Postal Service seeks outside opinion on restructuring

Tuesday - 11/22/2011, 7:47pm EST

The Postal Service has hired New York-based investment bank Evercore Partners to evaluate its proposal to cut annual expenses by $20 billion by 2015.

Those cuts include changes to operations and employee pay and benefits, the agency said in a written statement announcing the deal.

Evercore Partners is best known for advising General Motors through its financial restructuring. It advises clients on financial restructurings and other strategic transactions, according to the USPS statement.

The decline of first-class mail and the poor economy led the Postal Service to lose $5.1 billion in fiscal 2011. It expects to lose more than $14 billion this year if it does not undertake major changes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. It funds operations through sale of postage, products and services.

"America needs a Postal Service that can operate more like a business," Postmaster General Pat Donahoe said at the National Press Club earlier this week.

The agency has proposed reducing its workforce by at least 100,000, or a sixth of its employees, and offering an alternative to the Federal Employees Health Benefit plan.

It has asked for Congressional approval to stop delivering mail on Saturdays and to explore other changes in the postal network and services. It is studying 3,700 post offices for closure.

For "proprietary business reasons," the Postal Service would not say which proposals Evercore Partners would evaluate, or whether they would suggest a new path forward.

The National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents about 280,000 employees and retirees, has hired another veteran of the auto industry's turnaround, Ron Bloom, to help it develop alternatives to the USPS proposals. Bloom helped shape the Obama administration's auto industry policies.

The Postal Service is renegotiating its contract with the NALC and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

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