Chapter 1 Our Mission
The Postal Service’s mission is to provide the nation with reliable, affordable, universal mail service. The basic functions of the Postal Service were established in 39 U.S.C. 101(a): “. . . to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.” To fulfill this mandate, the Postal Service delivers to nearly 148 million delivery points six days a week and provides mailing and shipping services through almost 37,000 postal retail outlets and the usps.com Web site.
Who We Are
For stakeholders and members of the general public interested in the Postal Service, the annual Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations and the Annual Report describe Postal Service activities and results. The Comprehensive Statement is a broad summary of programs and activities from the past fiscal year. The Annual Report focuses on Postal Service finances and financial results. A third document, the Strategic Transformation Plan, is forward looking and describes strategic goals and plans. All three documents are available at usps.com.
The Comprehensive Statement has been redesigned this year to improve readability and minimize redundancy, particularly with the Annual Report. Financial information is now contained in the Annual Report. Chapter 1 of the Comprehensive Statement addresses the postal mission and legislative developments. Chapter 2 focuses on our customers and services. Chapter 3 discusses the postal workforce and employee-related programs. Chapter 4 describes postal operations. Chapter 5 contains our Annual Performance Report for 2007 and our Annual Performance Plan for 2008, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act.
Since 1976, the Postal Service has filed the annual Comprehensive Statement in accordance with law, 39 U.S.C. 2401(e), which outlines its required contents.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
For the Postal Service and the entire mailing industry, 2007 was a year marked by accomplishment and transition. Foremost among many developments was the enactment on December 20, 2006 of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, PL 109-145 (referred to as The Postal Act of 2006). The law is the most extensive legislation affecting postal services since 1970.
The Postal Service continued to fulfill its mandate to provide reliable, affordable universal service. Once again, in 2007 it recorded best-ever service performance for First-Class Mail and continued service improvement in other categories as well. Overnight First-Class Mail was delivered on time 96 percent of the time, as measured independently by IBM Global Business Services. With this record service came strong gains in efficiency, driven by workhour reductions worth $1.25 billion and a 1.7 percent increase in Total Factor Productivity. Improved data on mail flows and expanded best-practice standardization also increased productivity for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted these and other achievements when it removed the Postal Service from its high-risk list. The organization was placed on the list in April 2001 to focus attention on what the GAO described as an “unsustainable business model.” In its decision, the GAO cited the successful implementation of our Strategic Transformation strategies as well as passage of the Postal Act of 2006.
All of the Postal Service’s major labor contracts expired this year. New agreements with three major unions were successfully negotiated, while one contract was resolved through interest arbitration. The Postal Service also engaged in pay consultations with the management associations and established a new pay package for management employees. Through the collective bargaining process with the unions and the consultation process with the management associations, the Postal Service achieved workforce structure changes, increases in employee contributions to health benefit premiums and other results that help restrain costs and provide additional operational flexibility as it faces the business challenges of the future.
In May, extensive price and product changes were introduced, including the new Forever Stamp, shape-based pricing for First-Class Mail, and dimensional-weight pricing for Priority Mail. The Postal Service simplified its International products to reduce redundancy and customer confusion. Customers can now use the same Priority Mail and Express Mail packaging for domestic and overseas shipping. Premium Forwarding Service, a favorite among customers who frequently travel and need mail forwarded weekly to temporary addresses, achieved permanent classification. Customized Postage continues to trigger new interest in the mail. Mailers who purchase insurance online through Click-N-Ship and eBay can now conveniently access claims forms online. And the Priority Mail Flat Rate Box, available in two sizes, makes it easier than ever for customers to ship with the Postal Service.
All postal operations continue to benefit from increased data on mail flows which, combined with new systems and management tools, are highlighting opportunities to improve service and efficiency.