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We really haven't gotten together to bargain. They demand we only talk about their position. We are not demanding that we talk only about our position. Somewhere you have got to sit down and bargain over these things; and sometime, the principals have to get down and really look at these financial issues, see what we can do to narrow that gap, and see if we can't reach agreement.
It isn't necessarily going to the bargaining table-there seems to be some other holdup.
Mr. GARCIA. What is your general reaction to the Postal Rate Commission's recently recommended decision in the general rate case, and is it likely that the Governors are going to accept this decision?
Mr. BOLGER. Congressman, I have recused myself from discussion and commenting on that. If I make a comment here on the public record, someone may construe this as trying to influence the Governors and their decision. I think the case we put forward was fair and represented what we need in financial requirements. The Rate Commission, as I understand the case, got around it in a different way. I will leave it up to the judgment of the public Governors as to what they are going to do with it.
Mr. GARCIA. If they accept the decision, what do you think—well, you probably will not be there anymore-but when will the next rate case have to be filed?
Mr. BOLGER. When I start talking about the rate case we advocated and the revenue requirements contained in it, I said there were two major ingredients that had to happen to keep rate stability for 5 years. First, we had to have the revenue requirements for the test year of fiscal year 1985 that we put into the rate casethat is one.
Then, I also said we have to get around to getting responsible labor agreements, which is our major cost factor.
If the two of them are done right, we can get rate stability for probably 5 years, which I think is important.
Mr. GARCIA. Mr. Postmaster, as you probably know, in many of these hearings you have many people who are interested in various aspects of the post office, and one of them seems to be as follows: The recommended rate decision by the Commission seems to contain some high increases for a certain type of mailers, for example, the in-county second-class rate, the classroom publication rate, the library rate.
Now, what accounts for these mailers' increases being so high in comparison to the average increases for other mailers? Do you think that these results indicate that something is wrong with our ratemaking process, given the fact that none of the users of these classes could afford to participate in a rate case on the same scale as large volume commercial users, such as large magazines and third rate bulk advertising mailers?
Mr. BOLGER. Again, Congressman, I hate to duck the issue-I am not trying to but I have recused myself from that rate case, and I really shouldn't comment on that. I do have an opinion, though. Mr. GARCIA. OK. Just a few more questions and I think we will be finished.
In 1978, the Postal Service adopted a national policy limiting new extensions of residential service to curbside, sidewalk, or to
neighborhood delivery and collection box units. The concerns that have been raised are basically twofold:
No. 1, curbside boxes and cluster boxes are a great inconvenience to those elderly and disabled persons who have difficulty or are simply unable to walk to those boxes to get their mail.
And, No. 2, regular contact with the mail delivery person who comes to the door of the residence can provide a sense of security to housebound seniors and disabled persons.
The Postal Service has developed a mail alert program where letter carriers would be on the outlook for sick, elderly, and handicapped people. Is this program still in effect? If so, how can this program be affected when curbside delivery or centralized delivery is mandated?
Mr. BOLGER. Well, basically, we haven't mandated it. We have mandated curbside delivery except in hardship cases. When the hardship is proven such as with elderly people, handicapped people, we have put door delivery in if we can possibly do it. There is no set rule that bars a handicapped or an elderly person from getting door delivery.
The carrier alert program is a cooperative effort-and a very fine effort, I might add-between the carriers, the management of the Postal Service, and one of the health or other agencies of the local community. It can work just as easily with cluster box delivery. If people don't pick up their mail, the carrier ought to be reporting that, particularly if he knows that they are elderly.
We have a policy on curb delivery, but we make exceptions to that policy for the elderly and the handicapped when a hardship case is proven to us. We will continue to do that, and should continue to do it.
Mr. GARCIA. On July 5, the Washington Post reported that D.C. residences whose mailboxes are perpetually broken because of vandalism can no longer collect their social security, their welfare checks, or other mail from their local post office. Consequently, their mail is being returned. This policy, obviously, has caused undue hardship.
Does the U.S. Postal Service intend to make this a national policy, and why does the local postmaster have authority to unilaterally implement such a policy? And just let me add, that in my district, this is a major problem as well. And I think that you will find this in every inner city, whether it is New York or Los Angeles, or Chicago, or right here in the Nation's capital.
Mr. BOLGER. We do not want to withhold the delivery of those checks or any other mail from these people-in particular, those checks. We understand the value of those checks and their prompt delivery to those people. In the Washington, DC incident, we just had depredation of that mail.
Mr. GARCIA. Just had what, I'm sorry?
Mr. BOLGER. Depredation of the mail-going on all the time.
But I understand this Washington, D.C., problem-Northwest Washington-has been resolved. It has been resolved through a cluster box type of delivery on the outside of the buildings. The local community and the local police, have agreed to it. This is one way to get delivery accomplished, and cut down, if not eliminate, the depredation.
But we have this problem all the time. We have the problem of people not getting their social security check, or their checks being stolen. We have the problem of carriers being robbed at times, on what we call check day. We are working on that. But you can bet your life our goal will be to deliver those checks on time to these people, and we will find a way to do it. It may not always be in our normal delivery effort, but we will find a way to do it, and we should.
Mr. GARCIA. The last question is a rather simple one, and that is that working with your legislative counsel, if there are any legislative recommendations that you have; and if you see the need for amending or altering the Postal Reorganization Act in the near future?
Mr. BOLGER. I basically think the Postal Reorganization Act is a fine piece of legislation, and remains so. I think there are always some things that we may want to address, that the Congress ought to address, from time to time. I don't think the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was a panacea for all time, for all ills of the Postal Service.
I would respectfully suggest that the Congress may want to take a look at such major issues as ratemaking, how that has fared over the last 14 years and whether it needs any adjustments. I think you may want to take a look at some other things for instance, whether we should be litigating our own legal cases instead of the Department of Justice-things like that.
But I would not take the Postal Reorganization Act and change its basic principles and philosophy very much. I have worked for this Postal Service and the Post Office Department for the last 44 years. I think it is the finest piece of legislation I have ever seen, as far as the Postal Service is concerned. It has started to work very well. There may be some things that need to be addressed, but I have nothing specific that I would say that needs to be changed right now so that we can carry on, and successfully carry on, in the Postal Service.
Mr. GARCIA. Mr. Postmaster, I have no further questions, but before we terminate this hearing, I would like to, again, thank you, No. 1, for your patience. No. 2, I guess you don't have a target date as to when you are going to officially give up the reins of the Postal Service, but whenever it is, obviously, I wish you all the very best.
I can tell you as a member of this committee, that I will be amongst those who will miss you. I just hope that if I don't accomplish anything else, if I could have you and Moe Biller sit down and have dinner together someplace in some quiet little restaurant-I think we could probably accomplish a heck of a lot more than all of this national television stuff which obviously we can do without it.
I wish you well and, again, I thank you for your patience.
Mr. GARCIA. With that, the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:25 p.m., the subcommittees were adjourned.] [The following responses were received from the Postal Service in answer to written questions subsequent to the hearing:]
This is in response to your October 2 inquiry posing several questions to be answered for the record of the September 26 oversight hearing.
Enclosed please find the requested responses. require additional information, please call me or have your staff contact William T. Johnstone, Assistant Postmaster General, Government Relations Department, on 245-4181.
What is your reaction to the fact finding report
I am disappointed with the factfinding panel's findings