U.S. Postal chief set to release 10-year strategic plan

March 22, 2021 3:51 PM EDT

FILE PHOTO: United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy attends a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on "Legislative Proposals to Put the US Postal Service on Sustainable Financial Footing" on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S.

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is set to release a 10-year strategic plan as early as Tuesday expected to propose slowing delivery standards for some first-class mail as he seeks to put the money-losing U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on firmer financial footing, two people briefed on the matter said.

"I would suggest that we are on a death spiral," DeJoy a U.S. House committee in February. At a separate March 11 congressional hearing, DeJoy signaled some changes, including acknowledging his plan would revise existing service standards.

The current delivery standards are "not achievable," DeJoy said. "We cannot go to California from New York in three days without going on planes and we don't own planes."

A USPS spokesman declined to comment on the timing of the plan's release.

DeJoy has apologized for "extreme delays" in some mail deliveries.

The "break-even" reorganization plan would keep existing six-day delivery and would not close rural or small post offices, DeJoy said, adding: "Our plan will have some big numbers investing into the organization and workforce -- approaching $40 billion. It's spurring innovation for growth."

USPS faces shrinking volumes of first-class mail, increased costs of employee compensation and benefits, and higher unfunded liabilities along with $160 billion in projected losses over the next decade. Congress gave USPS a $10 billion loan last year to address COVID-19 expenses that it opted to forgive.

USPS reported net losses of $86.7 billion from 2007 through 2020. One reason is 2006 legislation mandating that it pre-fund more than $120 billion in retiree health care and pension liabilities, a requirement labor unions have called an unfair burden not shared by other businesses.

President Joe Biden has nominated three people to fill open seats on the USPS board, while 53 U.S. House lawmakers last week urged Biden to immediate remove the six current board members.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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