New Military Mail Contract Projected to Save Millions

 By Gerry J. Gilmore
 American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2006  - A new mail delivery contract is projected to save millions of dollars in costs to air freight letters and packages to U.S. servicemembers deployed in the Middle East, a senior DoD official said here yesterday.

Under terms of the new contract, DoD pays only for the weight of postal cargo flown from Newark, N.J., to mail sorting centers in Bahrain and other Mideast locales, Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.

"Used to be that we paid for (use of) the whole aircraft," Carr said, noting the new contract should save $18 million over two years.

The Defense Business Board, a DoD-sanctioned entity that looks for ways to save taxpayer dollars, also is examining other methods to realize more savings within the military mail system, to include possible privatization, Carr said.

"The Defense Business Board suggested that we find innovative ways to accomplish the (military) mail function," Carr said. Employing civilian mail handlers instead of military personnel or outsourcing military mail operations altogether, he said, are among the ideas now being studied.

About 4,500 active duty and reserve servicemembers across the armed forces, Carr said, work in the postal business. Under an envisioned outsourcing scenario, for example, lower-ranking military postal clerks would be retrained into other military occupational specialties, Carr said, while more senior postal managers would likely remain for a time.

"The work we would try to eliminate first is going to be some of the functions that we can easily transfer to another manpower source," Carr said.

Carr acknowledged that military leaders might want to retain their unit's uniformed mail clerks.

"And we'll be sensitive to that as we look at the potential changes," Carr said.