Head of Post Office Sees Return to Full Service : Postmaster General Hopes to End Reduced Hours at Customer Windows and Other Cuts by Summer

Times Staff Writer

Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank said Tuesday that he hopes to restore full hours of service at post offices and the Sunday sorting of mail by this summer.

The cutbacks, an average of about four hours a week in window service, were imposed in February to save the Postal Service $9 million a month after Congress ordered budget reductions.

Frank said that the postal system is achieving savings in other areas and expressed confidence that full service could be resumed possibly as soon as July.


Committed to Service

“I am absolutely committed to reopening the windows,” Frank said in a breakfast meeting with reporters. “But I will not do it until I am sure we can keep them open.”

The postmaster general said his “best guess” is that a postal rate increase will not be needed for three years. The last increase took place on April 3. Frank said that many cost-saving projects are under way and expressed hope that the next increase, in three years, will be “the last one for some period of time.”

The increased revenue from the postal rate hike in April, which had been scheduled far in advance, already was counted in the system’s budget. But Congress, as part of its overall budget resolution last year, ordered $1.2 billion in savings by the postal system, which resulted in the service cutbacks.

Frank said that the public has been skeptical about the postal system because rates were increased while hours of service were reduced.

In further efforts to save money in response to the congressional order, the Postal Service postponed real estate acquisitions and construction projects, Frank said. “Land has been sold to somebody else and we cannot get it,” he said. “Construction costs will be higher.”

Such added expenses will burden the Postal Service budget long after anyone remembers that “the windows were closed on Wednesday afternoons,” Frank said.

However, Frank said that the Postal Service managers had made the right choices, keeping the automation and modernization program intact, while cutting back on services and real estate.

Plans to Stay on Job

In speaking about the management of his agency, the postmaster general, who has been on the job since March, said that he is committed to staying for three to five years. He is the fourth postmaster general since 1985.

The organization is “crying for continuity” after a series of short-term leaders, he said. “We need a longer-term outlook.”

On the subject of stamp selection, Frank advocated an Elvis Presley issue, contending that it could expand stamp collection, already the biggest hobby in the country.

A citizens’ stamp advisory committee, which receives 2,000 letters a month from passionate advocates of various stamp ideas, makes suggestions to the postmaster general for new issues. The stamp schedule is filled until 1990, but Frank could order a piece of Presley postage in the future.