Government Reform

Upside Downsizing

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Big government is dead. Long live big government.

A recent General Accounting Office report on downsizing efforts at the United States Postal Service suggests just how efficient the government will be at downsizing. Although the Postal Service is technically an independent government agency, it still receives various subsidies from the feds and is very much bound by governmental regulations and procedures.

Between April 1993 and November 1995, reports the GAO, after the Postal Service had completed its downsizing effort, overall postal employment had grown by about 10 percent, from 782,000 to 855,000. And 98.6 percent of the new hires were "career employees," meaning they will be around for the long haul. In fiscal 1995, despite a massive $5 billion automation investment plan, labor costs were about 80 percent of the Postal Service's costs–the same percentage as in 1969, a year before the service became an "independent" executive branch agency.

"The vast majority of the Service's craft employees, those who collect, sort, and deliver mail, are protected from layoffs," notes the GAO.