What Next for the Postal Service in 2011?

On September 30th, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) turned down the request by the Postal Service for an exigent price increase averaging 5.6 percent across all market-dominant products, such as First-Class Mail and Periodicals. Although current law cape increases in these products to the inflation rate, the PRC can consider rate increases beyond the cap if the Postal Service has been affected by “extraordinary or exceptional circumstances.”

 

A Lower Volume Postal Service?

The U.S. Postal Service is used to delivering large amounts of mail. Last year, it delivered more than 177 billion pieces. More mail pieces are sent per person in the United States than almost anywhere else in the world. But mail volume has been declining. How will the Postal Service change if volumes continue to fall? Is the Postal Service even financially sustainable at lower volume levels?

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) asked the George Mason University School of Public Policy (GMU) to find out. The results of GMU’s work appear in a paper released today on our website.

 

Congress Faces a Decision

Last month the Economic Policy Institute, an independent Washington think tank, issued a study (Congressional Mandates Account for Most of Postal Service’s Recent Losses) analyzing the Postal Service’s operating losses over the past three years. It should be noted that while the Institute is nonpartisan, the National Association of Letter Carriers provided support for the research.

 

Pay for Performance

What’s the best way to encourage good performance? Employers have always struggled with this question. One answer is to pay employees based on how well they perform their jobs. Many private sector employers have adopted pay-for-performance (PFP) programs, and several federal agencies have also experimented with PFP. Some federal PFP programs have operated successfully for many years; others have been more controversial. Last year, Congress terminated a PFP program at the Defense Department. Employees complained that the program was arbitrary and lacked transparency.

 

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