The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

USPS Saves Less than Predicted from POStPlan

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


A recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) “Post Office Structure Plan” (POStPlan) has failed to achieve the savings first predicted by USPS in 2012.  The POStPlan aspired to save money by reducing the retail hours of 13,000 offices (66 percent of all post offices) and staffing them with non-career or part-time employees; the plan offered reassignment or separation incentives of career employees. USPS estimated that this plan would save the agency $500 million annually, but POStPlan savings have only reached $337 million annually. 

GAO found that the shortfall was the result of “imprecise and incomplete” labor costs (including errors in the data) and the exclusion of other savings such as the impact of shortened retail hours.  The report noted that the GAO was limited in its examination of the program as a result of an inconsistent definition of what does and does not constitute a “POStPlan” office. 

Predictably, USPS disagreed with the findings of the GAO report that USPS lacks reliable data and information to make informed decisions on cost-cutting efforts.  USPS asserts that it made the correct decision, regardless of the differences between predicted and actual savings, because some savings were achieved. 

As a result of this inability to apply simple definitions on to estimate costs and revenue, USPS has issues with transparency.  This lack of transparency not only limits the ability for the Postal Regulatory Commission, an overseer of the agency, to make financial decisions, but USPS also takes advantage of vague (and misleading) accounting by continuing to lobby Congress for further advantage and powers.  Instead of acknowledging the damaging effects of an ineffective methodology or capitalizing on its current, congressionally-authorized $18 billion advantage over the private sector, USPS continues down the path that has led to nearly $50 billion in debt and $100 billion in unfunded liabilities.

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