Lawmakers question U.S. Postal Service money saving priorities
U.S. Postmaster General John Potter says the nation’s mail system faces a “dire” financial future as more people and businesses switch from snail mail to email and electronic funds transfers.
He is asking Congress to give him authority to drop Saturday delivery service and close some post offices.
Those are a couple of money saving possibilities outlined by the Postmaster General at a congressional hearing on Thursday. But the suggested cutback on services did not sit well with a number of members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Representative Carolyn Maloney said cutting out Saturday service could hurt the economy and Representative Gerry Connolly wondered if companies like Netflix will be able to maintain its customer base if folks can’t get movies delivered on Saturday.
Connolly suggested the Postal Service look at other ways to save money including replacing its gasoline powered fleet with electric vehicles. It not only would save money by not buying gasoline but also make money by selling back to the power company any left over battery juice at the end of day, he said.
Representative Darrel Issa suggested the postal service has not been aggressive in reducing its work force as the number of pieces of mail delivered each day dropped. He cited Kodak as an example of how to deal with a business that is being destroyed by technological advancements.
“Film was going away faster than any projected retirement rates. Now today they produce state of the art inkjet printers, they are first in digital they are making a comeback by reinventing itself,” Issa said.
Potter said the Postal Service is facing $238 billion in losses over the next 10 years if no changes are made. He acknowledged that was a worst case number and said the Postal Service currently has enough authority to close that gap by $123 billion. Congress needs to act to provide authority to achieve the rest of the savings, he said.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria. (An empty mailbox in Florida)