Friday, February 11, 2011

Congress Hears the Truth About Postal Service Finances

A Congressional panel heard the blunt truth today about how Congress' budget games have put the U.S. Postal Service on track to run out of money in September.

"Burdensome and flawed benefit payments have contributed to almost 90 percent of the $20 billion loss in the past 4 years," David C. Williams, Inspector General of the Postal Service, told the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. "This has raised the cost of the infrastructure, postage rates, and forced the Postal Service to incur debt."

Williams' get-to-the-heart-of-the-matter testimony was a refreshing change from the bone-headed pundits complaining about the Postal Service wasting taxpayers' money. It's worth quoting extensively:

"My office has produced a series of reports highlighting the exaggerated estimates, enormous overcharges, and excessive prefunding levels that plague the retiree pension and health care systems. To continue contributing to funds that now appear to exceed the 100 percent funding levels is even more egregious when compared against benchmarks in the public and private sector and OPM [Office of Personnel Management]’s levels.

"I agree with Senator Susan Collins’ call in September 2010 for the OPM to change, under current law, its calculation of Postal Service CSRS pension fund payments."

"In the near term, the Postal Service and Congress should consider halting further payments to benefit funds until the surplus is used, funds restructured, and mistakes corrected. The Postal Service can use this time to learn how to live below or within the Consumer Price Index, shed its debt, and find its role in the digital age.

"The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act incentivizes the Postal Service to adopt a leaner volume driven infrastructure to assure readiness for the 21st century. This will require:
  • Optimization of the network of post offices and plants;
  • Conversion to evaluated letter carrier routes to allow effective management; 
  • Flexible work rules to match the ebb and flow of mail; 
  • A comprehensive delivery point strategy that maximizes curb side delivery and cluster boxes; 
  • Simplification of mail acceptance and pricing; and 
  • Evaluating the need for 74 districts, 7 Areas, and two law enforcement agencies.
"Federal financial raids on the Postal Service have to be halted; and the Postal Service should be taken back off-budget as originally designed, and the benefit funds restructured. We will need strong collaborative efforts to enable the Postal Service to serve Americans in the 21st Century."

Williams' office has a habit of cutting through the Beltway BS to reveal the truth about postal finances.

The Capitol Hill crowd politely argues about prepaid or overfunded health benefits for Postal Service retirees. But in a 2009 report, the OIG correctly characterized the accounting scam as using “Postal Service funds to make the president’s budget seem smaller” to the tune of $5 billion-plus each year.

Four months later, another OIG report charged that the federal government had overcharged USPS $75 billion for pensions.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I’m so tired of hearing about the crying at the bottom. I’m hear to give you a ninny. The Postmaster at the local level gets no more of the perks than the so called grunts. Quit crying and carry the mail. You’re making a lot of money and for the most part most of you are basically qualified to bag groceries. All the craft employees do is whine and bitch. Grow up and enjoy the golden spoon the USPS has put in the mouth of you and your families. Most offices are like a day care. You sit there and listen to grown men and women cry, “I have too much mail”, I’ll never get done today, blah blah blah. If you weren’t taking your 2 hour lunches prior to DOIS maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation. Just do your job, shut up or quit!

Anonymous said...

Its about time congress heard the actual truth and not the wall street journals idea of the truth!

Liam Skye said...

And there you have it - the unvarnished truth. I wonder how many Republicans can handle the truth when it does not mesh with their preconceived master plan of class warfare against federal employees.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:21am is right on the money! I retired after 30 years. 26 years as a carrier and 4 years as a supertvisor. During the whole 30 years I never heard so much whining and crying! They worked harder at getting out of work then actually doing the work! Thank God I grew up with a great work ethic instilled by my parents. I often wondered how these "Adults" acted towards their children. If EVERY craft employee would just come to work without playing games the job would have been alot more enjoyable!

tonybaloney said...

best testimony on capitol hill I have ever heard on the state of the service.

calls out congress on stealing funds
close offices and plants
evaluate city routes
more part time positions
move deliveries to the curb
simplify the BMEU
close areas and districts

priceless

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:21, up yours. Same old story from your ilk. The craft "whines" about everything and doesn't do any work and yet billions of pieces of mail somehow get magically delivered. You on the other hand are worth every penny of your bloated salary. Right. You are stealing every time you cash your paycheck. The worst carrier on his worst day does more work in five minutes than you do all year. Quit YOUR whining and face the fact that your kind are unnecessary and obsolete. Once again, up yours.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:21, again, up your tail. I supervised for 3 years and on a daily basis finished my job in about 2 hours everyday and just sit around and BS with the postmaster the rest of the day. (And by the way had the happiest employees in the Atlanta District.) My point is that a lot of management is not needed and a BIG WASTE. The only crying I hear now is supervisors only getting 3%-5% raise for their yearly evaluation. You stupidvisors need to just QUIT so we can do our jobs!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 321,

You are full of it. Most offices today are understaffed. However, the PMG recognizies that the craft has been cut to the bone. You say that most employees are only qualified to bag groceries? You need to respect your craft employees because when the PMG gets done with his cuts and you get your notice to retire or go back to the craft, I hope you don't retire so you can work some weight out of that big fat mouth.

Anonymous said...

These loser managers with no business experience are the major problem! They look out for each other and no discipline for any of their misguided mismanaged ways! Oh but we make a human error and it's I.I and LOW's Let's even the playing field Managers and PUT DOIS On you for all those stupid forms you fill out that should be done at secretary level. DOIS for CLERKS CUSTODIANS and any other POSTAL EMPLOYEE then you can COMPLAIN!! We at the bottom as you call it have to carry for all the slackers who can't even put mail in it's designation or the clerks who throw wrong scheme constantly and all the mail uncancelled all the CFS screwups we have to fix! Why because we are the last point of the mail and we see and handle all the S*&^ that runs down hill! A/nd then we are to be responsible for all the fixes!

just think about it. said...

OK....1st off. there is a need to streamline upper management so that it is in line with the craft. Next, we need to do away with anyone that doesn't touch the mail, directly or indirectly. Then there needs to be a pay cut for the upper management to put them in line with craft employees. Stop all bonuses, since the usps is so broke. Stop the credit card fraud. Honor contracts. Cut the excessive spending. Hire enough employees to DO the job and pay them decent wages. Stop the use of RCAs with no benefits ad convert them to full time employee status so they can afford to work. Bring the benefit package for management in line with that of the craft. Do we need to pay those large incentives to keep the upper management in the USPS? If they want to leave, then let them. There are more than enough people to replace them. Set standards for ALL employees equally. If you do the same job, then your standard for that job should be the same. Stop the favoritism and have all employees just DO them job. Stop management abuse. Perhaps if you make it so the employees WANT to come to work, then they will do a good job.

Tim said...

a lot is 2 words asshole

Anonymous said...

Craft dislike for management is in direct proportion to how well they manage. If craft employees are held accountable, the craft cries "why don't leave us alone and let us do our jobs". Those that actually do their jobs don't post the ridiculous comments out here about how "we don't need supervisors", etc. Of course you do, you're just too ignorant to realize it.

Tim said...

anonymous can't even bag groceries or spell because a lot is 2 words

up north said...

anonymous sounds like a big baby!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @3:21am.
Obviously you are a muckety-muck who is starting to wet your pants over the possibility of losing your position. Any chimp can push papers and enter numbers into the computer while hiding the fact that your on Facebook at the same time while making the comfy salary that you are. I suggest you get your fat ass off your easy chair and do something more constructive. Oh yes, and why don't you just shut your trap and/or quit. Oh, never mind quiting, you'll probably lose your position anyway and drop down to "the bottom" where the real work is done. I'm out.

Anonymous said...

In my 24 years of service,I've worked at the Bronx GPO & transferred to Tampa,FL. I've been a City Carrier, MVS TTO, Custodian & currently a Maintenance Mechanic 7. I've been a PTF 3 times & PTR once. I have to say that it's not so much the job itself, but all the waste that I've seen through the years from Managers, supervisors & craft alike. This is without a doubt the worst it has ever been though. I read most of the comments & everyone was right to some degree, the thing is, what is going to be done about it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
Bagging your groceries is probably a very hard and long job considering the amount of time you have to eat.

Cordelia Yvonne said...

Shut up TIM!

Anonymous said...

Shut UP TIM! Take your happy A$$ back to your spelling class....no one cares about your correct SPELLING....JACKA$$!

Anonymous said...

cut the fat a??management,postmasters,poom,dm,none of these people do a damn thing but make well over 100,000a year postmasters dont do a damn thing get rid of all of them

marie said...

3:21, what the hell are you talking about? Did you read the article? It's about finances.And "hear" means listen. You are a ninny. JUST THINK ABOUT IT, I'm with you. I'm tired of hearing about prefunding. David Williams once again skated over the issues that are costing billions, the causes you mentioned. Why doesn't anyone else see this? And his objectives are the same double-speak as Potter tried to make everyone believe. When Williams says,"Optimization of of offices and plants", he means cutting craft employees down to the bare bones, replacing them with temps,{too few temps} and working them to the point that they skip lunch and pee in a bottle. "Conversion to evaluated routes to allow effective management" means setting up routes by computer reports that do not allow for traffic, weather, volume, or any number of daily incidentals. "Delivery point strategy to maximize curb deliveries" means all customers must walk to their mailbox, regardless of age, handicap or distance,further reducing service. And I don't even know what closing 74 districts, 7 areas and 2 law enforcement agencys means. All of a sudden people are supposed to do without their post offices? How does that increase revenue? Eliminating 2 law enforcement agencys doesn't sound good, sounds like management can get away with more wasteful, selfish spending to me. Eric, where are you? Don't let them fool you, too!

mad said...

I am so tired of Yall yelling about Postmasters doing there Jobs. The fact is I am a Postmaster in a level 18 and am bugeted 14 clerk hours week. So who the crap is doing the rest of the WORK.? Humm that would be me. Now lets talk about city carriers , the mail volume is down so bad and yes I keep up with pieces and its crazy that a city route 8 hours will get 400 pieces of mail for the whole route and come back in Late? What are you city carriers doing out there??? Its crazy how yall beat that clock. So before you bash Postmasters because we are needed for stupid people like yall..And yes we do ALOT of babysitting and the fee's SUCK.

mad said...

i work at a level 18 office, I am alloted 14 clerk hours a week, So who do you think does 95% of the work? That would be the Postmaster. Before you bash Postmasters let me tell you , we have to answer for ALL of your MISSTAKES and yes yall make alot of them and wouldn't admit to it. There is no way to answer for any body getting OT on there Routes because theirs NO MAIL...So whats Wrong Carriers?? What excuses do you have Now?Why are you beating the Clock? All you wanna do is Bash Management , but yall need managemnt BAD..I work in my office..There are alot of carriers that make more money than I do and whine and complain all the time. Why is that, All postmasters don't make 100,000 a year, ..You want us to be perfect, so why can't you be perfect and misstake Free. Be honest and Come back on time and stop taking all those breaks, and yes we are not stupid , the volume tells all.

Anonymous said...

i been a postmaster for 26 years i only make 120,000 a year so you all craft emplayees stop crying i have to manage 2 offices i would like to see all craft employees drop to min. wage,no benefits and give me a raise i dont care what the jcam says i will do what i want i graguated fram schol and expect all creft emploaees to worsep me i kneed moar respect and a bigger paycheck

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of Yall yelling about Postmasters doing there Jobs. The fact is (I am lazy) Postmaster in a level 18 and am bugeted 1400 clerk hours week. So who the crap is doing the rest of the WORK.? Humm that would be craft employees because it takes 2 104-a to make a 204-b. Now lets talk about city carriers , the mail volume is up so bad and yes I am lazy, keep up with a city route 8 hours( i want you to worship me) will get 4000 pieces of mail for the whole route and come back in early and see me sleeping at my desk you city carriers make the postoffice because( i am lazy.) Its crazy how yall beat that clock. So bash Postmasters because we are not needed us management want more money,money,money give us more ohh yeah

Anonymous said...

Dont get mad get even. Since you (and every other overpaid clerks) can obviously do a better job than us lazy city carriers why dont you come save the PO by coming back to craft and showing us how it is done. According to you you would make more money too so why dont you superstars

Tom said...

Ah yes, the Post Office is such a happy place to work. Managers complain about the workers and the other managers. The workers complain about management and each other. It doesn't seem to matter much where you work within the system, the environment, with a few exceptions, is the same. Obviously, something is wrong, and I believe it starts at the top. The man or woman in charge sets the tone for the entire facility. If you have a tyrant in charge, his managers will, in turn, become tyrants. The old adage that "s**t flows down hill" is true. This is not to say that the "bottom", as Anonymous puts it, are blameless in all of this, but we are, after all, the bottom and as as such, have little control over anything but ourselves. Admittedly, this post is not on subject, but just an observation after reading the other posts.

Anonymous said...

postmaster jingle
on the 12th day of negotiations usps gave to me
12-te's
11-supervisors
10-204-b's
9-bonuses
8-laid off clerks
7-grievences
6-sick calls
5-5 day delivery
4-route adjustments
3-gps
2-carriers for 11 supervisors
and 1-more bonus

gary said...

management and craft employees are both to blame for the wes of the post office. yes, management does push to get more from all craft employees. craft employees complain in the office about the push of of management and takes it out on the customers. miss delivered mail, customer complaints etc. to often you hear carriers complain, especially at Christmas time of what the customer did not give them. i know one carrier bid to another route because of it. what a shame. provide the quality service to the customer and re-gain the trust from them. in the eyes of the customer, letter carriers are overpaid and lazy. stop complaining so much and get back to enjoying your well paying job, whether it be management or craft. I'm sure there are millons of people that would love to have your job.

Anonymous said...

To Mad,
$120,000.00 a year? Poor you. and why the hell are you doing craft work. That's just another thing that's wrong with the system.

Anonymous said...

Just ONCE I'd like to open one of these articles and see some intelligent dialog. On second thought never mind - I'd probably fall over dead from the shock.

Anonymous said...

I apologize to any non-postal employee who may be reading these comments. We tend to beat each other up on these sites. The good thing is most of those who complain are in the minority. Most employees, craft and management alike, do a good job. We do have our few on both sides who feel as though they are entitled to their position. Those would be the employees I would like to see gone. The USPS owes us nothing but 8 hours pay for 8 hours work and a safe environment to work in. If everyone would spend less time trying to get out of work and simply do the job you are paid for maybe we could be successful for a change.

Anonymous said...

Good Lord, I have never been so embarrassed to be an employee of one of the oldest, most hardest working and most visible companies in this free world (outside of my 22 years in the Armed Forces) as I am after reading some of these lame posts.

This somehow became a bitching contest between management and the craft employees and pointing blame at each other. I say we are ALL guilty in one form or another, so let’s be honest with ourselves.

Folks, let's all take a long hard look at YOURSELF for a second. We are all people, we all do stupid things. CRAFT EMPLOYEES- grow up! We all know we work VERY HARD, but we also know that we have been getting away with a lot of stuff over the years. I was a carrier for 17+ years and I, just like the rest of us, ran through my route, took care of my customers without any issue and sat on my butt at the coffee shop. So let's face it, times are changing and we are all being held accountable. MANAGEMENT - It is time to hold you accountable as well and grow up. Believe it or not, your craft employees do know that you have many restraints that you are facing. Time, budgets, operating costs, and so on...Again, times are changing and your lack of properly "managing" has come to an end.

I on the other hand am very happy to have a job in the USPS and I do not EXPECT anything from anyone. I come in and do my job to the best of my ability and continue to smile each and every day not matter what the cost. In today's job market, I am happy to have a job. I worry about A Number 1 and that is me. As long as my paycheck is there every two weeks, well folks, I am happy. Now I leave you with this, just remember, whether you’re a Craft Employee or Management, you can be replaced. When you think you have it bad, go downtown and look at that elderly person who has worked all their lives and they don't have a pot to piss in, or take a look at your local Veteran of the United States Armed Forces who just came home or has fought in wars before us, and they can't even feed their children, never mind themselves. GROW UP ALL OF YOU!

Anonymous said...

It seems that the USPS has the 5-day delivery concept backwards. Instead of Saturdays off, the USPS should run every day like it's Saturday. At least in my office on Mon-Fri we have one PM, one MGR and at least three line supervisors to run the office yet on Sat when the office is fully operational, the office is run by one line supervisor and he/she is relieved by a 204b for the remainder of the day. It has also been intimated to me that Sat is the most productive day of the week. The question should be what do all these people do on mon-fri that is not neccessary to be done on sat.? I know that if I as a letter carrier do not work on any of the six days that I will have to be replaced for the day. I'm sure that this situation is not exclusive to my office. I also wonder how many more EAS employees become "non-essential" on Saturdays. Let's face it, if you don't touch the mail you are "overhead" and everyone knows that a company cannot run efficiently if there is too much overhead costs to overcome.

Whyme said...

Yes, the USPS is in serious trouble. Who is to blame? Probably to some extent, all who have worked for the Post Office Department/U S Postal Service and the greedy members of Congress over the years. Everyone wants the most for himself/herself regardless of how it affects/cost the company. Congress who we elect to represent us, first take care of themselves by passing laws, putting into place policies that provide them the best of benefits available, then enact rules that prohibit the people they represent from enjoying the same benefits. One example is their retirement. By the law that they themselves enacted, they are able to retire after just one term and enjoy huge retirement beneifts for the rest of their life. Who else has even input into their retirement benefits?

Having worked for the Post Office Department/U S Postal Service for nearly 44 yrs before retiring, I have witnessed many changes and yes, a lot of wasteful spending. But, the USPS isn't alone as government in general spends money foolishly. It's easier to spend someone else's money knowing that they have no recourse and are mandated to keep sending it via Taxes.

I believe a lot of the problems with postal financies is that people at headquarters over the last several years have put into place programs, mandates and costly contracts that had nothing to do with getting the mail processed and delivered. A for instance: my office(Level 20) had a dish installed on the roof and a transmitter in place "just in case the phone lines were down" so the daily reports/data could be transmitted to headquarters,etc.
A company had a contract to install and maintain the system and would occasionally come by to do minor repairs/adjustments. To my knowledge, it was never utilized and a few later was discontinued. I wonder how much was spent for it and all the other offices that had the system installed.

Another big concern of mine is: Headquarters contracting out to our biggest competitor to fly/transport our First Class, Priority and Express Mail. It seems to me they have control of our service. Included in the contract allows the competitor to place their collection boxes on postal service property along side the blue boxes. Not only that; contracts are in place that allows our competitors to transport packages from mailer distribution centers to the delivery offices and the post office has the priviledge of driving the country rural roads to get the package delivered to its destination. Often they are damaged or late before the post office gets them. Guess who gets the blame since we are the one actually delivering it. And you know what I hear, some members of Congress own stock in the competitors. Could they be trying to cripple the USPS for their own gain? Sounds like a conflict of interest. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

I work in a level 22 office. The managers/supervisors don't realize that I have "acute" hearing, and know that they are sitting talking on their phones, personal business. Get out and follow a carrier each day, do box checks, and quit telling us to scan the box section up, a lie, at nine thirty.
I take the mail from the mail drop inside when I have time and weigh it up if it is obviously underweight. I was yelled at by a supervisor yesterday for this. I was told that the distribution plant weighs each piece of mail and marks it up. I worked the plant, they can't catch all of the mail from so many towns. We, the window clerks and the clerks who work with the mail should be the first line of defense. If you multiply each mail piece not caught, that would account for at least one billion dollars. I called the plant and they told me that they have no time to weigh each piece, so why even raise rates? Is it like "Why do bars have parking lots if you can' drive drunk"?

We also let through things that are short at the window and let people wander in through the back doors to drop mail off, stopping them from having to wait in our lines, taking time from the POS machines and money from our pockets. And, it is UNSAFE.

They come in looking for trays, bins, dropping off pre-paid mail, etc. Every piece of mail that I can sneak to the front is short. But, I am told not to mark them up.

I have a guy who was $32.00 short the other day and was told to let it go. This is why we are losing money. I thought that we were about service and revenue, but it seems that it is about laziness.

I say, fire the top heaviness and let the craft workers do what the paperwork that we are given to do, follow. We let Flat Rate Envelopes through that are bound with tape. WRONG. If I catch them, I ring them up, then put a sticker on them, postage due. The managers won't let us charge more at the windows even though the Direct Line told us that is unacceptable.
I could go on about short mail, but it would take days, instead, I am writing to the OIG, new PM General, and the MPOO.

Anonymous said...

It's funny to read all these posts... I am a vendor to USPS. You folks don't want to know what I've seen in my career. I've always known that there is a lot of FAT in the USPS at all levels. Now I know it's true. You're all like a bunch of babushkas. The best thing the Governement could do is spin you guys off. Sink or swim. But it won't happen, know why? USPS is a cash cow that Congress can exploit. The rest of us poor fools in the private sector are forced to cover your costs.

Anonymous said...

I have run Delivery point sequencing mail at night for over 25 years. I don't need a supervisor, because I know more about the mail and the machine than they do. On the other hand with so many new PSE's here, they have their work cut out for them. Alot of the new hires can't figure out what we're doing after 2 months already. So what do managers do, just move them to throw parcels. Instead of getting them on board with DPS. I agree we need younger employees, but in automation urgency and doing things right mean everything. If a PSE messes up the mail, as usual the regular gets the discipline!