USPS Reports Some Good News, But Still Facing “Fundamental Financial Challenges”

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It’s been a long and bumpy road for the United States Postal Service in recent years, what with the agency reporting billions in net losses year after year. USPS had some good news recently, however: operational revenue was up for the quarter! Sounds great, right? But on the other hand, financial matters are still dire, and the agency wants Congress to help out.

USPS reported [PDF] a “controllable income” of $576 million in the second quarter, which is a nice boost up from the $313 million it reported during the same period in 2015 (h/t Federal News Radio).

Controllable income takes into account operational expenses like compensation, benefits, and work hours — but it doesn’t reflect factors “such as the legally-mandated expense to prefund retiree health benefits,” USPS notes, bringing the agency to a $2 billion net loss this quarter, up from a $1.5 billion net loss during the same time last year.

Once all is said and done, any bright spots in the quarterly report shouldn’t “mask the fundamental financial challenges” that the Postal Service faces, Postmaster General Megan Brennan said in a statement, especially when you consider the reduction of postal rates it was forced to make on April 10. USPS can’t continue this way without some kind of intervention from Congress, Brennan said.

“While we have been successful in achieving controllable income during the quarter, we are still reporting net losses and contending with long-term financial challenges,” she said. “We continue to focus on improving operating efficiencies, speeding the pace of innovation and increasing revenues for the postal service.”

Brennan adds that the financial situation is “serious but solvable,” and that the agency is confident it can get back on solid ground if lawmakers enact “prudent legislative reform and a favorable resolution of the upcoming regulatory review of our rate-setting system.”

Sen. Tom Carper (DE), the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, agreed that Congress should make a move.

“Congress must face reality and work quickly to stabilize this lynchpin of a $1.4 trillion mailing industry that employs more than 7 million Americans,” Carper said in a statement.

Carper introduced a bipartisan measure in September and has been pushing for USPS reform for years now. He urged his friends in the House and Senate to get together and work something out.

“The agency’s latest financial report reiterates a hard truth: due to long-term financial challenges and constraints placed on it by Congress, the postal service is unable to raise enough revenue to cover its costs and continues to suffer unsustainable losses that threaten its long-term viability,” he said.