While first-class mail use is declining across the county as people move to various electronic alternatives, the federal government increased its use 11 percent between 1997 and 2010. The federal government is now the largest user of the mail system accounting for more than 2 percent of all first-class mail sent last year, The Washington Post reported.
The government spends about $1 billion each year on mailing and shipping with the U.S. Postal Service and as much as $250 million on packages sent through private companies such as FedEx and UPS, according to a study by two officials with the Postal Regulatory Commission.
The study shows that the government switch to electronic communication may be overblown, the Post reported.
“One vital function of the United States Postal Service is to form an essential communications backbone of the government . . . ensuring reliable and timely delivery of communications essential to the functions of government,” the authors of the study wrote.
Most of the items sent by mail are things that the government must be able to get to citizens at real addresses as opposed to electronic mailboxes. Those include permits, benefits, voting materials, warning letters, military correspondence, tax information, immigration documents, retirement information, and regulatory compliance, according to the Post.
The Social Security Administration leads the way with postal usage, spending $237.7 million in 2010, followed by the Department of Commerce, at $223.9 million; the Department of Veterans Affairs, at $223.5 million; and the Treasury Department, at $210.8 million.
The study concluded money could be saved if the mail was pre-sorted, something currently done by a small number of federal agencies, according to the Post.
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