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Uh oh. Is the USPS in trouble?

Posted, July 28, 2009
GAO Puts U.S. Postal Service on 'High-Risk' List
By Al Tompkins (More articles by this author)

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report on Tuesday that the U.S. Postal Service is now on the GAO's "High-Risk List" [PDF].

The GAO explained the reasoning behind this, saying the postal service needs to restructure and get on a "more sustainable financial path":

"Mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces in fiscal year 2008 to a total of 203 billion pieces and is projected to fall by 28 billion pieces in fiscal year 2009 to a total of 175 billion pieces.  USPS expects mail volume and revenue to continue declining next year, and flat or continued volume decline over the next 5 years. USPS projects a net loss of $7 billion this fiscal year, with outstanding debt increasing to over $10 billion, and a cash shortfall of about $1 billion. USPS also expects that its projected losses will continue in fiscal year 2010."

By some estimates, the U.S. Post Office loses about $20 million a day. DMNews said: 

Proposals currently on the table include cutting delivery to five days per week, consolidating branches and receiving relief from the government to fund future retirees' health benefits.


In an open letter to members of the National League of Postmasters (NLP) on July 20, NLP president Charley Mapa acknowledged that an unpublicized meeting about the financial health of the USPS with postal officials and Postmaster General John Potter took place earlier this month.

"In a year when the nation's largest financial institutions and our largest automobile manufacturers needed billions and billions of dollars of bailout money from the federal government ... the Postal Service would have been profitable [by more than $2 billion] had it not been for this obligation [to fund retirees]," Mapa's letter said. He added that the USPS is the only government entity required to make such a payment into a fund for its future retiree health benefits.

One proposal to address the cost of employee health care is HR 22, or the U.S. Postal Service Financial Relief Act of 2009, first introduced in January 2009. It would allow the USPS to contribute its share for annuitants' health benefits out of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, rather than adding to the pre-existing fund."

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