Sen. Collins: U.S. Postal Service Reform Needed

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today praised President Bush for outlining key principles for U.S. Postal Service reform and noted that the principles will help guide her in developing reform legislation.

“The financial and operational problems confronting the Postal Service are quite serious. President Bush recognizes, as I do, that the Postal Service needs reform now,” said Senator Collins, whose committee has jurisdiction over the agency. “I support the President’s reform principles and his goal to ensure that the Postal Service remains an affordable communication link while providing universal service to all Americans.”

President Bush met today with members of the President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service to discuss reform efforts. The President’s principles for reform include implementing best practices, ensuring transparency in product costs and performance, allowing flexibility to adjust rates and costs, providing accountability through appropriate independent oversight, and ensuring that the agency can itself cover all of its financial obligations.

Senator Collins has chaired two hearings on postal reform this year and plans to hold additional hearings in 2004. She also is working with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) to craft legislation to assist the Postal Service with its reform efforts. “Without legislation, many of the necessary reforms simply would not occur,” said Senator Collins.

Senator Collins pointed out that the Postal Service faces daunting challenges, such as paying down $7 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury, covering its enormous long-term liabilities, and trying to cut costs from its nationwide infrastructure and transportation network. It is also hampered by a decrease in First-Class mail volume, which has reduced revenue counted on to pay for more than two-thirds of the Postal Service’s institutional costs.

Senator Collins has long been a leader on postal reform. Earlier this year, Senator Collins and Senator Carper (D-DE) introduced legislation, now law, to compensate for U.S. Postal Service overpayments into the Civil Service Retirement System, thereby averting postal rate increases at least until 2006 and allowing the agency to more aggressively pay down its debt to the U.S. Treasury.

Last year, Senator Collins introduced the United States Postal Service Commission Act of 2002 to establish a Presidential Commission to examine the challenges facing the Postal Service and to develop solutions to ensure its long-term viability and increased efficiency. A few months later, President Bush announced that he would create such a panel.