The legal opinion from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency throws new questions on the Postmaster
General Patrick Donahoe’s plans to stop delivering first-class mail, but keep delivering packages and express mail on Saturdays.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office stopped short of saying the U.S. Postal Service’s August plan to end most Saturday mail service violates current law.
The U.S. Postal Service says it’s not ending six-day delivery, only changing it, since it’ll still deliver packages on Saturdays.
However, GAO’s report could make it easier to file a lawsuit to stop the U.S. Postal Service, if it decides to continue with service cuts as previously announced.
“We fully expect the Postal Service’s board of governors and the postmaster general to follow the law and the expressed will of
Congress about maintaining six-day delivery,” said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “We do not
expect to have a legal fight.”
When the U.S. Postal Service announced last month it planned to stop delivering and collecting letters and other first-class mail on
Saturdays beginning Aug. 5, several lawmakers accused the agency of overstepping its legal authority.
“The GAO legal opinion clearly rejects the Postal Service’s attempt to circumvent the law,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia who asked GAO to review postal service’s legal authority.
In the past, the agency had said it needed Congress to change current law to cut Saturday service. After more than two years of waiting for Congress to help, the Postal Service decided to cut Saturday mail, saying the current temporary funding measures gave them a loophole to pursue the changes.
The GAO report said that loophole isn’t there and that current law requires the agency to continue 6-day delivery.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency disagrees with the GAO opinion. He also said it doesn’t address their plan to move to “5-day mail delivery, with 6-day package delivery, during the week of August 5.”
That plan would save $2 billion a year, not much compared to the $16 billion loss the organization reported for 2012.