Postal Service Must Become More Businesslike

WASHINGTON, DC—A presidential commission has called for significant modernization of the U.S. Postal Service, predicting a dire future without major changes.

The commission said that without such changes the post office will have three choices: “dramatically roll back service, seek a rate increase of unprecedented scale, or fall even farther into debt, potentially requiring a significant taxpayer bailout.”

While committee members rejected the idea of privatization, the commission proposed that the board of governors be replaced by an 11-member, corporate-style board of directors.

The panel also suggested oversight changes and unprecedented flexibility for management to set postal rates and quickly respond to market changes without political interference.

The panel noted that there is huge excess capacity in the USPS, which employs 850,000 people. One proposed change would consolidate the postal service’s 350 collection and distribution centers.

The panel also recommended a more aggressive plan to move services out of post offices, akin to the way that stamps and other products are now sold in stores or at self-service kiosks. And it urged expanding contracts with outside companies, like cargo airlines that haul mail and packages.

The report and recommendations will now go to President Bush and are expected to be subject to congressional hearings this fall.

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