USPS Says More Security Fund Will Be Available if Needed

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Though none of the $38 billion for homeland security in President Bush's proposed budget would go to the U.S. Postal Service, the USPS and mailers say that's simply because the postal service is still defining its security needs.

"Senior officials from the postal service are still talking with Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge about additional funding for 2003, along with our expenses and our needs, which we are still determining," said a USPS spokeswoman. "We have no doubt that there will be support forthcoming."

Neal Denton, executive director at the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, Washington, wasn't surprised by the lack of money for the USPS.

"The postal service hasn't clearly articulated what it is they need and what approach they are going to take," Denton said. "It's sort of tough to hold the administration responsible for reading the postal service's mind on how they want to approach this and what the costs are going to be."

However, Denton said it is just too early to tell what the agency needs.

"We are so early in the process of understanding how the postal service needs to respond that it is difficult to make a decision about how much funding they need," he said. "But if the postal service is going to be required to spend an inordinate amount of money on homeland security costs, then it's appropriate that it comes from Congress and the administration."

The USPS already has received $175 million from a Homeland Security appropriation allocated by the White House last year and was awarded $500 million to be used only for security measures as part of a $318 billion defense appropriations bill President Bush signed into law last month. Postal officials expect to send a report to Congress detailing how they will spend the $500 million in the next few weeks.

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