Delegation Refutes USPS Inspector General Bypass Mail Report

Nine Assertions “Either Inaccurate, Incomplete, or Are Not Well-Considered”

Alaska’s Congressional Delegation today sent a letter to the United States Postal Service Inspector General, prodding the department for answers to nine questionable claims made in this week’s reportBypass Mail: Beyond Its Original Purpose.”

Among the questions raised in the letter:

  • False Equivalencies: To criticize the passenger air service supply and demand imbalance created by bypass mail, the report states there are 80 flights/month between Anchorage and Juneau, compared to 90 between Anchorage and King Salmon. The delegation writes: “Please justify this comparison, given that the planes flying between Anchorage and Juneau are often 144-seat Boeing 737-400 jets and the planes used to fly between Anchorage and King Salmon are often Saab 340/340B turboprop commuter planes that have a maximum of 36 seats.”
  • Cost of Milk: The delegation responds to the point made in the report that “milk in Bethel costs less than retail milk in Anchorage.” Two phone calls this week found that “on November 28, 2011, the price of a gallon of Lucerne 2% milk at the Anchorage Carrs/Safeway costs $3.39 while a gallon of that same milk cost $6.99 in Bethel at the Alaska Commercial Company.”
  • Factual Error: The report suggests that Alaska does not pay for airport infrastructure.  The delegation writes “we are told that the State of Alaska owns or maintains…many of those [airports] in bypass mail communities and currently spends $33 million annually to maintain the state’s Rural Airport System."
  • Alaska refuses to improve the system: “We question what stakeholders your office met with, given that airlines participating in the bypass mail system have been working for well over a year to develop proposals for additional efficiencies in the program in concert with USPS and DOT.”