USPS to reduce workforce by up to 30,000 in 2011

Wednesday - 3/9/2011, 12:59pm EST

Your Turn with Mike Causey

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Federal Times' Steve Watkins on USPS reductions

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By Jolie Lee, Jason Miller and Julia Ziegler
Federal News Radio

The U.S. Postal Service could reduce its workforce by up to 30,000 employees this year. Up to 7,500 of those positions would be eliminated as part of a redesign that USPS will announce March 25, said agency spokeswoman Joanne Veto in an email.

The other 22,500 could come through attrition. Veto said historically about that many have left through normal reductions each year for the past six years.

U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told a House Oversight subcommittee last week that as of Sept. 30 his agency will owe the federal government a payment of $5.5 billion to fund medical costs, in advance, for future retirees, and in November it will need to make a $1.3 billion payment for worker's compensation.

At the same hearing, Donahoe also said to help deal with the budget shortfall, USPS is taking other steps to cut costs aside from the funding obligations. Donahoe said it reduced its workforce by 240,000 people in recent years, and will take another 16 percent reduction in officer ranks and senior management changes in the coming year. Donahoe said he would announce later in March further decreases in staffing.

On today's Your Turn with Mike Causey, Federal Times editor Steve Watkins discussed these changes and others expected over the coming months.

Watkins said USPS is leaning more heavily on technology by taking "human hands out of much of the mail sorting."

He added, "I was pretty surprised to learn ... I think 95 percent of addresses are all read through optics and scanners, and it's sorted automatically."

In the first part of the show, Mike talked to David Snell, director of retirement benefit services at the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

WFED's Suzanne Kubota, Vyomika Jairam and Jamie Blanco contributed to this story.