In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Postmaster General Pat Donahoe expressed optimism about the agency’s future, and pointed to reductions in staffing and expenses the USPS had achieved despite the lack of Congressional action. He also appeared to confirm fears that the USPS might provide higher levels of service to some affluent communities, even as it reduces services across the country.
He told the WSJ that the USPS had reduced staffing by 200,000 employees since 2006. While accepting that labor costs account for 80 percent of postal service expenses (and that “it will always be that high”), he pointed to the fact that twenty percent of the current staff are non-career part time workers. Curiously, he suggested later in the interview that the percentage would drop in the future, telling the interviewer that the USPS “in the near term” required about 400,000 career emplyees, and 60,000 non-career. That works out to a non-career percentage of 13%.
Continued staffing and cost reductions would depend on Congressional action to allow the USPS to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, but the PMG promised “package delivery seven days a week in ZIP codes that can support Sunday”.
Donahoe also said that while the USPS would continue to seek partnerships with the private sector, he doesn’t think it should be privatized.
Note: According to Postcom.org, consideration of S. 1486 has been postponed.
The eNAPUS Legislative and Political Bulletin includes an analysis of the latest Senate postal reform legislation set to be voted on in committee next week:
Yesterday, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) notified his committee members that S. 1486, the Carper-Coburn postal reform bill, will be brought to a vote next week, on Wednesday, November 6. In addition, on that day, the Committee plans a confirmation vote on Nanci Langley and Tony Hammond to continue as members of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
While S. 1486, as drafted, provides a measure of financial relief and enables the USPS to be more innovative, contention remains in three major areas. With regard to FEHBP coverage, there is overwhelming consensus that the USPS is incapable of administering its own health benefits plan and, therefore, the final bill should offer coverage through the FEHBP. Another issue commanding attention is improving integration between FEHBP and Medicare… Second, mailers object to giving the USPS more latitude to adjust rates for market-dominant products… Third, there is concern S. 1486 does not adequately address postal service standards. For example, NAPUS believes that S. 1486 should include the retail service standards and PRC post office closing provisions that were included in last year’s bipartisan Senate-passed measure.
As part of its Senate testimony, the Governmane Accountability Office released a report on USPS proposals to pull employees and retirees out of FEHBP- here’s the summary:
Why GAO Did This Study
USPS continues to be in a serious financial crisis, with little liquidity in the short term and a challenging financial outlook in the long term as profitable First-Class Mail volume continues to decline. Critical decisions by Congress are needed on postal reform legislation that has been proposed in both the U.S. Senate and the House of epresentatives. Various proposals would restructure the financing of postal retiree health benefits, including required payments to prefund these benefits; enable USPS to introduce a new health plan for postal employees and retirees; and restructure the funding of postal pensions, including addressing a potential surplus in funding postal pensions under FERS. Continue reading →