We're number one, says U.S. Postal Service

@CNNMoney February 6, 2012: 1:01 PM ET
The U.S. Postal Service is the most efficient in the world, according to a British study.

The U.S. Postal Service is the most efficient in the world, according to a British study.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Despite its financial difficulties and relatively heavy work load, the U.S. Postal Service has been declared the finest in the world by a British study.

The USPS was declared number one for efficiency among the Group of Twenty major global economies, according to findings from England's Oxford Strategic Consulting.

"We're the world's leading postal service," said USPS spokesman Roy Betts. "This report validates that fact."

The U.S. Postal Service scored the highest for efficiency, even as it delivers far more letters per employee -- 268,894 in 2010 -- than other services in the G20. Japan Post, which came in second, delivers 103,149 letters per employee, and Australia Post, which placed third, delivers 166,776.

But delivering letters is not the way of the future, according to Scott Jackson, author of the study and visiting professor of management psychology at Oxford University.

"The key thing about the U.S. Postal Service is [that] it's extremely efficient compared to its colleagues around the world," he said. "But unfortunately, it's very efficient on the sort of the thing that's going to be the least important in the future: delivering letters."

Jackson said that postal services in other countries have branched out to provide other services, but those applications wouldn't necessarily work in the U.S. For example, he said Siberian post offices sometimes sell groceries because there are no other grocery stores available. But such a model would probably flop in the U.S., where grocery stores abound.

For years, email has been siphoning away the prevalence of so-called snail mail, and this has hit the U.S. Postal Service in the pocket book.

The USPS, which does not receive taxpayer support, lost $5 billion last year. A main problem is the requirement to make multi-billion dollar payments to pre-fund healthcare retirement benefits, though Congress has shown some leniency by allowing that payment to be postponed.

Postal Service makeover

The USPS has flirted with the idea of scaling back to five-day delivery from the current six-day system. But this is unpopular with Congress, which has the final authority. The U.S. Postal Service has also been considering a plan to slow down next-day service.

In its effort to cut some $20 billion in costs, the USPS plans to close post offices around the country. But it has delayed the closures until May 15, allowing Congress some time to devise a plan to save it.

The U.S. Postal Service serves more citizens per post office -- 8,409 -- than the next seven countries below it. Brazil, which placed ninth, has 10,278 citizens per post office, but its postal service only delivers 72,364 letters per employee.

The one area where the U.S. Postal Service lagged behind other nations was in the number of parcels delivered. It delivers 2,633 parcels per employee, compared to 7,975 in Japan and 6,633 in Australia. To top of page

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