How the U.S. Postal Service might improve the efficiency of its delivery platform.
The following letter was published in the Letters to the Editor in the June 2012 CACM (http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2012/6/149799).
Though Michael A. Cusumano offered interesting ideas as to new postal services in his Viewpoint "Can Services and Platform Thinking Help the U.S. Postal Service?" (Apr. 2012), he failed to explore his reference to the "annual obligations for retiree health benefits" at the depth it deserves.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) requires the USPS to pre-fund retiree benefits for employees who have not been hired yetand, with the 75-year pre-fund mandate, possibly even for those not even born yet. By requiring this transfer of funds from the USPS to the U.S. government general fund, the USPS is required to make the U.S. budget deficit look smaller at the cost of an artificial deficit in its own budget. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader once said that if not for PAEA, the USPS would have a surplus of at least $1.5 billion.(1)
Though computer science is naturally drawn to technological solutions, legal and social pressure is sometimes a more appropriate place to look for the source (and solution) of a problem.
John J. Deltuvia, Jr.
(1) Jilani, Z. A Manufactured 'Crisis': Congress Can Let the Post Office Save Itself without Mass Layoffs or Service Reductions. ThinkProgress, Center for American Progress Action Fund (Sept. 28, 2011); http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/09/28/330524/postal-non-crisis-post-office-save-itself/
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