Bush Administration Forms Presidential Commission to Overhaul USPS

Washington–The Bush Administration on Dec. 11 announced plans to form a commission to find ways to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service. While the commission’s primary intent is to find ways to reform the USPS to enabling it to continue providing universal delivery service at reasonable rates, the Administration also plans for it to allow for private contractors to compete for nearly half of the government’s civilian jobs in coming years.

The commission’s report is due on July 31. The result will likely be the first reorganization of the nation’s postal system since 1971 when the old Post Office Department was transformed into the quasi-governmental arm now known as the U.S. Postal Service.

Postmaster General Jack Potter and U.S. Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance Peter Fisher announced the formation of the commission. The panel named includes commission co-chairman Republican Harry Pearce, who is chairman of Hughes Electronics Corp. and a former GM executive, and Democrat James Johnson, chairman of the Brookings Institution and a former executive at Fannie Mae.

Other panel members include Dionel Aviles, president of Houston-based Aviles Engineering Corp.; Don V. Cogman, chairman of Scottsdale, AZ-based CC Investments; Carolyn A. Gallagher, former president/CEO Taylor, TX-based Texwood Furniture; Richard Levin, president of Yale University; Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association; Robert Walker, chairman/CEO of Washington-based Wexler Group; and Joseph R. Wright, president/CEO of Wilton, CT-based PanAmSat.

Direct Marketing Association president/CEO Bob Wientzen says that in addition to developing ways to reform the USPS, he hopes the commission will seek to enact legislation that will update the current formula for funding retirement benefits, a situation that surfaced in November that could lead to postal rate stabilization for the next four years.

“The time had come for the Postal Service to be studied so the formation of a commission is sensible,” says George Mosher, president/CEO of National Business Furniture, a $123 million cataloger based in Milwaukee. “Obviously, the world has changed dramatically, so the commission has to figure out what the Postal Service should get into, what it should not be in, and its future role.”

Above all else, said Jack Estes, executive director of the Main Street Coalition for Postal Fairness, a Washington-based trade group that supports the needs of smaller mailers, “the most deeply rooted purpose for our postal system should not change. The USPS,” he said in a Dec. 11 letter to President Bush about the formation of the commission, “is charged with the reliable, secure delivery [all mail] to all parts of the nation at uniform and nondiscriminatory rates.”

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