Post office can’t cut Saturday mail, GAO says

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have the legal authority to cut Saturday mail delivery as Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said it will do, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday.

The service is bound by law to deliver mail six days a week, and is incorrect in interpreting that the temporary measure used to fund U.S. government operations released it from that requirement, the GAO said in a letter to Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., who requested that the watchdog agency look at the matter.

The plan to cut delivery of letter mail while retaining package delivery on Saturdays “rests upon a faulty USPS premise,” GAO General Counsel Susan Poling said in the letter.

The service, after losing $15.9 billion last year and reaching its legal borrowing limit, said last month it plans to eliminate a day of mail delivery to save about $2 billion a year.

David Partenheimer, a Postal Service spokesman, had no immediate comment.

Connolly and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., also asked the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees rates and service standards, for an opinion on whether cutting Saturday delivery is allowed.

“This impartial and definitive GAO legal opinion makes it crystal clear that USPS cannot operate outside the legislative authority of Congress and unilaterally implement a change in delivery service that many believe will not only disrupt mail service, but also exacerbate USPS revenue losses and contribute to the decline of this constitutionally-mandated service to all Americans,” Connolly said in an emailed statement.

Lawmakers have authority over the Postal Service because it receives an appropriation for less than 1 percent of its operations. That money includes reimbursing the service for mail for the blind and for election ballots for overseas military personnel.

Connolly and McCaskill were among Democrats, also including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who criticized the service’s Feb. 6 announcement that it plans to end Saturday delivery in August while it waits for Congress to pass a comprehensive measure to overhaul its business model.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., praised the announcement last month and Thursday sent a letter to the Postal Service’s board urging it to keep preparing to end Saturday delivery. They said the service isn’t cutting a day of service, as it has said it will deliver packages on Saturdays.

“We believe that the Board of Governors has a fiduciary responsibility to utilize its legal authority to implement modified six-day mail delivery,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “The deficits incurred by the Postal Service and the low level of liquidity under which it is operating leaves it in a perilous position, one that demands implementation of all corrective actions possible.”

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

After work to address issues, Lynnwood gets clean audit

The city has benefited from increased revenues from sales tax.

Bolshevik replaces BS in Eyman’s voters pamphlet statement

The initiative promoter also lost a bid to include a hyperlink to online coverage of the battle.

Man with shotgun confronts man on toilet about missing phone

Police say the victim was doing his business when the suspect barged in and threatened him.

Detectives seek suspect in woman’s homicide

Alisha Michelle Canales-McGuire was shot to death Wednesday at a home south of Paine Field.

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Most Read