Postal service can’t cut Saturday delivery, U.S. GAO says

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The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have the legal authority to cut Saturday mail delivery as Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said it will do, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday.

The service is bound by law to deliver mail six days a week, and is incorrect in interpreting that the temporary measure used to fund U.S. government operations released it from that requirement, the GAO said in a letter to Rep. Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, who requested that the watchdog agency look at the matter.

The plan to cut delivery of letter mail while retaining package delivery on Saturdays “rests upon a faulty USPS premise,” GAO General Counsel Susan Poling said in the letter.

The service, after losing $15.9 billion last year and reaching its legal borrowing limit, said last month it plans to eliminate a day of mail delivery to save about $2 billion a year. It said Thursday that it “strongly” disagrees with the GAO’s assessment.

“The opinion does not address the Postal Service’s proposal to move to five-day mail delivery, with six-day package delivery, during the week of August 5,” David Partenheimer, a Postal Service spokesman, said in an e-mail. The GAO only addressed what can be done under the Congress’s temporary spending measure that expires March 27, he said.

Connolly and Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, also asked the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees rates and service standards, for an opinion on whether cutting Saturday delivery is allowed.

“This impartial and definitive GAO legal opinion makes it crystal clear that USPS cannot operate outside the legislative authority of Congress and unilaterally implement a change in delivery service that many believe will not only disrupt mail service, but also exacerbate USPS revenue losses and contribute to the decline of this constitutionally-mandated service to all Americans,” Connolly said in an e-mailed statement.

Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, praised the announcement last month and Thursday sent a letter to the Postal Service’s board urging it to keep preparing to end Saturday delivery. They said the service isn’t cutting a day of service, as it has said it will deliver packages on Saturdays.

“We believe that the Board of Governors has a fiduciary responsibility to utilize its legal authority to implement modified six-day mail delivery,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “The deficits incurred by the Postal Service and the low level of liquidity under which it is operating leaves it in a perilous position, one that demands implementation of all corrective actions possible.”

Lawmakers have authority over the Postal Service because it receives an appropriation for less than 1 percent of its operations. That money includes reimbursing the service for mail for the blind and for election ballots for overseas military personnel.

Connolly and McCaskill were among Democrats, also including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who criticized the service’s Feb. 6 announcement that it plans to end Saturday delivery in August while it waits for Congress to pass a comprehensive measure to overhaul its business model.


  • USPS Saturday Mail
    Regardless of the current law/regulations, the fact remains that the USPS is no longer solvent, and that customers have changed vendors for the bulk of their communication needs, be it email, on-line banking, UPS, FedEx, etc. If the law does not allow the discontinuation of Saturday service, then either the law needs to be changed, or other means of saving significant money needs to be addressed. In my mind, saying we can't change is anathema to the progress of this country, regardless of the issue.
  • For the Children
    If we cut Saturday delivery, those poor little kids might be able to go on White House tours again!!!
  • I won't miss my junk mail
    Because my own mail these days consists only of junk mail and advertisements, I'm not sure why I need to receive six days of this stuff. I think it's time they operate as a separate company, independent of the federal government and if they can't survive I'm sure other private companies can fill the void. They can come with other ways to serve the poor besides propping up a service that many American's like myself frankly no longer need.
  • Ah the Conservative Media
    It's not surprising that the business loving, Republican, "I have mine, and I don't care about anyone else," type commenters on here are lashing out at this. I am a conservative at heart but not one that ties my goals to those of Corporate America. The Postal Service can surely find other ways to save $. There are companies that specialise in mailings. Saturday is a key day to push out such mailings. What happens when a Holiday falls on a Monday? FOUR DAYS without a chance to reach the public.
  • insanity
    Agree with all previous comments. This pretense of supposedly defending the laws & rights is groundless. It merely leaves us to wonder which lobby/special interest group they are transparently catering to. It's insane and so frustrating. But hey, who watches the news about Cyprus, Greece, etc. these days, eh?
  • LOL
    Yes, You both have great points. The government is broke and the one agency trying to do the right thing by cutting back is being told they cant. Wonder why we owe our grandchildren to China.....!
  • Poor People
    I'm waiting for the crying, hand-wringing, sky is falling liberals to tell us that the "poor people" will not be able to live without getting their Saturday mail delivery.
    • Law?
      obama is bound by law to pass a budget and that hasn't happened, so why does another gov agency care that eliminating sat mail is against the law. laws don't matter when it comes to obama's white house. gov can't even run a mail system that doesn't go broke, how in the world does anyone expect gov to run an entire countries health care efficiently?

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