Out of Control Policy Blog

DOD to Privatize Military Mail Delivery

According to the Federal Times, DOD is moving forward with a plan to privatize military mail delivery:

    The Defense Department is starting to move forward on a plan to outsource its billion-dollar-plus mail operation, which would be one of the government's biggest privatization projects in recent years.

    An influential advisory group concluded doing so would save money, improve mail service and free up troops badly needed for war-fighting.

    . . . .

    Pentagon officials have already drafted an internal memo to move forward with the privatization plan, and that memo is under review, according to one industry source who asked not to be identified.

    . . . .

    The Defense Business Board task force said outsourcing would allow the military to shift almost 4,500 active and reserve troops from postal duties to other higher-priority jobs. "Delivery of mail is not a core military function," the task force said.

    . . . .

    Defense mail costs – including transportation, payroll, technology, travel, and headquarters operations – are at least $1.8 billion a year, the Defense Business Board study said. But the true total cost is unknown because government auditors cannot calculate it.

    One industry source said those costs could be reduced by about 25 percent – and service to customers greatly improved – by using technology to reduce the number of packages that now get returned because they are "undeliverable as addressed."

Could the U.S. Postal Service take over?

    "This probably would not be an opportunity for [the Postal Service] because they wouldn't be able to compete with private-sector companies from a cost standpoint," said Robert McLean, executive director of the advocacy group Mailers Council of Arlington, Va., which represents mailing associations, corporations and nonprofit groups.

    "Private-sector companies that operate mail rooms usually do so at wage levels far less than what the Postal Service pays, and the Postal Service would not be able to match that," McLean said.

    Gene Del Polito, head of the advocacy group Association for Postal Commerce, also in Arlington, agreed.

    "There is no way in hell the Postal Service is going to get this business because they can't be competitive. There is no way it will cost less, even compared to using military personnel," Del Polito said.

    If there is any effect on the Postal Service from privatizing military mail delivery, Del Polito said, it would likely be the negative one of establishing a privatizing precedent.

    "If you open up military mail to competition, then it would be irrational to keep other parts of the mail system the exclusive preserve of the Postal Service. If cost is the major concern, then the Postal Service should be privatized," Del Polito said.

There's a thought...

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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