WASHINGTON Nov 21 Lawmakers' proposals to
overhaul the U.S. Postal Service would not give the
near-bankrupt agency flexibility to find billions of dollars in
savings needed to return to profitability, Postmaster General
Patrick Donahoe said on Monday.
Leading bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and the
Senate would not allow the agency to immediately end Saturday
mail delivery and would impose some limitations on facility
closings, Donahoe said during a National Press Club luncheon.
"If passed today, either bill would provide at best one
year of profitability, and at least a decade of steep losses,"
The world's largest mail carrier has struggled to cope with
the loss of mail volumes as customers send more email and pay
bills online, along with high personnel costs.
The Postal Service last week reported it lost $5.1 billion
during fiscal year 2011 and would have seen bigger losses if
Congress had not extended the due date of a massive annual
Donahoe has said the agency needs to reduce costs by about
$20 billion by 2015 to ensure long-term viability.
The agency wants Congress to allow it to end Saturday mail
delivery and run its own retirement and health programs, and
give it more flexibility to close facilities and raise prices.
Leading bills take some of these steps, but neither full
house has passed a bill, and the plans differ in key areas.
A proposal from Representative Darrell Issa would create
oversight groups to close post offices and cut costs. The
Postal Service could designate mail delivery holidays and,
later, propose eliminating Saturday mail.
A bill from a bipartisan group of four Senators would give
the Postal Service flexibility to offer some new products and
let it tap into an estimated surplus in a retirement account.
It would make the agency wait two years to end Saturday mail
and slow mail processing facility closings.
"Congress needs to step back and look at the Postal Service
as a business, and give us the business model that allows us to
act quickly and lower our costs," Donahoe said.