Submitted: The Two Sides Team March 22, 2013
Does the budget bill passed by congress this week derail the plan to end Saturday delivery of first class mail?
March 22, 2013
by Wright Bryan, via NPR
Does the budget bill passed by congress this week derail the United States Postal Service plan to end Saturday delivery of first class mail?
on how you interpret the situation, the answer is either “yes” or “no.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the USPS is bound by
law to keep delivering on Saturdays. But that’s not how everyone sees
it, as Reuters reports:
Republican Senator Tom
Coburn of Oklahoma and Representative Darrell Issa of California on
Thursday told the USPS Board of Governors to move forward with
implementing the five-day delivery plan for mail.
“The Board of
Governors has a fiduciary responsibility to utilize its legal authority
to implement modified 6-day mail delivery as recently proposed,” the
lawmakers said, in their letter to the USPS board.
The GAO, on the other hand, was unequivocal in its stance on the issue, as reported by Bloomberg on Thursday:
service is bound by law to deliver mail six days a week, and is
incorrect in interpreting that a temporary measure used to fund U.S.
government operations released it from that requirement, the GAO said in
a letter to Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, who
requested that the watchdog agency look at the matter.
to cut delivery of letter mail while retaining package delivery on
Saturdays “rests upon a faulty USPS premise,” GAO General Counsel Susan
Poling said in the letter.
In a nice summary of this tangled knot, the AJC’s Jamie Dupree concludes with these words:
It isn’t clear how this will be resolved, as the Postal Service seems intent on making the Saturday mail change.
How did we get to this point? As we reported on this blog in February, the USPS is trying to save money:
the week of Aug. 5 this year,” Donahoe said, USPS will provide “six
days of package delivery and five days of mail delivery. … We will not
deliver or collect mail on Saturdays.”
Its decision could,
however, run into challenges from Congress and from unions that
represent the Postal Service’s employees. Donahoe made the case, though,
that USPS has no choice. The Postal Service, which lost nearly $16
billion last year, will save about $2 billion a year with this change,
Eliminating Saturday mail delivery, said Donahoe,
is “just one part of a much larger strategy to return the Postal
Service to long-term financial security.” That strategy has included the
closing of many facilities.
the economy and the rise of the Internet have had an impact on mail
volumes, legislation from Congress itself has also put a real strain on
USPS finances, as we reported in 2010:
[Congress] ordered the U.S. Postal Service to prepay its future
retirees’ pension and health benefits. That’s a cost of more than $5
billion a year.
Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), who chairs a Senate
subcommittee on the post office, says the pension prepayments are a
major cause of the Postal Service’s red ink.
“We shouldn’t ask
the Postal Service what we ask of no other state and local government
and, as far as I know, no other business enterprise to do and that is
to upfront set aside enormous amounts of money to meet health care needs
of potential pensioners,” he adds.
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