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Entries in Saturday (2)

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

Friday
Jul222011

Postal Service Pushes to End Saturday Delivery

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- America’s second-largest employer is in dire straits and it’s all the Internet’s fault.

The U.S. Postal Service is facing an $8.3 billion budget shortfall this year, in large part because of losing almost half of its first class mail to online bill pay and email communication.

After laying off 110,000 employees and cutting $12 billion over the past four years, the service is now looking to end mail delivery on Saturdays, a move it said would save $3.1 billion per year.

“That’s savings that we desperately need,” said U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer.  “It’s not the only thing we need to do to get out of the financial hole but it is very important.”

But even within the postal system, there is disagreement over whether a five-day delivery system will actually solve the problem.  Despite not delivering mail, post offices would stay open, express or overnight mail would still be delivered and P.O. boxes would still receive mail.

The Postal Regulatory Commission, a president-appointed agency that oversees the Postal Services’ operations to ensure it doesn’t abuse its monopoly, estimated that cutting a delivery day would take three years to fully implement and would only save $1.7 billion per year thereafter.

“The key factor is that the Postal Service thinks it can take all the mail that it would otherwise deliver on Saturday and deliver it on Monday with no extra cost,” said regulatory commission chairman Ruth Goldway.  “When we look at the operations, it just can’t happen.”

Despite not receiving any taxpayer money, the USPS is technically a government agency, so in order to eliminate a delivery day it has to get Congressional approval.  Partenheimer said it has been trying to get approval since 2009, but this is the first year any legislation has been introduced.

While a shortened delivery schedule would help close the budget gap, both Partenheimer and Goldway said the real issue is the $5.5 billion the Postal Service has to pay every year into a fund for the health benefits of its future retirees.

Goldway said without the retiree fund payments, which were mandated starting in 2006, the mail service would be posting profits.

As it stands now, USPS will not be able to make the payment by its September due date, Postmaster General Patrick Donahue told USA Today on Wednesday.

"On Sept. 20, I won't be able to pay my bills," Donahue said.

If USPS cannot pay for its employees health care costs during retirement, that burden will fall to the federal government, a House Oversight Committee staffer said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio