Burton Urges White House Attention on USPS

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Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House of Representatives committee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, sent a letter to the White House yesterday asking President Bush to look at the problems facing the USPS.

Burton said the ability of the USPS to continue providing affordable, universal mail service while remaining self-supporting from postal revenues is in jeopardy.

"The problems facing the postal service are the result of a variety of factors including a slowing economy and increasing competition from communications alternatives such as the Internet and fax machines," said Burton, R-IN, who chairs the House Government Reform Committee. "Moreover, the postal service operates under an outdated statutory framework that does not provide the agency with practical and adaptable solutions to compete in today's rapidly changing and truly global communications environment. Clearly, change is needed, and your leadership in this area would be critical to the enactment of any meaningful reforms."

In the letter, Burton mentioned some of the USPS' well-documented financial woes, including that the agency projects a deficit of $2 billion to $3 billion for fiscal year 2001. For fiscal year 2002, the agency estimates that its deficit could reach $3.5 billion. He said the agency also has total outstanding debts of $9.3 billion and could reach its $15 billion statutory debt limit by the end of the next fiscal year.

Burton also said "the postal service's financial problems have become so dismal that in an effort to reduce its costs, the agency recently ordered a freeze on all capital construction and improvement projects. More recently, the Board of Governors directed the agency to study the cost savings associated with reducing delivery service to five days a week."

Burton said he is confident that "the administration working with the Congress, the postal service and its various stakeholders can develop a long-term solution without having to resort to increasing rates or reducing the quality or affordability of universal mail service."

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