Congressional Research Service summary of Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

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Sponsor: Rep. Chaffetz, Jason [R-UT-3] Introduced in House (01/31/2017)

H.R.756 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)

Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

TITLE I–POSTAL SERVICE BENEFITS REFORM

This bill requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish a Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to offer health benefits plans for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees, annuitant retirees, and their families at rates that reflect the cost of benefits provided solely to the USPS risk pool. Medicare-eligible postal retirees and family members are automatically enrolled in part A (Hospital Insurance) and part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance Benefits for Aged and Disabled) of title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act. Each plan must provide Medicare part D (Voluntary Prescription Drug Benefit Program) prescription drug benefits through an employer group waiver plan.

Postal retirees not previously enrolled in Medicare will be transitioned automatically into Medicare part B.

The USPS’s annual prefunding payments to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund must be recomputed each year based on economic and actuarial methods to liquidate 100% of the USPS’s actuarial liability by September 30, 2055. The bill modifies the prefunding schedule established under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.

The OPM must use postal-specific demographic and economic assumptions in its valuations of the USPS’s Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) pension accounts. Under CSRS and FERS, any projected USPS funding surpluses shall be returned to the USPS through amortized annual installments.

TITLE II–POSTAL SERVICE OPERATIONS REFORM

This title reduces from nine to five the number of governors serving on the USPS Board of Governors with the Postmaster General and the Deputy Postmaster General. The USPS’s power shall be vested in the governors and carried out by the Postmaster General consistent with the strategic direction and pricing and product strategy approved by the governors. The Postmaster General may delegate authority, but the bill removes the board’s authority to delegate authority to the Postmaster General.

The USPS must transfer funds to the Department of State to coordinate and negotiate international postal rates and delivery services.

The USPS must provide mail delivery other than door delivery (with a preference for centralized delivery) for new delivery points unless a new delivery point is built or established within a block of existing primarily door delivery points. It must also begin converting to centralized delivery, curbside delivery, or sidewalk delivery for existing: (1) business delivery points, and (2) residential delivery points with postal patrons’ consent.

This title: (1) revises the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC’s) standards for establishing or revising rates or classifications for first-class mail, standard mail, or other market-dominant products; (2) repeals a rate preference that currently allows certain political committees to send third-class mail at the nonprofit organization rate; and (3) increases by 1 cent the postage rate for first-class stamps by reinstating 50% of the exigent rate surcharge for first-class mail and other market-dominant products that was in effect on April 9, 2016.

The USPS may establish a program to provide property and services on behalf of state, local, or tribal governments for noncommercial products and services, and a program to provide property and services to other executive agencies and the Government Publishing Office, but only if such property and services provide a reasonable contribution to the institutional costs of the USPS.

In determining whether to close or consolidate a post office, the USPS must: (1) consider the availability of broadband Internet service and commercial mobile service in a geographic area, and (2) conduct a nonbinding survey to allow postal patrons to indicate their preferences among alternative postal service options.

The USPS is prohibited from offering postage-evidencing products or services that do not comply with regulations applicable to private companies.

The PRC must complete the initial review of the system for regulating rates and classes for market-dominant products such that a final rule for a revised or reapproved system is issued by May 1, 2018.

TITLE III–POSTAL SERVICE PERSONNEL

A Chief Innovation Officer is established to: (1) maximize USPS revenues, (2) utilize emerging information technologies, and (3) update an innovation strategy for postal and nonpostal products and services.

The President must appoint an Inspector General of the Postal Community to consolidate the currently separate USPS and PRC inspectors general.

The right to appeal adverse personnel actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board is extended to USPS or inspector general employees who are not represented by a bargaining representative.

TITLE IV–POSTAL CONTRACTING REFORM

The USPS and the PRC must: (1) issue policies on contracting officer delegations of authority for postal contracts, (2) publish noncompetitive contract awards that exceed specified dollar amounts, (3) require contracting officers and decision-makers to disclose personal and business relationships that would cause questions regarding their impartiality, and (4) establish procedures for the ethics counsel to review conflict of interest disclosures to determine whether a contracting officer’s participation would violate ethical conduct standards.

The USPS or the PRC may void postal contracts if: (1) there is a criminal conviction (from which no further appeal may be taken) for bribery or a conflict of interest relating to the contract, or (2) the contractor fails to make required disclosures.

Source: H.R.756 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

9 thoughts on “Congressional Research Service summary of Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

  1. USPS management created this mess. First most of the provisions, especially the USPS only changes to health care, in the legislation which were sold by management as necessary to ensure USPS financial solvency. Unfortunately this is not true, there are other solutions many which are much better for the long term health of the USPS. Second, management has lost sight of their principle responsibility, which is to provide universal postal services at a reasonable cost to all addresses in the United States. Again a failure as management has continued to make cost cutting a primary strategy with little or no regard to service. Third, management seems to have forgotten that they are a government entity (an independent agency of the executive branch of the federal government) and not a private business. I guess that management is confused with the term “operate like a business” and think that this means they are a business. All government agencies should operate like a business but they are still government entities, which provide a defined service to their constituents. Employees of the Postal Service are Federal employees and not civilian workers. This legislation, especially the changes to health care are unfair and hurtful to employees and especially retirees. It is built on misleading facts and misstatements championed by USPS management and will not provide anywhere near the level of savings being proposed by postal management. The most important thing you can do is ask your elected representatives to not support the legislation.

  2. Every Federal employee that voted for President Dump voted to screw themselves, and every other working citizen in out country, the United Corporations of America. Your pal just said ” He wants rich people to make decisions on economic issues” In 2002 on Larry King live Donald Dump said “Rich people are better than poor people, that’s just the way it is”. You don’t even have any self respect! His voters know their place. In the slave market.

  3. This bill does not free the USPS of their prefunding bill, which was nothing but a money laundering scheme for greedy politicians, especially the Republicans, who gleefully plundered the money and when asked about a possible return of said funds should reform stop the “program” merely said it was already spent. George W. Bush was behind this windfall for easy money that was virtually unstoppable.
    There is no mention of unions here because the GOP wants to kill them outright. The postal unions, although we as members certainly and rightfully have our issues with them, are among the strongest unions still left in this country as far as wages, job security and benefits go. We overlook that because we’re so used to getting the good pay, insurance, etc. If the damn Republicans have their way, and postal unions were severely emasculated or removed, the USPS would be privatized, universal delivery would stop for millions of Americans just because it was “unprofitable” to deliver to some rural areas, the wages and quality of work about the same as a fast food joint. Management drools at the prospect of eliminating unions but they don’t understand a couple crucial factors.
    First, their featherbedding embezzling ways would be over. Any private company, like Amazon, a likely party to look into taking over mail service, would very quickly going over the books every which way, and ineffective incompetent managers that would get in the way of profits would be out on their asses quick.
    The systematic mountain of paper, operating cost estimates and other tricks used to cover up their trail of massive theft in the guise of “bonuses” and other methods of hiding their ill gotten gains would be stopped because the owner of what was the USPS would want their own people to get the big bucks, not the idiots that run the show now.
    Second, USPS management, many of whom in the higher levels regard themselves as great businessmen and want desperately to run with the big dogs of private industry, especially as far as excessive pay is concerned, would be horrified to learn that they are considered today as some of the most incompetent bunglers in any industry, reducing good service, ignoring customers and lying out their asses to anybody who tries to make them accountable. They don’t think that about themselves as it stands now. I’ve seen enough of them to know how many are arrogant vain ass kissers, do all they can to cut the throats of their co-managers so they can get that plum appointment, and repeatedly fuck up the system because they were lousy and stupid craft employees to begin with and used relatives, brown nosing and whatever else they could to get into management world. Yes, there are exceptions, but those in management who actually could do well typically are stuck in their offices because they are seen as traitors if they treat craft people well and dare to tell higher ups who have no clue what’s going on they’re wrong. It’s the good ol’ boy system run amok.
    A private company worth a damn would not tolerate the abuses. Yes, corporate America is notorious for the least qualified and most repulsive people in the work force rising to their levels of incompetence, but those USPS managers who think they would just sail right in to a big boy’s position and salary are sadly mistaken. As it stands, they are safe as long as the USPS remains a true “service”, not a for profit business. The unions protect them too, and they benefit from giving us decent wages because they can use that to justify their own pay. It isn’t right, but we as the craft people have about as good a blue collar job as one can find today. Reform is essential, but the way the GOP is going about it is designed to rip the USPS off even more.

  4. Can a membership publication that receives a discount on postage from the USPS censor (refuse to print) a communication that is not necessarily in agreement with their views? Is this a violation of the First Amendment position on Freedom of Speech?

  5. This is where you come to appreciate a do nothing Congress. God willing this doesn’t pass. In theory a Postal only HBP would be better, in practice it is a dying business and this would be the first place to start cutting.

  6. I read this but I don’t understand the implications. I’m especially worried about my health benefits. I’m FERS and the annuity part of my retirement goes to paying my health and life insurance with a couple of hundred left over. I cannot afford an increase.

  7. Postal employees and annuitants get the Vaseline ready. Congress still believes that the Postal Service, and only the Postal Service, must prepay for health care costs. On other employer in the world is stuck with this artificial, invented cost. The conservatives don’t want to “subsidize” Postal employees health care costs, while it’s ok to subsidize business employment costs! Business is allowed to pay as little as possible, while the tax payer pays for The Earned Income Tax Credit, Welfare, Food Stamps, Medicaid, And what ever else business leaches can suck off tax payers! The public doesn’t care. They only care about guns, god, and sports. The voter can be screwed every day and they just ask for more.

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