Last week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) introduced a bipartisan discussion draft of postal reform legislation.
In releasing the draft, the members issued the following statement:
“The Postal Service is in dire financial shape. Without reform now, the problems will only worsen and reform will become far more difficult to accomplish. This bipartisan legislative solution provides the opportunity for the Postal Service to return to solvency and continue to provide universal service to all Americans.”
Title I – Postal Service Benefits Reform
Congress is looking to fix a large part of what caused the USPS’ financial woes – prepayment of retirement benefits, and healthcare for their enormous workforce. There are three parts to the first section of the reform bill: a Postal Service Health Benefits Program, Postal Service Retiree Health Care Benefit Funding Reform, and Postal Service Pension Funding Reform. At a very high level, these look to establish separate plans for Postal employees outside of the Federal Employees plan, and Medicare eligible Postal workers will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. There will be a sliding scale of what is covered over the next 4 years as a transitional period.
Title II - Postal Service Operations Reform
Of these 4 Titles, the one that most people are interested in is Title II – Postal Service Operations Reform. And most people are concerned with B), C) and F) in Title II.
B) Conversion to Centralized Delivery
- Requires the incremental conversion to centralized delivery of business addresses identified by the Postal Service.
- Requires the voluntary conversion to centralized or cluster box delivery of residential addresses identified by the Postal Service where 40% of the resident consent to conversion.
- Maintains door delivery of mail for residents who do not consent to voluntary conversion; however, any future or new residents of an area that has been converted will receive the converted delivery type.
- A conversion waiver is allowed in cases of physical hardship.
C) Postal Rates
Allows the Postal Service to increase postal rates for market-dominant (First-Class, Periodicals, Standard Mail & Parcels) by 2.15% or 1 cent for a First-Class stamp. (I have heard that this is in addition to the CPA cap that they have been using for the last several years, but do not have confirmation on it)
F) Efficient and Flexible Universal Postal Service
- Requires the Postal Service to consider additional factors when evaluating whether or not to close a post office & allows communities the opportunity to provide input on their preference to close or consolidate a post office.
- Many residents currently have a Rural Box in front of their house or have cluster boxes at their condo or subdivision. This will mostly affect large city areas that still have ‘to the door’ delivery.
Other Title II regulations involve how the USPS Governing Board is elected, the ability for the USPS to [provide nonpostal services, and the rules the USPS must follow when determining metered postage rates and when and how to close Post Office facilities.
Title III - Postal Service Personnel
This section requires the Postal Service to establish and appoint a Chief Innovation Officer and an Inspector General of the Postal Community. This also implements non-bargaining, non-supervisory employees access to the Merit Systems Protection
Title IV – Postal Contracting Reform
The final section requires the Postal Service to issue a policy related to contracting authority and improve oversight and response to potential conflicts of interest regarding contracting.