By Andy Medici – March 9, 2015
The Postal Service’s new Postmaster General will keep pressing for a comprehensive postal reform bill – but will work to develop consensus legislation with wide support.
Megan Brennan, officially sworn in as the postmaster general March 6, sat down with a small group of reporters to outline her approach to developing congressional legislation that has the support needed to become law.
She said she would work with policymakers, the mailing industry and union leaders to identify reform areas where there is broad agreement – such as eliminating the pre-funding of retiree health benefits. The pre-funding requirement alone costs the Postal Service about $5.5 billion a year.
“So my approach with our key stakeholders is to sit down and have a constructive dialogue about the provisions of a bill that we can agree on,” Brennan said. “I want to have those discussions with the key constituents as I move forward.”
The pre-funding requirement and a proposal to establish a separate Postal Service health plan integrated with Medicare – where eligible postal employees would be required to use Medicare as their primary insurance – would be the top priorities of any legislation, Brennan said.
“If we are able to eliminate that onerous annual pre-funding requirement it frankly gives us some breathing space to talk about the issues,” Brennan said.
She wouldn’t say how high a priority moving to five-day delivery is in these potential discussions. The Postal Service has pushed to end Saturday delivery for certain types of mail, while retaining package delivery.
“It’s one of the provisions in a potential comprehensive legislative bill that we will discuss with our key stakeholders,” Brennan said.
But while Brennan’s predecessor Patrick Donahoe advocated trimming the workforce by tens of thousands of employees, Brennan said the overall workforce size should be dictated by the amount of business the agency conducts and whether the agency can make it more efficient.
Brennan said the agency has increased the number of non-career employees while advances in technology have allowed the Postal Service to use its existing workforce better.
“I am not going to speculate on a number. The management team will continue to drive efficiency; reduce overall costs as we have done,” Brennan said.
Brennan said she believes that Postal Service legislation can get through Congress, despite several reform efforts over the last few years that failed to pass both houses of Congress.
“Congress understands that the Postal Service is a trusted institution and that it has relevance in every community in this country. I absolutely believe that Congress is committed to the long term viability of the Postal Service,” Brennan said.