President Trump signed an executive order April 12 creating a task force to study the financial difficulties of the US Postal Service and recommend restructuring the agency.
Most news reports indicate the move was prompted by the President's assertion that online retailer Amazon's deal for low shipping rates is hurting the postal service financially.
The task force is assigned to study USPS's pricing in the package delivery market and will have 120 days to submit a report with recommendations for "the expansion and pricing of the package delivery market and the USPS's role in competitive markets," according to the executive order.
Restructuring proposals could impact USPS prices for other classes of delivery, including periodical rates paid by community newspapers.
The task force will be chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or his designee, and will include the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the director of the Office of Personnel Management and "any other department and agency head the chair may designate," according to the order.
The Postmaster General and the chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission are not designated as members, Tonda Rush, National Newspaper Association public policy director and general counsel, noted, but the task force will consult with them.
Rates are not the only issues assigned to the task force. The panel will also consult with the US Attorney General on issues relating to government monopolies operating in the commercial marketplace, the Secretary of Labor on issues related to workers compensation programs and "state, local, and tribal officials as determined by the chair of the task force with input from the task force members."
“A number of factors, including the steep decline in First-Class Mail volume, coupled with legal mandates that compel the USPS to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit,” the order says. “The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.”