Unions Claim USPS is “Owed” $75 Billion. OPM Disagrees. Bipartisan Lawmakers Ask for GAO to Settle the Dispute
Washington, Sep 30, 2011-
Lakeland, FL – Congressman Dennis A. Ross (R-FL), Chairman of the Federal Workforce, Postal Service & Labor Policy Subcommittee, today released a copy of a letter sent to GAO, signed by the bipartisan leadership on the issue of postal reform.
Postal unions have consistently claimed the service is “owed” $75 billion because of “overpayments” into CSRS retirement funds. This week’s nationwide protests at Congressional offices by postal employees was intended to underscore this claim. OPM and editorial boards have consistently recognized no overpayment. Republicans in the House remain committed to opposing any taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service and want to determine, once and for all, the extent of any financial issue, if any.
On top of the issue of a bailout, Chairman Ross, along with Full Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, has introduced HR 2309, The Postal Reform Act (www.savingthepostalservice.com) that would address the challenges facing the Postal Service, require market reform and give postal leadership greater flexibility to operate the service as it was intended – like a business.
The letter to GAO was signed by and is as follows –
Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa
Rep. Dennis Ross
Rep. Elijah Cummings
Rep. Stephen Lynch
Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman
Sen. Tom Carper
Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Scott Brown
September 15, 2011
The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G St. NW
Washington, DC 20548
Dear Mr. Dodaro:
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is facing deteriorating financial conditions as mail volumes– the primary source of revenue–continue to decrease at faster rates than projected. USPS has experienced a cumulative net loss of nearly $20 billion over the last 5 fiscal years, including an $8.5 billion loss in 2010; and a reported net loss of $5.7 billion in the first 9 months of fiscal year 2011. By the end of this fiscal year, USPS projects that it will incur a $10 billion loss, experience a substantial cash shortfall, reach its $15 billion borrowing limit, and not be able to make its statutorily mandated $5.5 billion retiree health benefits payment to the federal government.
USPS, several members of the House and Senate, and a variety of stakeholders have proposed a number of operational and restructuring options to address USPS’s dire financial situation, and have also made certain claims and recommendations regarding the financing of its retirement obligations. Among these is the assertion by the USPS Office of Inspector General, the Postal Regulatory Commission, and two outside accounting firms these agencies contracted with that USPS has overfunded its obligations to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) by as much as $75 billion. Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to give the Postal Service access to the funds it is alleged to have overpaid into CSRS. Meanwhile, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), its Office of Inspector General, and other stakeholders have called the existence of a USPS overpayment into CSRS into question.
Given the substantial amount of funds at issue, the potential impact on the OPM-administered CSRS fund of giving USPS access to the funds some believe it has overpaid, and the need to resolve conflicting information and positions about this issue, we request that GAO: (1) determine if the current methodology employed by OPM for allocating obligations between USPS and the federal government for CSRS is consistent with the law; (2) comment on the actuarial analysis the USPS IG and Postal Regulatory Commission are using in their assertion that OPM should refund the CSRS contributions in question; and (3) comment on (a) the potential impacts that such a refund would have on the CSRS fund and CSRS stakeholders, (b) USPS’s financial outlook, and (c) other impacts you may identify.
We would appreciate a briefing on these issues by the end of September with a report to follow by the end of October. If you have any questions, please contact …