On the scene at MTAC: deputy PMG delivers bad news

Washington–The state of the U.S. Postal Service “is not good,” said Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan kicking off the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) in Washington on Feb. 6. Nolan pointed out that with volume and revenue “significantly down” this year, “the prognosis is not particularly good for the rest of the year.” Because of mail volume and revenue declines, Nolan said that many postal districts have cut their work hours by 6%-8% compared withlast year. Overall field budgets have been cut by nearly $1.2 billion.

As for the $675 million in emergency funds that the agency is receiving from Congress for costs stemming from Sept. 11 and the anthrax attacks, the USPS plans to spend much of it on gloves and new vehicles, and to clean up the Church Street postal facility near the World Trade Center site in New York. “It’s an extremely detailed plan” that the USPS will submit to Congress on the distribution of the funding. “We’ll let Congress know in the next few weeks how we’ll spend that money,” Nolan said.

He noted that the only irradiation taking place currently is for the Washington-based mail from the zip codes beginning with 202 and 205–mail destined for federal government agencies. “We don’t see a dramatic expansion on irradiation at this time,” Nolan said. “We’re pushing hard on detection, and the right way to go to protect postal employees, the general public, and the mailing industry. Our number-one objective is to find any bioattack as soon as possible, as it’s entering our system or before, so we can appropriately deal with it.”

Despite some negative reviews to the USPS’s draft for a transformation plan, Nolan said that postal management “is committed to the transformation plan,” and will submit its final version on March 31. “We’re trying to understand all things that need to get us the structure we need, and what the right way is to present that,” he said. Despite the expected June 30 implementation of the current rate case, Nolan said that the USPS could come up $4 billion short in revenue this year, which will be one of many things that keeps the agency from proceeding with capital investments. “We’re only spending money now on things that will generate savings,” he said. “The rate increase won’t change that. As of this point, there will be no lifting of the moratorium on any post office construction.”

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