daily deliveries, Evers said. A major strength of the organization is its commitment to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to all areas, including completing last-mile deliveries in rural areas for other carriers, he said. But that service comes at a cost.

“In all aspects of logistics, last-mile service tends to be by far the most expensive,” said Evers. “One way of cutting back on daily deliveries might be to have fewer deliveries per week. Another possibility is perhaps maybe not to do daily delivery service at all.”

Another potential change among many other options is the possibility of the Postal Service charging fees for delivery services, Evers said.

“My economist friends all tell me if you want to find out the true value of postal service, charge the recipients for delivery, and see how many people would actually sign up for that,” said Evers.

Read more about Evers’ thoughts on the state of the U.S. Postal Service, or listen to the podcast, at DC Velocity.

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About the Expert(s)

EversPhilip

Dr. Philip T. Evers is an Associate Professor of Logistics Management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park. Joining the faculty at Maryland's main campus in the fall of 1993, he received his B.S. in transportation and logistics from Tri-State University in 1987, his M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1988, and his Ph.D. in logistics management from the University of Minnesota in 1993.

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