The U.S. Postal Service has faced serious budget shortfalls in recent years and is looking at a long-term problem as mail volume declines. However, that's not the primary reason that USPS' budget is in crisis.
What's being claimed by the USPS is that they've been inappropriately forced to overcompensate the federal government's workers retirement funding (the Civil Service Retirement System, or CSRS) due to mismanagement by the federal government. The USPS wants to be refunded up to $85 billion to make payments to workers, avoid layoffs and keep low-volume offices open.
Unfortunately, the GAO today poked holes in the USPS' request for a bailout (pdf):
Although the USPS OIG and PRC reports present alternative methodologies for determining the allocation of pension costs, this determination is ultimately a policy choice rather than a question of accounting or actuarial standards. Some have referred to “overpayments” that USPS has made to the CSRS fund, which can imply an error of some type—mathematical, actuarial, or accounting. We have not found evidence of error of these types.
In other words: the federal government doesn't "owe" the USPS anything.That should be end of that bailout.
However, as Ed O'Keefe details, the GAO made no mention of a smaller bailout of the USPS, as the Obama administration has proposed that $6.9 billion be refunded to the USPS from a different pension program, the Federal Employee Retirement System. Postal workers union boss Cliff Guffey has been advocating for a bailout -- not to shore up the USPS and restructure its business model, but to buy off his workers instead of firing them.
"Crushing postal workers and slashing service will not solve the Postal Service's financial crisis," said Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union.