Policy Leaders Endorse Six Essential Elements of Effective Postal Service Reform

Arlington, VA — In a letter to U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman James C. Miller, thirteen prominent policy leaders today endorsed six essential elements of effective postal reform.

“Above all, effective reform must benefit the American people, not just extend the Service’s longevity,” their letter said.

The group’s six principles included requiring greater financial transparency and cost attribution for postal operations, more cost control and price stability, preventing unfair competition in non-postal markets, and fully independent audits. It also endorsed a 2003 recommendation by a Presidential commission on the U.S. Postal Service to adopt the Pentagon’s successful practice of using independent commissions to close unneeded postal facilities to cut operating costs.

The letter was signed by John Berthoud, National Taxpayer’s Union; Merrick Carey, Lexington Institute; Charles Guy, former Director of the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Economics and Strategic Planning; Kevin Kearns, U.S. Business and Industry Council, Richard Lessner, American Conservative Union; Jim Martin, 60 Plus; Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action; Rick Merritt, Postal Watch; Chuck Muth, Citizen Outreach; Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform; Tom Schatz, Citizens Against Government Waste; Michael Schuyler, Institute on the Economics of Taxation, and Don Soifer, Consumer Postal Council.

Miller and the other Postal Governors wrote Congressional leaders on February 25 expressing their views on reform legislation. In that letter, the board outlined 6 elements that they felt needed to be incorporated into Congressional reform efforts.

“It is essential that policymakers hear from postal consumers and taxpayers – who are often the voices heard least in the postal reform debate – about what changes would best serve their needs,” said Don Soifer, President of the Consumer Postal Council.

The policy leaders’ letter was circulated by the Consumer Postal Council. The council ( www.postalconsumers.org ), founded in May 2003, is an organization of users of postal services dedicated to preventing the government’s postal monopoly from being abused at consumers’ expense.

For more information, please contact Don Soifer at 703-312-4563.

April 5, 2005

The Honorable James C. Miller, III
Board of Governors
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza
Washington, DC 20260-1000

Dear Chairman Miller:

We, the undersigned represent American taxpayers and consumers of postal services. We recognize that we now face a valuable opportunity for meaningful reform of the U.S. Postal Service. Above all, effective reform must benefit the American people, not just extend the Service’s longevity. These are our six essential elements of effective reform:

Financial transparency. Requiring greater transparency and better cost attribution will allow postal management to increase efficiency, and observers to monitor their progress. Adequate transparency would also help prevent abuse of the Postal Service’s monopoly power.

Price stability, not flexibility. The Postal Governors are calling for increased pricing flexibility, but what the mail-using public and the business community need is fewer and smaller postage rate increases.

Cost control. We agree with the Governors that greater control over Postal Service labor costs would be valuable. Postmaster General Potter deserves great credit for significant belt-tightening in recent years, but much more can be done.

No unfair competition in non-postal markets. The postal monopoly was granted for letter delivery, and should not serve as a springboard for the Postal Service to enter into non-postal markets and compete with private firms that offer telephone calling cards, international money transfers, electronic bill-payment, and other products and services. When the Postal Service reaches beyond its core mission of non-urgent letter delivery, it imposes a hidden cost upon taxpayers.

Consolidate facilities, cut costs. It is time to follow the Presidential Commission’s recommendation to create an independent panel modeled after the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which achieved billions in savings through four rounds of closures and consolidations. The panel would consider closing or consolidating unneeded postal processing and distribution facilities through a process that fully considers concerns of communities and other interested parties.

Fully Independent Audits. The Governors say they should be held “fully accountable, yet they also want “to be responsible for the retention of auditors.” We believe that greater accountability will come from auditors who are truly independent and not selected by the Service itself.


John Berthoud, National Taxpayer’s Union
Merrick Carey, Lexington Institute
Charles Guy, former Director, U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Economics and Strategic Planning
Kevin Kearns, U.S. Business and Industry Council
Richard Lessner, American Conservative Union
Jim Martin, 60 Plus
Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action
Rick Merritt, Postal Watch
Chuck Muth, Citizen Outreach
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Tom Schatz, Citizens Against Government Waste
Michael Schuyler, Institute on the Economics of Taxation
Don Soifer, Consumer Postal Council

Consumer Postal Council