Postal reform gets rolling

In addition to the lower-than-expected proposed rate increase — and the fact that it may not happen at all — there’s more cause for optimism: The House Government Reform Committee on April 12 passed H.R. 22, the latest postal reform bill from Rep. John M. McHugh (R-NY) and committee chairman Tom Davis (R-VA).

The bill, reintroduced in January, initially had a five-year limitation on worksharing discounts that exceed the costs avoided by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailer preparation and transportation. That measure has been removed, in line with the Senate version.

H.R. 22 still calls for modernized rate regulation; combining of market disciplines with regulation; limitations on the postal monopoly and nonpostal products; and reform of international mail regulation. But revisions to the bill reflect input from the Bush administration and the Senate, including demands for the same type of public accounting required of firms by the Securities and Exchange Commission; salary cap flexibility, providing the USPS with a more efficient process for awarding bonuses to employees; and limiting the USPS’s Competitive Products Fund (which was created by the bill) to borrowing from the Department of Treasury rather than the private sector.

McHugh — who has been trying to get a reform bill passed for 10 years — was pleased with the bill’s passage. “Now that the committee has put its stamp of approval on this great product, it is my hope that the bill will move quickly to the House floor for a vote,” he said in a statement.

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