The U.S. Postal Service’s plan to save $2 billion annually by switching from a six-day mail delivery schedule to a five-day schedule may have been foiled by Congress’ legislative decision made Thursday, March 21.
USPS planned to reduce costs by delivering standard mail only to mail boxes Monday through Friday, but continuing Saturday delivery of packages and pharmaceuticals to homes and businesses as well as standard mail to P.O. Box addresses. 1
USPS is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, but is granted a legalized monopoly and funds through Congress in exchange for “Universal Services.”2
Six-day delivery is not required by law, but is included in an annual provision in legislation known as the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act:
“For payment to the Postal Service fund for revenue forgone on free and reduced rate mail, pursuant to subsections (c) and (d) of section 2401 if title 39, United States Code, $78,153,000 . . . Provided . . . That 6-day delivery and rural delivery of mail shall continue at not less than the 1983 level . . . .”
USPS notes that the Continuing Resolution did not appropriate funds to USPS for 2013, and that the six-day provision is imposed only on funds appropriated in 2012. USPS states:
“Congress will, of course, have the opportunity to enact further appropriations legislation prior to the Postal Services’ proposed implementation date in August. For the Postal Service to move forward with its plan, Congress will have to refrain from re-enacting a 6-day rider in such legislation.”
In a letter from Susan A. Poling of the United States Government Accountability Office, she states:
“We conclude that USPS continues to be bound by the provision in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2012. . . our decisions have concluded that agencies operating under a continuing resolution are to preserve the status quo as established by the appropriations acts identified in the continuing resolution until Congress completes action on appropriations acts for the remainder of the fiscal year.”
Later in her letter, Poling states:
“The 6-day delivery provision has been enacted into law every year since 1987, and was enacted once again in the 2012 Appropriations Act. When we read section 101 with other provisions in the context of its broader purpose, it is clear that it extends all the authorities and conditions of the identified appropriations, including the 2012 Appropriations Act, for the duration of the Continuing Resolution. The 6-day delivery provision is one of the ‘authorities and conditions provided’ in the 2012 Appropriations Act. It would be anomalous, and inconsistent with the nature and purpose of a continuing resolution, to conclude that Congress intended in this Continuing Resolution, without specific legislative language, to eliminate this directive, especially since Congress had imposed it on USPS in the previous fiscal year and every year since 1987.” 3
This legal setback holds USPS at a standstill in their efforts to reduce costs and keep from needing a $47 billion government bailout by 2017.
“We use no tax-payer money for daily operations, and we want to keep it that way,” said Richard Watkins, corporate communications spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Kansas City. “We’re not asking for a bailout or taxpayer money, we want the flexibility to be able to make changes based on workforce and mail volume.”
The Postal Service has neglected to remove their five-day mail delivery plan from their web site, and is still pushing for this change. Subscribe to our blog or like us on facebook for future updates on this topic.