"The key that we have continually pointed out is that no one action like this five-day delivery will save the post office," she said. "We have told Congress for a number of years that what is needed is a comprehensive package that will include changes in delivery, closing plant mail processing centers ... because of the drop in mail, they have too many people. They also face really large liabilities like retiree healthcare."
St. James said the GAO has recommended three models for the USPS going forward – providing a federal subsidy for postal service, allowing the flexibility to make changes such as the five-day delivery schedule, or privatization.
She said privatization faces two challenges.
The USPS has "a high degree of debt. They have borrowed up to the $15 billion limit through the Treasury," she said. Additionally, "it has to deliver to 158 million addresses," which constitutes "a phenomenal challenge for a private industry to undertake."
The end of Saturday letter delivery is a step in the right direction, though St. James said it is not nearly enough to save the postal service.
"Considering their level of losses, it's really just a drop in the bucket," she said.
In addition to cutting hours, other plans to prevent closing post offices include moving operations into existing businesses such as drug or grocery stores, she noted.
Bolen said package delivery will continue on Saturdays, primarily because of market demands.
"As we see a decline in letter mail, we've seen about a 14-percent increase in package delivery," Bolen noted.
In addition to packages, he said letters bound for Post Office boxes will also be delivered on Saturday.
While the impact on the average customer will likely be minimal, Bolen suggested taking certain steps to ensure important mail arrives at its destination on time.
"We won't be picking up mail on Saturday or Sunday now, so people that would normally mail on Saturday should try to mail Friday or make arrangements for the following Monday," he said.
Though the USPS is a federal entity, Bolen explained, "We don't receive tax dollars." The agency is funded entirely through revenue from postage sales and other associated products.