USPS submits overhaul plan to Congress

(Direct Newsline)–The U.S. Postal Service, facing rising costs and shrinking business, asked Congress Thursday for a law change overhauling its operations. The plan would allow the USPS to phase in price increases on a regular basis and give it the authority to close some offices and, if necessary, eliminate Saturday mail delivery.

The USPS said that without those and other changes in the law, which turned the old Post Office Department into the semigovernmental Postal Service, it faces a worsening financial disaster.

By law, the USPS, which last year lost $1.6 billion, must seek the support of the independent Postal Rate Commission before raising rates or closing any of its facilities.

The proposed plan also calls for a long-term restructuring of the Postal Service’s operations so tht it could become a commercial government enterprise using market-based pricing methods, including discounts and negotiated service contracts with mass mailers.

Other proposed changes include the unrestricted introduction of new products and services; easing purchasing rules; and less cumbersome and restrictive labor contract negotiations and dispute mediation.

S. David Fineman, vice chairman of the USPS’s Board of Governors, told the Washington “Post” that after legislative revamping, the USPS might look something like Fannie Mae, the congressionally chartered but privately owned mortgage lender.

“Based on an initial reading of the executive summary of a more-than-450-page document, we believe that the Postal Service intends to move forward immediately and in a direction that will help to put it on a more financially sound footing,” Direct Marketing Association president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen said in a statement.

Postmaster General John Potter and other top postal officials, including members of its Board of Governors, are expected to be grilled thoroughly about their proposal when they appear before the two congressional committees–the House Government Reform and the Senate Government Affairs committees–that asked for the plan.

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