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Federal Employees News Digest : Jan. 14, 2013
January 14, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 24 4 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com Solution to USPS problems moves to new Congress As the head of the U.S. Postal Service lamented the failure of the 112th Congress to pass legislation to aid the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service, two House and Senate leaders promised to craft a remedy in the 113th. According to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, USPS already has laid much of the groundwork to accom- modate changes such legislation could implement. "As a result of frequent communica- tion with congressional leaders, we have modified important parts of our five-year comprehensive business plan, includ- ing the pace of consolidation of mail processing facilities, to give Congress maximum flexibility to make needed legislative changes," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a Jan. 3 state- ment. "Unfortunately, Congress has not enacted these changes." But the same day, two congressional leaders offered a ray of hope. In a joint statement, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said they have been coming closer to an agreement in recent months on how to restore financial health to USPS. "Although the 112th Congress did not come to a consensus around a package of reforms that can update the Postal Service's network and business model to reflect the reality that it faces today, we remain com- mitted to working with our colleagues in both the House and the Senate to reform the Postal Service so it can survive and thrive in the 21st Century," the two said in the statement. "While our approaches have differed in the past, we made significant progress in narrowing our differences in recent months, and our commitment to restor- ing this American institution to long- term solvency is unwavering," they added. While waiting for legislation, Donahoe noted, USPS over the past two years has been pursuing a range of cost-saving measures, including reducing its work- force by about 60,000 career employees, consolidating 70 mail processing facili- ties, and launching plans to cut hours at many post offices. At the same time, a legislative solution cannot come too soon. According to Donahoe, the Postal Service currently is losing $25 million per day. Health care liability While new legislation may hold the cure, American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey, like other union leaders, continues to put the main blame for USPS ills on what Congress already has done. "New legislation must be introduced this year to reform USPS finances and undo the mess Congress made when it passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) in 2006," Guffey said in a statement. The PAEA requires the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees 75 years into the future. Another model While APWU and other postal unions are fighting to prevent further USPS downsizing and head off a move to five- day delivery, one group of "thought lead- ers" has proposed a more radical plan that would relegate USPS to providing only one piece of the current mail system. A nonprofit group said it will conduct an independent review of that proposal, which calls for shifting the Postal Service to a model in which USPS would be responsible only for the so-called "last mile" of mail delivery and pickup. The group said it will examine a proposed "public-private partnership" model laid out in a paper authored by "a diverse group of long-term postal indus- try thought leaders." Under the authors' plan, USPS would run the local "last mile" and the private sector would oper- ate all the other parts of the mail system. The sponsor of the effort, the National Academy of Public Administration, said a panel of its fellows will conduct the study. Pitney Bowes, which makes post- age meters, shipping software and other products for business mailers, is under- writing the project. The panel includes members with backgrounds in government, industry, research and academia. Its four members include former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, who will chair the panel, and former Freddie Mac Chairman and Director John Koskinen. NAPA said that the panel will meet with the paper's authors, hold discussions with postal stakeholders and then release a white paper on the proposal in March. While one of the authors of the "thought-leader" paper was formerly an official with the National Association of Letter Carriers, the union distanced itself from the proposal when the NAPA announced its study. "While it's true that one of the proposal's authors, George Gould, was formerly the NALC's political director, it's important to note that Gould retired from that position in 2006," NALC said in a statement posted on the group's website. "He no longer rep- resents the NALC and his views expressed in that report are his own." To see more, go to: http://apwu.org/ news/webart/2013/13-001-113thcon- gress-130103.htm (APWU), http://about. usps.com/news/speeches/2013/pr13_ pmg0103.htm (USPS), http://oversight. house.gov/release/chairman-carper-and- chairman-issa-statement-on-usps-legis- lation-in-the-113th-congress/ (joint state- ment) or www.napawash.org/wp-content/ uploads/2013/01/Hybrid-Public-Private- Postal-Service-1-2-13-3.pdf (paper). Treasury to delay relocation of FMS jobs A plan to transfer the jobs of about 450 Maryland-based employees of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service out of the state has been put on hold until the end of 2019. The continued on page 5
Dec. 17, 2012
Jan. 21, 2013