The U.S. Postal Service declined The White House’s suggestion that it conduct a pilot test of five-day delivery, according to a document made public this week.
“I believe a pilot test would not produce substantive results that could be used to decide whether to make the change nationwide permanent,” wrote Postmaster General Jack Potter in an April 26 letter to Dr. Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House National Economic Council. “Our customers likely would, at best, find a pilot test to be confusing, and, at worst, costly and time-consuming.”
The Postal Service released the letter (in the last three pages of this document) in response to questioning during the Postal Regulatory Commission’s proceedings on whether Saturday delivery can be eliminated. Potter wrote that his letter was a response to Summers’ “recent question about the viability of the U.S. Postal Service conducting a pilot test of delivering mail five days a week.”
“The plan to eliminate carrier delivery service on Saturday . . . would save the Postal Service a projected $3.1 billion annually,” Potter wrote, without addressing whether the change would reduce revenue as well.
Paid not to work
“During such a test, we would be unable to make the permanent, necessary changes to our delivery workforce, transportation networks, and mail processing operations that would yield the projected $3.1 billion savings. The largest financial impact of a pilot would be the fact that many career employees in the pilot area would have to be paid not to work or be relocated, while many of our non-career and part-time employees would see their wages reduced or eliminated.”
Confining the pilot test to a particular region would raise issues of fairness and might violate “the statutory mandate of providing universal service to the nation,” Potter wrote.
“A pilot test, with all of the challenges that would arise, would not demonstrate the efficacy in which we could perform five-day delivery moving forward, and thus, may raise doubt among the public of our ability to do so.”
Potter’s letter provided some insight into how a shift to five-day delivery would affect employees:
“The five-day delivery proposal anticipates the reduction of approximately 25,000 full-time City Carrier assignments and $2.2 billion in annual savings in City Carrier operations” because “regular Carriers assigned to a single route would have Saturday and Sunday off, eliminating the need for the Carrier Technician and Relief Carrier assignments. We plan to transition full-time Carrier Technician assignments into Carrier positions (that cover a single route) that become available through attrition.”