Rice Business expert available to discuss Postal Service financials

EXPERT ALERT

Jeff Falk
jfalk@rice.edu
713-348-6775

Avery Ruxer Franklin
averyrf@rice.edu
713-348-6327

Rice Business expert available to discuss Postal Service financials

HOUSTON – (Sept. 3, 2020) – The U.S. Postal Service was not created to be a traditional profit-making business, according to an accounting expert at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

Ramesh, the Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Accounting at the Jones School, is available to discuss with the media the Postal Service’s financial past and future, which has become a political issue ahead of the presidential election in November.

“Profitability was not meant to be the sole criterion to evaluate the performance of a national postal service with important social objectives,” Ramesh wrote in a published FAQ. “Of course, the Congress clearly wanted an efficient postal service that can operate within the statutory mandate. For instance, the USPS has also used measures such as total factor productivity, on-time delivery and customer satisfaction to monitor its performance.”

However, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) that took effect in 2006 amended the 1971 Postal Reorganization Act (PRA) — which established the USPS — and created an additional obligation for the Postal Service of roughly $5.6 billion per year for 10 years, Ramesh wrote.

“More importantly, the feasibility of making such payments would have required drastic changes to the strategy and operations of the Postal Service, which may not have been even possible given its statutory mandate,” he wrote. “Not surprisingly … the Postal Service has defaulted on $33.9 billion in PAEA-specified funding requirements.”

The legislative mandates of the PAEA and the PRA do not clearly state if the Postal Service “could (or should) ever function similar to a business entity and make the necessary transformational changes to become ‘profitable,’” Ramesh wrote.

Maintaining “operational effectiveness” throughout the country is an important social asset, Ramesh argues.

“If Congress is worried about postal delay that impacts the delivery of essential medicine and other time-sensitive items to all communities, then its immediate focus should be not on structural issues such as long-term financial stability, but on the near-term operational effectiveness in meeting the service needs of a broad cross section of communities in the U.S.,” Ramesh wrote.

By focusing on keeping the Postal Service running instead of reallocating funds and resources, Congress could ensure mail delivery in an “uninterrupted and timely fashion” through the end of year 2020, Ramesh explains.

Ramesh previously served on the faculties of the business schools at Northwestern University, the University of Rochester, Pennsylvania State University and Michigan State University. He has also served as president of the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section of the American Accounting Association and an academic fellow in the Office of the Chief Accountant at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. During his tenure as vice president at two leading economic consulting firms, Ramesh worked with top law firms, Big 4 audit firms, major corporations and government agencies.

To schedule an interview with Ramesh or for more information, contact Avery Franklin, media relations specialist at Rice, at averyrf@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

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Ramesh bio: https://business.rice.edu/person/k-ramesh.

FAQ post: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6704849999878004736/.

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Follow Rice Business Wisdom via Twitter @RiceBizWisdom.

About Avery Ruxer Franklin

Avery is a media relations specialist in the Office of Public Affairs.