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Entries in Mail (13)

Wednesday
Apr102013

USPS Backs Off Plan to End Saturday Mail

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- The United States Postal Service has reversed its decision to end standard mail delivery on Saturdays later this summer, citing lack of cooperation from Congress.

The money-losing USPS is blaming Congress for the reversal because it failed to remove from a recent spending bill restrictive legislative language that mandates six-day delivery.

“Although disappointed with this congressional action, the Board will follow the law and has directed the Postal Service to delay implementation of its new delivery schedule until legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule,” the USPS blog stated.

Nevertheless, the USPS Board said Wednesday that it continues to support the transition to a new national delivery schedule.

While House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa assured the Postal Service that it would retain its authority to modify its delivery schedule despite the budget language that derailed the effort. In a statement, Issa, one of Congress’ leading forces for postal reform, called the Postal Service’s decision a “setback” and blamed “special interest lobbying and intense political pressure” for the change.

“I am disappointed that the Postal Service has backed away from plans to implement a modified Saturday delivery schedule that polling indicates the American people understand and support,” Issa, R-Calif., said. “This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared to defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts.”

The continuing resolution funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The USPS says it will wait for Congress to either strip the provision from the next spending bill or enact comprehensive postal reform before moving ahead with its modified delivery plans, which would have taken effect August 5.

The Postal Service announced the plans to scale back Saturday delivery in February amid a wave of public outcry. The USPS is financially independent of the U.S. government and runs an annual deficit. It suffered a $15.9 billion loss last year.

Since 2006, the Postal Service has reduced staffing by 28 percent and consolidated 200 U.S. mail centers.

Last May, USPS announced it would cut back hours of operation in certain rural areas to avoid closing some post offices entirely. Hours at 13,000 post offices across the United States were slashed from full-time to part-time, ranging from two to six hours per day.

The switch saved the Postal Service around $500 million per year, but resulted in 9,000 employees losing work benefits.

The bleak financial outlook of the Postal Service has been a recurring theme and many ideas have been vetted in recent years to stop the financial bleeding.

In February, the Postal Service announced plans to debut a “Rain Heat & Snow” line of apparel in an attempt to gain much-needed revenue.

In November 2011, a gaggle of Senators proposed an overhaul of the Postal Service aimed at saving the agency. Among other proposals, the legislation suggested paring down to a 5 day delivery schedule over the course of two years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb132013

Some Senators Going Postal over Saturday Mail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the aftermath of the Postal Service’s announcement that it will end Saturday mail delivery come August, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs met Wednesday to chew over possible solutions to the financial difficulties facing the U.S. Postal Service.  The USPS is financially independent of the U.S. government, and runs at an annual deficit. It suffered a $15.9 billion loss last year.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., got a bit testy over the end of Saturday mail, which he said will hurt his rural state more than some others.

“I’m one of those guys who says don’t end Saturday delivery, don’t shut down that mail processing center in rural Montana, and I will tell you why,” said Tester. “Because it has an impact on rural Montana that you may not feel in Pittsburgh, or Miami, or LA, or any of the big cities, but we don’t get mail for 5 or 6 days. So if we are going to have a mail service that works for urban America, it damn well better work for rural America too!”

“If we are going to cut the nose off our face to save the postal service, why don’t we just turn the contract over to UPS or FedEx?” he later said.

In an edgy exchange with Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., questioned the legality of the USPS decision to end Saturday mail.

“You’re satisfied that you have the legal authority. I’m not. And I’m not sure that this committee is. I’m not sure the Congress is,” said Pryor.

Donahoe defended the decision.

“I would implore this Congress not to put any other restrictions on us from a six to five day perspective. We have lost substantial volume, we have lost 27 percent of our total volume, over 30 percent of our first class volume…. This is a responsible act,” said Donahoe.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said moving to five-day delivery is an “absolute must.”

“We need to give the post office the flexibility to do what they can do to prepare to offer that service in a way that puts them back in fiscal health,” said Coburn.

Donahoe warned of the consequences of simply raising prices without some agency reform.

“Let us resolve the cost issues before we go around pushing prices up because there is a real demand quotient here and we do not want to sink the system just by trying to generate some mail from a price increase,” said Donahoe.

Coburn and the president of the National Rural Letter Carrier’s Association, Jeanette P. Dwyer, also sparred over the elimination of Saturday delivery.

Dwyer claimed that some postal workers were given “less than 24 hours notice” of the Postal Service’s decision to pare down mail deliveries to five days a week.

“There are companies that will pounce on that,” Dwyer said, speaking about the possibility of losing business from the delivery change, “They will be more than glad to give that one day of delivery.”

Coburn retorted by asking, “If service is that important, why aren’t we delivering on Sunday?”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called on Congress to “free the hands” of the postal service.  He said he supports a small premium for Saturday delivery so that “vital medicines and other packages” could still be delivered.

“In order to get a comprehensive reform, we must first realize that freeing the hands of the Postmaster General, in a way that was envisioned by their independence, is a good first step,” said Issa.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb062013

USPS to Cut Mail Delivery on Saturdays

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays, but will continue to deliver packages six days a week.

While post offices that open on Saturdays will continue to do so, the initiative, which is expected to begin the first week of August, will save an estimated $2 billion a year.

The service reduction is the latest of Postal Service steps to cut costs as the independent agency of the U.S. government struggles with its finances.

The USPS announced in May it was cutting back on the number of operating hours instead of shuttering 3,700 rural post offices.  The move, which reduced hours of operation at 13,000 rural post offices from an eight-hour day to between two and six hours a day, was made with the aim of saving about $500 million per year.

The cutback in hours last year resulted in 9,000 full-time postal employees being reduced to part time plus the loss of their benefits, while another 4,000 full-time employees became part time but kept their benefits.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

US Postal Service Expected to Default on Billions in Health Payments

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The ailing U.S. Postal Service is expected to default on two annual payments totaling more than $11 billion in health benefits for future retirees.

The USPS said this week that unless congress steps in, the Postal Service will be unable to make payment on the $5.5 billion it owes the government by Aug. 1, or the $5.6 billion that is due by the end of September, the New York Times reports.

“We are simply not capable of making either of these payments to the U.S. Treasury, in part or in full, while continuing to meet our other legal obligations, including our obligation to provide universal service to the American people,” USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer said Wednesday, according to the Times.

The Wall Street Journal reports that legislative action is unlikely, as members of Congress prepare to depart Washington for August recess.

The Postal Service is deeply in the red, losing billions of dollars a year because of a sharp drop in mail volume. Critics say federal law prevents post offices from innovating to compete effectively with FedEx, UPS and other firms.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun252012

Post Office Cuts Hours to 30 Minutes Per Day

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(SUGAR HILL, N.H.) -- If you want to mail a letter in Sugar Hill, N.H., you’d better be quick. The town’s postal unit has cut its hours of operation to a mere 30 minutes per day, sparking outrage from the rural community’s 563 residents that has now caught the attention of the state’s two U.S. Senators.

“We are concerned about both the nature of the changes in service and the manner in which they were made,” Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R- NH, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said in a letter to the Postal Service district manager on Friday, also calling for USPS to hold a community meeting.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced in May that instead of eliminating up to 3,700 post offices, it would instead reduce their hours of operation from 8 hours per day to between 2 and 4 hours, but only after holding community meetings.

In Sugar Hill, residents are scratching their heads as to why their office was stripped down from 3 hours to 30 minutes, and, moreover, why there was never a community meeting.

“We had no prior knowledge of this,” Lissa Boissonneault, the Sugar Hill town clerk and tax collector, told ABC News. “One day there was a sign and the next day it started and we are pretty upset.”

Boissonneault said the post office, "slapped a sign on the door late Friday afternoon" and by Saturday the new rules went into effect, which slashed the hours and eliminated all services except stamp sales and mail delivery.

But the USPS insists the Sugar Hill location is “not a post office” and therefore did not have to go through the requisite steps to reduce its hours. Tom Rizzo, the Postal Service spokesman for Northern New England, said Sugar Hill is a “very unique situation” and that there is no plan to cut post office hours back to 30 minutes nationwide.

“It’s an isolated change that actually brings Sugar Hill closer to the normal operation of similar units, but still allows for roughly double the service of other units of its kind and has no national implications,” Rizzo told ABC News.

Sue Brennan, a USPS spokeswoman, said that nationwide there are less than a dozen “non-personnel” units, such as the one in Sugar Hill.

Nearly 13,000 post offices across the country could see their hours reduced, although probably none as dramatically as in Sugar Hill. The USPS claims its plan to cut back operating hours will save the cash-strapped service $500 million per year and will be fully implemented by September 2014.

The plan is part of a broader initiative to try to fill the Postal Service’s multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. USPS posted a loss of $3.2 billion last quarter.

Click here to see if your Post Office’s hours are being cut.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

USPS Offices Won't Close, Instead Cut Hours

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After 10 months of angst and outrage that spanned from rural Montana to Capitol Hill, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that the 3,700 post offices targeted in May for closing will remain open.

Instead, USPS plans to reduce the hours of operation at 13,000 rural post offices from a full eight-hour day to between two and six open hours per day, a move that the struggling mail service claims will save about $500 million per year.

“This is a win-win,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a news conference Wednesday. “The bottom line is that any rural community that wants to retain their post office will be doing that.”

Under the new plan, about 9,000 current full-time postal employees will be reduced to part time and lose their benefits after the offices they work at are put got to two to four open hours per day. Another 4,000 full-time employees will see their hours reduced to part-time, but will retain their benefits. These workers will be at post offices whose hours are reduced to six hours per day.

“If we can shrink the labor cost we can keep the building open, that’s not hard to do, and ensure that customers have access,” Donahoe said.

Even though many post offices will have vastly reduced operating hours, people will still be able to access their P.O. boxes all day.

“We think this is the responsible thing to do,” Donahoe said. “Any company that listens to their customers would come up with a good solution like this.”

But House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who has co-sponsored a postal reform bill in the House, said today’s plan only addresses a small fraction of the Postal Service’s massive budget shortfall. Rural post offices that will be impacted by the plan account for less than one-eighth of the $5 billion USPS spends each year on operating post offices, Issa said in a statement.

“To achieve real savings creating long-term solvency, the Postal Service needs to focus on consolidation in more populated areas where the greatest opportunities for cost reduction exist,” Issa said.

Under the plan announced last summer, the Postal Service was reviewing 800 urban post offices for possible closure. All of those city offices, many of which are clustered within blocks of each other, will remain untouched under the current plan.

The postmaster general noted that USPS’s plan to reduce operating hours achieves only a fraction of the $22.5 billion in cuts necessary to put the Postal Service back in the black. The USPS has posted a multi-billion budget shortfall last year in part because first class mail volume has plummeted 28 percent over the past decade.

Donahoe is also pushing for a plan to reduce mail delivery to five days per week and reform the postal employee retirement system, but has to have Congressional approval to implement either item. Postal reform is currently caught in a tug-of-war between the House and the Senate.

The postmaster general set a goal for Congress to pass, and the president to sign, comprehensive postal reform by this summer.

The Postal Service aims to start reducing office hours at selected rural post offices starting around Labor Day and have all 13,000 offices now under review operating under reduced hours, consolidated with a nearby post office or local business or closed in favor of rural delivery by the fall of 2014.

Brennan said she expects that “very few” of these small-town post offices will close as communities opt for shorter hours instead.

Since USPS announced their decision to begin cutting post offices in July, 500 have already closed and will remain closed under the new plan. But the 400 offices that had been targeted for elimination will now remain open and operate for between two and six hours per day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr132012

Half of US Mail Facilities No Longer Needed, Study Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new study on the United States Postal Service shows the mail network is having a hard time keeping up with slimming down as more people turn to texting and email.

Released by the Government Accountability Office, the April study highlights the amount of excess in the mail system.

For example, the GAO says the Postal Service has 461 processing centers, but 223 of those centers are no longer needed.

It operates 8,000 mail processing machines, but the amount of mail has dwindled so much that they no longer need 3,000 of those machines.

Of the 154,000 postal employees, up to 35,000 could be let go because there is not enough mail for them to handle, the study concluded.

This excess is a result of the decline in areas such as First-Class mail volume and automation improvements in mail sorting.

The USPS has saved $2.4 billion since 2006 after starting their initiative to eliminate excess facilities and operations.  However, in the same year the gap between USPS expenses and revenues has grown.  It was predicted in February that net losses will reach $21 billion by 2016 despite actions to reduce excess cost.

The December 2011 proposal by the USPS to change overnight delivery service and move to a five day delivery schedule is currently being reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission.  The USPS hopes to save $22.5 billion by 2016 if the proposal is approved.

The report stated the USPS had no comment on the findings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb242012

US Postal Service to Consolidate 200+ Processing Centers

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After completing a five-month review of 264 mail processing centers, the U.S. Postal Service announced on Thursday it will move forward with plans to close the majority of them later this year.

The agency, facing financial losses of up to $18.2 billion a year by 2015, said 223 facilities will be consolidated all or in part, while six will be put on hold for further evaluation.  Thirty-five others will remain open for the time being.

[CLICK HERE TO SEE WHICH FACILITIES ARE SLATED FOR CONSOLIDATION]

The consolidations are expected to occur sometime after May 15 and will cut approximately 35,000 positions, according to the USPS.

"These changes are a necessary part of a larger comprehensive plan developed by the Postal Service to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 and return the organization to profitability," the agency said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec052011

Snail Mail May Get Slower: Postal Service Looks to Cut $2 Billion

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Postal Service announced Monday that it is moving forward on a plan to cut over $2 billion that will come at the cost of making First Class mail delivery slower.
 
The proposed slowing of First Class mail service comes at a time when the postal service is losing business to faster digital communication options, like e-mail on online bill payment. The proposed change risks the possibility of further encouraging costumers to transfer their communications to digital mediums, but Vice President of Network Operations Dave Williams says the decision is a necessary to put the Postal Service “on sound financial ground.”
 
“We have to do this, we have to make this change in order for the postal service to become financially viable,” Williams told reporters Monday. Williams went on to say that the service expects to lose $14 billion this year if it doesn’t get congressional relief.
 
Under the plan, which the Postal Service is now sending to the Postal Regulatory Commission for review, First Class mail would no longer have an overnight processing standard. The standard delivery window for First Class mail would increase from its current 1-3 day delivery standard to 2-3 days.
 
In addition to the proposed increase in the standard delivery time for First Class mail, the plan takes into consideration closing 252 of the nation's 461 mail processing centers.
 
Post Master General Patrick Donahue says that with the proposed consolidation of processing centers, about 35,000 employee’s jobs will be affected. These job losses would add to the 250,000 jobs that the postal service has already lost over the last decade.
 
While the 252 processing centers under review will not be affected until the Postal Regulatory Commission’s review is complete in approximately three months, the postal service has already begun a process of cutting back its processing centers. Since September, the Postal Service has closed 26 processing facilities, according to Williams.
 
The postal service is also looking to cut back delivery service from six days a week to five days a week, which Donahoe says would save $3 billion, as well as cutting back on retiree health care costs. These two cost-saving measures, however, need congressional approval before they can be implemented.
 
“Congress needs to act now,” Donahue said. “We’ve got two bills, one in the House, one in the Senate, the administration is waiting …We need to act right now.”
 
The postal service projects that it needs to decrease its total operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in order to keep up with the continued decrease in the demand for the service.
 
“What we have to do is look at what we can take out of this organization from a cost standpoint because we have lost volume and we have lost revenue and you can’t just sit back and wait, you’ve got to act on these things,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told reporters Monday. “We’ve got a goal of $20 billion dollars and we’re going to do that in order to keep ourselves financially helpful.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec052011

USPS Expected to Announce Cuts that Would Slow Service

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesUPDATE: The downsizing of the U.S. Postal Service will mean slower mail delivery starting in the spring.

“We have to do this; we have to make this change in order for the postal service to become financially viable,” said USPS vice president of operations David Williams, who added that more than 500 postal processing centers are being closed, and postal workers encouraged to take early retirement.

“We need to have 20,000 fewer employees,” Williams said.

The closures would mean that mail has to travel farther to be delivered so people would no longer be able to expect next-day delivery in nearby communities.

The postal service also plans to close thousands of lightly-used post offices.

Since 2006, Williams said, demand for postal service has dropped, leading to idle equipment, personnel and space.  He says those expenses are unsupported by customer demand.

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(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Postal Service is expected to announce Monday measures that would slow mail delivery for the first time in 40 years.

Slammed by email competition and buried by massive payments for health care and retirement benefits, The Washington Post reports that USPS officials plan to cut costs by closing approximately 250 of the postal service’s 460 mail processing facilities -- an estimated savings of $3 billion annually.

Come spring, forget next-day delivery; first-class mail will reportedly take two to five days to arrive, instead of the current one to three days. The delays would mean slower delivery for everything from paychecks to mail-order prescriptions and DVD rentals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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