Post Office Can’t Cut Saturday Delivery, Says Government Accountability Office

Magazines were panicked

If the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service wants to cut delivery down to weekdays, it's going to have to convince Congress to pass a law. That's according to the legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office.

After the USPS lost nearly $16 billion in 2012, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced in February that the service would stop Saturday delivery (except for packages) starting in August, setting off a panic in rural communities and among magazine and other media dependent on Saturday delivery. The proposal would save the USPS $2 billion a year.

The GAO, in a letter, said the USPS is bound by current law to "continue 6-day delivery and rural delivery of mail at not less than the 1983 level," wrote Susan Poling, general counsel with the GAO.

"The GAO legal opinion clearly rejects the Postal Service's attempt to circumvent the law," said Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), who requested the GAO opinion. "This impartial and definitive GAO legal opinion makes it crystal clear that the USPS cannot operate outside the legislative authority of Congress and unilaterally implement a change in delivery service that many believe will not only disrupt mail service, but also exacerbate USPS revenue losses and contribute to the decline of this constitutionally mandated service to all Americans."

The USPS took issue with the GAO opinion because it disregarded the actual language of the continuing resolution. "Its opinion concludes that the Postal Service could not move to 5-day mail delivery while the continuing resolution, expiring March 27, is in effect. The opinion does not address the Postal Service’s proposal to move to 5-day mail delivery, with 6-day package delivery, during the week of August 5," the USPS said in a statement.