What has become clear in the recent debate over financial crisis at the Postal Service is that there will be another round of debate over reform. Round 1 began 1995 when Marvin Runyon confronted the new Republican Congress that had begun to talk about privatization almost from Election Day 1994. There was also talk of new deals in which the revenue stream of the USPS would be tapped to pay for budget priorities. A need for reform was clear. But the debate lasted from 1995 through 2006 when the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was finally passed and signed into law.
In 2011, as a new Republican Congress has begun to review the financial crisis that is pending for the Service, there will again be a new debate that seeks to reform the USPS.
But as the debate emerges, inevitably there will be a question about Round 1. What was learned from experience with PAEA? How well did it serve the needs of the USPS?
In 2007 after the first law was passed, I wrote a paper for an international conference sponsored by the Rutgers Center for Research in Regulated Industries. My co authors were Larry Buc and Pierce Myers, an economist and a lawyer who were as knowledgeable as any professionals working in the postal and delivery industries. We asked “how should the new law be evaluated?” As the Postal Reform Debate 2 began to emerge Larry Buc and I wrote another paper for the Eastern Conference of CRRI. (Click on “paper” to see our 2011 paper.)
We reexamined the criteria from the 2007 paper and concluded that the emerging debate was going to miss the underlying question – what kind of a law will be needed to make the USPS a viable institution in the 21st Century?