WASHINGTON Jan 14 The U.S. Postal Service's
Board of Governors has directed the cash-strapped agency to
speed up cost-cutting and revenue-boosting measures, as
legislation to restructure the mail carrier remains stalled.
The Postal Service didn't specify what measures it intends
to pursue. Spokesman David Partenheimer said it will reveal
those steps at a later date after informing postal employees of
The 238-year-old institution has recently been buckling
under the pressure of massive payments for future retiree
benefits and dwindling revenue as more Americans communicate by
The agency lost almost $16 billion in the past year, ran
into its legal borrowing limit and defaulted twice on required
payments to the federal government.
While it has tried to scale back its expenses, the Postal
Service has been banking on Congress passing legislation to
overhaul its operations and put it on sounder financial footing.
But with lawmakers consumed by budget fights and other
priorities, the outlook for Postal Service legislation has not
been good. Without quick action, the Postal Service could run
out of money by October, according to some estimates.
"Citing the fact that the Postal Service cannot wait
indefinitely for legislation, the USPS Board of Governors has
directed management to accelerate the restructure of Postal
Service operations to further reduce costs in order to
strengthen Postal Service finances," the Postal Service said in
a statement on Monday.
Although the specific cost-cutting plan is unclear, the
Postal Service's regulator warned that overly aggressive action
Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission,
said in an interview that the regulator had advised the Postal
Service to phase in cost-cutting measures.
"If they speed this up without the proper adjustments for
managing the mail, they could really damage the quality of
service," Goldway said.
If the public feels that the new moves by the Postal
Service lead to deteriorating quality of service, Goldway said,
people can lodge a complaint with the Postal Regulatory
Commission, which would then review the measures taken.
"I do hope that Congress pays attention to this issue and
moves as quickly as they can so that we don't have to have more
rapid and drastic measures," Goldway said.
Since 2006, the Postal Service says, it has reduced its
annual costs by about $15 billion and shed about 168,000 jobs.
The postmaster general has been pushing to eliminate
Saturday mail delivery, close some of its facilities, and alter
its benefit payment obligations, but it needs congressional
approval for the more significant measures.
Lawmakers such as Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware
and Representative Darrell Issa of California have pledged to
make Postal Service legislation a priority in this Congress.
In a written statement, Carper said it was no surprise that
the Postal Service would move forward on implementing
cost-cutting moves, as it awaits congressional action.
But he says the Postal Service still needs a long-term
"Unfortunately, the reality is that these piecemeal efforts
undertaken by the Postal Service are likely not enough on their
own to fundamentally fix the Postal Service's serious financial
problems," he said.