Most want Postal Service to act like a business
Bipartisan majorities of U.S. voters think that Congress should let the United States Postal Service act more like a business, a new survey found.
The findings of the survey, conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s public policy school, were released after USPS reported a net loss of $5.1 billion for fiscal 2015.
In the online survey, respondents were briefed about the Postal Service’s financial situation and were presented with a set of policy options based on recommendations from the Postmaster General, the Inspector General and bills pending in the House and Senate.
Eighty-three percent of the national panel supported relaxing the requirement set by Congress that USPS has to fully prefund 100 percent of future retiree health benefits. Forty-seven percent supported reducing the prefunding requirement to 80 percent of future costs, and another 36 percent supported eliminating the requirement, according to the report.
Nearly 90 percent of the panel recommended allowing USPS to offer new products and services, according to the report. Bipartisan majorities supported nine of 10 options for new products and services, including self-service photocopying for a fee, renting unused post-office space to local government agencies and leasing unused warehouse space to private companies. However, only 32 percent supported USPS offering small-scale individual savings accounts, the survey found.
Roughly six in 10 recommended allowing postal rates to rise faster than inflation, and about two-thirds supported eliminating Saturday letter delivery while maintaining Saturday delivery of packages and priority mail. Only 41 percent supported converting most door-delivery mailboxes to curbside or cluster boxes, according to the report.
Thirty percent of the participants supported the Postal Service’s plan to close about 12 percent of post offices, and 36 percent endorsed closing as much as 5 percent of post offices, the university said.
Steven Kull, who directed the survey, said that the differences in responses between Republicans and Democrats were “very modest.”
“They never really disagreed,” he said.
The results of the survey offer lawmakers some direction for how to reform the troubled USPS, since “Congress is having a lot of trouble finding common ground between the parties,” Kull said.
The 2,256 registered voters who participated in the survey included samples of the nation as a whole and of three states: Maryland, Oklahoma and Virginia. The survey was conducted from July 2 to Aug. 12.
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