Bengazi, the IRS, the Associated Press, and the USPS

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This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold its 2nd hearing on “scandals” at the Internal Revenue Service.   These two hearings along with a third hearing held by the full committee on the Bengazi have provided the Committee  significant visibility that the hard work required to create a postal reform bill that can pass would not. For postal stakeholders, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s focus on scandals that other House committees are also investigating must be particularly frustrating.  Members of Congress and Congressional committee staff have a finite amount of time and focusing on issues that generate the greatest press coverage and interest from Republican [...] Read more »

USPS May Not Have Cash to Meet Payroll in October

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In a series of tweets, Scott MacFarlane has reported  that a presentation by Jim O’Brien, VP Distribution and Postal Affairs of Time Inc indicated that the USPS may run out of cash next October.   The presentation was made at a recent “Industry Focus Group. A Postal Service spokesperson confirmed to Mr. MacFarlane that the Federal Government will be responsible for payroll as of that date if the Postal Service runs out of cash and the Postal Service is expected to continue to provide service. US Postal Service tells @macfarlanenews : “possibility the American taxpayer will be on the hook” for postal worker paychecks come October — Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) April [...] Read more »

In Past Decade, Congress Has Made Naming Post Offices a Top Priority

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In the decade that the long-term financial problems of the Postal Service have been discussed openly, Post Office naming bills have become a focus of Congress.   In each of the past five Congresses over 15% of all bills passed and signed into law named a Post Office. The increase in interest in naming Post Offices began in the Congress that served when 9/11 occurred.   As such, it is likely that most of those honored by having a Post Office named after them died in the terrorist attacks in the United States, or served their country in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed.  If Congress expected that [...] Read more »

Eight Legislative Days in September: Will the House Act on the USPS?

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The House of Representatives reconvenes on Monday.   This starts a period of eight days of legislative activity before the end of the fiscal year.    This week’s floor schedule suggests that the House is unlikely to tackle any significant legislation before the end of the fiscal year.    Most of the legislation under consideration on Monday and Friday are being considered under suspension of the rules which only occurs for non-controversial bills.  The exception are four bills that will be considered under a rule on Friday. Postal stakeholders should play close attention to an un-numbered bill entitled “Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013.”  This is a must pass bill or the government will shut down [...] Read more »

Only Shutting the USPS Down Would Get Congress To Act

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The Roll Call article on the default on the retiree health benefit payment by the Postal Service explains why the House Republicans felt they did not have to bring H.R. 2309 or any other bill to prevent default prior to the August recess. The Postal Service makes “this an easy issue for Congress to ignore even as it faces a dire financial situation. The service’s website home page has no warnings about post office closings or delayed deliveries. To the contrary, an official statement issued Monday seems to downplay the severity of the problem.” “This action will have no material effect on the operations of the Postal Service. We will [...] Read more »

Politics Trumps Policy : Surprised?

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The Hill  has reported that House Republican campaign strategy drove H.R. 2309, the Postal Reform Act, off the legislative track for action prior to the August recess. The delay would prioritize election-year messaging votes over actions to rescue the Postal Service, which is currently losing $25 million a day and is on track to bleed billions of dollars again this fiscal year. More recent reporting has indicated that political considerations may have possibly killed any chance that the House of Representatives will act on postal reform at all in this session of Congress. What will House Do Instead? Right now the House schedule appears to want to only deal with [...] Read more »

It’s Time for Postal Unions to Find New Owners for the USPS

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In a column in the April 29, 2012 Washington Post, Steven Pearlstein discusses how American Airline unions may have turned the tables on American Airline management’s plans to restructure the airline. American management’s plan focused on cutting costs, and in particular labor costs. Right now it appears that management is unlikely to implement their plan as American’s three largest unions have come to an agreement with US Airways that will involve fewer cost cuts and will focus instead on marketing synergies between the networks of US Airways and American Airlines in a way that will expand the merged airline’s ability to compete for business customers with United and Delta Airlines, [...] Read more »

What would an optimized Postal Service infrastructure look like in the 21st century and beyond?

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In trying to define an optimized Postal Service infrastructure, I was stuck at trying to define what “an optimized Postal Service infrastructure” meant.  The problem that I had was not with the mathematics of optimization which is focused on either cost minimization or profit maximization but with four sets of constraints that affect the formulation of an optimization model.   These constraints are: Customer service needs which determine product characteristics; Labor management constraints that impact operating costs; Capital spending constraints that limit options for infrastructure optimization; and Regulatory constraints which modifies a market-driven optimal network to reflect political considerations. While in the future, the Postal Service’s customers are going to need [...] Read more »

Relevance of PRC Decision In Network Optimization Review

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Right now the Postal Service has committed to Congress to hold off closing postal facilities and implementing Network Optimization Initiative (NOI) until mid-May. This date is two months before the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will close the record on the Postal Service’s NOI proposal and between three to five months before the Commission publishes its opinion. The difference in time between when the Postal Service promised Congress that it would implement Network Optimization Imitative and when the Commission will issue raises an interesting question. Does the Postal Service have to wait for the Commission’s decision to act? Some believe that the Postal Service does not have the legal obligation to [...] Read more »

Mark Twain and Congress’s Management of the USPS: Are They Criminals or Idiots?

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Yesterday, Dead Tree Edition, gave Congress the John Adams award for how useless members of Congress in finding a real solution to the Postal Service’s financial problem.   He notes that Congress deserves this award because not only has Congress been useful, some of the legislative changes members have proposed and appear likely to be part of any postal legislation passed this year could make the problem worse not better.    I would argue that a more appropriate award would have been the Mark Twain award who looked at Congress as a mix of idiots and petty criminals.  Here are is just a sample. Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman [...] Read more »