- - Thursday, October 29, 2015

It turns out the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been caught in a lie. The Postal Service’s increased focus on its for-profit shipping service actually cost a ridiculous amount. A recent analysis proved that the postal service failed to attribute more than $2.5 billion to competitive services – essentially hiding the tax dollars it was using to compete against private businesses.

While the USPS has been busy improperly shifting resources from its federally mandated mail-delivery services to its shady side business of competing against private companies in the courier delivery service industry, it has all but ignored its actual job of delivering the mail.

A September 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found half of all mail in the U.S. goes unchecked for timely delivery. “Quality delivery performance information is needed for USPS and postal stakeholders such as [Postal Regulatory Commission], Congress, business mailers and the general public to develop useful analysis that can help oversee or assess the balance between USPS’s cost-cutting to address its poor financial situation while maintaining affordable postal rates and providing timely, universal delivery service,” the GAO report said. It’s as though the agency does not even care to track helpful data that could inform its pricing — and possibly shore up its finances.

New leaders at the USPS Board of Governors and the Postal Regulatory Commission have failed to implement any tangible changes to stop the bleeding at the USPS. And they certainly have not done what they should to stop the market abuse at hand.

Even the USPS Inspector General seems confused about its core function, more regularly tending to the Postal Service’s latest business gimmicks than behaving like an actual watchdog. From weighing in on a potential foray into banking, to a $500 million overhaul of its truck fleet, the USPS IG offers far more tips than critiques.

All of this occurs against the backdrop of well-documented financial troubles and a series of highly questionable business ventures. In the coming weeks, the postal service will close its fiscal year by marking 20 straight quarters of massive financial losses. According to the Tax Foundation, USPS has lost $51.7 billion since 2007 alone. And as my colleague David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, lamented a year ago, all of the USPS’ new ventures are merely deflections that amount to “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Rather than shift more taxpayer money to stay afloat, the USPS should stick to delivering mail and fulfilling its obligations. No accounting method can fix woeful performance for letter delivery or inept leadership. Now is the time to get back to basics and stop playing games that waste taxpayers’ money and harm private enterprise.

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