U.S. Postal Service: Offering Nonpostal Services through Its Delivery Network Would Likely Present Benefits and Limitations

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) manages a vast “last mile” delivery network of mail carriers and delivery vehicles that move mail from a delivery unit (such as a post office) to its destination. This network is critical to help USPS accomplish its mission of providing postal services throughout the country. However, USPS faces major financial challenges because costs are growing faster than revenues. Given the ubiquity of this network, some have suggested that USPS provide new nonpostal services (i.e., services not directly related to mail delivery) to generate revenue and enhance value to customers and communities. USPS is currently prohibited from providing many nonpostal services. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review costs of and opportunities for USPS’s last mile network. This report examines: (1) the costs associated with the last mile network and changes since 2008, and (2) the potential benefits and limitations of new nonpostal services, among other topics. GAO analyzed USPS data to estimate key last mile and operating costs for fiscal years 2008 through 2018; reviewed relevant documents and reports from USPS and others; and interviewed USPS officials, postal union representatives, foreign postal operators that have experience with nonpostal services, industry stakeholders, and officials from various federal agencies to obtain their views on the relevant nonpostal services’ benefits and limitations. GAO is making no recommendation in this report. USPS noted legal and other constraints to offering new nonpostal services that leverage USPS’s last mile network.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 51p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01726851
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-20-190
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 30 2019 10:47AM