Sidebar: USPS Still on High-Risk List

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In its 2005 update for the 109th Congress published last week, the Government Accountability Office outlined the status of 25 high-risk areas identified in 2003 that it said warranted attention by Congress and the Bush administration.

The U.S. Postal Service's transformation efforts and long-term outlook remain on the GAO's high-risk list.

The GAO first designated the postal service's transformation efforts and long-term outlook as high risk in April 2001 because of the growing risk that the USPS would be unable to continue providing universal postal service at reasonable rates while staying self-supporting through postal revenue.

The 2005 update concluded that though the USPS moved to address its problems -- and a presidential commission reported on the need for far-reaching changes, including legislative reform -- such legislation has not been enacted and the underlying conditions that led to the high-risk designation remain.

"The [USPS] has recently cut costs and improved productivity, but it is not clear how [it] will realign its outdated infrastructure and modernize its workforce policies and practices to achieve additional long-term productivity gains," the 2005 report said.

The GAO said that to preserve its mission and financial viability and meet its challenges, the USPS needs to better communicate how it plans to realign its infrastructure and work force. The GAO also said it continues to believe that comprehensive postal reform is needed to clarify the USPS' mission and role.

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