Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Roundtable: Challenges and opportunities for USPS in a digital age

Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) hosted a roundtable discussion today with key postal stakeholders about challenges and opportunities in a digital age.

The roundtable was the second in a planned series of three to explore the challenges and opportunities to innovate the structure and services of USPS. The series comes as the House and Senate prepare to draft postal reform bills.

NALC participated in the roundtable and was joined by representatives from Hallmark, the Government Accountability Office, Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, and the Postal Service.

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) also were in attendance to ask questions and to engage in a dialogue with each roundtable representative.

NALC Chief of Staff Jim Sauber discussed the importance of addressing the congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits as a means to enable innovation both within USPS and in future endeavors, and he made it clear that the Postal Service must have the opportunity to be innovative with its current assets.

“Requiring that the Office of Personnel Management invest more wisely into higher yielding accounts, such as private-sector securities or index funds,” Sauber said, “will bring greater gains and allow OPM to generate more funds to be better equipped in responding to projected increases in Medicare of 5 to 7 percent per year over the next several years.”

In its recommendations to the HSGAC committee, NALC called on Congress to undertake a number of targeted reforms to promote innovation, including:

  • embracing the non-postal product reforms contained in last Congress’ S. 1486
  • authorizing the delivery of beer and wine
  • encouraging federal, state and local governments to use the postal network to provide services
  • endorsing the innovation commission proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • improving the quality of the Postal Service Board of Governors

In addition, NALC’s submission to the committee maintained that

the Postal Service must take advantage of the boom in e-commerce deliveries and improve our unmatchable last-mile delivery network. All the postal unions have sacrificed in collective bargaining to right-size the Postal Service and to cut costs in the face of reduced mail volume. But the Postal Service cannot down-size its way to health. In order to preserve affordable universal service, it must also have an innovation and revenue-growth strategy.

“Despite its serious financial challenges, the Postal Service is doing what it can to not just remain relevant, but to thrive,” Carper said. “It’s partnering with to delivery groceries in some communities and deliver packages overnight in a growing number of ZIP Codes—including on Sundays. It’s helping UPS, FedEx and other private shippers to grow their businesses by taking packages the last mile. However, it can only do so much within its legislative and financial restraints.”

HSGAC will hold a hearing next week on rural postal issues.

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