America needs a financially stable Postal Service to best adapt to a changing marketplace and evolving mail needs.

Toward that end, the U.S. Postal Service is taking actions to preserve the long-term affordability of mail and return this organization to financial stability.

The Postal Service is pursuing a significant consolidation of its national network of mail-processing facilities, reducing the total number of facilities from 461 to fewer than 200 by the end of 2013.

Declining mail volumes and a rising percentage of fixed costs dictate that we take this bold action to preserve and protect the Postal Service for our customers and our employees.

From 1940 to 2006, the Postal Service oversaw a continuous expansion of processing and retail facilities to meet the growing demand for mail delivery.

The nation’s volume of mail peaked in 2006, when the Postal Service processed and delivered 213 billion pieces of mail. In 2011, that volume had dropped to 168 billion pieces of mail; in 2020, the Postal Service expects to deliver as few as 130 billion pieces of mail. By any standard, this is a steep decline. In the past financial quarter, the Postal Service lost $3.3 billion dollars and is projecting steep losses for the remainder of the year.

Times have just changed, and so must the Postal Service. The fact is the American public and businesses are relying more on electronic communications. Bills are paid online. Friends and family interact through email, Facebook and Twitter.

Nevertheless, the demise of the Postal Service is greatly exaggerated. The Postal Service sustains a $900 billion industry that employs more than 8 million people. Its employees deliver mail to 151 million locations.

Last year, more than 8,000 postal employees in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont alone processed, transported and delivered 650 million pieces of mail to more than 1.83 million homes, businesses and post office boxes.

Our employees do a great job and are committed to both their co-workers and our communities.

And yet, to preserve the affordability of mail and to return the Postal Service to long-term financial stability, the Postal Service is pursuing a realignment of our operational networks. As we do so, we are committed to ensuring a seamless transition for our employees and our customers.

The realignment is contingent upon the Postal Service’s adoption of a final rule to change delivery service standards. In December, the Postal Service agreed to impose a moratorium on closing or consolidating post offices and mail processing facilities until May 15, to give Congress and the administration the opportunity to enact an alternative plan.

The steps we are taking now will put the Postal Service on a strong financial footing for decades to come.

Deborah C. Essler is district manager of the Northern New England District of the U.S. Postal Service, composed of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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