Federal Manager's Daily Report

US Post Office in Oro Grande, New Mexico, zip code 88342

A task force on the USPS commissioned earlier this year by the White House has stopped short of recommending privatizing the postal agency although it has recommended more use of contractors and changing the law to end bargaining over pay and benefits.

The report is the latest in a long line of proposals to shore up the Postal Service’s finances after years of losses related largely to the shift from physical to online communications–only partly offset by substantial growth in delivery of packages.

It recommended better definingthat is, potentially narrowing–the “universal service obligation” requiring that USPS service all addresses; greater flexibility in setting prices for both mail and package items that are not deemed “essential services”; expanding use of “private sector partners in areas such as processing and sortation”; more flexibility to lower service delivery standards; exploring potential new revenue options including “licensing access to the mailbox” but not creating postal banking; and restructuring–but not eliminating–the requirement to pre-fund future retiree health insurance costs that the USPS has been unable to pay for years, resulting in a $43 billion obligation on its books.

Regarding bargaining, the report said that “as postal employees are part of the U.S. federal civil service, their wages and benefits should be aligned to comparable U.S. federal employee groups, including aligning their ability to collectively bargain for wages and benefits with other federal employees.” It said that postal employees are better paid than their GS counterparts as well as their private sector counterparts–an average per-employee total pay and benefits cost of $85,800 per year compared to $76,200 and $53,900 at two major package delivery firms.