Ailing Postal Service to Bypass Congress to Stop Saturday Deliveries

Hopes to reduce losses


As noted over at Reason 24/7 earlier, the United States Postal Service will announce today that it is ending letter delivery on Saturdays in order to save money.

It is doing so without permission from Congress, which has oversight over the agency. The USPS has been trying for a while to get legislative approval for the move, but has been denied by Congress members.

Yes, a government agency has been begging Congress to let them save money, but Congress is refusing. Unlike most government agencies, the Postal Service's budget is not unlike what you'd see from a private business. Its source of income is its customers; it does not get money from elsewhere in the federal budget. So if it is losing business (and it is – quite a bit) it has to cut back to balance its budget. The USPS reported a net loss of $15.9 billion last fiscal year and is projecting a loss of $7.6 billion this fiscal year. They're hoping dropping Saturday deliveries will save about $2 billion.

The Postal Service appears to be trying to bypass Congress through semantics. Congress won't let them close on Saturdays, so what they're doing, according to the Associated Press, is continuing to deliver mail to post office boxes on Saturdays and will keep their hours of operation. They just won't deliver mail to homes.

Representatives for their union are upset:

[T]he president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric Rolando, said the end of Saturday mail delivery is "a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers," particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.

They left out their own jobs that they're trying to protect, obviously. Latest numbers have the average postal employee making $83,000 a year in salary and benefits even as the volume of mail delivered by the USPS has dropped by about 20 percent over the past decade.

I have a short write-up about the sorry state of the USPS finances in the March 2013 issue of Reason, so check it out. Assuming it gets delivered.