HardingPoorman Group has been exploring the history and future of the United States Postal Service (USPS). We wonder where they fit in an increasingly digital communication system. Is the USPS really too slow to change – a dinosaur destined to die out? Today’s Postal Service is built around responsive letter delivery and should be concerned about survival with the rapid downturn of mailings. Studies suggest that the quasi-government directed post office is not well positioned to take advantage of rapid technological and digital advances in communication. New technologies have diverse and large-scale consequences that are unlikely to be acted quickly upon by characteristically slow government processes. Competitive market forces are much quicker in their reaction time to what is new.
At a recent “Postal Vision 2020” meeting to discuss the future of the post office, a group of legislators, postal representatives and creative leaders concluded that there were three realistic policy choices the USPS could successfully make to assure a better future:
(1) Wind down the Postal Service in an orderly manner
(2) Extend the monopoly/privileges of the Postal Service into related fields
(3) Privatize the Postal Service to give it a better chance to adapt.
The priorities of our Federal legislators are not expected to include anything as drastic as the recommendations mentioned above. There seems to be a reasonable chance, however, that the digital technology partnership offers discussed at the Postal Vision 2020 may stand the chance for additional consideration.
The group plans to meet again in the fall. Stay tuned!