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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Mail Delivery Mish-Mash


The U.S. Postal Service for months has been making noise about eliminating Saturday mail delivery as a cost-saving measure, but without feedback from the Postal Regulatory Commission and a stamp of approval from Congress, USPS hasn't been able to move forward on the proposal. Until today.

The PRC on Thursday afternoon issed an advisory opinion on the five-day delivery question, but there's no clear thumbs up/thumbs down ruling on the proposal. The commission found that Postal Service overestimated potential savings and underestimated potential losses in revenue associated with dropping a delivery day. The actual savings would be approximately $1.7 billion annually, but only after three years, according to the PRC. USPS had estimated nearly $3.1 billion per year in savings.

"While the potential reduction in service could compromise the universal service obligation, the potential savings could provide needed financial relief to the Postal Service," wrote PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway in a letter to lawmakers. "A decision to change the existing patterns of postal communications and delivery should be made with care."

The PRC also found that the proposed change would cause 25 percent of first-class and priority mail to be delayed by two days. Those living in rural, remote and non-continguous areas would be particularly affected.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe doesn't appear to be discouraged, however, and on Thursday noted that the plan remains part of USPS' strategy to save money and boost efficiency.

"The commission's opinion is advisory only and therefore, is not a final determination on the merits of our proposal," Donahoe said. "We remain convinced of our findings. As such, we will also continue to press our case with the Congress on this matter."

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