Monitor Staff Reports
WASHINGTON D.C.-Though the U.S. Postal Service earlier this year announced it would discontinue Saturday mail delivery as a cost-saving move starting in August, the Government Accounting Office determined Thursday that the action goes against the directives of Congress, which calls for mail delivery six days a week.
The GAO sent a letter to Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-WV), the top Democrat on the Government Operations Subcommittee, announcing its finding. Earlier, Connolly had asked the GAO to rule on the plan to discontinue Saturday service. Congress passed a Continuing Resolution, which mandates six-day-a-week mail delivery.
“We see no language in the fiscal year 2013 Continuing Resolution to indicate that congress did not expect it to continue to apply during the Continuing Resolution,” the GAO letter stated.
Lawmakers have required six-day delivery with language in the federal budget since 1983. They kept the requirement in a stopgap budget they approved in March to fund the government through the fiscal year
In its response to the finding, the USPS stated that “a new delivery schedule is an important element of a larger strategy to close a $15.9 billion budget gap by 2016, and to avoid the potential that the Postal Service may eventually become a significant burden to the American taxpayer.”
Postmaster General Patrick Donahue announced in February that the plan to only deliver parcels on Saturday would save the USPS $2 billion a year.
President Obama’s budget, released Wednesday, calls for five-day delivery starting in June, two months before the Postal Service proposed.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress opposed the move, which resulted in language being inserted into the CR making sure that mail was delivered six days a week at least until the end of the fiscal year, which ends in September.
However, the USPS is still talking tough. Largely unnoticed in the USPS board’s statement, are directions for making up for the budget shortfall in other ways. “(T)he Board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions,” it said, adding that it had also “asked management to evaluate further options to increase revenue, including an exigent rate increase.”
In other words, the USPS may soon seek regulatory approval to raise prices and ask its unions for concessions. Its continuing financial crisis — the result of declining mail volume and a 2006 law requiring the agency to prepay its future retiree health benefits won’t go away on its own.
Democrats blame the Post Office operational deficit on the Republican dominated Congress of pre-election 2006 for mandating the USPS pre-fund 75 years of health care and pensions over 10 years. It has been reported that without these Congressional mandates, the Post Office would have operated with a small surplus last year, instead of a $16 billion deficit.
Saturday mail delivery reinstated
Posted by : April 13, 2013| On :
Monitor Staff Reports