Postal Outlook Not Good, Nolan Says

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WASHINGTON -- The state of business for the U.S. Postal Service is not good, and not getting better anytime soon, deputy postmaster general John Nolan told a packed crowd at a Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting yesterday.


"Volume and revenue are significantly down, and the prognosis is not particularly good for this year," he said. "All of us are in a mode to seek revenue, tighten the belt, ride out the storm and get ready for a turnaround when it occurs."


Nolan also reiterated comments made earlier this week at a Board of Governors meeting that the agency has done a good job reducing work hours by implementing automation equipment. The agency's overtime rates are 25 percent less than a year ago nationwide and considerably more than that in certain areas of the county, he said. Part-time hours, temporary hours and full-time positions also continue to decline.


In regards to mail irradiation, Nolan said the government has allotted $675 million to the postal service since Sept. 11 for anthrax-related expenses. The first $175 million has already been given to the USPS, where it is being spent on gloves, vehicles and for cleaning up the Church Street Station post office in New York.


As for the rest, Nolan said it "requires a specific, detailed plan from us about how we want to use it for the anthrax-related problems. We are planning to submit [a proposal to Congress] in the next couple of weeks."


While Nolan wasn't specific on what would be included, he said the agency is pushing for detection.


"We think it is the right way to go to protect our employees and the public," he said.


Chief financial officer Richard Strasser also told the group that the USPS' revenue for January was $5.05 billion, 5 percent below its expected figure of $5.3 billion and 3.5 percent below last year's numbers. However, that number was particularly strong, he noted, because it included the week before postal rates went up a year ago.


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