Potter Optimistic CSRS Legislation Will Get Passed

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WASHINGTON--Postal officials are hopeful they will get legislation passed that will help halt rate increases until 2006, postmaster general John E. Potter told attendees at yesterday's quarterly Mailers Technical Advisory Committee.

"If we can get that legislation [through Congress], we are committed to hold rates until 2006. We are working hard on the legislation," Potter said. However, in the interim, "we are acting like we don't have it. We are managing the bottom line as hard as we can."

The U.S. Postal Service estimates that it could save $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2003 and $2.6 billion in FY '04 by lowering its contributions to the Civil Service Retirement System. The USPS has already overfunded the program by $4.1 billion, the GAO said last week.

Also at MTAC, chief financial officer Richard Strasser said net income for December was $1.4 billion below plan. Mail volume was up for every month in the last quarter except November, when it dropped 2 percent. Standard mail volume, however, saw increases throughout the quarter: September, up 6.4 percent; October, 12.7 percent; November, 1.6 percent; and December, 2.6 percent.

As for January, Strasser said, revenue came in $100 million under plan.

"We are anticipating that volume is essentially flat," he said. "Standard volume grew maybe a little bit, and First Class was essentially flat or there was a loss of volume."

The outlook continues to look flat in general, he said.

"We don't see the economic recovery that people saw last summer coming about during the first part of this calendar year. The field has, in fact, reduced their budgets so that they'll be able to accommodate the expectation that there won't be significant volume growth during this fiscal year."

Strasser said he doesn't expect the USPS to see volume coming back until fiscal year 2004, "but we are very optimistic on the cost side of the equation that we'll be able to hold expenses down."


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