Postal service needs big regulatory changes to survive, experts say

Monday - 12/6/2010, 5:01pm EST

From "Postal Service embraces reform legislation" by Emily Long on GovExec.com:

"U.S. Postal Service officials and employee groups said Thursday they support a Senate bill that would provide greater flexibility to set alternate delivery schedules and change pension funding requirements, both of which would help stabilize finances at the struggling agency.

"Witnesses told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee they support the 2010 Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation Act that Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., introduced in September. Union leaders, however, reiterated their opposition to cutting mail delivery to five days a week, which USPS officials proposed earlier this year.

"USPS officials in March outlined a 10-year strategy to cut costs and increase flexibility in the face of significant budget shortfalls. USPS lost $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010 despite significant work hour reductions and could find itself out of cash in 2011, officials reported recently.

"Key changes USPS is seeking include a move to five-day delivery, which officials estimate could save $40 billion over 10 years, as well as relief from a 2006 provision requiring the agency to prefund its retiree health benefits. The Postal Service inspector general earlier this year reported USPS overpaid its Civil Service Retirement System account by $75 billion and contributed an additional $6.8 billion in excess of Federal Employees Retirement System obligations.

"The bill would require the Office of Personnel Management, which also contributes to CSRS, to recalculate the Postal Service's obligations to the account, and USPS would receive more than $5 billion annually from the overpaid amount. In addition, the legislation would grant the Postal Service flexibility to adjust mail delivery frequency, close some locations and have arbitrators consider the agency's finances during labor negotiations."


I played highlights of the hearing on the show today. You can click here to watch the entire event.