Here’s an intriguing nugget from the U.S. Postal Service’s latest quarterly report: Even as the Obama administration agrees that the Postal Service is owed a huge refund on past payments to its pension program, the Office of Personnel Management—headed by Obama appointee John Berry—is requiring it to shell out more for current payments.
For the first quarter of fiscal 2011, the Postal Service’s contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System, or FERS, rose by $24 million—from $1,469 million to $1.493 million—versus the same period in fiscal 2010, even though the USPS workforce continued to shrink, the report says. The reason, according to the Postal Service, is that its employer contribution rate increased from 11.2 percent to 11.7 percent of eligible payroll. The agency is appealing that boost to a federal board of actuaries on the grounds that its FERS obligation is already overfunded to the tune of some $6.9 billion.
In its newly released 2012 budget request, the White House proposed refunding the Postal Service that money over 30 years, starting with a $550 million down payment this year.
At least to non-actuarial minds, it seems contradictory to be giving with one hand and taking away with the other. We’ve asked OPM for an explanation; if we get one, we’ll post it here.