Refunding tens of billions of dollars in federal worker retirement accounts back to the U.S. Postal Service would not address its long-term debt problems and would shift unfunded liabilities on to taxpayers, according to a new government report.
The conclusions published Thursday by the Government Accountability Office run counter to the opinions of postal regulators, the postal inspector general and congressional Democrats, who say Congress should refund as much as $75 billion to the Postal Service for overpaying federal retirement accounts since the 1970s.
Soaring labor costs are causing most of the Postal Service’s financial woes, although proposals to close post offices and end Saturday mail deliveries capture most of the attention.
At issue are laws passed in the 1970s that spun off the Postal Service as a self-funding, semi-independent federal agency and required it to start paying billions of dollars into the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
The GAO concluded that “we have not found evidence of error” in payments the Postal Service has made since the 1970s, adding that any refund “would be a significant change from a policy” in place since the 1970s.