- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Postal Service seen ‘vital’ to U.S. economy
New chief must stem huge losses
Question of the Day
On the day before he was set to take over as the nation’s 73rd U.S. postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe sought to explain to a Senate panel how he plans to reverse a string of multibillion-dollar annual losses and lift the Postal Service out of the worst financial crisis in its history.
Mr. Donahue, a 35-year postal veteran who began as a clerk and became deputy postmaster general, takes over Friday for retiring Postmaster General John E. “Jack” Potter, who oversaw the agency for nearly a decade.
The Pittsburgh native assumes the top job at a time when financial problems are so dire that Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, asked Mr. Donahue in a private conversation why he would even want the position. Mr. Coburn jokingly likened taking the job to getting four root canals with no anesthesia.
In prepared remarks to a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee, Mr. Donahoe, calling the Postal Service the second-largest civilian employer in the nation (Wal-Mart ranks first), said, “Our survival is vital to the American economy.
“Any major disruption such as mail volume declines, weather-related challenges or emergency circumstances could cause us to experience an earlier cash shortfall resulting in defaults on financial obligations earlier” in fiscal 2011, he told the Senate. “Simply put, the risk remains quite high.”
Still, he said much of the Postal Service’s losses in recent years can be tied directly to the congressionally mandated requirement to prefund retirement benefits to the amount of about $5.6 billion per year. He said no other federal agencies or private companies “have a similar burden.”
Mr. Donahoe said he backed pending legislation to restructure the prefunding requirement. In addition, he seemed to favor cutting Saturday mail delivery. He said customer polls show the public would rather lose Saturday mail service than pay for a substantial stamp price increases or see local post offices close. He said eliminating Saturday mail would save about $3 billion per year.
Saying the Postal Service has been doing a good job cutting costs, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Delaware Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee, cautioned, “The truth is, we’re rapidly approaching a time when we may no longer be able to depend on the Postal Service.”
He said he’s introduced legislation that would help by allowing the Postal Service to use billions of dollars that it overpaid for civil service retirement system benefits toward meeting the retiree health care funding requirements.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she, too, proposed legislation that would, among other measures, reform postal contracting practices. She cited “stunning” evidence of costly contracting mismanagement.
Fredric V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said his 290,000-member group supports moves to restructure the prefunding requirement for retiree health care. But he said the association sharply opposes eliminating Saturday mail delivery.
“It would save very little money and risk the loss of much more revenue over time,” he said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- House federal records plan would prevent repeat of IRS email scandal
- Whistleblowers flood VA with lawsuits despite apology
- Outrage over $190M deal for troubled federal contractor USIS
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- White House warned about 'antiquated' VA scheduling system 5 years ago
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Pentagon running out of time to find mass of missing weapons in Afghanistan
- Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- The List: Top 20 TV medical shows
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq