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A Balanced Approach to Reforming the Postal Service
By Dana Hyde
Thank you for signing a petition about the U.S. Postal Service. We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on WhiteHouse.gov and your concerns about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in a challenging economy. The Postal Service is vital to the Nation's commerce and communications, which is why we must act quickly to make the changes necessary to ensure its viability for years to come.
Postal volumes have dropped precipitously in recent years due to longer-run shifts in communication technologies and other economic factors. As a result, USPS accrued losses of $8.5 billion in 2010, and faced financial insolvency on September 30th. Without reform it is forecast to sustain greater losses this year and next.
However, the Postal Service needs more than just short term financial relief at this time; it needs a comprehensive plan for reform to ensure that it can be flexible and competitive in a changing marketplace. There are multiple ways to provide relief and reform, but the Administration's proposal in The President's Plan for Economic Growth and Job Creation [PDF] represents a balanced approach for postal workers, USPS, consumers, and taxpayers.
More specifically, the proposal includes a set of near-term financial relief measures that will provide the Postal Service with the time necessary to restructure its operations and take advantage of flexibilities in the proposal, such as the ability to cooperate with state and local governments and modest pricing flexibility.
In the longer term, we are proposing to help the Postal Service reduce its excessive operating costs by providing the flexibility to gradually move to 5-day delivery, beginning in 2013. Under USPS' plan for how it would use this authority, post offices would still remain open on Saturdays, Express Mail deliveries would still be made 7 days a week, post office box deliveries would still be made on Saturdays, and USPS would continue to make Saturday deliveries in the busy weeks leading up to the winter Holidays. These and other cost structuring actions will ensure that the Postal Service remains viable for the medium- and longer-term.
We believe USPS' financial situation demands such reforms and the Administration's package includes provisions to reduce the impact for USPS workers and customers. We share petitioners' concern for the health and viability of the USPS and developed this plan with the best interest of this vital institution in mind.
As we work to get our Nation back on a sustainable fiscal path, the Administration is making tough choices across the Federal government and asking everyone to do their fair share. These shared sacrifices are not easy, but together with investments in our economic growth and job creation [PDF], they will make us stronger and more competitive for the future.
Dana Hyde is Associate Director for General Government Programs, Office of Management and Budget