Ovitt said the evaluation panel was impressed by the cooperative spirit of the Postal Service staff and the Postmaster General's support for the study. But they were concerned that the number of USPS employees and the size of the workforce had increased while the volume of mail had declined. This, they said, was placing a ''huge burden'' on the Postal Service's ability to continue to serve its customers. The panel characterized the Postal Service as suffering from ''an imbalance in its goals.''
The panel did not make any recommendation on postal rates, but did voice concern about ''the necessity of making the USPS competitive with other mail systems.'' It also said that the Postal Service should improve its performance, particularly in managing its workforce and in controlling its costs. The report recommends that the Postal Service make the following changes:
-- Work with the Postal Service's labor union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, to reduce the number of employees. The panel said that the union was resisting management's request for a 7.7 percent reduction of the workforce. However, the union would consider accepting 4 percent, which the panel said would reduce the size of the Postal Service's work force to about 375,000.
The panel said that ''for the most part,'' the Postal Service should be self-financing, with the service taking in more than it pays out in service costs. It said, however, that in the future the USPS should make a greater effort to recover its costs through increased service fees. The panel also agreed with a statement by another panel that the USPS should be made more attractive to the public by having lower rates and providing special services, such as mail delivery on Saturdays.
The panel concluded that ''except for the extent of the USPS's regulatory powers, the system is well designed, '' stated Ovitt. As cited in the document, other countries have a similar regulatory structure that includes a Postal Regulatory Board, with the various rates set by the government through a postal service ministry.
The panel stated, however, that the USPS board of governors should remain the agency's policy-making body. Ovitt said that the board's function should be to set and enforce policies and to report the Postal Service's progress to Congress.
The panel's recommendations were later incorporated into a Postal Regulatory Act of 1982 and a bill was introduced in the Senate. The legislation was not acted upon until three years later - after the Postal Service had lost much money and caused other damage.
In a case where there is so much hostility toward the Postal Service, it's a refreshing sign that anyone could be fair-minded and look at the issue objectively. Hopefully, future panels will make such a difference.
Two of the panel's four members were on the Postal Service's board. There is no indication that the other two members would have addressed the issue differently. One of them was President Reagan's deputy assistant of administration for communication and information policy. The other was a college professor. 827ec27edc