Monday, July 4, 2011

6 Points Donahoe Left Out of His Bailout Rebuttal

In Donahoe’s Answer to Postal Bailout Criticism, we noted the Postmaster General’s recent article explaining that the U.S. Postal Service’s financial straits are a creation of Congress rather than actual financial losses. But the article omits key points, partly because the Postal Service can’t afford to offend Congress right now with the unvarnished truth.

Here are six more things that ignorant critics in Congress and the news media need to consider about USPS finances:

1) Congressional game: The Postal Service is the victim of a Congressional accounting game. What Donahoe diplomatically labels “prepayment to the Retiree Health Benefit fund” was more accurately described by the Office of Inspector General as using “Postal Service funds to make the President’s budget seem smaller.” (See How USPS Could Bypass Congress on Saturday Delivery.)

2) Real conservatism: Why are so many conservatives criticizing efforts to end the “prepayments” when they also claim (correctly, in my view) that the President’s budget is too large? If they understood the situation, I suspect they would conclude that the truly conservative approach would be to end this shell game that misleads taxpayers about the size of the federal deficit. But that would require searching for the truth rather than sound bites.

3) Reforming the “prepayments” is no longer enough: Although accurate accounting of the prepayments, as assets rather than expenses, would have put USPS in the black in recent years, that no longer seems to be the case. The rapidly declining volume of highly profitable First Class mail is overwhelming the Postal Service’s cost-cutting efforts. USPS must find additional efficiencies to balance its books.

4) Not much light in there: The people who claim that the recent APWU labor contract is a giveaway by the Postal Service are engaged in “rectal-cranial explorations”. (That’s a polite way of saying they’ve got their heads up their – well, you get the point.) As someone who works in the news media, I’m embarrassed by many of the news articles and editorials on the contract, which clearly were written by people who hadn’t bothered to look at the contract or to do even a few minutes of research. The pundits tut-tutted about the pay raises for current employees without noticing the more significant efficiency gains, such as pay-scale reductions for future employees and greater use of part-time and temporary workers. (See Is the APWU Eating Its Young? and Junk Journalism and the Bogus Postal Statistic for more on the groundbreaking contract.)

5) Hypocrites: Any member of Congress who criticizes the Postal Service for not cutting expenses enough is a hypocrite. Have you ever heard of a Congressman supporting the closure of a rarely used post office in his district? Donahoe’s article pointed out cost cuts in recent years totaling about 15% of annual USPS expenses and plans for another 25% in cuts. How many members of Congress have advocated specific cuts in the federal budget that even approach that kind of scale?

6) Penny wise, pound foolish: The Postal Service has foregone some investments that would have easily paid off, such as replacing some of its aging, high-maintenance delivery vehicles and revamping some of its facilities. (See Here's How the Postal Service Can Get Back Its Pension and Benefits Overpayments for more on this issue.) But its cash crisis, brought about by the bogus retiree health benefits accounting, has prevented it in recent years from spending a little money to save a lot more.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought this to be a fair article. Two issues unmentioned is the post office has way to many people in management and the fact bulk mail does not seem to pay it's fair share in postage.
Do we really expect congress to implement financialy sound practices?

Anonymous said...

Great article. I hope you keep up the good work. There is so much more the public doesn't know about in this postal fiasco. Crooked management at the top, greed and selfishness of top officials, huge salaries and perks, etc. Who knows what wheeling and dealing with congress has been going on. We need a mole up there. The Pres. needs to conduct a full investigation.

Anonymous said...

About 2005/2006 the PMGs (John Potter) salary and benefits increased the managers under him had their pay increased. This went all the way down the line to the bottom managers to make every one happy. Before you might get a 1% to 3% increase now some people get 25% boneses.

Rick said...

its amazing that the first comment provided is from someone who hides behind the "anonymous" monkier and is quick to bring up that another issue is to many people in management. you definitely must be a craft person who is completely out of touch with reality. why not mention all the waste with paying employees who fake injuries and are paid to stay home because they play the system, or those uninon workers who allege that they do "good" work but are quick to steal time. its true that there are probably more in management than what is needed but its also true that there are way too many craft employees who don't do anything especially the SLL and the ones who do the bare minimum of . thats where the true waste is

Bob said...

On the income side of the equation I recently received two mailings from the National Republican Congressional Committee that bore Non Profit Org. stamps. How any political party qualifies for Non Profit mailing status is mind boggling. The congresspeople have to take care of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Good article but should have hit on pricing structure restrictions. Congress needs to understand that we can not adjust rates to offset loss of volumn. It takes the same effort to process a standard letter or parcel as it does to handle a first class letter or parcel. When we are restricted to raising the rates only at the rate of inflation then there is an artifical ceiling imposed on the ability for the USPS to market its product.

Anonymous said...

Hey RICK
I was in management (left the USPS in 2010) and let me assure you that anonymous is right. Theres too much dead weight in management. Offices need to be consolidated with a manager per craft. Thats it. No extra 204B sitting around answering phones and reading magazines. This is a business thats ran by non professionals by definition. And its non professional atmoshere is killing that company.

Teresa said...

I have to say, having trained the last 2 weeks in supervisory work due to light duty status, that upper managment has no clue what goes on in a working office. Supervisors have "required" paperwork and reports to do in the morning by a specific time. I understand DOIS for the city carriers, pick-ups and holds and forwards. But alot of the stuff could wait. By time this busy work is done, the carriers are mostly on the street. Then you have all day to answer phones and find busy work and twiddle your thumbs until the carriers come back, when you start the rest of your reports. If you are a smaller office, with only 1 supervisor, you can't go out to do street observations, because there are periodic check-ins to do all day. They only take 1 minute, but you must do them within a specific window. You can't really help do anything, because you are taking time away from the clerks or carriers. So, you can't supervise when the carriers are there, but have nothing really to do when they are on the street.
And the scans...I agree that customers should be able to track their packages through the whole process, that is just good customer service. But not all barcodes can be scanned on the street, some you must punch the number in because the scanners don't work well in the sunlight. But someone with nothing better to do in upper managment has desided that punching in the numbers counts against you. The customer can see that the package was delivered or attempted, the job is done. But because the number was manually entered, someone higher up says it is a failure. WTF??

Mike said...

Ricky, steal time. Faked injury! Are you kidding. Been a 204b gave that up along time ago on moral grounds can't hit the street one day then sit on my kiester and tell someone they don't do enough! GEEZ, unionized, OH you guys call it associations, walks like a duck Rick don't it? The daily work would be more effective if YOU or your superiors were not scared to death of your DM and thier policies that make NO sense!

Anonymous said...

Before we cut each others' heads off, I would like to interject that (strictly my opinion) a lot of good points were brought up, but some were invalid and kind of unfair. THere is dead weight in craft and manageent. Pointing fingers is part of the issue. As a current employee, I've seen all sides of the spectrum. Managers who have never left their offices or leave almost immediately after they walk through the door, craft that never wants to come to work and force everyone else to pick up the slack causing OT out of the roof, and finger pointing back and forth. Upper management has had its issues on down to the casual employees that are hired and fired left and right. The longer we keep going at each other is the longer we keep RIFing and start including craft positions. Focus on the long term solutions and stop blaming the workforce we have.

Paul said...

Really Rick? Since the advent of DOIS adjusted/COR adjusted routes carriers don't even have time to breathe let alone screw off. Let's talk about all the money spent shuffling management personnel from city to city to stand behind carriers all morning/follow on the street because they can't get 9 hours of work done in 8. Let's talk about the POOM level guy from a city 2 hours away hiding out in our office for the past year even tho we are awash with our own management people. Honest to christ, nobody has any idea what this guy does all day but walk around the station. Let's talk about the wasted money putting these people up in hotels, per diem,dry cleaning, gas in their postal vehicles, the wear and tear on these vehicles so they can drive home every weekend! You people and your absurd spending has gone unchecked for decades. It's high time Darryl Issa does something about the 1:7 ratio he says exists within the postal service. Half, and I mean 50% of you do-nothings could be booted out the postal doors without causing any detriment to the service at all. I refuse to bring a pee bottle with me as I was told to do simply to avoid the time "wasted" driving to a bathroom. You people created these ridiculously long routes in order to cut the craft to the quick so management can keep their numbers high. Everyone of you are convinced you are a vital cog in the postal wheel and the service would fall apart without you. Think again!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!

You all make it sound like we are falling apart. Every employee needs to take this company serious, and that is from the top down. Management needs to get rid of the microscoop and let the supervisors and managers do their job.

Anonymous said...

Someone up above said "It takes the same effort to process a standard letter or parcel as it does to handle a first class letter or parcel." I don't know if the "effort" is the same but the costs sure are widely different. Go check out the costs per piece in the costs and revenue reports. http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/financials/welcome.htm# You really ought to have SOME idea of what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Start charging for fuel like UPS does, they dump the packages off on the Postal Service. Then They get the added fuel charge and we deliver it! WTF!

That could only help with the cost of running this place!

Anonymous said...

Congress are all full of it. As the new election is coming, we will deliver all their lies on paper to each home in their districts for FREE! If they cared they would budjet that cost from all the extra money they don't REPORT as campaign money" Fire all those TEA party sob's. What have they done but run the economy down to save their rich buddies!

Anonymous said...

this postal service has way too many chiefs and not enough Indians!!!! The crap I see daily is so sad and service is very poor..... How does this happen??? we make $$$$$ every year, but CONGRESS does something WRONG every year!!!!!

Anonymous said...

fuck you