The U.S. Postal Service’s total revenue in Fiscal Year 2019 was $71.2 billion— enough to place it 43rd on the Fortune 500 if it were a private company. So, the USPS is big business. In reality, how should the Postal Service be viewed—as a business or a public service? How should it be managed—for profit or not for profit? Here’s the scoop.
In the simplest terms, the Post Office Department was first established by Congress under the U.S. Constitution. With the passage of the 1970 “Postal Reorganization Act,” the U.S Postal Service was established as a self-sufficient government agency to serve the American public without taxpayer funding. Today’s Postal Service could be viewed as a business, but a public-service business with a universal service obligation to bind the nation together.
It’s no surprise the Postal Service is considered one of the most consistently popular and trusted entities among federal agencies. In April 2020, the Pew Research Center reported that 91% of the American public approved of the USPS.
In general, a business is owned by an individual, partners or shareholders, with a goal of profitability to maximize the value for its shareholders. However, there are no owners or shareholders of the Postal Service. There are stakeholders, with a vested interest to maximize the intrinsic value of mail delivery to the American public.
So, who exactly are these stakeholders? According to the executive summary in the Postal Service’s “FY2020-2024 Five-Year Strategic Plan,” stakeholders include the president, Congress, the American people, postal employees, business partners and, of course, customers. When NAPS and our members hear U.S. Postal Service, we hear service.