Thursday, September 3, 2009

How USPS Could Bypass Congress on Saturday Delivery

The Postal Service should consider not accepting money from Congress so that it would be free to eliminate Saturday delivery and close rural post offices, a new report says.

Postal officials are laying the groundwork for five-day-a-week delivery but have had trouble winning permission from Congress. They can move forward on that and other controversial measures without Congressional approval, according to a report issued this week by USPS’s Office of Inspector General.

Congress appropriates about $100 million annually to the Postal Service to support free mail for the blind and overseas voters, according to the Inspector General’s report. Otherwise, USPS is expected to be self supporting.

“The small postal appropriation each year routinely shifts costs to the Postal Service and subjects it to riders that prevent closing small post offices or experimenting with 5-day-a-week delivery,” the report says. The rider requiring delivery six days a week has been in place since 1983, Postmaster General Jack Potter noted in January when he "reluctantly" asked Congress to remove the rider.

The Postal Service should consider opting out of the appropriations process “and its attendant restrictions” because the $100 million may be “more of a bother than it is worth,” the report says. Saying no to the money “would be a small price to pay for cementing the financial independence of the Postal Service,” it adds. USPS’s projected savings from dropping a day of delivery exceed $2 billion annually.

But the Postal Service has a practical reason for not giving Congress a “middle-finger salute” with unilateral elimination of Saturday delivery: It is also asking Congress to change the law requiring USPS to over-fund its account for retiree health benefits.

The OIG characterizes the overpayment, which it estimates as $5.4 billion this year, as using “Postal Service funds to make the president’s budget seem smaller.”

“The Postal Service is an attractive source of money to prop up the federal budget,” agrees Leo Raymond, vice president of the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association, in a recent article for Mailing Systems Technology. He despairs of Congress ever granting USPS the freedom to make the tough choices it needs to make.

“What the Postal Service does (or doesn’t do) generates a steady stream of chances for politicians to superimpose their political preferences on what should be left as business decisions,” he writes. “Whether a labor issue, facility closure, or service decision, every action by postal management tees up a chance for someone in Congress to meddle – and get a photo op, issue a press release, or ingratiate himself to a source of campaign contributions at the same time.”

The Postal Service could be on track to run out of money in a matter of months. The two changes that would be large enough and feasible enough to stave that off are scaling back the retiree-benefits overpayments and eliminating a day of delivery.

So maybe it’s time for postal officials to send Congress a veiled ultimatum: If you don’t end the silly retiree-benefits shell game, USPS will go “off budget” and eliminate Saturday delivery. The threat of having a truly independent Postal Service that could make unpopular changes in their districts would definitely get the politicians’ attention.


Anonymous said...

Postal Service making independent "business decisions"? If you think getting Congress out of the mix is a good thing, your are highly mistaken. Congress is the only thing keeping these incompetent idiots that are "managing" the USPS from completely destroying it. The USPS is a SERVICE, and it's time you private business people quit trying to run it like a BUSINESS. You bean counting morons just want what's best for your industry (ie: maximizing your profits at the expense of service to the American people). I for one am sick of it.

If anything, the time has come for the Government to Nationalize the Post Office again and make the mailing industry pay their fair share for all the crap they mail out for next to nothing in postage. Bulk business mail is the biggest burden placed on the Postal Service and is the least profitable to the organization (except for the hidden under the table payments given to the higher ups in the PO).

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous in that not only business but politicians should be paying for their mailings. I am tired of seeing our Senators/Congressmen and others getting "Free" postage. I can understand a reduced rate for bulk mailings but not free mail. And get rid of all the do nothing, make work, management that do absolutly nothing to move the mail, except get in the way of the process. The FSS machines are also going to be a disaster for the shreading of mail pieces. One last thing. Where is the offer for Letter Carriers to bail from this sinking ship???

SiriusNews said...

I took an Early retirement from the USPS on October 31st, 2008.

no looking back.

Former Postal Worker to tell story about Wall Street

Richard Keane, narrator Stock Shock

Anonymous said...

The idea that the Post Office should "opt" out is about as bright as the name of this edition....a dead tree. Would have to change the law to do that..and that would be wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

5 day delivery= economic depression,go ahead drive up the unemployment rate,stop the gas consumption,turn off the lights and machines ..close more facilities ,this is a retreat ,a surrender.instead,re train excess management to hit the street and sell this great product,sell advertising space,be creative with internet uses,etc. good bye


Anonymous said...

One way to save money....take away management incentives! How dare they get incentives when Rural Carriers take pay cuts! They are making more people supervisors that should go back to craft, since they walk around doing nothing!!! too top heavy Congress needs to open their eyes

Anonymous said...

This is for the first Anonymous post. The only idiots in the Postal Service are the Union officials and the incompetent employees they protect. When an employee won't case the minimum standard of 18/8, that is very sad. What moron can't case that minimum?? However, many do not and could care less if the PO is making money or not. All they are concerned with is lining their pockets with uneccessary overtime that they must have to pay their rediculous bills. These type of employees could not get a decent job in the private sector if their life depended on it. They would be lucky to be flipping burgers for a living (and that is about all they are qualified to do).

If the Unions cared anything about the Postal Service they would change the way they do business and work with the Postal Service rather than against it. Unions have outlived their usefullness. It is time for them to GOOOOOO.

Anonymous said...

everyone knows how to run the post office yet nobody can.

Anonymous said...

How to bypass 5 day delivery and save the Post office: Assign carriers and deliver to two routes: 1)10Monday,Wednesday,Friday and the other route Tuesday,Thursday, and Saturday.(5 days=3 billion;4 days=6 billion in savings). 2) Immediate across the board pay cut of 10%-15%(550,000 divided by 10%-15% of pay=@5billion).Total savings: 11 billion. Thank you

Anonymous said...

The PMG makes around $1,000,000 a year, more than the president of the United States. He got a $150,000 raise this year, as did the other 4 or 5 top officials in USPS. Some of those raises were $250,000. If the PO is so poor, where did that money come from? Why did the last PMG get a 6.5 million dollar bonus when he retired? They have a lot of high paid white collar dead weight - so get rid of them. The people that are doing the work are the ones they screw the most. They hide mail during the counts to cheat the carriers. When count is over the flood gates open. These so called managers have never handled mail or haven't handled it in years. They don't have a clue what is going on in the field, yet they try to run things. Time for a total house cleaning at the top.

Anonymous said...

So....if i had a 10% paycut are you willing to pay for welfare for me? Point is, every company has bad apples, but the majority work long and hard for the postal service. Its NOT as easy as it looks!