Postal Service records $8.8 billion loss for fiscal 2019
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
The United States Postal Service’s board of governors convened Nov. 14 with a quorum of presidentially appointed members for the first time since 2014.
“It’s a milestone for us,” said board chairman Robert M. Duncan, who noted that a “temporary emergency” board had been overseeing the USPS.
But the board’s first public meeting produced little to cheer about because the USPS disclosed it recorded a staggering $8.8 billion loss in the 2019 fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
On a more positive note, board members said a fond farewell to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, who is retiring January 31.
Brennan greeted the huge loss, one of the largest of her five-year tenure as USPS chief executive, with a warning that three steps must be taken to lift the Postal Service from its sea of red ink.
The USPS must seek more revenues, its regulator must give it greater authority to raise prices and Congress must remove some of the costly mandates it has placed on the agency, she said.
The USPS did disclose some good news for Brennan in a financial filing.
The governors voted to grant her a severance bonus equal to her 2019 base pay.
According to a website that tracks postal salaries, Brennan’s current annual salary is $291,650.
Under the bonus agreement, Brennan will receive the pay in four quarterly payments and will receive professional outplacement service, presumably for another job, as well as relocation benefits.
The public meeting was filled with glowing words from the governors about her “great distinction” steering the agency through its financial turmoil and her concern for its employees and customers.
The session was also dominated by the fiscal 2019 year results, which showed a net loss more than double the $3.9 billion loss recorded in fiscal 2018.
Revenues did climb to $71.1 billion from $70.6 billion in 2018, but first-class and marketing mail fell by 3.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Package volumes showed an increase for the year, but the rate of increase has slowed in recent months, perhaps reflecting the decisions of larger mailers such as Amazon to deliver more parcels with their own trucks.
Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer, blamed the higher deficit in 2019 on changes in the cost of workers’ compensation expenses, which the USPS does not control.
If only what are considered to be “controllable costs” are considered, Corbett said the loss for 2019 would have been $3.4 billion and the 2018 loss almost $2 billion.
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