Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why the April 5th Hearing is Important

The quotes from Congressmen Darrell Issa and Dennis Ross that have been quoted in the press have all come from  a press release of  the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.    Most articles ignored the following quote "This hearing will establish an important baseline for Congress' upcoming work on the Postal Service's structure, fiscal health and self-governance," from Congressman Darrell Issa that better than anything so far lays out the issues that the committee will look at in regards to the Postal Service.  These are:
  • Postal Service's structure - this most likely focuses on the management structure as well as questions regarding the network of processing plants and retail outlets, the use of contractors, work sharing, civil service employment law and how it applies to the Postal Service, and labor relations issues including the current collective bargaining process
  • Postal Service's fiscal health - the focus here is clearly the prospects of the Postal Service being financially self-sufficient.   This will likely include the question, "Can the Postal Service be self-sufficient and pay the retiree benefit liability obligations currently required by law?"
  • Postal Service Self Governance - the focus here is the Postal Service's business model.   Here the committee will likely focus on the Board of Governors and senior management looking to see if the current structure gives the proper incentives to ensure financial self-sufficiency.   The focus on the business model will need to include returning to a government department model as well as corporatization and privatization models employed outside of the United States. 
The hearing on April 5th will be a full committee hearing.  As a full committee meeting, the review of the APWU contract will get broader coverage on the 24 hour news channels, other print and broadcast media, on talk-radio and the blogosphere.   This could raise the Postal Service up a notch or two on the national policy debate.   How that affects the ability of Congress to find a solution that solves the Postal Service's problems is anyone's guess.

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