U.S. Postal Service: Actions Needed to Stave off Financial Insolvency

GAO-11-926T Published: Sep 06, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 06, 2011.
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By the end of this fiscal year--in less than one month--the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) projects that it will incur a $9 billion loss; reach its $15 billion borrowing limit; not make its $5.5 billion retiree health benefits payment; and thus, become insolvent. USPS recently summarized this situation as the equivalent of facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In August 2011, USPS outlined new proposals to address the crisis. USPS seeks legislation to remove itself from the federal health benefit program and sponsor its own program; change pension benefits for new employees; and eliminate the layoff provisions it negotiated with its unions in collective bargaining to accelerate its delivery, processing, and retail network and workforce downsizing. Other USPS proposals, such as moving to 5-day delivery, and pending legislation include additional options for consideration. This statement discusses (1) updated information on USPS's financial crisis and (2) GAO's review and analysis of proposals to address this crisis, including USPS's new proposals, and options in current legislation. The testimony is based primarily on GAO's review of pending legislation, past and ongoing work related to postal issues, as well as USPS's recent financial results and GAO's discussions with senior postal officials regarding USPS's recent proposals. GAO has reported that action by Congress and USPS is urgently needed to restore USPS's financial viability. GAO provided a draft statement to USPS for comments and did not receive any suggested changes.

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