LIVE FROM MTAC: USPS pushing legislation to shore up rate freeze

The U.S. Postal Service needs congressional legislation passed to make a potential rate freeze until 2006 a reality. In addressing the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) on Nov. 6 in Washington, Postmaster General Jack Potter said that the USPS is working closely with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to get legislation on the Hill later this week or early next week. The potential rate freeze stems from USPS’s overpayment into the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) fund, which was revealed at MTAC on Nov. 5. In his address before MTAC on Nov. 6, USPS CFO Richard Strasser noted that the financial revelation is not the result of a mistake made by anyone. He clarified that the retirement plan hasn’t been overfunded yet. “The yield on the fund has more rapidly paid down the liability,” he said. Strasser says that the financial investigation came about as a result of the USPS’s transformation plan’s look at longterm postal liabilities. “The GAO was a lever in that it thought the numbers might actually go in the other direction,” he says. “But although we were pretty sure it would come out favorable, we had no sense it would be this favorable.” The 1.9% in mail volume projected for the recently-completed USPS fiscal year was fueled by a 6%-8% increase in Standard Mail volume, while first class volume was to fall 2%, Strasser said. Despite the good news, Potter said that the agency won’t back off its efforts to push for postal reform legislation and a possible Presidential Commission to examine postal reform. “Just because rates could get pushed back doesn’t mean all is well with this business model,” he said. “My message to the White House is that this doesn’t negate the need for a presidential commission if that’s the path chosen to look at postal reform legislation. We won’t let up on our efforts, because we need longterm change.” Specifically, the agency will continue to drive efficiency up, and further develop the postal transformation plan launched earlier this year. “We’re not looking at this as some windfall,” Potter said. “Our intent is to pay down our debt.”

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