PRC to analyze impact of changing Saturday mail delivery

Monday - 4/1/2013, 6:04pm EDT

By Larry Frum
Federal News Radio

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is looking for an organization that can help it develop a report on the impact of discontinuing Saturday mail delivery service. The request for proposal comes despite congressional insistence that the Postal Service doesn't have the power to alter its delivery schedule for first-class mail.

PRC is asking organizations and individuals to help its staff determine the impact of stopping street delivery of letters and flats on Saturday while maintaining the delivery of packages.

PRC also issued a second RFP for analysis on "the costs and contribution of discontinuing the street delivery of letters and flats on Saturdays, while maintaining the delivery of parcels on Saturdays."

Responses to the PRC's solicitations are due April 18.

The first RFP states:

The analysis should estimate baseline unit costs of the current pattern of arriving volume by shape. It should then estimate the effect on unit costs of eliminating street delivery of letter and flat mail on Saturdays. With respect to weekday parcel delivery on regular street delivery routes, the analysis should distinguish between parcels that are delivered without causing a unique access to the delivery point, and parcels that cause a unique access. The analysis should identify the likely operational differences and associated cost effects on parcel unit costs when parcels are delivered on Saturdays on routes that are dedicated solely to parcel delivery. This should include an analysis of the incremental total cost required for letter carriers to pick up (collect) indicia-affixed or pre-paid parcels on Saturdays, and should account for the time required for carriers to scan parcels as part of their normal delivery responsibilities. The analysis should estimate the cost effects of day-of-the-week fluctuations in arriving volume on a long-run basis where management has a multi-year planning horizon, and compare them with costs where management has a planning horizon of a year or less.

The Postal Service said altering Saturday delivery would save $2 billion annually and help make a dent in the agency's dire financial situation.

A Government Accountability Office report said the fiscal 2013 budget bill passed and signed into law last week "maintains the status quo [of six-day delivery] regarding government funding and operations."

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said the GAO report "makes it crystal clear that USPS cannot operate outside the legislative authority of Congress and unilaterally implement a change in delivery service."

Lawmakers from rural districts have been resistant to any delivery changes for their constituents. Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, support the Postal Service's plan, saying the proposal only alters Saturday deliveries, but does not eliminate them.

USPS also accelerating closings

These delivery changes come on the heels of accelerated closure of mail processing plants as the USPS deals with a $16 billion loss in 2012. USPS is pushing for 53 consolidations this year that were originally scheduled for 2014.

While the American Postal Workers Union has denounced the closures, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said this step and others must be done to stave off insolvency.

"The hard truth is that these piecemeal efforts undertaken by the Postal Service are likely not enough on their own to fundamentally fix the Postal Service's serious financial problems," Carper said in a statement. "I intend to closely review this plan and work with the Postal Service to ensure that the consolidation process is fair and transparent to employees and customers."

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