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Postal News from October 2011:

October 31, 2011  

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: Docket No. R2010-4: On October 4, 2011, the Postal Service moved to stay this proceeding until December 15, 2011 pending the outcome of several postal legislative initiatives. The Motion to Stay is denied, and the Commission establishes further procedures consistent with Order No. 864.

flag American Postal Workers Union: The Postal Service and the APWU have finalized the position description and qualification standards [PDF] for a new Level 6 Clerk Craft position: the Delivery/Sales Services and Distribution Associate. The new position will be filled by the senior-qualified bidder in the Clerk Craft, and will include the existing duties and responsibilities of Sales Service and Distribution Associates and Clerk/Special Delivery Messengers. The purpose of the new position is to perform distribution and a variety of sales and customer support services. In addition to sales and distribution duties, employees who are awarded these positions may deliver and collect mail on foot or by vehicle under varying conditions in any area. Applicants must have a valid state driver's license and must demonstrate and maintain a safe driving record.

flag Fleetworld: Renault has today announced that a total 15,637 Kangoo Z.E. models have been ordered by the 19 companies taking part in the call for bids, of which 10,000 for La Poste, 1,500 for ERDF, 1,200 for UGAP, 510 for Veolia Environnement, 450 for GDF-Suez and 330 for Spie.

flag Cedar Valley Times: Rep. Bruce Braley recently launched an online petition urging US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to stop the Postal Service's proposed closures of 178 small town post offices across Iowa. The petition, which Braley will send – via postal mail – to the postmaster general, can be viewed and signed at the following link: http://www.brucebraley.com/post-office.

oig The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General invites you to comment on this week's "Pushing the Envelope" blog topic:

How Far Does Your 44 Cents Go? The U.S. Postal Service has one of the lowest First Class postage rates in the world. Some people believe the Postal Service should increase the rate, while others believe it should remain affordable. Do you think 44 cents is reasonable? If 44 cents is too low, how much do you think the Postal Service should charge? Share your thoughts on our blog.

New Audit Projects: This week we opened the following new projects: (Please share any information you may have that would help with these audits currently in progress by clicking on the links below):

See also the following report that has been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov). If you have additional questions concerning a report, please contact Wally Olihovik at (703) 248-2201 or Agapi Doulaveris at (703) 248-2286.
Los Angeles International Service Center – International Air Mail Records Unit (Report Number FT-AR-12-001). Our report determined the Los Angeles records unit generally processed international mail transactions timely to ensure the St. Louis International Accounting Branch (accounting branch) timely billed foreign postal administrations. However, the records unit did not maintain supporting documentation to help ensure the accounting branch accurately billed foreign postal administrations or perform complete weekly audits of verification notes.




USPS Financial Stability - The USPS is NOT Going Out of Business
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/440969080
The Postal Service has been in the news a lot lately; but, despite what you might have heard, it is not going out of business. Yes, it is facing financial challenges, but the USPS is absolutely not going out of business. It is in a period of transition. It has both short-term and long-term plans that will transform the organization into a leaner, faster, smarter and more efficient operation. The U.S. Postal Service is committed to remaining your trusted business partner as well as a vital part of American commerce now and in the future.

Join us on Thursday, November 10th at 10:00 a.m. as Patrick Donahoe, the Postmaster General discusses further his plan for financial stability.

♪♫"Oh I heard it -- heard it -- Yes, I heard it through the grapevine. . . ." ♫♪  
Word has it that Sens. Lieberman, Carper, Collins, and Brown will be proposing a bipartisan postal reform bill some time this week.



.

Join the Association for Postal Commerce on Tuesday, December 13 at 2:30 Eastern for a free webinar:
“Is the Sky Falling? – What is the REAL Value of Mail?

Register Now!!
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/696235673
How is mail stacking up to the newest communications mediums what does the future really hold for the USPS - in spite of the rumors of the demise of mail; find out the facts about the USPS and the value of mail from:
Angelo Anagnostopoulos, GrayHair Software; Kathleen Baker, Sprint; David Robinson, Pitney Bowes; and Michael Tate, Bank of America.
Title: Is the Sky Falling? - What is the REAL Value of Mail? Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 Time: 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM EST

flag Directions: If your geocode is wrong, your analytics are wrong, your insights are wrong—and your decisions are wrong—so it pays to be accurate. Accuracy has two elements, positional and match. Positional accuracy measures how close the geocode is to the reference point – such as a country, state, city, street or even parcel center. An address geocoded to a city centroid, for example, will be less positionally accurate than one centered on a parcel.

flag MSNBC: TNT Express NV, the express package delivery company, has posted falling profits in the third quarter that reflect weak margins in its European business and losses at its operations in high-growth emerging markets.

flag Azerbaijan Business Center: National postal operator Azerpoct has exceeded tariff revenue forecast by 3%. The Company informs that for the first 9 months tariff revenue forecast was exceeded by 103% and amounted to 17.419 million manat. This figure, compared to the 2010 same term, grew by 10%. Earnings from postal services rendered to the population by Azerpoct, compared to the 2010 same period, increased by 1.3 million manat and exceeded the Jan-Sept 2011 forecast by almost 670,000 manat.

flag New York Times: The Deutsche Post office across from the train station here offers DVDs, umbrellas, phone cards and toys — with the processing of mail appearing nearly an afterthought. And the facility housing it is not a post office at all. Deutsche Post occupies a corner space in a bank. With mail volumes decreasing 1 to 2 percent annually in many countries, European postal services from Germany to Sweden to Switzerland have reinvented themselves over the past decade as multifaceted delivery and information companies tailored to the virtual age. Though Deutsche Post by law still delivers to every address six days a week, it has jettisoned tens of thousands of buildings, 100,000 positions and its traditional focus on paper mail.

October 30, 2011  

flag The Guardian: Royal Mail insists it is continuing to give first class mail priority over second class at all times after it was reported that it had stopped doing so on Saturdays. See also the BBC.

flag Daily Mail: The Royal Mail has made millions of pounds by charging for a firstclass delivery service that it has effectively scrapped – without telling customers. Confidential documents leaked to The Mail on Sunday reveal that the postal service has stopped giving priority to first-class letters and packages posted on Saturdays. The move means that the company has already made an estimated £4 million from customers needlessly putting first-class stamps on post that has been treated the same as second class.

flag Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: FedEx Corp. announced last week it expects to ship more packages this holiday season than ever before. The volume jump will be driven by cheaper packages it moves through a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service. The world's second-largest package delivery company expects to handle 17 million packages on its busiest day, which this year is projected to fall on Dec. 12. That's 10 percent more than its busiest day last year. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx Corp. expects more than 260 million shipments, a 12 percent increase from 2010.

October 29, 2011  

flag SKM Media Group: In a world dominated by digital everything – digital marketing, smartphones, digital advertising, digital you name it – it's often easy to forget that we still live in a physical world. It wasn't long ago that physical media such as newspapers and magazines were the primary means not only for reaching customers, but also for learning and absorbing information. With the rise of technology, however, it seems that more traditional media run the risk of going extinct. Yet in spite of the digital takeover of all-things marketing and advertising, direct mail continues to thrive and the following study examines the reasons why. The study, conducted by Millward Brown last October, revealed that physical media like direct mail left a "deeper footprint" in the brain, as opposed to digital media absorbed through some sort of technology. Titled Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail, the study sheds light on the fact that our brains react differently to digital vs. physical media, and makes a strong argument for why direct mail and other "tangible" media remain powerful marketing tools with superior resonating quality.

flag Hellmail: Asda Direct customers can now return unwanted items through delivery and returns company, Collect+. The agreement with the online service from Britain's second biggest supermarket will mean that those customers wishing to return items will be able to do so at a network of over 4,000 local Collect+ shops, all of which are open early until late and most, seven days a week. Asda Direct currently serves over three million customers in the UK, and the online home for the popular George at Asda clothing range receives one million hits a week. The agreement with Collect+ is expected to result in 33% of Asda Direct returns packages a year returned via local shops, with Yodel providing the logistics. Over 80 per cent of people in towns in the UK are within a mile of a Collect+ outlet, which are all part of the PayPoint network.

flag Craig Daily Press: U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner sat down Monday with Postmaster General Pat Donahoe to discuss the U.S. Postal Service's consideration of branch closures. Tipton and Gardner reiterated problems the closures would create for Colorado rural businesses and communities.

flag Mansfield Journal: The U.S. Postal Service has decided to move mail processing operations out of Mansfield, which will result in up to 100 jobs leaving the city.

flag National Association of Major Mail Users: NAMMU business mailers and suppliers can better plan their own activities and budgets for the coming years when aided by the forward thinking of their major supplier. We will continue to build on this annual guidance information platform to ensure it meets as many of the planning requirements of NAMMU members as possible. No new volume incentives are mentioned in the document, however, we intend to pursue an increase to the 30g limit as a win-win; and as well, bring forward other ideas tabled by the Transaction Mail Council. The implementation of Postal Transformation means there could be zero cost added for features that would keep mailers with the Canada Post physical mail products, and possibly even grow certain mail streams. We are very encouraged by the return of a Technical Committee, that will jointly address issues of operational concern, as well as proposals that require specific technical expertise. For a copy of the Transaction Mail Guidance Document for 2012-14, tabled by Canada Post for Transaction Mail users, contact executive@nammu.ca.

flag BusinessWire: FedEx Freight, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., has further streamlined LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping by providing customers with electronic shipping solutions. This enhancement, which adds FedEx Freight to existing applications for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, now simplifies the shipment preparation process for FedEx Freight customers who will also benefit from easier access to FedEx Express and FedEx Ground services. Designed for small and medium retailers and manufacturers, FedEx Ship Manager(R) Software helps users manage multiple FedEx Freight shipments easily. For customers with continuous high-volume shipping needs, FedEx Web Services and FedEx Ship Manager Server allow integration of FedEx electronic solutions into existing software applications for customized shipping-management capabilities.

October 28, 2011  

flag Le Mars Daily Sentinel: The ambitious plan the USPS is proposing seeks to close many more area mail processing centers, as well as post offices. They hope to utilize their sorting equipment for the majority of the daytime hours. Currently, the equipment is used for seven hours overnight. Making the most efficient use of equipment and transportation makes sense, but it will also mean more changes ahead. We can't help but think that a master plan is ready, and whenever a study on closure is announced, it is merely a formality, required by law, as a part of the process. We have no doubt that more routines will be disrupted as this plan unfolds.

flag American Postal Workers Union: President Guffey is asking APWU members to collect signatures on a petition [PDF] to Congress urging senators and representatives to oppose plans to close post offices, shutter mail processing facilities, and drastically degrade service to the American people. In a letter [PDF] to state and local presidents dated Oct. 26, 2011, President Guffey wrote, "It is urgent that we bring as much political pressure as possible to bear against the Postal Service's plans to dismantle its network of processing, distribution and retail facilities." In addition to the petition, the letter includes a flyer [PDF] with the message, " Closing Post Offices & Mail Processing Centers and Cutting Service is Wrong."

usps logo DMM Advisory: PostalOne!®Release 28.0 and FAST® Release 18.0: The deployment of PostalOne! Release 28.0 on Sunday, November 6, 2011, will require an extended maintenance window from 10 p.m. CDT on Saturday, November 5 through 8 a.m. CDT Sunday, November 6, 2011. The PostalOne! application and Web Services and Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST®) Web Services will be unavailable during this time. The FAST on-line application will be unavailable from 3 a.m. through 8 a.m. CDT on Sunday, November 6, 2011. PostalOne! Release 28.0 will require a new Mail.dat® client to be downloaded and installed. PostalOne! Release 28.0 and FAST Release 18.0 will deploy to the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) on Monday, November 7, 2011. During the deployment, the PostalOne! TEM will be unavailable from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT and the FAST TEM will be unavailable from 8 a.m. through 12 Noon CDT. PostalOne! Release 28.0 Webinars: Informational webinars on Release 28 will be held for mailers on November 2, 3, and 8. Complete webinar information, including times and log on information, is posted on RIBBS® under Intelligent Mail® Services Latest News.

flag eBay Main Street: The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides affordable shipping alternatives for the many small businesses and individual sellers that rely on its services, especially eBay buyers and sellers. But email growth and an economic downturn have triggered a dramatic reduction in mail volume serviced by the USPS. E-commerce has helped offset the mail decline by generating increasing numbers of goods for delivery. And as online retail grows, shipping becomes more and more important to the industry. eBay supports financial relief for the USPS and forward-thinking policies to restructure the postal service and keep shipping rates affordable. It is imperative that eBay small businesses have access to low-cost, reliable shipping alternatives.

 
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usps logo U.S. Postal Service Industry Alert: Postmaster General Pat Donahoe issued a letter and video today to assure mailers that the Postal Service is not going out of business or be privatized. The Postal Service plays a vital role in America's economy and society. This past year USPS delivered 167.6 billion pieces of mail and sustains a $1 trillion mailing industry that employs 8 million people. This communication will bring you the up-to-date steps the Postal Service is taking on the legislative, network optimization and wages and benefits fronts to ensure the financial health of USPS now and in years to come.

flag CNBC: "Postal Workers Fire Back on Pensions."

flag Anchorage Daily News: Alaska's congressional delegation is raising concerns with the U.S. Postal Service's recommendation to close offices on two military bases.

flag Business Times: Pos Malaysia Bhd has clarified that a company known as EMS Malaysia is not affiliated or linked with it or any of its business units, departments and subsidiaries. Pos Malaysia said in a statement today it did not assign any business operating rights to EMS Malaysia to operate any postal services despite the latter's reference to Pos Malaysia's former Call Centre address in its website (www.emsmalaysia.com) as its Customer Service Address. "Pos Malaysia would like to clarify that Expedited Mall Services (EMS) is an international courier service, for documents and merchandise, offered by the network of postal operators under the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

flag Roll Call: Issa has repeatedly emphasized his desire and commitment to work with committee Democrats. But when the panel marked up Issa's bill to reform the postal service, many of the minority-sponsored amendments were shot down, leaving Democrats feeling slighted and skeptical about Issa's commitment to bipartisanship. One of the leading points of contention with Issa's postal reform measure is whether the post office should switch from delivering mail six days a week, moving to a five-day service, as favored by the California congressman. The continued six-day service has garnered a significant amount of support from Democrats and some Republicans, such as Rep. Michael Turner (Ohio) and Sen. Susan Collins (Maine). Collins's backing will likely be necessary in order for a measure to pass the upper chamber, where it is being sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Issa has called Collins's approach "a bailout."

flag 4-Traders: Singapore Post Limited ("SingPost") today announced its unaudited results for the second quarter and half year ended 30 September 2011.

October 27, 2011  

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: With the decline in First Class Mail, businesses in the postal market have become increasingly sensitive to the economy as advertising and parcels generate an increasing share of volume and revenue of firms in the industry. The GDP numbers released today present good news for the postal market.

flag Save the Post Office: Bravo to the Postal Service...for...a new "open door" policy on video and audio taping of town meetings on post office closures. Not that it had much choice in the matter. Prohibiting people form recording the meetings would not have sat well with Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the news media, and the public. It took a couple of weeks, but the decision was obviously the right one.

flag Save the Post Office: The Postal Service has published its "Final Rule" on "amending its regulations to improve the administration of the Post Office closing and consolidation process." The new rules change the definition of ‘‘consolidation'' and the policy on staffing post offices. The result will be that thousands of small rural post offices — those offices where one person holds down the fort — will be run by an officer-in-charge on temporary assignment or a non-career PM-replacement with less expertise and training than a postmaster. The goal, as usual, is cost-savings, and the result, as usual, will be to diminish the quality of service offered by the Postal Service and to send it deeper into its downward spiral.

usps logo LiteBlue: PMG Pat Donahoe today is sending a message of reassurance to USPS customers, telling them the Postal Service is "here to stay" and that he has a plan to lead USPS to profitability and long-term growth. In a video posted internally as well as on USPS public-facing websites, Donahoe brings customers up-to-date on steps the Postal Service is taking on the legislative, network optimization and wages and benefits fronts. The PMG notes Congress must resolve issues associated with pre-funding of the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund. He also continues to urge Congress to allow USPS to move from a six-day delivery schedule to five days per week. The PMG says USPS continues to support congressional approval of a proposal to let the Postal Service manage its own health care plan — a step he notes could save as much as $700 million annually.

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission. New Postal Products, 66766–66767 [2011–27814] [TEXT] [PDF]

October 26, 2011  

flag Post & Parcel: Austria's postal union has called for strike action, unhappy at the treatment of workers during the modernisation of Austrian Post's network. The Federal Executive of the Union of Post and Telecommunications Staff (GPF) voted unanimously yesterday to push for a strike to protest what it described as "unfair treatment" of workers. The decision is now awaiting approval of the Austrian Trade Union Federation.

flag Adweek: Interpublic agencies Campbell Ewald and Draftfcb have retained their agency-of-record status with the United States Postal Service after a review launched earlier this year.

flag Advertising Age: "No, QR Codes Aren't Dead. They're Just Used Badly."

flag BBC: A move to stop postal deliveries in Guernsey on a Saturday has been agreed by the States. Deputies approved a change to the universal service obligation (USO), which governs the minimum deliveries Guernsey Post is required to make. A company spokesman said it was pleased by the reduction to five deliveries.

oig A new report has been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov). If you have additional questions concerning a report, please contact Wally Olihovik at (703) 248-2201 or Agapi Doulaveris at (703) 248-2286.

Industry, CA Processing and Distribution Center Originating Mail Consolidation (Report Number NO-AR-12-002). Our report determined there is a business case to support consolidation of originating mail processing operations from the Industry P&DC to the Santa Ana P&DC, which will result in cost savings of approximately $1.32 million annually. Our analysis also indicated that adequate machine and facility capacity exists to process mail at the gaining facility and that there will be no negative impacts.

Attention PostalOne!® Users USPS Support of IDEAlliance Specifications In November 2011 and January 2012, the Postal Service® will release software for the PostalOne!® and FAST® systems that include IDEAlliance® Mail.dat® and Mail.XML™ specification support.

flag BeyondChron: In a harsh rebuke against residential hotel tenants who the U.S. Postal Service has treated like second-class citizens for decades, an Obama-appointed Judge yesterday threw out the San Francisco City Attorney's lawsuit on mail delivery in SRO's. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg granted summary judgment to the Postal Service in a 22-page decision – denying all First Amendment, right to privacy and discrimination claims that were raised. The Postal Service must be given wide latitude at cutting costs because the 2006 federal law mandates self-sufficiency, he wrote. The Postal Service is "powerless" at preventing third parties (i.e., desk clerks) from rifling through an SRO tenant's mail, and has a "rational basis" for treating apartments and SRO's differently when delivering mail.

flag National Association of Letter Carriers: A couple of weeks ago, the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee adopted the most anti-business bill imaginable, targeting a $1.3 trillion industry that employs 7 million to 8 million American workers with a destructively counter-productive bill called the Postal Reform Act of 2011. Although H.R. 2309 is squarely aimed at the half million mostly working-class Americans who work for the U. S. Postal Service, the bill would devastate tens of thousands of businesses – financial service providers, paper manufacturers, advertisers, printers, publishers, online merchants and pharmacy benefit managers – that rely on the Postal Service to make a profit. Put simply, it would destroy the USPS. The reaction: Silence. Jaw-dropping silence.

flag Warsaw Business Journal: American e-commerce giant Amazon could enter the Polish market as early as March or April 2012, according to information received by Polish daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. Amazon is currently in talks on cooperation with Polish partners, which include courier and postal services, led by the InPost and Poczta Polska, the newspaper reported.

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

flag Georg Pölzl faces his first major challenge as CEO of Austrian Post. Later this week the postal union will apply for the allowance to strike from the Austrian Association of Unions (ÖGB). The conflict was triggered by staff appraisals, currently held with employees who worked for the company for almost ten years or are near their fiftieth birthday (and therefore couldn't hardly be fired).
flag Apparently the weak economy has reached Swiss Post. CEO Jürg Bucher expects profits to fall considerably in the next years. In an interview with business journal »Bilanz« (21.10), Bucher said that PostFinance's 'profits in 2012 and 2103 will not match the exceptional high levels' of the previous years.
flag In the middle of last week the Federal Network Agency published its decision on the price-cap proceedings on Deutsche Post's postage rates. The Federal Network Agency provided a 'moderate leeway to increase prices' in the years 2012 and 2013, the official statement reads. The scope of the price increase is the difference between the inflation rate and the productivity progress rate.
flag InPost, a subsidiary of Polish mail services provider Integer.pl, apparently becomes one of the most important manufacturers of parcel stations. After already having installed parcel stations in Poland, Estonia, Russia, Spain and Cyprus, In- Post now signed contracts with Saudi Post and Correos de Chile.
flag TNT Express Malaysia signed a co-operation agreement with Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) Malaysia. All 26 branches in the Southeast Asian country will offer several of the integrator's products. MBE in turn aims to benefit from the 'extensive European and Asian express infrastructure' of TNT Express Malaysia.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

flag Bloomberg Businessweek: United Parcel Service Inc., whose deliveries make it a proxy for the economy, fell in New York trading after declining shipments from Asia to the U.S. curbed growth in the company's international business.

October 25, 2011  

flag Internet Retailer: Parcel delivery company United Parcel Service of America Inc. reported its overall package volume increased 0.7% in the third quarter of 2011 compared with a year ago. U.S. volume was flat, which UPS attributes to the slow economy. International volume increased 4.5%.

flag Fortune: Two years ago, the U.S. Postal Service raised the price of a stamp by two cents to a whopping 44 cents. Then, talk of five-day delivery service and fewer post offices began to percolate. What's next? Full-scale privatization? A buyout by FedEx (FDX) or UPS (UPS)? Or perhaps fishing licenses and stamp sales in the same location? That last one is actually a near-term possibility.

flag TheDirectMailMan: Google is one of the most idolized companies in the world right now. Funny thing is that most people don't realize that Google is also one of the largest direct mailers globally. That's right, high tech Google consistently uses low tech snail mail to attract new clients and generate revenue.

flag Hays Daily News: Federal legislation forbidding the closure of post offices more than 10 miles from another facility won't be protecting as many northwest Kansas post offices as co-sponsor Sen. Jerry Moran had hoped. Instead, only about half of the post offices targeted for closure will be spared, if the legislation ever makes its way through Congress and is signed into law. "This is an issue he is working on," said Garrette Silverman, communications director for Moran's office. Moran has been actively working on the struggle of small Kansas post offices and has had someone from his office at virtually all of the community meetings conducted by USPS. In fact, he's troubled by the idea of the community meetings, thinking they instead should provide the opportunity for communities to learn what can be done to save their post office rather than simply hear why they are being closed. He's just as quick to point out closing rural post offices will reduce spending by USPS by less than seven-tenths of 1 percent -- far less than the $10 billion the agency is projected to lose this fiscal year. Moran is convinced the closings might prompt people to find other alternatives to traditional mail services.

flag North County Times: Rep. Darrell Issa -- As it exists, our Postal Service is insolvent and its financial path unsustainable. Meaningful reform isn't easy, but it is necessary, and Congress has an obligation to take immediate action and pass the only reform bill that is moving through the Congress right now ---- the Postal Reform Act. This bill will cut the Postal Service's expenses and return the institution to solvency. It is the only proposal that protects taxpayers from shouldering the burden of a multi-billion-dollar bailout.

flag NewEurope: The Portuguese government looks set to act fast in responding to the debt crisis that has already tainted the country's economic structure. The state budget for 2012 last week revealed that the government has plans to offload some of its assets to offset the deficits. In top of the line stand the Portuguese postal service, Correios de Portugal (CdP).




USPS Financial Stability - The USPS is NOT Going Out of Business
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/440969080
The Postal Service has been in the news a lot lately; but, despite what you might have heard, it is not going out of business. Yes, it is facing financial challenges, but the USPS is absolutely not going out of business. It is in a period of transition. It has both short-term and long-term plans that will transform the organization into a leaner, faster, smarter and more efficient operation. The U.S. Postal Service is committed to remaining your trusted business partner as well as a vital part of American commerce now and in the future.

Join us on Thursday, November 10th at 10:00 a.m. as Patrick Donahoe, the Postmaster General discusses further his plan for financial stability.

flag Washington Post: Conservative Republicans have long clamored for government downsizing. They're starting to get it — by default. Crippled by plunging tax revenues, state and local governments have shed over a half million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. And, after adding jobs early in the downturn, the federal government is now cutting them as well. States cut 49,000 jobs over the past year and localities 210,000, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics. There are 30,000 fewer federal workers now than a year ago — including 5,300 Postal Service jobs canceled last month.

flag Barron's: FedEx's (FDX) announcement that it expects holiday shipments to rise 12% this year gave the stock a boost and appears to be also helping competitor UPS (UPS). But UPS's stocking may not be quite as full as its rival's, writes Dahlman Rose analyst Jason Seidl in a note today. A big reason FedEx expects its holiday shipments to be so robust is its SmartPost business, which delivers packages from businesses to the U.S. Post Office to make the final delivery. "While UPS's holiday shipments should be solid, the company does not have a segment that is equivalent to FedEx's SmartPost and may not see a similar jump in shipments," Seidl writes.

October 24, 2011  


.

Join the Association for Postal Commerce on Tuesday, November 15 at 2:00 Eastern for a free webinar:
“Is the Sky Falling? – What is the REAL Value of Mail?

Register Now!!
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/696235673
How is mail stacking up to the newest communications mediums what does the future really hold for the USPS - in spite of the rumors of the demise of mail; find out the facts about the USPS and the value of mail from:
Angelo Anagnostopoulos, GrayHair Software; Kathleen Baker, Sprint; David Robinson, Pitney Bowes; and Michael Tate, Bank of America.
Title: Is the Sky Falling? - What is the REAL Value of Mail? Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

flag Federal Times: Among the hundreds of deficit-cutting recommendations that poured into the 12-member supercommittee this month, one urged that new and current federal employees with less than five years of service get no defined-benefit pension. It also calls for cutting the pensions of Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees with more than five years of service. Another recommendation called for extending the current two-year pay freeze to five years. Another called for the permanent end to within-grade step increases. And another called for ending the practice of allowing feds to factor unused sick leave into their pension calculation. Recommendations by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers took aim at federal pay, benefits and other expenses.

flag Delaware Wave: FedEx plans to add about 20,000 seasonal workers to handle the surge in holiday business this year, up from 17,000 last year. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx expects to handle more than 260 million shipments. That's a 12% increase from 2010, as shoppers continue to buy more online. The company says it figures to handle more than 17 million packages on its busiest day of the year in mid-December.

flag The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Charities are protesting Congressional plans to gradually phase out the discounts they receive for mail appeals and other materials.

flag Executive Government: The Government Accountability Office released a report Thursday laying out broad plans for fixing the finances of the Postal Service. The agency is projecting a 25 percent decrease in mail by the year 2020. The GAO was pointedly critical of the Postal Service's payment system for retirees health benefits, a model they say is flawed because it is a hybrid of both private and public standards.

flag CNBC: "The Truth About The Post Office's Financial Mess"

flag iStockAnalyst: United Parcel Service is scheduled to release its third quarter earnings report for fiscal year 2011 on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. As the state-run United States Postal Service (USPS) undergoes a restructuring, private delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS could benefit if they manage to take some of USPS's market share. The company has been able to grow its earnings and revenue at steady tick

flag flag Post & Parcel: Austrian Post has entered the Romanian postal market, with the acquisition of a 26% stake in Bucharest-based direct mail specialist PostMaster S.r.l., for an undisclosed amount. The company said the move was a further step in its growth strategy following on from its growth into the Hungarian, Slovakian and Croatian markets, adding that the Romanian postal market is the largest in the Central and Eastern European region. Austrian Post, which has the option to increase its shareholding in PostMaster to 100% over the next two years, is eyeing a share of the Romanian postal market when it opens up to competition in 2013 to comply with European postal law.

flag News Hounds: If ever a Fox News segment proved how elitist those "we like America" Fox Newsies are, it was this segment from Forbes on Fox on Saturday, October 22, 2011. Host David Asman purported to frame it as a discussion about the Postal Service's financial problems, especially with regard to the unions. But that was really a thinly-disguised excuse to talk up privatization.

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: "The Incredible Shrinking Postal Serivce"

usps logo DMM Advisory: Domestic and International Mailing — Price Change. The Federal Register published two of our notices on the proposed Mailing Services price change. On October 18, we filed notices of a Market Dominant Price Adjustment for both domestic and international Mailing Services with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), to be effective on January 22, 2012.

Customers are encouraged to comment on or before November 23, 2011. Final rules will be published shortly after the comment period ends.

flag Postal Technology International: Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) has published proposals designed to ensure that UK consumers continue to benefit from a universally priced, affordable postal service, six days a week. The proposals, subject to an 11-week public consultation, would give Royal Mail greater freedom in the way it sets some of its prices, but introduces safeguards to ensure that consumers and competition are protected. The central aim of the proposals is to make the Universal Service Obligation placed on Royal Mail financially sustainable. Without regulatory changes there is a risk that Royal Mail may not be able to continue to deliver the USO to its current standard – among the highest in Europe. The proposals would incentivise greater efficiency at Royal Mail and ensure that universal service is viable in the long term.

oig The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General invites you to comment on the following "Pushing the Envelope" blog topic:

Are Contract Postal Units and Village Post Offices the Post Office of the Future? Contract Postal Units (CPUs), located inside retail establishments, offer the same basic services available at a regular Post Office. Village Post Offices (VPOs), introduced earlier this year, are similar to CPUs, but provide limited postal products and services. Should the Postal Service expand the number of CPUs and VPOs? Where would you prefer to go for postal services? Share your thoughts in our blog.

New Audit Projects: New audit projects have been started on the external website.

flag PrintWeek: The Printing Industries of America (PIA) this week formally complained to the US Postal Service (USPS) about a new Direct Mail Hub on the USPS web site that seems to direct businesses to only a handful of select printers and direct marketers across the country. In an interview with PrintWeek, Makin said, "We're not in a position to speculate on what the rationale is behind this at USPS. But we just feel that as an organization that is essentially a monopoly, it should not be directing business to a select vendor list."

flag Wall Street Journal: A vast majority of businesses predict the U.S. economy will grow only slightly in 2011, a more negative outlook from July when most called for more robust improvement, according to a survey of U.S. companies released Monday. The economists surveyed by the NABE expect tepid growth, with 82% predicting the gross domestic product will increase by 2.0% or less this year from 2010, and 3% said the economy would in fact contract.

flag Wall Street Journal: FedEx Corp. said it expects to have record holiday volume, driven by its residential-shipping service called FedEx SmartPost. The shipping and business services company, considered a global economic bellwether because of the breadth of goods it ships, has seen its earnings improve in recent quarters amid a surge in U.S. ground shipping services. In September, FedEx said its first-quarter profit rose on continued strength of ground shipments.

From the Federal Register: Rules: In October 2011, the Postal Service filed a notice of mailing services price adjustments with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), effective on January 22, 2012. This proposed rule contains the revisions to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) that we would adopt to implement the changes coincident with the price adjustments.

Miami Herald: With a global strategy that includes 470,000 employees and operations in more than 220 countries and territories, it's not surprising that Larry Rosen, Deutsche Post DHL's Bonn-based chief financial officer, often finds himself on the road. He recently made a swing through the United States, meeting with investors in New York and Chicago, visiting the DHL Exel Supply Chain division in Ohio, and concluding in South Florida where the company has three business units — DHL Global Mail in Weston, DHL Express in Plantation and DHL Global Forwarding in Doral.

flag Federal Times: One of the most draconian proposals now before Congress' deficit-cutting supercommittee calls for ending the Federal Employees Retirement System pension program. It would immediately be killed for new and current employees with fewer than five years of service. Pensions for FERS employees with more than five years' service would be recalculated to be "proportional" to their existing time in service. In other words, further funding would be permanently halted. The recommendation's author — Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — would move new and current employees with less than five years of service to a proposed "defined contribution plan," for which he provides no details. This new plan would be "payable at Social Security age to supplement the Thrift Savings Plan" — which is, itself, a defined-contribution plan. Issa offers no cost-savings estimates for killing the FERS pension program, but claims that "such a transition would allow the federal government to gradually end the fiscally irresponsible practice of accumulating large unfunded liabilities for retiree pensions." As chairman of the committee that oversees federal pay and benefits, Issa should know how specious this argument is.

flag Federal Times: Besides paying tens of billions of dollars each year in compensation, operations and overhead costs, the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service has another huge annual expense: hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements to disgruntled employees and former employees. This year, the Postal Service more than doubled its projections of "probable" liabilities related to employee grievances and lawsuits: $641 million, according to the agency's latest quarterly financial report. The mail carrier booked another $88 million for possible payouts stemming from environmental, contract and tort claims.

October 23, 2011  

flag White House Chronicle: Maybe the postal service can add a few revenue lines, but the future looks like curtailed services — no more overnight delivery, no more Saturday delivery, fewer post offices and post boxes. The omens for anything but a skeletal service in the future are not good.

flag Innovation Excellence: The reason the post office lost $8.4 billion last year is not because their prices were too low on some products. It is because they have a huge installed capacity (and the associated fixed costs) that was grossly under-utilized. The solution is greater volume. No matter what the price charged for the volume, since the direct cost is zip, any revenue they get for the additional volume will help to cover the fixed costs. That being the case, the key to increasing volumes is not to raise prices – it is to lower them.

flag Gulf Times: Qatar General Postal Corporation (Q-Post), has signed an agreement with Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) to host the 25th conference of the International Postal Union (IPU), Doha 2012.

flag Kurdish Globe: Kurdistan Region has attempted several times to develop a postal code system and tried to identify the street or delivery address, along with the province and post office.

October 22, 2011  

flag flag The Courier: Consumer Focus Scotland says proposals for a major shake-up of the Royal Mail have to be 'stress tested' to ensure a quality service is maintained.

flag CTV: Canada Post isn't happy that arbitration hearings have been delayed until next year.

From the Federal Register: Postal Service PROPOSED RULES International Mail: Product Rate and Fee Changes , 65639–65640 [2011–27360] [TEXT] [PDF] New Standards for Domestic Mailing Services , 65640–65653 [2011–27365] [TEXT] [PDF] NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records , 65756–65758 [2011–27362] [TEXT] [PDF]

October 21, 2011  

flag CTV: Postal workers have won a round in their battle with the federal government. A judge has agreed to put arbitration proceedings on hold for three months after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers objected to the government's choice of arbitrator. The Federal Court of Canada is scheduled to hear full arguments on the matter in January. Federal back-to-work legislation passed in June forced postal workers to accept wages that amounted to less than Canada Post's last offer.

usps logo DMM Advisory:

October 21, 2011  

flag Nextgov: Federal agencies have built a few standout mobile software applications, but too often they perform inconsequential tasks, rely on outdated technology, or fail to address the needs of their primary users, according to an industry report released Thursday. The U.S. Postal Service's Tools app, for example, targets only a small number of users with enough foresight to download a mobile app to track their packages, while a mobile website could deliver all the same services and reach a much wider audience, according to the report from White Horse, a Portland, Ore.-based design company.

flag Greater Kashmir: With private courier services making fast inroads into the postal market in state, the Department of Posts Friday launched its Speed Post ‘Free Home Collection' service here for the convenience of customers and to regain some of its lost market share. "A speed post will be collected from the home of a customer and there is no need for them to visit any post office for the purpose," Chief Post Master General Jammu and Kashmir Circle John Samuel said.

flag Government Accountability Office: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in a serious financial crisis and has not generated sufficient revenue to cover its expenses and financial obligations as mail volume continues to decline. Congress requested that we examine how much additional revenue could result from the increased use of voting by mail--that is, more registered voters receiving and casting ballots through the mail. Currently, all states use voting by mail to some degree, most commonly in the form of absentee ballots mailed to registered voters who cannot, or choose not to, vote in person on Election Day. However, Oregon and Washington now administer elections solely through mail voting. According to a 2009 U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) study, about 23.7 million ballots, or 17.7 percent of all votes, were cast by mail in the 2008 presidential election. This report documents information on the revenue potential of increased use of voting by mail that we presented to your office on August 17, 2011. We found that voting by mail has limited potential for providing USPS with additional revenues substantial enough to affect its deteriorating financial condition because of the small potential increase in volume relative to total mail volume, the low profit margins on election mail, and the lack of strong nationwide support for voting by mail. We found the potential for additional revenues was limited, in part, because the volume of election mail would be relatively low even if mail voting were implemented nationwide in presidential elections.

flag Canada NewsWire: Canada Post today announced that it has selected Bird Design-Build Construction Inc. to design and build its new processing facility at the Vancouver International Airport in the City of Richmond, British Columbia. Canada Post is investing $200 million in the new multi-purpose processing facility and related equipment. The plant at the Vancouver International Airport will process letters, parcels, packets and advertising mail under one roof.

flag Post & Parcel: Correos has released the first-ever Spanish study on the influence of social media on the purchasing decisions consumers, in Spain and in major global markets. The research comes as part of the work of the Spanish postal service with social media communications specialist Territorio Creativo on developing a new digital strategy. The popularity of mobile technology underlines the need for the development of smartphone applications in order to engage with consumers, the report suggested. Correos said the number of people in Spain making purchases online grew by 4.4% from 2007 to 2010, although ecommerce sales themselves grew slightly slower, by 2.6%.

flag The Republic: Prosecutors in Detroit say a U.S. Postal Service contractor paid bribes for eight years before becoming an informant, a role that led to criminal charges against five people. In a court filing Friday, prosecutors for the first time elaborated on the work of Joe Fawaz, whose garage got millions in business from the Postal Service to fix vehicles in the Detroit area and Akron, Ohio. The government says Fawaz began cooperating a year ago and secretly recorded payoffs over the next few months. Five postal workers in vehicle maintenance were indicted last May, and two have pleaded guilty. Fawaz has not been charged.

flag Indian Country Today: Indian reservation post offices are on the list of 3,600-plus branches the U.S. Postal Service wants to eliminate in order to help fix the agency's multi-billion-dollar annual deficits. One office on the list is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Nation in Arizona, two more branches are on the Coeur D'Alene's Idaho reservation, and three are in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe communities in South Dakota; these and numerous additional reservation branches nationwide may close their doors. And that may close the door on the voting rights of tribal members who depend on them, says O.J. Semans, Sicangu Lakota, head of voting-rights group Four Directions.

flag Post & Parcel: France's La Poste has signed a five-year deal with a major supermarket chain Casino Proximite that will see local food shops set up next to post offices. La Poste said it has been undertaking an important programme to modernise its postal facilities for the past several years, and that in moving its mail preparation activities to the outskirts of towns and cities, it has left behind empty space next to many of its post offices. "The unoccupied areas of these sites can now be rented by Casino, to bring in local grocery shops," said La Poste.

flag Post & Parcel: Swiss Post has said said a "difficult" interest rate situation has resulted in a lower than anticipated profit for the third quarter at its financial services division, PostFinance. Low interest rates have meant the postal bank has not made any major investments in months, which should mean only "modest" profit gains for the rest of this year, it said yesterday. Nevertheless, the postal bank has seen some good growth in its retail services, taking on 39,000 new customers in the third quarter of the year – almost half the total number taken on in the year to date.

flag Save the Post Office: Someone please give Phil Herr at the GAO a Xanax. The guy has been focused on USPS doomsday scenarios for so long, it's apparently making him depressed and clouding his vision. His new GAO report paints a dire picture of the Postal Service's future, but it's based on numbers that seem to be pulled out of thin air. If you've been following Herr's GAO reports and his testimonies to Congress, there's not much new here, except perhaps the way privatization is increasingly seen as a viable option. [EdNote: So . . . somebody would be willing to buy the Postal Service and take on its raft of universal service obligations. . . . Riiiiight . . . . And Microsoft still wants to buy Yahoo. . . . Time to get real.]

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: Liberalized national posts have illustrated viable privatization or corporatization options. All of these options maintain the integrity of the national post and have retained most of the pre-liberalization workforce of the enterprise. Furthermore, these privatization approaches have generated a profitable, self-sufficient, national post that pays corporate taxes, and in cases in which the government still owns shares, dividends to the government shareholder. GAO's privatization option would have been consistent with what clearly works to provide universal service if it explicitly provided a privatized national post option. Instead it provided a "government contract" model of privatization. The GAO retains a government Postal Service to manage the network, possible own and run processing plants, and contracts out retail and delivery activities.

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: In a letter to Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, the GAO laid out three basic options for postal reform based on current projections for Postal Service volume and revenue. These options are 1) government subsidized federal agency; 2) the current structure with additional flexibility; and 3) postal services provided by a private sector business or businesses. These options are basically 1) return to the policy framework prior to the Postal Reorganization Act, 2) a limited modification of the status quo, or 3) put the Postal Service on the same path as liberalized national posts in the rest of developed world. Getting real and independent information on capital needs is critical as an undercapitalized Postal Service is unlikely to dig itself out of the hole it is in.

flag Fox News: Fox News interview with Rep. Dennis Ross on the Postal Service. [camera]

flag United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia: The court ruled as follows:

The United States Postal Service ("USPS") petitions for review of the Postal Regulatory Commission's ("PRC") Order No. 536, wherein the PRC adopted an analytical framework for calculating workshare discounts under a statutory cap created in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Pub. L. No. 109-435, 120 Stat. 3198 (2006), which, among other things, mandates a cap on workshare discounts, which are given to mailers for performing various tasks that allow the Postal Service to reduce costs. The USPS seeks to set aside the order on three bases: (1) that the PRC exceeded its statutory authority and acted unreasonably in treating different "products" as workshared variants of each other; (2) even if the PRC did not exceed its statutory authority, its specific determinations were arbitrary and capricious; and (3) the determination that these discounts should include prerequisite work necessary to qualify for the discount exceeded the PRC's statutory authority.

We determine the petition to be unripe. The PRC has not yet adopted a single subset of Single-Piece First-Class Mail to serve as the benchmark for determining the workshare discount, see PRC Order No. 536, at 8, and a rulemaking is currently underway to make that determination. Under the prudential doctrine of ripeness, we conclude that the court "would benefit from postponing review until the policy in question has sufficiently ‘crystallized' by taking on a more definite form." Cronin v. FAA, 73 F.3d 1126, 1131 (D.C. Cir. 1996). The petition for review is dismissed.

usps logo Attention PostalOne! Users: PostalOne!®Release 28.0: The deployment of PostalOne!® Release 28.0 on Sunday November 6, 2011 will require an extended maintenance window from 10:00 p.m. CDT on Saturday, November 5 until 8 a.m. CDT Sunday, November 6, 2011. PostalOne!®application and Web Services will be unavailable during this time. Release notes for Release 28.0 can be accessed at the following hyperlink: PostalOne Release Notes. In addition, the scheduled maintenance windows on Sunday October 23 and Sunday, October 30, 2011 will not be required to prepare for PostalOne!® Release 28.0 deployment and there will not be a PostalOne!® outage on those days.

speaker Now hear this: "This Week In Postal".........the latest podcast posted now!

flag American Enterprise Institute: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has run out of money, as evidenced by its failure to make a $5.5 billion payment to the US Treasury Department on September 30. That payment has been deferred until November 18, but there is no reason to believe the USPS will be in better financial position then. At this event, AEI visiting scholar R. Richard Geddes, who urged for postal reform in his 2003 AEI Press book "Saving the Mail," will present an updated policy paper that assesses the USPS's current situation and argues for long-term, concrete reform. He argues that, to avoid perpetual taxpayer bailouts, the venerable institution must evolve into a firm structured more like a private business. USPS experts Jim Campbell and Michael Schuyler and National Association of Letter Carriers chief economist James Sauber (invited) will respond. Lunch will be served. For more information, please contact Matt McKillip at Matthew.McKillip@aei.org.

Post & Parcel: Deutsche Post looks set to maintain domestic postal rates in Germany at current levels next year, following proposals by the country's postal regulator to set a tight price cap for 2012.

Lexington Dispatch: AFTER a major retrenchment in the United States three years ago, DHL Express U.S. is repositioning itself with a new marketing campaign to persuade medium-size and smaller American companies to sign up for its international shipping expertise. In its biggest advertising campaign to date, DHL Express U.S., a business unit of Germany's Deutsche Post, is rebuilding its American presence with a focus on overseas shipments delivered "at the speed of yellow" — a reference to its distinctive mustard-yellow and red colors. The delivery giant is no longer competing for deliveries inside United States borders, but it still jostles for public awareness with its rivals UPS, FedEx and, to an extent, the Postal Service — each of which also in recent weeks began advertising campaigns highlighting their acumen in mail and express delivery.

flag Corpus Christi Caller Times: The Wall Street Journal posed three fascinating questions Wednesday: "Will the U.S. Postal Service start issuing driver's licenses and deer-hunting permits? Selling country-music CDs? How about strapping weather or air quality monitors on mail trucks?" These questions should raise an alarm. They underscore the Postal Service's effort to reinvent itself because it is having trouble making ends meet just delivering mail. Perish the thought that a government agency whose purpose is in a steady process of ceasing to exist, should cease to exist. Or, better, focus its creativity on making its reason for being pay for itself. Instead it is looking for other ways to survive and grow — including ways already being done by the private sector or other government agencies.

flag The Times of India: With courier companies offering service at very competitive rates, India Post finds it very difficult to maintain its business-levels in the city. Statistics available with India Post indicate that number of postal articles handled in the city is coming down significantly as compared to previous year.

flag Marketing: The DMA has greeted Ofcom's proposals to free Royal Mail to set its own prices for bulk mail with concern, pointing out a lack of safeguards for bulk mail users against Royal Mail abusing its monopoly.

flag Marketforce and the IEA's 15th Annual Conference European Postal Services on 20th - 22nd March 2011 in Rome. View the full conference programme.

flag flag openPR: Deutsche Post Adress has expanded significantly their address-updating service in the United States. As one of the few non-American service providers, Deutsche Post Adress's business unit POSTADRESS GLOBAL may now organise for their international clients the matching and cleansing of data using U.S. Postal Service's relocation data.

flag Going Postal: An ugly side effect of USPS's Headquarters-mandated Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI) is that it's not just rural communities that must fight for their post offices' survival; a disproportionate number of poor urban communities must do so as well. USPS calls it Expanded Access -- which, once again, is really code for "Many Fewer Post Offices".

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: In a story published today, Reuters stated that "United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) and FedEx Corp (FDX.N), which have long been undercut by the U.S. Postal Service's low prices for package delivery, could have much to gain as the agency faces a painful restructuring." Unfortunately, the article bases its conclusion by assuming that all or a significant share of the Postal Service's parcel revenue would shift to these companies. In fact, the problems facing the Postal Service creates added risks to both companies business strategies given UPS's and FedEx's relationship with the Postal Service as both a customer and supplier.

flag DC Velocity: A Seattle-based company has joined the U.S. small parcel fray by launching a service it says will, for the first time, enable small to mid-sized shippers to access low parcel rates that had previously been available only to large-scale users. The company, called EquaShip, serves as the shipper's main point of contact and handles all billing, customer service, and IT issues. EquaShip doesn't operate vehicles or warehouses, instead turning to its transport partner, Blue Package Delivery LLC, to provide parcel pickup and the line-haul to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), where the parcels are introduced into the USPS system for the so-called last mile delivery. By law, USPS is required to serve every address in the United States. The use of parcel consolidators relying on the low-cost USPS network for last-mile deliveries is considered the cheapest form of parcel delivery. The growing use of this shipping model gives merchants the financial latitude to offer customers free shipping on many online orders. It is believed that about half of all online transactions today include free shipping. In the first half of 2011, 62 percent of all e-commerce sites offered some type of free shipping, according to Ron Wiener, EquaShip's president and CEO.

Dear Colleague: Reps. Connolly, Emerson, Graves to Offer Bipartisan 6-Day Delivery Amendment to Postal Bill on House Floor -- In an effort to address budget constraints, Section 111 of the Postal Reform Act (H.R. 2309) allows USPS to shorten the traditional six day delivery week to five. If this plan were to be implemented, it would guarantee hardships for a majority of American families across our nation. Many Americans rely on six day mail delivery for essential items such as medications, time-sensitive legal documents, methods of income, and social security checks. Adjusting this system by even one day could prove to be a problematic change, especially for the elderly who depend on their social security as their sole source income or people and pets awaiting much needed mail order medications. Rural areas of America would also feel a heavy brunt of this adjustment. Should the USPS cut back on services, this will subsequently lead to the closure of many post offices in areas of less activity. In addition to prolonged deliveries, rural areas in the U.S. do not always have quality access to internet and broadband services and therefore would not have alternate methods to pay bills or receive income. Lastly, this course of action will result in the loss of jobs. The National Rural Letter Carriers Association projects a total of 30,000-50,000 jobs lost from just their organization alone if 5 day delivery were to be implemented. Given the economy and the significant job losses our country is already facing, 5 day delivery is a step in the wrong direction. Our amendment is the appropriate measure to ensure the continuation of 6 day mail delivery service.

October 20, 2011

flag Multichannel Merchant: The U.S. Postal Service's 2.1% average rate increase, announced Tuesday, won't stop merchants from mailing catalogs next year. But some mailers say they will look at other options to increase their non-mail channels.

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: Geek Wire has reported that Amazon's parcel locker system has gone live in both Seattle and New York City. The Amazon locker systems is clearly a shot across the bow of the Postal Service and other retailers. Amazon's lockers pose a threat to non-media shipments and media shipments if or when the legislated price advantage is removed. The lockers are clearly designed to handle shipments that are typically carried by the Postal Service either under Express Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Select, First Class Parcel or Standard Parcel rates.

USPS Proposed 2012 Rates Charts PostCom's charts of 2012 postal pricesNEW!!

From Parcel Shippers Association President Pierce Myers on the passing of Timothy May, Esq.

It is with deep sorry we share the word that Timothy J. May, our General Counsel for more than 40 years, passed away peacefully this afternoon. His passing to today was unexpected. Tim’s legal acumen was surpassed only by his charm and wit. His talents were many and his services widely sought. His honors, including Washington D. C Lawyer of the Year (1999), too many to mention. Our Association  was his first client when he left Government service and he will be greatly missed as counsel, and particularly as a friend. We will pass on news of arrangements when they are available. Our thoughts are with his wife Monica and his family, and with Barbara O’Melinn who has served him so faithfully.
[EdNote: Tim was a recipient of PostCom's highest honor, the J. Edward Day Award.]

flag Americans for Tax Reform: House GOP reform bill rightsizes workforce, brings compensation in line with other federal employees, and allows the USPS to implement overdue reforms.

 
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flag As one of our correspondents has noted, "Yesterday, at a Homeland Security Mark Up, Committee Senate Committee Chairman Lieberman announced that he hopes, by the end of this week or early next week, to have completed a postal rescue bill, one that will be endorsed by Senators Carper, Collins and Brown. He announced his intension to go to Full Committee Mark up on that bill in the first or second week of November."

flag Hellmail: Earlier this week, the first self-service parcel terminals of the Lithuanian project SIUNTOS24 were put into operation. Items sent using the terminals will reach addressees within 24 hours. At present, 15 terminals, mainly installed at supermarkets, are now functional in the largest cities of Lithuania, namely Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, and Panevezys. In the capital city Vilnius, customers may also use the advantages of the terminals at Vilnius Main Post Office. "The self-service terminals SIUNTOS24 is a modern and up-to-date way to send and collect postal items. This is a novelty both in Lithuania and other countries."

flag Financial Times: High quality global journalism requires investment. It proposes to free Royal Mail to set prices for first-class letters and parcels, second-class deliveries of large letters and parcels up to 1kg, business mail and bulk mail. There would be a price cap of between 45p and 55p on second-class stamps for standard letters to protect vulnerable customers, which would be indexed in line with inflation. Royal Mail would have freedom to set the "wholesale price" for access to its network by competitors such as TNT, UK Mail and DHL, but would be subject to rules about the margin allowed between wholesale and retail prices, to help ensure rivals could compete effectively. See also the Wall Street Journal.

flag Publishing Executive: Postmaster General William Henderson once bragged to Harry Quadracci, the founder of Quad/Graphics, that the U.S. Postal Service had increased its productivity by 6 percent in the previous decade. That's nothing, Quadracci responded, Quad achieved a 6 percent productivity improvement every year. Now it's the postal service's turn to try real productivity improvement. Facing multi-billion-dollar losses and declining demand, postal officials in August released a radical plan to downsize the workforce by about 30 percent in four years. The reaction from publishers and other mail-dependent industries can generally be summarized as, "It's about time!" But be careful what you wish for. If the postal service tries to carry out its plan, publishers are likely to be unhappy with the chaos that results.

flag Dead Tree Edition: Recent problems with slow deliveries are causing some mail-dependent companies to think twice about supporting the radical downsizing of the U.S. Postal Service. Good idea. An influential group of publication printers sent a letter to postal management last week to "express our concerns over the recent increase of customer complaints related to the late delivery of their catalogs and magazines."

flag Intelisent: True stories coming in to me regarding the extraordinary shortages of USPS-required trays and pallets: These are from the Midwest area - "…issues with the post office being out of trays? When we called the post office here said they are out and don't know when they will get any in, we were told the whole area seems to be out of trays. We were told we can't bring the mail in without trays and when we asked what the procedure was, I didn't get an answer. " " … called their customer service line and when I explained the problem received dead silence on the other end for quite a few seconds and the gentleman told me he didn't have an answer to the problem and there wasn't a procedure in place for this, but he forwarded the problem to the business division and I should hear from them in 2 to 3 business days. " These are from all over: "With volumes down significantly, how can there not be any trays?"

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: In a video entitled, "Is the Postal Service Worth Saving?" WSJ Marketplace Editor Dennis Berman and Mean Street host Evan Newmark suggest that the only reason Congress doesn't put the Postal Service out of business is that "saving the USPS could put votes in politician's pockets." Both Mr. Berman and Mr. Newmark express an incredible ignorance about the postal market and why national posts worldwide are profitable and remain an integral part of a nation's infrastructure. The Wall Street Journal's conclusion that there is no business case for the Postal Service because of personal correspondence reflects a communications world of 30 years ago, not today. Today, the business case reflects the role of the Postal Service primarily as a commercial service primarily serving businesses, non-profits and governmental customers. Its secondary role is handling the correspondence and parcels that are sent one at a time or in small quantities.

flag Chicago Tribune: United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp , which have long been undercut by the U.S. Postal Service's low prices for package delivery, could have much to gain as the agency faces a painful restructuring. Lawmakers are weighing a suite of options for the struggling Postal Service, including ending Saturday delivery, shuttering about 3,600 post offices and hundreds of processing facilities, and scrapping overnight delivery of letters and postcards. Analysts said market leader UPS, given its size, stands to win the lion's share of the packages the Postal Service could lose, although any downsizing is widely seen bolstering the fortunes of FedEx as well.

flag The Zimbabwean: In an effort to remain viable, Zimpost has started setting up internet cafés in its outlets around the country.

flag The State Column: In Brandon today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) met with local residents and officials about the impact of the US Postal Service's planned closures of hundreds of small town post offices across Iowa, including the post office in Brandon.

flag Hellmail: TNT Post UK has refreshed its data cleansing solution dataMatters by offering postal savings as part of the service. Users of dataMatters now have access to preferential postal rates through the use of an easy to use application for their direct marketing requirements. The service is a perfect solution for those who want to target consumers in a cost effective way without impacting on the brand through ill-timed or inaccurate mailings in an easy to use process. Users of dataMatters are guided through the programme step by step. All the correct data hygiene options are preselected based upon the mail pack type and volume, and the postal cost savings calculated.

October 19, 2011

oig The following report has been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov). If you have additional questions concerning a report, please contact Wally Olihovik at (703) 248-2201 or Agapi Doulaveris at (703) 248-2286.

Flint, MI Processing and Distribution Center Consolidation (Report Number EN-AR-12-001). We determined that a valid business case exists to consolidate mail processing operations from the Flint P&DC into the Michigan Metroplex P&DC. Our independent modeling of consolidation opportunities determined this consolidation has merit, ranking the consolidation in the top 20 percent of potential consolidation scenarios. Our analysis indicated that adequate capacity exists to process additional mail volume at the gaining facility with little to no negative impact.

flag Alamagordo Daily News: Rep. Steve Pearce -- The United States Postal Service is about to default on its loan from the U.S. government. Many facilities, especially in rural areas of New Mexico, are faced with closure. Understandably, customers are frustrated and want to know how it got this bad in the first place. They deserve answers and they deserve solutions. But the notion of an "overpayment" is simply false. I did not vote to bail out the big banks, and I will not vote to bail out USPS. To move forward, USPS must deal with its structural problems, hold down costs and find new sources of revenue.

flag New York Times: The United States has a confidence problem: a nation long defined by irrational exuberance has turned gloomy about tomorrow. Consumers are holding back, businesses are suffering and the economy is barely growing. There are good reasons for gloom — incomes have declined, many people cannot find jobs, few trust the government to make things better. "It was nothing to buy whatever we wanted. Now we just think about what we really need."

flag American Enterprise Institute: The decline in physical mail, and the growth in low-profit advertising content, is likely to continue. "Kicking the can down the road" through incremental reform and accounting gimmicks are no longer sufficient to avoid a massive taxpayer-funded bailout. The time has come for meaningful reform that will protect taxpayers and create a sustainable Postal Service. The Postal Service needs to be converted into a regular business, facing market competition and disciplined by active, focused shareholders. It must be permitted to reduce its high and rigid costs, and to adjust to the realities of a new communications marketplace.

flag Independent Women's Forum: In the slew of depressing news about state governments struggling to make ends meet, our entitlement programs' bleak prospects, and mind-blogging government waste, it's easy to have missed reports about the pending failure of another U.S. government institution: the Post Office.

flag Wall Street Journal: Plummeting demand for traditional mail delivery, which funds the postal service, has created a looming fiscal crisis that has Congress, postal employees and government officials weighing a venture into non-mail business as a way to stay afloat. It's a divisive issue on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are sparring over whether and how far the post office should be allowed to venture into the private sector.

flag Express Tribune: The management of the Pakistan Post Office (PPO) failed to ensure financial discipline last year, as its employee-related expenses exceeded the budget, causing a loss of Rs1.9 billion to the department.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: Volume 1 - Official Transcript of Hearings Held on September 8, 2011, in Docket No. N2011-1 (pages 1-626) http://www.prc.gov/Docs/75/75625/110908_PDF.pdf

flag Government Executive: The congressional super committee is getting conflicting advice on ways to reform the U.S. Postal Service, with some groups begging for help and others warning the commission to remain hands off.

[PostCom logo

Missed yesterday's PostCom webinar on USPS network optimization plans? You can listen to the recording and get a copy of the slides.

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

flag The new regulatory authority Ofcom apparently plans far-reaching changes in Britain's postal market. According to news channel »Sky News« (17.10) the authority will remove the price control for First Class Mail. Should the proposal be implemented, the pricing would only be subject to conventional competition law. It is still unclear whether the authority plans to abolish the price control for other services, too. However, it appears that the pricing for Second Class Mail will still be regulated.
flag Poczta Polska also intends to start its restructuring programme at the management. According to daily news »Rzeczpospolita« (14.10), the Polish post plans to close around two thirds of its currently 62 operating district post offices. About 1,000 employees in the administration and management would be affected by this.
flag The Norwegian government apparently plans to free Posten Norge from its duty to offer banking services in post offices.
flag flag Dutch PostNL sold its majority stake in Italian Telepost S.p.A.
flag It's a done deal: the Romanian post CNPR will be partially privatised.
flag Australia Post's focus on e-commerce is apparently bearing fruit.
flag UPS launched new return services in 30 European countries - Germany, Austria and Switzerland among them. UPS Returns Exchange, is a combined delivery and pick-up service.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

flag Hellmail: Estonian Post has opened a new Electronic Mail Centre to facilitate the sending and receipt of e-registered letters as well as tracking their status.

flag Chicago Tribune: The U.S. Postal Service has finally reached its breaking point. Congress needs to decide if it wants the USPS to be an independent business or a taxpayer-supported welfare organization. The latter is unattractive. Given the nation's current fiscal problems, propping up an ineptly administered government agency shouldn't even be an option. Transforming the USPS into a profitable business will require more than minor tweaks. Real reform will require removing the government barriers that are preventing the creation of an aggressive, competitive postal delivery organization. Like all other private-sector organizations, the USPS must be allowed to rethink the structure of its business when necessary. It's currently forced to maintain its poor configuration — keeping archaic facilities open in the wrong places. Instead, post offices should be where people go, like grocery stores and malls.

flag Billings Gazette: Attempts by the U.S. Postal Service to close post offices, lay off postal workers and consolidate mail processing could jeopardize the timely delivery of Montanans' absentee mail ballots, the state's chief elections official said.

flag Dead Tree Edition: If you want to know why major mailers are generally supporting major cost cuts at the U.S. Postal Service, consider this recent quotation from magazine-industry veteran Tom Martin. But they had better be careful what they wish for, as Dead Tree Edition will explain tomorrow in "Mailers Getting Cold Feet About Postal Service Cuts".

flag The Saudi Gazette: The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) Monday signed an agreement to disseminate human rights literature and to hear citizens' grievances through Saudi Post offices. The agreement is one of the many innovative schemes being undertaken by the postal service, which will also soon be launching e-government applications.

October 18, 2011

usps logo U.S. Postal Service: Beginning early next year, it will cost just a penny more to mail letters to any location in the United States, the first price change for First-Class Mail stamps (Forever stamps) in more than two and a half years. The new 45-cent price for Forever stamps is among price changes filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission today.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 22, 2012, include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) – 1-cent increase to 45 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
  • Postcards – 3-cent increase to 32 cents
  • Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.) – 5-cent increase to 85 cents.
  • Letters to other international destinations – 7-cent increase to $1.05
Prices also will change for other mailing services, including Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. Today's announcement does not affect Express Mail and Priority Mail prices. More information on the new pricing is available at http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2011/pr11_factsht_pricechng_1018.pdf.

PERCENTAGE OF PRICE CHANGE BY CLASS OF MAIL:

  • First-Class Mail (2.133)
  • Standard Mail (2.124)
  • Periodicals (2.133)
  • Package Services (2.133)
  • Extra Services (-0.663*)

You can find the Postal Service's filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission on the PRC website.

flag The Harvard Crimson: The United States Postal Service is in deep trouble. This "independent agency" of the federal government, while it does not receive direct subsidies, has long operated in the red, its 2012 deficit projected to reach $9.2 billion. The situation has become so severe that its management predicts it will be unable to fund routine operations by early next year. Congress could largely eliminate these problems by privatizing the Postal Service and allowing other firms to compete for its market share. Since mail delivery would be structured to maximize profit rather than to satisfy the political needs of legislators and bureaucrats, prices would more accurately reflect costs, and unprofitable services would be curtailed.

flag Directions Mag: Businesses today face increased pressure to optimize return from their direct marketing investment and convert consumer interest into actual purchase. To help marketers effectively reach their target customers, Canada Post has developed a new "Target to Order" tool. The location intelligence application leverages ESRI geographic information system (GIS) technology, which integrates addressing with demographic data to better target the delivery of unaddressed advertising mail. For its innovative application, ESRI Canada today presented Canada Post with an Award of Excellence in GIS.

flag Supply Chain Digital: Bypassing the traditional U.S. Postal Service, vCheck allows a payee to enter their check information securely online, instantly creating a ready-to-print PDF version of the check for the recipient business. Since it began offering vCheck to business customers earlier this year, Servistree says the technology is the fastest-growing solution demanded by customers in a variety of B2B or B2C businesses.

flag North Fort Myer Neighbor: E-commerce shipping is an increasingly busy two-way street. In addition to its delivery strengths, the U.S. Postal Service is making sure USPS is the preferred shipper for packages traveling the returns lane as well. The Postal Service will offer three returns options: Priority Mal Return Service, Ground Return Service and First-Class Package Return Service.

flag BtoB: Mailing technology and services provider Pitney Bowes needed to fine a way to help its customers understand that its software and hardware deliver more than simply postal mail. In August, Pitney Bowes debuted a new campaign demonstrating that the company can help its customers deliver messages using their own customers' preferred channels—including the Web, email and mobile texting—as well as via the Postal Service.

flag Macauhub: The Portuguese government plans in 2012 to privatise airline TAP-Air Portugal, airport manager ANA-Aeroportos e Navegação Aérea, rail cargo company CP Carga and postal service, CTT, according to the State Budget proposal delivered Monday in parliament. In the document, which lists the liberalisation of the postal sector as a priority, the government puts forward the reduction of the State business sector (SEE) as a focus of the medium-term budget strategy.

flag Xconomy: When two million online merchants fire up their shipping software today, they'll see a fourth option for package carriers: EquaShip, a Seattle startup aiming to take on FedEx and UPS by offering steep discounts for small and medium-sized businesses.

flag Reuters: Web.com, valued at around $500 million, has bought privately-held marketing and domain name company Network Solutions in a cash and stock deal worth $560 million. Web.com, which caters mainly to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), said it was seeing a big shift among companies to adapt the Internet as a local advertising tool versus traditional channels such as trade directories and telephone books. "We're seeing growth in spending by SMBs and this is in teens, year-over-year, and this gives us confidence that we can grow our business in teens as well," Brown said, referring to at least double-digit percentage point growth. Web.com said it would focus more on mobile, e-commerce and social networking to meet SMBs' needs.

usps logo Attention PostalOne! Users: You are receiving this message as information regarding an issue between the PostalOne! system and Full-Service processing that prevented customers from receiving Full-Service ACS records from October 11, 2011 through October 17, 2011. As soon as the issue was discovered, measures were taken to identify and resolve the issue. Users should be able to log in tomorrow (October 19) and query for all data from the missing dates using a create date of 10/17 to search for these records. Monitoring procedures have been implemented to recognize and rectify this scenario sooner. Analysis is also being done to determine if additional validations are needed for prevention.

flag Post & Parcel: Posten Norge (Norway Post) is holding a 24-hour contest for software developers to come forward with creative ideas to improve its digital mail platform. The Norwegian postal service is running a "Hackathon" event at its headquarters from October 29 to 30, in which 25 to 30 developers will be invited in to collaborate on the Digi Post service. Developers, who can participate individually or in teams, will be expected to come up with executable code to improve the digital mailbox service for senders, recipients or Posten Norge itself. They will be battling it out for cash prizes including NOK 20,000 ($3,600 USD) for the winner, NOK 15,000 for the runner-up and NOK 10,000 for third-place, with a panel of judges set to decide on the winners. Winning ideas could also see the offer of a partnership deal with Posten Norge to implement the idea.

flag Bloomberg: Romania is trying to attract an investor in Compania Nationala Posta Romana SA, the monopoly postal service, to boost its capital, Ziarul Financiar reported today, citing a government document. The investor would get a 34 percent stake in the unprofitable company in exchange for the capital increase and designate managers for at least 10 years, Ziarul Financiar said, citing the document. The government would retain 51 percent of Posta Romana, with the remainder held by property restitution fund Fondul Proprietatea SA, according to the newspaper.

usps logo PRNewswire: In anticipation of a busy holiday shipping season, the United States Postal Service is announcing recommended holiday mailing dates and a discounted, flat rate price of $12.95 on packages sent to military service personnel worldwide. The price includes a $2.00 per box discount on Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes for military mail being sent to APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office) destinations worldwide. In addition to a lower cost per package, customers can be assured that shipping with the Postal Service will provide reliable, trusted and secure delivery to military personnel stationed worldwide.

flag Federal Times: President Obama's proposed 2012 budget recommends about $11 billion in relief for the U.S. Postal Service. USPS Chief Financial Officer, Joseph Corbett, told Federal News Radio the relief could hardly have come at a better time. This year, said Corbett, the USPS lost $300 million in the first quarter "but we are anticipating for the balance of the year, that by the end of the year, we would lose $6.4 billion dollars, is our current estimate."

flag Sky News: Royal Mail will be handed unprecedented power to set stamp prices under proposals to be outlined in the coming days, Sky News has learned. Ofcom, the media regulator, will say in a consultation document setting out potential reforms of the way Britain's postal market is regulated that Royal Mail should be given greater freedom over what it charges to consumers of its products and to competitors who use its infrastructure. Such an overhaul would represent one of the most radical changes in the long history of Royal Mail, and would provide the company with some of the commercial autonomy it has been demanding ahead of its likely privatisation.

flag Technews Daily: Amazon's locker banks have today turned up in New York City, the third location after the company rolled out the lockers in Seattle and London last month. AmazonLocker is a neighborhood self-service pick-up facility that consists of oversized post office boxes installed in a variety of locations such as several Gristedes, Rite-Aid and D'Agostino stores in Manhattan. The service offers an option for people who can't or prefer not to take delivery of a shipment at their home or office.

October 17, 2011

flag House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Wanna know what the committee DID do, as opposed to what it didn't? Then go on over to the committee website and take a look at the mark-up summary.

flag Consumer Postal Council: Americans receive the most pieces of advertising mail per person among the countries in the U.S. Consumer Postal Council's Index of Postal Freedom, nearly twice as much as third-place Canada, according to an analysis of 2008 Universal Postal Union data. In that year, the average American received 320 pieces of advertising mail -- more than six per week.

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: On October 13 the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee moved H.R. 2309, the Postal Reform Act of 2011, out of committee. The bill was modified in a number of ways that will ease its passage in the House of Representative. The most important changes made the bill less objectionable to: (1) periodical mailers; (2) catalog mailers; (3) non-profit mailers; (4) rural communities that are facing the loss of Post Offices; (5) communities losing a station or a branch; (6) opponents of 5-day delivery; and (7) opponents of moving delivery for those that receive delivery at the door or at the curb to cluster boxes.

oig The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General invites you to comment on the following "Pushing the Envelope" blog topic:

Our Fourth Year. As the Pushing the Envelope blog enters its fourth year, we look back at some of the successes. Going forward, we plan to continue focusing on postal policy issues and keep you informed through open discussions. What topics would you like to see covered on the OIG blog in 2012? Are there any things you think we should change? Share your thoughts on our blog.

New Audit Projects: New audit projects have been started on the external website.

  • Digital Stamp – 12WG002CI000. For this project, we will assess the Postal Service's opportunity to improve customer access and minimize stamp production costs by expanding the use of the Intelligent Mail barcode as a digital stamp. Our review will be conducted at Postal Service Headquarters. We will: assess the potential of expanding Postal Service offerings to include digital postage; determine the costs associated with stamp production and storage for potential savings; and analyze the revenue protection potential of a unique digital stamp.
  • Unclaimed Funds – 12BG002FF000. MissingMoney.com is a database of unclaimed properties held by state governments for businesses, individuals and other government agencies (local, state and federal). According to the database, state treasuries and other government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Veterans Administration to name a few are safeguarding $32 billion for 117 million accounts. Unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies (referred to as holders) that had no activity or contact with the owner for one year or longer. Holders are required by law to send funds from unclaimed accounts to the state of the owner's last known address. The role of the state is to protect and safeguard unclaimed property until it is returned to the rightful owner. State laws instruct holders to turn unclaimed funds over to the state treasury who will then make a diligent effort to find the owner. This audit plans to determine whether the postal service efficiently and effectively collects unclaimed funds held by state treasuries.
  • Customer Call Centers – 12RG006MS000. To aid customers in finding post office hours and locations, answering questions about postage, and tracking mail, among other features, the Postal Service established customer call centers, through 1-800-ASK-USPS. From January through August 31, 2011, the Postal Service spent $52.3 million on the customer call centers alone. Given the significant amount of money the Postal Service spends on customer call centers annually, and the importance of their function, given its role in helping to retain customers, a review of the effectiveness of these centers is warranted.
  • Unauthorized Contractual Commitments – 12YG002CA000. An unauthorized contractual commitment occurs when a Postal Service employee who has not been delegated contracting or local buying authority, or who exceeds such authority, by his or her actions causes another party to deliver or provide goods or services. Because such actions may not be an appropriate or advantageous business arrangement for the Postal Service, they warrant management attention. In addition, unauthorized contractual commitments may not include the required terms and conditions necessary to protect the interests of the Postal Service. Unauthorized contractual commitments range from simple misunderstandings to serious deviations from purchasing policies and procedures. The Office of Audit, Supply Management will conduct a survey to examine the extent and scope of unauthorized contractual commitments.
  • Biohazard Detection System (BDS) Follow-up – 11YG049DA000. There were ten audit reports issued from OIG up to date. We would like to determine how efficiently and effectively the Biohazard Detection System (BDS) is running after all. Are there any improvements that can be made to economize the system for efficient use. The Postal Service Biohazard Detection System (BDS) was deployed in response to an act of terrorism that caused the closure of a number of Postal Facilities and other government buildings including the Hart Senate Building. In October 2001, the USPS was alarmed when it was established that the untimely deaths of two Postal employees and three other Americans were directly linked to letters that contained Bacillus anthracis sent in the mail by unknown sources.
  • Customer Service Experience – 12RG005MS000. The Postal Service receives and collects a variety of information from customers about the quality of services that it provides. We plan to review the Postal Service's processes for collecting this information, analyzing and recording this information, and responding to customer concerns.

flag A Postal Perspective: According to reports in the press, the White House has finally awakened to the fact that there is a crisis facing the American postal system that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, whoever is counseling the White House on what needs to be done has been giving some bad advice. The White House reportedly is urging the congressional "super committee" to include a number of items in its deficit cutting proposal, among which is a recommendation to authorize the imposition of a one-time, greater-than-inflation, exigency postal rate increase. Here's what's wrong with that recommendation.

flag The Star Democrat: Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., introduced legislation Wednesday that would let the U.S. Postal Service move money from its pension fund to its retirement health benefit fund. The Save Our Postal Workers Act would let the postal service essentially use its own money to cover its retirement obligations and keep its facilities open.

flag Washington Post: Ron Bloom, who helped restructure the automotive industry and has negotiated several large labor deals over the course of his career, served until August as Obama's top manufacturing policy adviser. He announced Sunday that he will advise the National Association of Letter Carriers as the 280,000-member union attempts to strike a new multi-year deal with the cash-strapped Postal Service. NALC President Fredric V. Rolando said Sunday that the union is also hiring the financial advisory company Lazard "to explore and expand the range of solutions available to the Postal Service, as well as their long-term business issues and strategies for the future." Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

flag Intelisent: Mailers across the country are reporting major difficulties with access to USPS MTE Mailer Transport Equipment, which are the orange USPS postal pallets, the trays, and sacks required in order to prepare and deposit bulk mailings. MTE problems are nothing new – difficulty obtaining the equipment required in order for the USPS to accept and move (and get paid for) larger mailings usually ramps up each fall mailing season. Repeated attempts, through MTAC and other industry groups, to fix problems with management of MTEs – however – this season is possibly the worst ever, with mail production impacted, delaying and sometimes jeopardizing mail entry. If mail can't be entered, postage cannot be paid/collected by the USPS. This is a ridiculous situation. Needs a little less talk and a little more action – and fast and appropriate resolution.

flag CBS News Ben Stein -- The big problem is that the mail is too cheap. Forty-four cents is just not enough for first class mail. For those of us who love to mail things, we should have to pay for it. A dollar for a first class stamp sounds fair. To get a note card from Sandpoint, Ida., to Brooklyn? It's dirt cheap! Please, please, Mr. Postman Obama, let us pay more, but let's keep mail service as it is - it's a beautiful thing.

flag The Hill: Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), who chairs the Oversight subcommittee that deals with USPS, signaled that he thought that House Republicans would pass the measure largely unchanged, to give themselves as much leverage as possible when attempting to meld the House and Senate bills. Ross says that, if the postal reform measures move through the regular legislative process, he hopes to be ready to merge the House and Senate bills by the first of next year.?? The Florida Republican is also confident that, while there will likely be bumps along the way, the two parties and chambers can come together on the issue.?? "Every one of us has to go back home and answer to our constituents, who are looking at post offices being closed, who are looking at delivery days being changed," Ross said. "That is immediate."

flag New York Times: Can Ron Bloom, the restructuring expert who helped shore up the automobile and steel industries in the United States, save the ailing United States Postal Service? The labor union representing more than 280,000 current and retired letter carriers is counting on him. On Sunday, the National Association of Letter Carriers announced that it had hired Mr. Bloom and Lazard, the financial advisory and asset management firm, to develop a strategy to revitalize the deficit-laden postal service. See also PRNewswire.

flag Dead Tree Edition: At the end of a lengthy analysis of the prospects for postal legislation yesterday, long-time postal union leader William Burrus made a statement that could signal a change in strategy on five-day delivery. Burrus' statement suggests that the prospects are slim for getting the Obama Administration to change its mind on preserving Saturday delivery. Without an Obama push to counter the mostly anti-union Republicans, a labor-supported position has little hope for success these days.

October 16, 2011

flag National Association of Letter Carriers: NALC President Fredric V. Rolando has written a letter to the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the "super committee." He outlines seven proposals the NALC would like the committee to consider. 1. Adopt President Obama's proposal to return the $6.9 billion FERS surplus to USPS. 2. Implement the findings of either independent audit of the postal sub-account of the CSRS (by the Hay Group or the Segal Company) conducted in 2010. 3. Repeal the remaining scheduled pre-funding payments mandated by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 and hold the Postal Service to private-sector accounting and pre-funding standards. 4. Mandate the repayment of some or all of the Postal Service's debt to the Federal Finance Bank (FFB) with funds from the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund. 5. Invest the assets in the PSRHBF more appropriately. 6. Adopt President Obama's proposal to allow the USPS to pay current retiree health premiums out of PSRHBF in 2012. 7. Amend Section 101 of Title 39 (on Postal Policy) to preserve the mandates that protect small post offices and preserve six-day delivery.

flag Pakistan Today: The oldest government department in the sub-continent, the Pakistan Post Office, is unfairly distributing welfare funds among its staff which is concerning for postal employees, Pakistan Today has learnt. Low-grade officers, from grade 1 to 15, are not the beneficiaries of the welfare schemes for postal officers and most of the funds are consumed by Islamabad director general's (DG) office although the low-grade officers are the backbone of the department and run the postal network across the country. Although all employees can apply for loans in order to buy vehicles or houses or to construct houses up to the amount of their 36 salaries, most of the low grade staffers are waiting in the loan queue for the last 10 years. The officers who managed to get their loan applications approved after waiting for years, did not get installments in 2010 and 2011 because they do not have sources or contacts with the higher-ups.

flag Waterbury Republican American: The postal system was not meant to be a profit-making agency. It was instituted to serve the people. Its influence extends beyond letters and mailboxes — it's a meeting place for local citizens and a symbol of stability in the community. Each week it delivers more than 3 billion pieces of mail, all of this on time and for a good price. Technology is changing our world, and we should re-examine the role of the postal service in contemporary society. At the same time, we must preserve its long-enduring tradition — to serve the best interests of the people of the nation.

October 15, 2011

flag Western Telegraph: Royal Mail will not say how much money was spent maintaining the Fishguard delivery office that it now plans to close – with one suggestion that it may be as much as £100,000. The issue of cash spent on the delivery office was raised by Pembrokeshire County Council's Economic Overview and Scrutiny committee last week. Four Royal Mail representatives visited the meeting to explain the decision to close the Fishguard office and merge it with the Merlins Bridge premises. Goodwick County Councillor Moira Lewis questioned the decision, stating that she understood a significant amount of money had been spent on the office.

flag Hindustan Times: The telephone and computer may have killed the handwritten letter, but they haven't diminished the workload of the postal department. In fact, new data show that the number of postal deliveries handled by India Post in Maharashtra and Goa went up nearly fourfold in two years, from 13.92 lakh in 2007-08 to 54.25 lakh in 2009-10. The nature of the deliveries, however, has changed, with the bulk of the snail mail being commercial rather than personal and most of the deliveries comprising cellphone bills, bank and credit card statements and updates from companies to shareholders, rather than letters or postcards. The postal department, meanwhile, has also evolved to find new roles in the evolving communications scenario. From offering life insurance schemes to accepting applications for the national unique identification programme, postal workers are now more than just carriers of missives.

flag Columbo Page: The committee appointed by the Sri Lankan government to probe allegations against the Post Master General has found that he is guilty of 16 counts against him. The committee found that he is partially guilty of five counts and not guilty of five other counts, the report submitted to the Minister of Posts say. Sri Lanka Minister of Postal Services Jeevan Kumaranatunga appointed a committee to probe the allegations against the Post Master General D.M.K. Dissanayake.

flag Sen. Daniel Akaka: "I support provisions in Title I of the President's proposal to stabilize the Postal Service. The prepayment of retiree health benefit premiums was a laudable goal when the Postal Service was flush with income, and was accounted for in such a way that offset the U.S. Treasury's debt. Unfortunately, this payment has put the Postal Service on the brink of insolvency and should be overhauled to bring the Postal Service more in line with other Federal agencies and return it to financial stability. While I support many of the President's other postal proposals, I caution the Committee that moving to five-day a week delivery is a risky option that, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission, may not save as much as the Postal Service has estimated.2 Five-day delivery could further hurt businesses that rely on regular delivery, causing negative consequences for the fragile economy."

flag New America Media: rural communities throughout the country are fighting for survival as the federal government, states and cities, all buckling under failed economic recovery and fears of another recession, look to communities with the least voice to make their cuts. "Now we have our federal government about to deliver the knockout punch by closing our post offices," says Renee Carr, with the Arkansas Rural Community Alliance. "Any more of this, and rural communities across America will be down for the count."

flag House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have submitted seven recommendations to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Joint Select Committee) that, if implemented, will provide a minimum of $375 billion in savings over ten years. The letter also suggests that the Joint Committee should not address U.S. Postal Service reform. Issa urged the Joint Select Committee to avoid adopting the same budgetary gimmick on postal reform that the President introduced in his deficit reduction package last month. That gimmick would change budget scoring rules to count savings to the Postal Service as savings to the taxpayer, even though the Postal Service does not spend taxpayer money for operations.

flag Post & Parcel: Austrian Post is running a trial in which recipients will be sent text messages letting them know their packages have arrived at a local post office. The Aviso-SMS service was introduced this week in parts of Vienna and Linz, and is set to run until November 1. Along with a message sent when a package has arrived at a local delivery office, a second will be sent to recipients when their package has been sent out for final delivery. Austrian Post said the system meant consumers would find it more easy to be ready to receive the package.

flag Post & Parcel: Canada Post's chief executive Deepak Chopra defended the "massive transformation" at his company today, as it opened itself to questions from the public at its annual general meeting. The meeting at Thunder Bay, Ontario, saw Chopra explaining the reasoning behind the $2bn Postal Transformation programme, which is seeking to modernise and streamline the postal infrastructure in Canada.

flag American Postal Workers Union: The APWU has denounced the bill, H.R. 2309, as a "reckless assault on postal services and postal employees." The bill demands that the USPS implement $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities in a two-year period. It also would reduce "door delivery" by 75 percent. In addition, the legislation would gut collective bargaining: An amendment adopted by the committee prohibits postal unions and the USPS from negotiating protection against layoffs.

October 14, 2011

♪♫"Oh I heard it -- Heard It -- Yes, I heard it through the grapevine. . . ." ♫♪  
Word has it that the Postal Service will file its request for a CPI-based postal rate increase on October 18. The maximum class-wide percentage that can be requested is 2.133 percent.


Mailers want to know: Where the blazes are the pallets we need to prepare and enter mail? This has been a perennial issue that has NEVER be resolved to anyone's satisfaction. The lack of pallets during the heaviest (and most profitable) mailing season is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!! Heads should roll!

usps logo DMM Advisory: IMb™ Services Update.

PostalOne!® Maintenance Outage: There will be a PostalOne!® outage during the scheduled maintenance window Sunday, October 16, 2011, from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT. PostalOne! applications, including Mail.XML® web services, will be unavailable for internal and external users during this time.

PostalOne!® Release 28.0: The scheduled maintenance window of 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT on Sunday, October 23 and Sunday, October 30, 2011 may be used to prepare for PostalOne! Release 28.0 deployment and may result in a PostalOne! outage. PostalOne! Release 28.0 deployment on Sunday, November 6, 2011, will require a longer maintenance window than the normally scheduled 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT window. The exact time will be communicated no later than October 21, 2011.

Test Environment for Mailers (TEM): The new authorization process for mailers to submit electronic mailing information (eDoc) and participate in Full-Service will go into effect on October 25, 2011. Updated eDoc and Full-Service authorization guides for Mail.dat® and Mail.XML can be found on RIBBs® under Intelligent Mail Guides and Specs.

flag Dayton Daily News: Three federal lawmakers want the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service to consider locating some mail-processing operations to DHL's former U.S. freight hub in Wilmington. Sen. Rob Portman and Reps. Mike Turner and Jean Schmidt, all Republicans, in a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General said the Wilmington Air Park offers mail-sorting technology, space and a good location for the postal service.

flag Bloomberg Businessweek: If a retail location or plant is losing money, a company can close it. That's not so simple for the U.S. Postal Service, even as it says it will run out of money to deliver mail by August without dramatic changes. Obstacles include the U.S. Constitution's clause empowering Congress to establish post offices. More than 80 percent of its locations lose money, the Postal Service says. Business customers applaud the service's efforts to cutting costs through shuttering small post offices, which they don't use. Direct mail would still get to postal customers through rural delivery. "Mailers are the ones who pay rates that have to be sufficient to cover all the costs of operating the postal system," said Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce, an Alexandria, Virginia-based group that represents postal customers such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. "If we have to pay for it and rates are going up, one would expect that we can have services provided nationwide in the most cost-efficient manner."

flag Sen. Thomas Carper: Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction urging the Committee's members to include a number of legislative proposals that would reduce the deficit by curbing wasteful and inefficient spending in the deficit reduction package that the Committee will submit to Congress later this fall. In the letter, Sen. Carper details a number of proposals in six of the issue areas that have been examined in recent years by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, which he currently chairs. These proposals have lead to bipartisan legislation that would address the Postal Service's financial challenges, help reduce wasteful spending, improve the effectiveness of federal programs and curb the nation's deficit.

flag Trend: The Azerbaijani postal operator Azerpoct posted on its web site indexes of all post offices in Azerbaijan's territories occupied by Armenia, Azerpoct reported. Earlier, the company's website only reflected the index of the central post office operator. Information is now completed, including rural post offices. Azerpoct reports that now anyone can send mail anywhere in the world on behalf of post offices located in the Armenian-occupied regions. The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.

 
The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is available online. In this issue:

  • The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held its full committee mark-up of H.R. 2309, the Issa-Ross bill. Here is a summary of comments made during the hearing.
  • According to Rep Cummings, "without a comprehensive, bipartisan proposal that overhauls the Postal Service's business model, one of our nation's most visible and trusted institutions will continue to struggle in today's digital age."
  • According to Senator Carper, "the disagreement among the experts over the Civil Service Retirement System overpayment is significant enough that I believe it would be more prudent to set aside this question for the time being in order to focus on the areas of postal reform where we have more consensus, including the Postal Service's overpayment into the Federal Employee Retirement System. Now that Congress has pushed back the Postal Service's $5.5 annual pre-payment for future retiree costs until November 18 we have some much needed breathing room to develop a robust reform package that will address the Postal Service's short and long-term financial challenges."
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO), this week, released its report, U.S. Postal Service: Allocation of Responsibility for Pension Benefits between the Postal Service and the Federal Government. It concluded that the current methodology used by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to allocate CSRS responsibility between the USPS and the federal government is consistent with applicable law. This conclusion mirrors that of the OPM Office of Inspector General (OIG) and goes against that of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the USPS OIG.
  • The Postal Service and the Commission have concluded a joint study of Periodicals, as requested by Section 708 of the PAEA. This study addresses issues ranging from the quality of costing data to opportunities to improve operational efficiency to recommendations for administrative or legislative action.
  • The U.S. Postal Service has filed it petition for review of the Postal Regulatory Commission's 2010 Annual Compliance Determination (ACD) relating to the pricing of Standard Mail Flats. The Postal Service believes that the Commission has exceeded its statutory authority by concluding that its' rates violated a policy statement within PAEA.
  • The next several months are going to be very hectic with the release of information from the Postal Service. There are five main areas that you as a postal customer need to be aware of - - so please mark your calendars.
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week released its September 2011 report on the Decennial Census, titled "Census Bureau and Postal Service Should Pursue Opportunities to Further Enhance Collaboration." The GAO recommended that the USPS and Census Bureau should expand their collaborative efforts for the 2020 census, including considering targeted recruitment of USPS mail carriers for the 2020 census, and assessing strategies to reduce the number of undeliverable-as-addressed census mailpieces."
  • Officially sworn in on October 8th, Postal Regulatory Commissioner Robert Taub assumed his new responsibilities, while Vice Chairman Mark Acton began his second term.
  • By rejecting the Postal Service's position that its retirement obligations are overstated, the Government Accountability Office has forced the Postal Service to find an additional $5.5 billion in cuts or $5.5 billion in revenue. As the Postal Service's financial plan already includes cuts in service quality, post offices, and employee benefits as well as the layoffs of 120,000 employees, its only option is raising revenue.
  • Senator Carper comments on GAO report. The U.S. needs a revaped 21st century Postal Service. Toward a solvent U.S. postal system. With UPS, international air freight goes digital for customers clearance. Editorial on USPS cutting Saturday delivery. Parties oppose USPS' stay on remand. Congressmen opposed to Hamilton, Maybell Post Office closures. Alaska going postal over Issa plan to reform USPS. Pryor still seeking Postal Service response.
  • An update on the Domestic Mail Manual.
  • An update on business before the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
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flag MSN India: India Post is in talks with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to set up ATMs. However, since according to norms, only banks are allowed to set up ATMs, the central bank is not in favour of allowing India Post to set up ATMs. According to sources in the banking industry, if India Post set up ATMs, they should fall under the RBI's purview for regulation purposes.

flag Philippine Star: Overseas Filipinos who would be sending gifts and packages to their loved ones here, especially during the coming yuletide season, have every reason to to worry less. This after Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) General Manager Governor Josefina De La Cruz said they will be enhancing their partership with the Bureau of Customs to strengthen security measures to avoid loss or pilferage of packages. De La Cruz offered the BOC a more spacious and secure place within the Philpost building where packages that will have to go through customs shall be safely kept and stored prior to release.

flag Warsaw Business Journal: Poczta Polska (the Polish Post) is considering a significant reduction in the number of its district offices, reported Rzeczpospolita. From the 62 offices currently operating only 20 may be left after the changes are made. As a result, many directors, their deputies and administrative staff will be laid off. According to the daily, over 1,000 workers may lose their jobs.

oig OIG Response to GAO: We disagree with the major conclusions of the report. Your review focuses on the 1974 law (P.L. 93-349), which is not in dispute. All parties agree that the 1974 law made the Postal Sen/ice responsible for funding the additional CSRS liabilities resulting from pay increases after 1971. The current OPM methodology is neither fair nor modern nor does it comply with the 2003 law. We agree with you that action from Congress is necessary to settle this issue once and for all. We believe Congress did just that in 2003. If OPM cannot be convinced of the need to change its methodology, the only alternative is for Congress to compel OPM to act by adding even more explicit reform language to the legislation currently being prepared.

flag Washington Post: 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.

flag Hellmail: Imail, the UK's leading hybrid mail solution, has transformed the way that thousands of businesses now send mail. Expertly combining the ease of e-communications with the impact of physical mail, imail allows users to produce, print, proof and post letters, direct mail, postcards, flyers and other forms of correspondence directly from a PC, Mac or laptop, without even having to leave their chair.

flag Dead Tree Edition: Pressure to jack up postal rates for magazines and newspaper was heightened today with the release of a long-awaited study of Periodicals class costs. Publishers have been hoping for years that the joint Postal Regulatory Commission-U.S. Postal Service study would disprove USPS's claim that postage is covering barely three-fourths of the Periodicals-related costs. No such luck.

flag CNBC: "U.S. Postal Service reform moves forward in Congress" [EdNote: Just don't hold your breath waiting for enactment.]

flag Business Week: The plight of America's unemployed is terrible. Yet for the 91 percent of those in the U.S. labor force who do have a job, the numbers also tell a dark story. Take-home pay, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.3 percent in August, the third decrease in five months, the Commerce Dept. just reported. The declines followed news from the Census Bureau that median household income in 2010 fell to $49,445, the lowest in more than a decade, while the poverty rate jumped to 15.1 percent, a 17-year high.

flag House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today approved H.R. 2309, the Oversight Committee Postal Reform Act of 2011 which will return the United States Postal Service (USPS) to sustainability and profitability without a taxpayer bailout. The Issa-Ross bill is the only postal reform proposal that has been successfully acted on this Congress.

"The United States Postal Service cannot become a taxpayer subsidized make-work program. To save the Postal Service, we must enact meaningful and immediate reform so we can maintain service to the American people and return it to financial solvency," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "The postal service is on the brink of collapse. Today, we have acted to pass a bill and provide an immediate and viable path forward to make the postal service more efficient, protect its workforce and ultimately return it to being a profitable enterprise. The reality is that failure to act now on the Issa-Ross bill will result in an automatic taxpayer-funded bailout."

"We can no longer afford to postpone the Postal Service's day of reckoning by putting our collective heads in the sand and wishing the problem away," said Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-FL), Chairman of the Oversight subcommittee on postal reform. "Members here today are faced with a stark choice: Are we willing to make the hard decisions necessary to save the Postal Service or will we let it crumble on our watch and potentially put this venerable institution at risk – along with the jobs of the 8 million Americans who work in the mailing industry?"

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: The PRC has released the "Periodicals Mail Study: Joint Report of the United States Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission. The principal findings of this study are as follows:

  • After review of Postal Service responses to data quality recommendations from prior reviews, the Postal Service and the Commission agree that the cost data are reasonably accurate for ratemaking purposes.
  • A reduction in manual processing of Periodicals mail where feasible would reduce costs. Reducing manual processing will require operational changes that may impact current mailing practices and service levels of Periodicals mailings. Since Section 708 of the PAEA subsumes consideration of certain important service issues, this report also addresses service performance.
  • Both the Postal Service and the Commission agree on the goal of increasing automation to achieve cost savings. However, the Postal Service and Commission have different perspectives on the approach to estimating potential cost savings, yielding significantly different results.
  • The Commission finds that absent operational data on manual handling of Periodicals, Standard Mail® flats processing costs provide a useful comparison for potential savings opportunities. This comparison shows that if mail processing costs were the same for Periodicals flats as they are for Standard Mail flats, the Postal Service would save $349 million.

    The Postal Service believes that substantial differences exist between the characteristics of Periodicals and Standard Mail flats, and that these differences reflect mailer and reader preferences that need to be respected. Therefore, using this asymmetric approach as the basis for projecting cost savings results in projections that are unrealistic and unattainable. In its approach for estimating potential cost savings, the Postal Service has estimated cost savings for major operational efficiency improvement opportunities. This approach results in a potential total cost savings opportunity with an upper bound of $146 million.
  • Furthermore, the Postal Service believes that, while additional data could help illuminate problems and their potential solutions, benefits that can be derived from costly new data collection efforts are limited. In the case of Periodicals, the efforts to improve processing (and reduce costs) can be made without launching expensive data collection. In some instances, it may be impossible to gather specific pieces of data, but that impossibility should not stand in the way of doing everything possible to improve processing and reduce costs.
  • While the Commission's approach results in a conclusion that most, but not all, of the Periodicals deficit can be resolved through operational efficiencies, the Postal Service's approach leads to a different conclusion. The Postal Service agrees that operational initiatives should, must, and will be pursued, but recognizes that cost-reduction initiatives alone will not be nearly enough to resolve the Periodicals deficit.
  • The Commission's view of the relevance of cost increases in other classes of mail differs from the Postal Service's approach. The Commission believes it is important to recognize that, because Periodicals mail is almost entirely flat shaped, the inefficiency in flat handling impacts this class more than First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail. Therefore, the Commission finds that comparing the unit cost increases across classes is instructive.

October 13, 2011

flag House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Minority: "Oversight Democrats Release Recommendations to the Super Committee" -- Allow Postal Service legislation to be considered on a "unified budget" basis. The report recommends amending the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 so that Postal Service legislation can be evaluated on a unified budget basis.

flag Sen. Thomas Carper:

"While I welcome Congressman Issa and Congressman Ross' interest in addressing the Postal Service's serious financial challenges, I remain concerned that their current partisan approach to crafting a legislative solution can't pass the Senate and, just as important, can't effectively solve the Postal Service's significant financial problems. This bill continues to start with the premise that the Postal Service will undergo a complete financial collapse. Instead of putting in place the reforms needed to prevent a financial collapse from happening, this bill would abdicate responsibility for cleaning up what would be a colossal disaster both for the Postal Service and the broader economy to a newly-created government bureaucracy. Not only does this approach pass the buck in an unacceptable manner, it likely would be found unconstitutional and certainly wouldn't be the kind of quick and cost-effective resolution that the Postal Service needs. Letting the Postal Service go belly up would jeopardize our fragile economic recovery, the jobs of over 7 million employees in the mailing industry, and the bottom lines of businesses large and small that depend on a healthy Postal Service.

"We know what needs to happen for Postal Service to survive this crisis. Congress needs to stop micromanaging the Postal Service and give it the freedom and flexibility to make the tough, but necessary, decisions to reform, right size and modernize their business model. We don't have to duck our responsibilities and create new agencies to make these hard decisions for us. Congress and the Administration just need to have the courage to let the Postal Service pursue the reform proposals it has already laid out. I look forward to working with my House and Senate colleagues and the Administration to enact a solution to the Postal Services' financial challenges that enables this critical American institution to update its business model so it can continue to serve the American public for years to come. In the coming weeks, we should focus on the areas of postal reform where we have consensus, including the Postal Service's overpayment into the Federal Employee Retirement System. Now that Congress has pushed back the Postal Service's $5.5 annual pre-payment for future retiree costs until November 18, we have some much needed breathing room to develop a robust reform package that will address the Postal Service's short and long-term financial challenges."

The Hill: The U.S. Postal Service says it is disappointed with a new government report skeptical of the agency’s claim that it substantially overpaid into a federal retirement program and deserves a refund.

[PostCom logo

USPS Realignment of Postal Mail Processing Network Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/550688576. Please join the Association for Postal Commerce on Tuesday, October 18 at 1:30 Eastern when David Williams, vice president of Network Operations USPS HQ, will discuss the realignment of the postal mail processing network estimated to be completed end of calendar year 2012. Rightsizing of the network is only one of many strategies the USPS has employed in efforts to reduce costs and improve efficiency. David will provide more detail about these plans and comment on any effects these changes may have on service performance. We will be sure to leave 15 - 20 minutes for Q&A and will also capture your input and questions to ensure that members' interests are considered.

flag Memphis Commercial Appeal: A new round of trade deals could benefit FedEx and pump more freight through Memphis' 58,000-employee logistics industry, business analysts say. Trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea were approved by Congress on Wednesday over protests by some politicians who warned of possible job losses in the United States. Big companies including Memphis-based FedEx sought the deals to spur on sales and keep prices on U.S. goods even with Europe's in South Korea.

usps logo Attention PostalOne! Users: PostalOne!® Maintenance Outage: There will be a PostalOne! outage during the scheduled maintenance window Sunday, October 16, 2011, 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT. PostalOne! application, including MAIL.XML web services, will be unavailable for internal and external users from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT during this outage. In addition, the scheduled maintenance window, Sunday Oct 23, 2011 and Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT may be used for critical tasks in preparation for Release 28.0 deployment which will result in a PostalOne! outage. Future communication will provide exact start and end times of outages expected during those maintenance windows. PostalOne! Release 28.0: Please be advised the deployment of PostalOne! Release 28.0 scheduled for Sunday Nov 6, 2011 will require a longer maintenance window outside the normal scheduled maintenance window of 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT. The exact outage time will be communicated as soon as finalized but not later than Oct 21, 2011.

Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: By rejecting the Postal Service’s position that its retirement obligations are overstated, the Government Accountability Office has forced the Postal Service to find an additional $5, 5 billion in cuts or $5.5 billion in revenue. As the Postal Service’s financial plan already includes cuts in service quality, post offices, and employee benefits as well as the layoffs of 120,000 employees, its only option is raising revenue. Raising $5.5 billion will require Postal Service to increase rates sufficiently to increase total revenue by $5.5 billion. This is an 8.4% increase in revenue over current levels. Given that rate increases result in lower mail volumes, the total increase in rates would have to be higher and could possibly reach double digits. The average general rate increase could be lower if the Postal Service was able to eliminate or cut discounts for non-profit mailers and bypass mail in Alaska, and increase rates on products so that all products (i.e. subclasses of mail) generate at least a 10% margin over attributable costs.

Washington Post: Brazilian post office employees are going back to work after a 28-day strike. Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo Silva says the workers accepted the government’s original offer.

The Commitee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing to mark-up H.R. 2309. A summary of comments made during the hearing has been posted on this site.

  • An amendment offered as a substitute Rep. Ross on H.R. 2309 was approved by majority vote.
  • An alternative proposal offered by Rep. Cummings and Rep. Lynch alternative proposal was defeated by majority vote.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Ross providing a stay on extraordinary periodical postal rate increases was approved by majority vote.
  • An amendment by Mr. Lynch was defeated by majority vote.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Chaffitz regarding an alternative to five-day delivery was approved.
  • A  proposal to strike Section 702 (regarding competition) of the amended bill was defeated.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Buerkle regarding the closing of rural postal facilities was approved.
  • An amendment by Rep. Norton regarding the call for a Sense of the Congress Resolution was adopted.
  • An amendment by Rep. Chaffitz regarding the cost-efficiency of rural delivery was adopted.
  • An amendment by Rep. Norton regarding the provision of alternative postal outlets was defeated.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Pat Meehan and Rep. Platts that makes clear there is no intention to interfere with collective bargaining and to have the affected parties to negotiate whatever changes are needed to get the Postal Service to a more secure fiscal position before the Authority intervenes was adopted.
  • An amendment offered by Rep.Connolly that requires the PRC to recalculate the size of the actual liability the USPS must bear to prefund its retiree health benefit costs  based on best industry practices and changes to the size of its workforce was defeated.
  • Amendments offered by Rep. Turner regarding door-to-door delivery limitations (particularly with regard to historic districts and homes) were approved.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Davis to strike Section 403 pertaining to nonprofit postal rates until costs are better defined and aligned was approved.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Lankford to provide community involvement in any consideration to close or consolidate postal stations and branches.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Towns was approved. (Whatever it was.)
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Murphy to strike the sections of the amended bill pertaining to the abrogation of collective bargaining agreements was defeated.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Braley to strike the BRAC-style Commission on Postal Reorganizaton and efforts to close rural post offices was defeated.
  • An amendment offered by Rep. Braley to evaluate the impact of efforts to lessen to lower postal employment on veterans was approved.
  • An amendment offered by Mr. Yarmuth to strike those sections requiring the Postal Service to provide without reimbursement free mail services for armed forces overseas voting and for providing mail for the blind was defeated.
  • The bill as amended has been reported to the House.

flag Government Accountability Office: Report on the Allocation of Responsibility for Pension Benefits between the Postal Service and the Federal Government.

The current methodology used by OPM for allocating responsibility for CSRS benefits between USPS and the federal government is consistent with applicable law. Congress created USPS in 1971 as an independent, self-sustaining entity, with a package of assets and obligations, as well as competitive advantages and disadvantages. In 1974, Congress explicitly allocated responsibility to USPS for CSRS benefits attributable to post-1971 USPS pay increases and, although it revised aspects of the CSRS funding process in 2003 and 2006, it did not alter the fundamental allocation of responsibility for CSRS benefits.

Although the USPS OIG and PRC reports present alternative methodologies for determining the allocation of pension costs, this determination is ultimately a policy choice rather than a question of accounting or actuarial standards. Some have referred to "overpayments" that USPS has made to the CSRS fund, which can imply an error of some type—mathematical, actuarial, or accounting. We have not found evidence of error of these types. While the USPS OIG and PRC reports make judgments about fairness, the 1974 law also implicitly reflected fairness. Congress considered that USPS was to be self-sustaining and that the federal government, which had no control over USPS pay increases, should not be liable for pension benefits attributable to those increases. Also, the USPS OIG and PRC reports assess the fairness of the allocation in isolation, looking only at pension costs. In the private sector, the fairness of the allocation of pension obligations between two businesses depends on the total package of assets and obligations—both pension and nonpension. Finally, the cost of USPS's CSRS pension allocation based on the 1974 law has already been reflected in postal rates for most of the past four decades.

The key impacts of transferring assets out of the CSRS fund to USPS based on the current proposals would be to increase the federal government's current and future unfunded pension liability by an estimated $56 billion to $85 billion. This liability would then be funded by the federal government using tax revenue, borrowing, or both. Also, CSRS beneficiaries would continue to receive their benefits under current law, even if the federal government's unfunded CSRS liability increases, but this could indirectly create pressure to reduce pension benefits. Furthermore, legislation would be required for the CSRS funds transferred under the recommendations in the PRC and USPS OIG reports to be used by USPS for purposes other than funding the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund.

Any change in the USPS's share of responsibility for CSRS benefits would provide some temporary relief from the pressures USPS faces because of declining volume, revenue, and inflexible costs, but would not by itself address USPS's long-term financial outlook. Such a transfer of CSRS funds would not be sufficient to repay all of USPS's debt and address current and future operating deficits related to USPS's inability to cut costs quickly enough to match declining mail volume and revenue. Last year, GAO issued a report (GAO-10-455) that outlined a number of options to address USPS's financial viability that Congress could consider—such as realigning its operations, networks, and workforce—so that USPS could modernize to meet changing customer needs.

flag The Offices of Sen. Thomas Carper: Last month, Congressional leaders interested in the Postal Service asked the GAO to examine the Postal Service's claim that it has overpaid billions into CSRS and FERS in order to gain another opinion on these claim. GAO's opinion is that the CSRS allocation between the Postal Service and the federal government is "actuarially sound" though Congress could step in and specify a different allocation if they wanted to. This finding is in contrast to the findings of four other entities -- private accounting firms the Hay Group and the Segal Group, as well as the USPS' Office of Inspector General and the Postal Regulatory Commission -- who all found to varying degrees that the assessment that the Postal Service had been paying into CSRS was too high and the Postal Service was owed billions. It appears to be consistent; however, with a finding by the Office of Personnel Management's Office of the Inspector General that the allocation decided upon in the 1970s was legal and actuarially sound. However, GAO's findings do concur with the Postal Service's contention that it has overfunded its FERS obligations by about $6.9 billion. Given the disagreement among experts regarding the Postal Service's overpayment claim for CSRS, Sen. Carper believes that this issue should be set aside for the time being to focus on developing a comprehensive solution to the Postal Service's financial crisis based on the areas of reform where there is more consensus, including the FERS overpayment.

flag Time Moneyland: Just how desperate for revenues is the United States Postal Service? Here's one indication: A family in Connecticut recently stuffed 80 invitations in neighbors' mailboxes for a Halloween block party, and now the postal service is demanding 44¢ per envelope—even though the postal service didn't deliver any of them.

flag Postalnews Blog: This morning the Washington Post reports that the Government Accountability Office will announce later today that it does not believe the US Postal Service has been overcharged by as much as $75 billion for employee pensions. This despite the findings of the Postal Regulatory Commission, the Postal Service inspector general and two independent accounting firms that the USPS had indeed been overcharged. But before jumping to the conclusion that this report validates Darrell Issa's plan to destroy the USPS, let's remember something that today's Post story omits- the other $50 billion- the $50 billion that no one disputes, but the news media seems to forget.

flag Washington Post: Transferring 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 force unfunded liabilities on to taxpayers, according to a new government report. The conclusions set for release 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 improperly overpaying federal retirement accounts since the 1970s. GAO concluded otherwise, writing in its report that "We have not found evidence of error of these types. Any attempt to refund money to USPS "would be a significant change from a policy" in place since the 1970s, it said. Returning money to the Postal Service for past and future retirement payments would cause as much as $85 billion in losses for taxpayers "which must then be paid by the federal government through tax revenue or borrowing," GAO said. And any refund "would not be sufficient to repay all of USPS's debt and address current and future operating deficits." See also Bloomberg

flag CNET: Facebook, the world's largest social-networking platform, is tapping eBay's commerce platform to create new social shopping experiences for hundreds of millions of consumers.

flag Louisville Business First: United Parcel Service Inc. will relocate its Mobile, Ala., sorting facility to Pensacola, Fla., this fall, said Patti Hobbs, strategic communications manager for Louisville-based UPS Airlines. Later this fall, Hobbs said, the company will move its Gulf of Mexico operations to Pensacola. "We have worked with the airport in Mobile, but this is a necessary business decision and the change will allow us to realize significant operational savings," Hobbs said in an e-mailed statement. [EdNote: What? No union protests? No congressional inquiry? Amazing! Oh . . . I forgot. UPS is a "business," and this is what businesses do.]

flag Postalnews Blog: A committee of the House of Representatives will vote on legislation proposed by Darrell Issa that would essentially destroy the US Postal Service. In all likelihood, the bill will then be approved by the full House on a party line vote, or close to it. It will then be sent to the Senate, where it will die. So what's wrong with that? It's the democratic process, right? Wrong. The problem is that Darrell's bill is cosponsored by just one other Congressman, Darrell's trusty sidekick Dennis Ross. Meanwhile, an alternative proposal by Congressman Stephen Lynch, which would rescue the USPS by giving it access to some of the billions in past profits that were siphoned off by Congress, will go nowhere, despite the fact that it is cosponsored by a bipartisan majority in the House.

flag Directions Magazine: Europa Technologies has today announced an extension of its popular viaEuropa hosted map service to support AddressBase - the new definitive spatial address data for England and Wales. The announcement means the geo solutions provider is the first Ordnance Survey licensed partner to utilise AddressBase in a cartographic capacity since its launch on 30 September 2011. viaEuropa provides a quick and easy way for applications to access high-quality Ordnance Survey maps online. The inclusion of AddressBase will help a wide range of organisations access the most up-to-date link between every address in England and Wales and its location ‘on the map'. "Until now, there has been no definitive address database, with local government maintaining the NLPG and Ordnance Survey separately creating its own family of address products. The launch of AddressBase provides a definitive and authoritative source, important for public and commercial organisations alike. It eliminates the risk of duplicating postal and non-postal addresses and it enhances overall address management at a time when it's more essential than ever to keep a tight rein on costs."

flag Roll Call: Despite the FBI's insistence that it had identified the culprit — government scientist Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide when the FBI began to focus on him in 2008 — some of those affected by the attacks expressed lingering doubts about whether the perpetrator has really been caught. Recently, some scientists have suggested that if Ivins did it — and others are not persuaded he did — he must have had an accomplice in order to produce the type of weaponized anthrax that was sent to Daschle.

flag Tucson Citizen: Sometimes you just got to call it the way you see it, and I see this Postal Service reform bill for what it is; a clan of shills preparing the way for a private sector hostile take over, completely contrary to their free market economy mantra. If McCain and Issa do not have someone in the wings preparing to be gifted the USPS, then call me paranoid. But wait two years before leveling your opinion. The new Capitalism is gimmick capitalism. Few are making money the old fashion way by earning it. Ergo, Wall Street. The United Postal Service has been one the most reliable employers of veterans for 50 years. They currently have many reservists in their employ. What happens to these men and women when they return from war to a reformulated organization that now has an underemployed and part time staff? What happens to their families? What happens to their health care? What level of enforcement is there for the Federal law that mandates that these veterans must be restored to their old positions and pay grade prior to be called to duty? The ripple effect will be so immense when added to the Occupy Wall Street movement, that it may well be the tipping point that leads to outright revolution. Wrong time Issa. And, now we know for sure that Senator McCain is a veteran Uncle Tom.

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Post Office Closings, 63678–63679 [2011–26432] [TEXT] [PDF]

flag Roll Call: Without a comprehensive, bipartisan proposal that overhauls the Postal Service's business model, one of our nation's most visible and trusted institutions will continue to struggle in today's digital age. The Postal Service can no longer remain a viable public service simply by selling stamps and renting post office boxes. Congress must provide the Postal Service with options to innovate and the latitude needed to return to profitability. This process will succeed only if it is bipartisan. The bill, authored by Issa and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy, would essentially dismantle the Postal Service by slashing services, personnel and facilities. The bill would set an artificial tripwire for the Postal Service to come under the authority of a new control board. This board could abrogate contracts that workers negotiated in good faith with Postal Service management, and the board could terminate workers without even giving them severance payments.

flag Pajamas Media: There are multiple reasons for the post office's woes, from mismanagement at the top to the same sorts of union-driven legacy pension costs that are killing the auto industry, to the Internet more or less killing letter writing as an art form. So what do we do about it? Chairman Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has a few ideas. They'll be doing a full markup on the the Issa-McCain-Ross Postal Reform Act of 2011, which Issa says is the only way to avoid a $70 billion taxpayer bailout of the Post Office and save the U.S. Postal Service. Check out this video, and then learn more about the bill here.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: The Postal Regulatory Commission has posted on its site a recording of the Commission's most recent public meeting. [speaker]

flag Washington Times: It might have been the first piece of mail you got after your recent move. And if you're still unpacking, look for it. You can't miss it. It's the "welcome kit" from the U.S. Postal Service - stuffed into the mailboxes of tens of millions of Americans who have filled out change-of-address forms. The change-of-address confirmation letter comes in an official-looking USPS envelope with the words "verification required" and "do not discard," but it contains mostly ads and coupons from companies selling cellphone service, insurance, home security systems, appliances, mattresses, bottled water, banking services, electronics and other move-related products and services. While these welcome kits may provide a targeted marketing opportunity for advertisers and much-needed revenue for the USPS, federal agencies aren't allowed to sell or rent personal information such as names and addresses under the federal Privacy Act. For years, the USPS has given a Massachusetts company, Imagitas, exclusive rights to manage its change-of-address process, called MoverSource. As part of the deal, which was based on an unsolicited proposal sent to the USPS in the 1990s, the company sells advertising to major retailers. The ads then are sent to millions of homes along with the change-of-address letter.

flag WTHI: The uncertain future of the U.S. Postal Service remains in the hands of the United States Congress. Potential cuts to service could be a major blow not only to postal jobs, but also could hurt local businesses across the Wabash Valley.

flag Online Media Daily: Only 28% of mobile users who have used QR codes more than once say they "usually" get something in return that made the effort worthwhile.

October 12, 2011

flag CTV: Canada Post workers are taking the Harper government to court. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is challenging the constitutionality of the law which forced its members back to work in June. The workers had been locked out by the Crown corporation after a series of rotating strikes. The majority Conservatives had cited the fragile economy when they decided to go ahead with a back-to-work bill, a move they've repeated in other labour disputes since. But the union says such laws take away workers' rights. "This back-to-work legislation was unjust," union president Denis Lemelin told a news conference today. "It was the democratic rights of workers that were attacked. "There is a fundamental principle here -- the freedom of association." The union has already challenged several elements of the legislation, including the selection of the arbitrator. It says the judge chosen by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has no expertise in labour relations.

flag Washington Post: A leading military veterans organization is jumping into the debate over the future of the U.S. Postal Service, lending its name and dollars to a campaign designed to quell a Republican-backed bill that critics fear could lead to thousands of unemployed postal workers. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are mocking a union-backed television ad with a version of their own, warning that some proposals to fix USPS would result in a multi-billion dollar bailout. The ad isn't entirely accurate: The bill wouldn't "force" USPS to fire employees — it would fulfill the wishes of Postal Service officials who are seeking permission from Congress to break union contracts and lay off up to 120,000 workers. But the general message of the ad is correct: The Postal Service is one of the nation's largest employers of military veterans, with roughly 135,800 vets on the postal payroll, according to the American Postal Workers Union. APWU and its brother postal unions the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mailhandlers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association are attempting to derail the bill, cosponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), by holding rallies across the country and buying TV airtime.

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

flag flag bpost took over Hong Kong based Citipost Asia.
flag PostNL plans to establish a job creation company together with the Netherlands' two largest recruitment firms.
flag Deutsche Post DHL and union ver.di have agreed on a comprehensive employment package for the company's Mail unit.
flag Who will succeed Jürg Bucher at the head of Swiss Post? The 64-year old will retire next year and Swiss Post has not officially announced a successor yet.
flag Austrian Post will get another competitor in the letter market which is to be liberalised in 2012. As the third and biggest operator yet, the Medienvertrieb Oberösterreich GmbH (MVOÖ), received a licence from the regulatory authority for the delivery of addressed letters.
flag The arbitration to settle the postal strike in Brazil failed by a narrow margin.
flag flag TNT Post Holding in Germany changed its name and legal structure. According to the commercial register, TNT Post Holding Germany GmbH has been renamed to TNT Post Germany B.V. & Co. KG.
flag The vice president of Portuguese CTT Correios, Pedro Coelho, spoke out in favour of a fast partial privatisation of the post.
flag China's express services and postal operators saw continued significant growth in August.
flag TNT Express lowered its earnings forecast for the third quarter. The profit warning which was published last week was explained with a decreasing demand in Asia.
flag The German e-commerce sector remains on the course for growth. According to a recent survey by EHI Retail Institute and statistics portal Statista the e-commerce industry recorded a 13% growth in revenue to 22.7bn euros in 2010. The study took ordered physical goods and also revenues from digital articles into account.
flag FedEx has started to offer domestic parcel services in India.
flag Business in Asia remains an important growth driver for DHL Express.
flag Austrian Post launched trial operations of its SMS pre-advice service last week. In parts of Vienna and Linz addressees of parcels will be texted as soon as Austrian Post received the parcel from the despatcher. A second message will be sent when the parcel has been handed over to the deliverer. With this service Austrian Post hopes to reduce the number of notification cards ("yellow notes"), which are dropped into the addressees letter box if she is not present when the parcel is delivered.
flag DHL launched an international 'Open Innovation' competition on city logistics. Open Innovation is a paradigm that assumes companies should use ideas gathered from external sources to advance their innovation potential. DHL aims to gather ideas from academics, politicians, IT experts and others, to further develop the company's already existing concepts.
flag Belgian bpost has started negotiations with the unions about a new labour agreement. The current agreement expires at the end of this year.
flag Deutsche Post has discontinued its franking software StampIt which started in 2001. Customers had already been informed several months in advance that franking letters at their personal computers won't be possible from October 1 on.
flag Austrian Post performed well in a comparison test of 6 CEP services. Industry journal »Industriemagazin« (05.10) send out 7 parcels each with Austrian Post, Hermes, GLS, DPD, UPS and GO!. The post was the only operator which delivered all parcels without delivery, documentation or transit time shortcomings.
flag Singapore Post (SingPost) restructured its top management. The current CEO (international), Wolfgang Baier, has been appointed as group chief executive officer, effective from October 5.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

flag Tmes of India: The instant electronic age of mobile phones and internet has transformed the world completely. There was a time when bicycle-borne postman was the most-awaited guest to people waiting to hear about their near and dear ones. The blue-coloured inland letters, envelopes carrying first class mails (ordinary letters with stamps) and postcards are becoming obsolete terms in these times of mobile phones, SMSes, emails and social networking sites.

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission. NOTICES Post Office Closings, 63331–63332 [2011–26334] [TEXT] [PDF] 63332–63333 [2011–26335] [TEXT] [PDF]

flag National Association of Major Mail Users: On Friday, October 14, 2011, Canada Post will hold its sixth annual public meeting. The forum provides an opportunity to learn more about Canada Post's current and future plans, to receive the latest financial results and to speak directly to senior leaders of the company about present and future policies and direction.

flag Politico: Rep. Darrell Issa has already been bashed by unions and Democrats as he attempts to slash billions in reforming the U.S. Postal Service, but his latest move has earned another big enemy: the state of Alaska. Or more precisely, Alaska's politicians, who are outraged at Issa's move to kill an Alaska-only mail service that allows private air carriers to deliver mail to the far-reaching tundra while the Postal Service foots the bill. Now, the small but vocal Alaska delegation — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R), Mark Begich (D) and Rep. Don Young (R) — is fighting back in a classic Capitol Hill battle that will test the power of parochial politics against the larger push to fix the nearly bankrupt Postal Service. Murkowski has begun lobbying Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who oversee the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to reject Issa's demands for millions from Alaska, and she is leaning on other Senate committees to hold a hearing on the issue.

flag Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Post has delivered its first profit increase in four years as a surge in online shopping helped boost its parcel services. The profit increase under chief executive Ahmed Fahour comes as many post offices around the world are struggling under declining revenues, prompting staff and service cuts. Still the government-owned Australia Post has not been able to escape the impact of rapid expansion of the internet on its traditional letter delivery business, which continues to run at a deep loss. See also the Washington Post.

flag Arkansas News: Nearly four months have passed since Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor asked U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe what he thought was a simple question. Just how many postal facilities — targeted for closure — has the Postal Service kept open after hearing from the public? Pryor, who is still waiting for the answer, joined five other committee members today in a letter to Donahue complaining that he has not responded to their concerns.

flag Federal Times: The U.S. Postal Service could save at least $335 million on its yearly workers' compensation tab if the federal government adopted some of the cost-cutting techniques used by private companies, the agency's inspector general concludes in a new report.

flag WorleyDervish: The reduction in service standards would enable the USPS to dismantle its extraordinary processing-and-distribution network, a return to the current service standards would be impossible, thus permanently undermining the USPS's ability to serve the American people, further reducing mail volume and postal revenues, and further imperiling the US Postal Service itself. The vast majority of the American people won't fully realize the effects of the proposed reduction in service until it's too late.

flag Postal Sanity: Rock Bottom Postal Wages in 6 Easy Steps.

October 11, 2011

usps logo DMM Advisory: Express Mail Domestic Postage Refund Policy and Waiver of Signature. The Federal Register has published our proposed rule modifying the time for filing claims for domestic Express Mail® refunds from 90 days to 30 days after the date of mailing and changing the Express Mail "waiver of signature'' standard for domestic items so that an addressee's signature will be obtained only when the mailer selects the "signature required'' option on the Express Mail label. Customers are encouraged to comment on or before November 7, 2011. The http://pe.usps.com/FederalRegisterNotices.aspproposed rule Federal Register can be found on the Postal Explorer® website at pe.usps.com.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Welcome to PostCom Radio
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito, PostCom Executive Vice President Jessica Lowrance, and Postal Services Consulting President Kathleen Siviter in a discussion of some of the discussions and decisions that took place at last week's meeting of the Board of Directors of the Association for Postal Commerce.

flag National Review: Rep. Darrell Issa -- Snow, rain, heat and hail haven't yet stopped the mail, but financial insolvency and a looming bailout may stop it altogether. That's because the United States Postal Service will lose a record $10 billion this year. And because of this financial insolvency, no later than next summer, it will fail to meet payroll. This action most certainly will stop the mail — and leave taxpayers on the hook with a multi-billion-dollar "postage due" bailout bill. Tackling this challenge presents Congress with an opportunity to save a constitutionally authorized American institution and save it by cutting costs and freeing it to make better decisions. I call it a business restructuring plan. What it promises taxpayers is a better working system without any taxpayer-funded bailout.

flag MarketWatch: Jeanette P. Dwyer, a 30-year career postal employee, has been elected the first female national president in the 108-year history of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA). The election was held during the union's 107th National Convention in Savannah, GA. Dwyer, a native of Waccamaw, NC, leads a union with more than 106,000 members who serve as post offices on wheels. Rural letter carriers perform the same work as city letter carriers, but in their own vehicles from which they sell postal products. They also work under a different collective bargaining agreement that requires annual route examinations to ensure rural carriers deliver the maximum amount of mail each work day.

flag Post & Parcel: Posten Norge is set to step up the restructuring of its post office network, accelerating the transfer of services to partner-run postal counters. It revealed last week that the Norwegian government is planning to repeal its legal obligations to provide banking services at its postal offices.

flag Craig Daily Press: In an effort to ensure rural Colorado post offices are not disproportionately targeted, Republican Reps. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner issued a letter Oct. 5 to Postal Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Ruth Goldway. Although the congressmen conceded the Postal Service must restructure to survive in today's competitive environment, they urged Goldway to consider a bottom-up approach focused on "actual cost savings rather than an arbitrary revenue figure."

flag Reuters: Cameleon Software (Paris: CAM), the global leader in "next generation" product configuration, quotes, proposals (CPQ), and eCommerce software, is pleased to announce that La Poste, the main French postal operator, has chosen to implement Cameleon Software to support its sales strategy in a newly changing market. In order to improve both responsiveness and flexibility for its customers, La Poste chose to implement Cameleon's configuration, guided selling and quotation tool, enabling the company to respond more efficiently and promptly to consumer needs, while still upholding the expectations of its existing and future customers. Cameleon Software's offering enables La Poste to manage its product catalog in a more dynamic way, while accelerating the time-to-market of new offerings across every sales channel.

oig The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General invites you to comment on the following: This week's "Pushing the Envelope" blog topic: U.S. Postal Service Revenue: What Should be Done? Much emphasis has been placed on reducing costs for the Postal Service. In our recently released white paper, Postal Service Revenue: Structure, Facts, and Future Possibilities (Report Number RARC-WP-12-002), we look at the revenue structure, and the existing and future opportunities to increase revenue. What opportunities do you think the Postal Service should pursue? Share your thoughts on our blog. New Audit Projects: LINK here to visit our audit project pages. New audit projects have been started on the external website.

  • USPS Network Optimization Past and Present – 11WG006CI000. The U.S. Postal Service is in the midst of a financial crisis. The economic recession, along with the increasing use of email, text messaging and electronic bill paying has led to significant declines in mail volume. This decline in mail volume has not been matched by a corresponding reduction in the mail processing network. The Postal Service recently announced an initiative to reduce the mail processing plant network by approximately 250 facilities. The U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General plans to initiate an audit to summarize the best practices we have identified from our past work with mail processing consolidations and also evaluate any strategic risks associated with the present Postal Service initiative.
  • Virtualization – 12RG002IT000. Virtualization allows agencies to create multiple virtual guest servers (with unique operating systems) on a single physical host server. This leverages and expands server processing above average utilization levels and provides savings opportunities in the consolidation of hardware. The host servers require unique security considerations compared to standard servers..The purpose of our survey is to gather information to understand and assess the extent of virtualization within the Postal Service Production environment.

flag Postal Technology International: The UK Post Office has launched the third issue of its popular Inflation Linked Bond, available to customers until Friday 20 January 2012. Applications need to be made by post and application packs can be downloaded at www.postoffice.co.uk/savings.

flag National Association of Postmasters of the U.S.: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has scheduled a Thursday morning (October 13) "markup" of HR 2309, the Issa-Ross postal bill. HR 2309 was placed on the committee calendar Friday afternoon.

usps logo DMM Advisory: Comment Period Reminder – Proposal to Revise Service Standards for First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail. The Federal Register advance notice of federal rule making, highlighted in an earlier communication from Susan LaChance, USPS® Vice President Consumer & Industry Affairs, would revise service standards, eliminating the expectation of overnight service for First-Class Mail and Periodicals, narrowing the two-day delivery range, and enlarging the three-day delivery range. A major effect of the proposal would be to facilitate a significant consolidation of the Postal Service's processing and transportation networks. The comment period closes on October 21. Please send any comments to the special email address created for the mailing industry: DMM Advisory Pricing — keeping you informed about the prices and mailing standards of the United States Postal Service Comment Period Reminder – Proposal to Revise Service Standards for First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail The Federal Register advance notice of federal rule making, highlighted in an earlier communication from Susan LaChance, USPS® Vice President Consumer & Industry Affairs, would revise service standards, eliminating the expectation of overnight service for First-Class Mail and Periodicals, narrowing the two-day delivery range, and enlarging the three-day delivery range. A major effect of the proposal would be to facilitate a significant consolidation of the Postal Service's processing and transportation networks. The comment period closes on October 21. Please send any comments to the special email address created for the mailing industry: industryfeedback@usps.gov.

flag Uni-Global Union: Post workers in their uniforms from a cross Europe opened the afternoon session of the UNI Europa Conference in Toulouse. With a march through the conference room, they called the attention of the delegates to the dramatic situation in the European postal sector. The European Union completed liberalisation of the postal market in all Member States on the 1st of January 2011. The consequences are lower quality postal services, higher prices and social dumping created by competition based on salaries and wages.

flag Wall Street Journal: Hamilton Davison, American Catalog Mailers Association -- Gary MacDougal's "Junking the Junk Mail Office" (op-ed, Oct. 5) is flawed in several ways. The U.S. Postal Service is not taxpayer supported; more than 90% of revenues come from commercial mailers who employ eight million Americans, contributing 7% to our GDP. The USPS carried some $10 trillion worth of checks last year, making it a vital hub for American commerce. Commercial mail, including catalogs, has not generated billions in losses, as Mr. MacDougal suggests. We estimate the catalog industry paid $3.6 billion in postage, generating more than $1 billion of fixed-cost coverage above what it cost the USPS to deliver the catalogs. Catalog mail is neither subsidized nor unwanted. In fact, half of America buys from catalogs. The shared ride from national warehouses directly into the home is eco-friendly, consuming fewer incremental gallons of gas than alternative shopping modes. Let the current postal management complete its restructuring free from Congressional micromanagement. The USPS isn't seeking a bailout, just the freedom to close unprofitable facilitates and downsize itself appropriately.

flag PR-USA.net: Marketfish, a self-service lead generation platform for list marketing, today launched the Marketfish Platform - Postal Edition. Available this month, the new offering mirrors Marketfish's popular email platform, extending the same time-saving benefits and precision targeting advertisers require when executing direct mail campaigns.

flag AllAfrica.com: National Posts Office (NPO) is venturing into electronic money transfer in order to cope with the growing competition in postal and courier industry. The Director General NPO, Celestin Kayitare, said the system which is in its pilot phase is being developed at regional levels in the continent and that it will also harmonize operations with players in the region.

flag Plattsburgh Press-Republican: It may be impossible for a layman to say exactly what's ailing our mail-delivery system — or even if it's ailing at all — but this is for sure: Virtually no one wants to see the U.S. Postal Service fail. A certain percentage of people will always rely on paper mail — the poor and elderly among them. They are the people for whom alternate means are just not a reasonable option.

flag Watertown Daily Times: If the possible end of Saturday mail delivery and the surrender of first-class letter to email seem like a new gloomy story — they're not. The north country's last congressman, Rep. John M. McHugh, warned about those threats more than a decade ago. And he did something about it, too, spending more than 10 years crafting and revising legislation to save the U.S. Postal Service and preserve first class mail delivery. Mr. McHugh's effort has been largely lost in the latest debate about the Postal Service's dire finances. But Mr. McHugh devoted much of his career in Washington to fixing the Postal Service when other lawmakers were not exactly begging the congressional leadership at the time for the job.

flag PostalReporter News Blog: APWU President Cliff Guffey told the delegates to the APWU National Presidents Conference in Las Vegas, NV today, I am certain there will be an early retirement offer for APWU members with incentives once the Postal Service fully complies with our demands.

flag Save the Post Office: The vast majority of post offices being reviewed for closure are leased properties, and most of them will have months or years left on the lease when they close. The Postal Service could run into some serious buy-out costs over the coming year, perhaps close to $100 million.

flag Forbes: Recent history shows that government efforts to micromanage industry range from unnecessary to disastrous – be it green energy, car makers, the housing market. Small wonder, then, that the government has so drastically mismanaged its own "business": the United States Postal Service. Forty years after the Post Office was turned into a government business, it's time for Washington to take the next step: privatization. Otherwise, taxpayers could ultimately find themselves back on the budgetary hook for USPS operations.

flag Dead Tree Edition: "Please Mr. Postman, Look and See, If There's a Six-Pack in Your Bag For Me"

October 10, 2011

oig

OIG Blog Post: "Postal Service Revenue: What Should be Done?"

flag Mashable Business: Amazon has introduced a service that lets consumers manage their print subscriptions. The program, the Amazon Print Subscription Manager, lets subscribers update their address, track expiration dates, cancel, renew or report a problem for all their print magazine subscriptions. Print Subscription Manager has been available to Amazon customers who purchased their subscriptions on Amazon since 2009, but now it's available to everyone, regardless of how they subscribed.

flag PIWorld: Ron Davis, Printing Industries of America vice president and chief economist, has released a financial report focusing on the long-term future of print and print markets. The report breaks down print products and services into three different categories. In the future, based on projections from the last 10 years, while the number of printing plants is reduced, surviving plants in the marketing and logistics function will see substantial growth in shipments while surviving plants specializing in the information experience sales declines.

flag Hellmail: The Saudi Arabians are about to discover the benefits of 24 hour parcel stations. An agreement signed between InPost and Saudi Post will see the first 'EasyPack' machines installed in in Saudi Arabia this year to improve access to parcel services for both ordinary postal users and local companies operating in the e-commerce sector.

flag Business Wire: UPS has announced it was extending to air freight customers the same capability now enjoyed by small package shippers to electronically clear customs in more than 90 countries. "We are committed to making international shipping as simple as possible for our customers around the world" The extension of the UPS PaperlessSM Invoice service to international air freight shipments saves time, money and trees. The free-of-charge solution enables customers to increase efficiency by integrating order processing, shipment preparation and commercial invoice data. It then transmits that data in advance of the shipment to customs offices across the globe, eliminating the problems that accompany paper documentation. Because information is stored electronically, customers greatly reduce their chance of making manual errors filling out customs documentation. The tech-enabled service also eliminates the possibility of submitting incomplete paperwork, the main cause of delay for international deliveries. The new capability to electronically process air freight shipments currently is available through UPS Internet Shipping and UPS CampusShip® software. It will be available through UPS WorldShip® in January

flag hetq: On 10 October number 0017 "Haypost" postal office reopening ceremony took place. As "Haypost" CJSC acting CEO Haik Avagyan pointed out in his welcoming speech, today, opening the Postal Office number 17, "Haypost" is starting the final phase of "Haypost Marathon 2011" and it will have up to 50 such openings by the end of the year not only in Yerevan but also in marzes of the Republic. "A thorough project on improving the quality of Post Offices of "Haypost" has already kicked off. The visitors and clients of "Haypost" will feel these changes in the near future", concluded Haik Avagyan. The Postal Office is completely renovated in compliance with branding guidelines. Working standards, as well as infrastructure is changed and renewed. New computers with modern software are installed, and the cable system is renewed.

flag Multichannel Merchant: The prospect of the U.S. Postal Service moving to five-day delivery is looking more like a reality, now that President Obama has endorsed it and a House panel has approved legislation to lose one day of mail delivery. Mailers have plenty of questions about five-day postal delivery; here are some answers to just a few.

flag National Newspaper Association: To ensure its future the United States Postal Service (USPS) must do more than seek short-term fixes to its long-term financial problems. Year after year, the United States Postal Service continues to raise postal rates to cover its growing expenses without adequately addressing its significant underlying organizational and operational issues. Instead it is offering to cut service by eliminating Saturday mail delivery. These are complex problems requiring a comprehensive plan. Cuts in delivery service should be last on the list of considerations. Projected short-term cost savings from delivery cuts are minuscule in the context of the systemic change required and would only accelerate the decline in mail volume and revenue in the long term. It is difficult to find any business that would choose to increase prices and reduce service as a path to sustainability, yet this is precisely what the Postal Service is recommending.

flag Washington Post: Eager to find ways to cut costs for the U.S. Postal Service, the nation's postmaster is so eager to get out of the federal government's health-care plan that he's getting angry about it. Fed up with paying about $7.3 billion annually in health care for postal workers, retirees and dependents, Patrick R. Donahoe is pushing plans that would allow USPS to spin out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and establish a separate postal health care system. If Congress agreed to the plans — a big if — Donahoe expects USPS could save about 10 percent in health care costs annually, a hefty chunk of change at a time of billion-dollar losses, but an expense that some analysts predict could result in higher premiums for postal workers.

flag iGovernment: With a view to cashing on burgeoning economic activities in rural areas, the Jharkhand postal circle has decided to open over 1700 new post offices in uncovered areas of the State. The new revamp plan—Project Arrow, approved by the Department of Posts, Government of India, envisages opening of at least one branch post office at each panchayat by the end of this year. So far, postal department has its direct reach to only 2570 out of over 4400 panchayats across the State. Chief Post Master General, Jharkhand, KV Sunder Rajan said the new post offices would be equipped with e-connect facility so as to ensure quick transaction of money. Post offices happened to be the most preferred outlet for money transaction for labourers getting paid for their work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programmes. However, they have to rely on banks or cash payments in the absence of post offices and their dependency on manual work.

flag ZDNet: Australia Post has today responded to the enormous increase in the volume of overseas parcels by introducing new self-service options, including 24-hour, electronic parcel lockers and self-service checkouts. The new service offerings from Australia Post will see 24-hour self-service parcel lockers deployed, which allow packages to be held securely in a convenient location, until it can be picked up by the recipient.

flag The Times of India: India's postal department has rejected the bids of four companies - HCL Comnet, Wipro, Dimension Data and UTL - to build an IT network that connects 30,000 post offices across the country, citing the 'obsolete equipment' being provided by Cisco, the technology partner for these bidders. After the disqualifications, the department has shortlisted HP, IBM, TCS and Sify for its Rs 1,300-crore project aimed at modernisation of the IT infrastructureof postoffices ,twoofficials with direct knowledge of the development told ET.

flag The Drum: TNT Post, the UK's second largest postal company, has appointed London-based digital agency Navigate Digital to manage the social media strategy for its Door Drop Media division.

flag The Guardian Reporter: The government has promised to continue improving the postal sector though the Tanzania Posts Corporation (TPC) it has entrusted to offer quality and efficient services to the public in the country. The remark was made over the weekend in Dar es Salaam by Communication, Science and Technology permanent secretary Dr Patrick Makungu during an event to mark the World Postal Day and the 50th anniversary of the postal sector in the country. "The postal sector has a vital duty in making sure that services are accessed countrywide in both rural and urban areas at affordable prices. If used properly, they can enable social and economic development in the country", he said.

flag Hellmail: Today Australia Post announced initiatives to better serve the e-commerce market, including the extension of its trial of parcel collection lockers to 100 sites across Australia. The Post Office Agents Association Limited (POAAL) is confident that Australia Post can adapt and grow to improve its services for e-commerce customers, both big and small. Licensed Post Offices (LPOs - privately owned and operated post offices), with their convenient locations and personal service, have long known the importance of eBay sellers to their business.

flag Washington Times: Despite being mired in the worst financial crisis in its history, the U.S. Postal Service has no plans to cut back on any of the bioterrorism preparedness measures that began in the wake of anthrax attacks through the U.S. mail system 10 years ago this month.

October 9, 2011

♪♫"Oh I heard it -- Heard It -- Yes, I heard it through the grapevine. . . ." ♫♪  
Word has it that the authorizers in both the Senate and the House are under pressure from the White House – and even from elements of their own Leaderships – to provide a package of postal legislation that can be inserted into the Super Committee package that is now being negotiated – including the President’s proposal to enact the exigency rate increase

flag GozoNews: In a statement today marking World Post Day, the Malta Communications Authority said that "MaltaPost still handles 121,000 letters and parcels every day, with no no indication that email is going to dampen the postal sector." the statement continued, "This sector will be fully liberalised at the end of December and this is expected to lead to competition and improve the service for consumers."

flag Greater Kashmir: Chief Postmaster General, J&K Circle John Samuel said Saturday the department of post would launch a new service ‘Apple Post' that will market the Kashmir apples through mail. "Apple Post will boost the sale of apples through postal network and its launch would be part of the celebrations of World Postal Week which J&K Postal Circle is organise across the State," said Samuel, adding that as part of celebrations, major post offices in the State will be illuminated and Customer Meets' would be organized.

flag Cape Coral Daily Breeze: Some postal customers are receiving bogus e-mails about an attempted delivery of either a package or letter. The e-mails contain a link that, when opened, installs a malicious virus that can steal personal information from your PC. The e-mails claim to be from the U.S. Postal Service and contain fraudulent information about an attempted or intercepted delivery. You are instructed to click on a link to find out when you can expect your delivery or to arrange for redelivery. But Postal Inspectors warn: Do not click on the link.

flag Digital Spy: Chinese postal authorities have attempted to cut the country's divorce rate by creating a mail service to combat the seven-year itch. Newly-married couples in Beijing are being encouraged to send time-delayed love letters to their spouses in an effort to keep their relationships alive. Special envelopes containing a card for a personalised message went on sale in Beijing at the beginning of September, while partners marrying in one of the city's registration offices will also receive the pack.

flag Daily News & Analysis: Postal services in India have declined with the introduction of mobile phones and, notably, internet services. Yet the postal tradition has continued in spite of this bump by constantly innovating itself. "We have more work now as the Indian Postal Department handles telephone bill delivery, delivery of bank statements and newspapers too," said HC Amin, a postman at the General Post Office in Ahmedabad. Competition has arrived in the form of private couriers also. Even with the introduction of Speed Post, the courier companies have an advantage. So the postmen try to be customer-friendly, by taking letters and parcels from home.

flag Dead Tree Edition: The U.S. Postal Service's financial problems have, of course, been big news lately, but they should hardly be a surprise. It didn't take a genius to see this coming

October 8, 2011

flag Dallas Marketing Examiner: When it comes to business, the best way to improve your sales as well as your profit is to have a high-quality marketing scheme. And a good marketing strategy must include an excellent advertisement. In advertising you need to find an effective advertising material such as door hangers, posters as well as flyers and postcards. On the other hand you can also use media such as televisions and internet, but if you want to saturate locations which are not reached by media then perhaps you might as well use Every Door Direct Mail. This is the most recent US postal program designed to help the business sector most especially small time businessmen to advertise their product in an easy and economical way.

flag Missouri News Horizons: While reinforcing her stance in favor of preserving current U.S. Postal Service practices, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill cast aspersions on the post master general's attempt to reach out to the public regarding the closure of rural Missouri post office locations. McCaskill has come out publicly as a vocal proponent of maintaining current postal services, including the preservation of local offices and six-day delivery. She said eliminating Saturday delivery would be giving up one of the biggest advantages the agency has over private sector rivals like FedEx.

flag Daily News Analysis: During the annual press conference ahead of the World Post Day, celebrated on October 9, the Indian Postal Department announced the sale of gold coins at a discounted rate. Just a few days before its Diwali sales, the department has announced that it will offer a discount of 5-7% on gold coins weighing 5gms and above. No government identification proof is needed for the purchase. According to the statistics provided by the postal department, the sale of gold coins is popular in the state. Gujarat ranks fifth, with sales in Tamil Nadu and Kerala being the highest.Introduced in 2008, this scheme has seen 2882 coins being sold up till September this year.

flag UN News Centre: In an era of rapid technological advancements, the post remains a vital communication element that links people and businesses and contributes to their economic development worldwide, the United Nations global postal agency says. "The post is an invaluable service that continues to ensure a vital communication link between people and businesses worldwide," said the Universal Postal Union's (UPU) Director-General Edouard Dayan, commemorating World Post Day, which falls on Sunday this year. Mr. Dayan asked people everywhere to "remember the fundamental values of the post and the numerous public services it offers to people everywhere, which contribute to the economic development of countries."

October 7, 2011

flag New York Times: The Internet may be the new standard for communication, but snail mail still rules at the political action committee of the American Postal Workers Union. Starting this month, the Federal Election Commission switched to e-mail for official communications about campaign finance filings. But the commission has offered committees a chance to opt-out and stick to regular mail, and a number have done so. Among the latest is the postal workers union, which Friday informed the election commission that it wanted to continue receiving notices from the agency "on paper format."

oig The following reports have been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov). If you have additional questions concerning a report, please contact Wally Olihovik at (703) 248-2201 or Agapi Doulaveris at (703) 248-2286.

  • Caribbean District Financial Risk (Report Number FF-AR-11-017). The Postal Service did not effectively manage selected financial controls in the Caribbean District. Specifically, district management did not effectively review and monitor financial data to help ensure that retail units recorded revenue correctly and reduced the risk of potential revenue loss and placing other Postal Service assets at risk.
  • Contract Postal Units Contract Oversight (Report Number CA-AR-11-007). The Postal Service must improve oversight of CPU contracts to ensure it is billed appropriately and receives services in accordance with contract terms. Specifically, Postal Service contracting officials did not certify about $163 million in payments to CPUs during fiscal years 2009 and 2010 and contracting officer representatives (CORs) did not perform all assigned duties and responsibilities Finally, CORs did not always perform financial audits of CPUs.
  • Evaluation of Major Transportation Technology Initiatives (Report Number NL-AR-11-008). Although the Postal Service expensed more than $300 million on four transportation technology initiatives, none of them achieved all of their intended results. As a result, these technologies generally did not improve network operations or service as intended, nor did they provide the anticipated savings.
  • Global Positioning System (Report Number DR-MA-11-003). Our report determined that the Postal Service's existing GPS capability and supporting infrastructure is limited; however, it could be expanded beyond a focus on tracking delivery vehicles to include a technological solution for other tracking and scanning opportunities as a way to complement customer service. Moreover, because GPS is not a core function of the Postal Service, vendors could manage this system, giving the Postal Service more ability to focus on its core delivery and transportation functions.
  • Highway Contract Routes – Western Pennsylvania District (Report Number NL-AR-11-007). Our report determined the Western Pennsylvania District can more effectively manage Highway Contract Route transportation processes and schedules, thereby reducing costs. We identified 26 trips that were unnecessary or underutilized and can be modified or removed from existing schedules.
  • Postal Service Workers' Compensation Program (Report Number HR-AR-11-007). Our audit determined Postal Service workers' compensation claims are not always handled effectively and efficiently. The Postal Service could save approximately $335 million a year if it implements cost-containment practices used in the private sector.
  • Standardization of Mail Processing Equipment at Processing and Distribution Facilities (Report Number NO-AR-12-001). The Postal Service has a sufficient number of flat and letter machines to process the mail and has achieved considerable standardization of these machines at the facilities reviewed. Overall, the Postal Service generally matched machine deployment to mail volume, although opportunities for further standardization exist at some facilities.
  • Statistical Tests for Fiscal Year 2011 (Report Number FF-MA-11-168). Our audit determined the Postal Service did not always conduct ODIS-RPW tests in accordance with established data collection policies and procedures. We identified 77 errors in 32 of 65 tests observed. We also identified issues regarding protection of data collection equipment.
  • Strategic Approaches to Revenue Protection (Report Number MS-AR-11-007). Our audit determined Postal Service officials collaborate and communicate regularly with internal and external stakeholders and there are a wide variety of program groups that address revenue-protection issues and strategies. However, revenue leakage will continue until the Postal Service broadens collaboration with processing officials to adopt automated verification procedures that use mail processing equipment and intelligent mail technologies, rather than manual processing.

usps logo Attention PostalOne!® Users: PostalOne!® Maintenance Outage: There will be a PostalOne!® outage during the scheduled maintenance window Sunday, October 9, 2011, 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT. PostalOne!® application, including MAIL.XML web services, will be unavailable for internal and external users from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT during this outage. In addition, the scheduled maintenance window, Sunday Oct 16, 2011, Sunday Oct 23, 2011 and Sunday, Oct 30, 2011 from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT may be used for critical tasks in preparation for Release 28.0 deployment. Future communication will provide exact start and end times of outages expected during those maintenance windows. PostalOne!® Release 28.0 - Please be advised the deployment of PostalOne!® release 28.0 scheduled for Sunday Nov 6, 2011 will be done outside the normal scheduled maintenance window of 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT. The outage time will be communicated as soon as finalized but not later than Oct 21, 2011.

flag Post & Parcel: Simmering discontent among US lawmakers concerning plans to close up to 3,653 post offices, and the resulting impact on universal service access, has stepped up a notch with the introduction yesterday of new bipartisan legislation into the US Senate. The so-called Protecting Rural Post Offices Act is sponsored by four Democrat Senators and two Republicans, between them representing the states of Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Kansas. It echoes a bill put forward by Montana Senator Max Baucus this week, in attempting to ban the Postal Service from closing any post office if there is not another post office within 10 miles. The 10-mile stipulation would be defined as a measurement along roads that are accessible year-round. [EdNote: Great . . . . So where's the bipartisan support for doing something to ensure the continued provision of a universal mail service? Let's get real here, folks. You can't on one hand chide the Postal Service for not doing enough to reduce redundancies and costs, while on the other hand complaining whenever it makes an attempt (within the limited framework Congress has allowed) to address those costs.]


USPS Realignment of Postal Mail Processing Network

Join us for a Webinar on October 18

Register NOW at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/550688576

Please join the Association for Postal Commerce on Tuesday, October 18 at 1:30 Eastern when David Williams, vice president of Network Operations USPS HQ, will discuss the realignment of the postal mail processing network estimated to be completed end of calendar year 2012.  

flag The Inter-Mountain: During a meeting with local postal workers last week, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was asked to support passage of the measure, HR 1351. McKinley said he supports the postal workers, but he made a good point. Regardless of the $5.5 billion issue, the Postal Service's finances are a wreck. Approval of HR 1351 would merely postpone a day of reckoning. A long-term solvency plan is needed, McKinley emphasized. He is right about that, and he and other lawmakers should continue pressing USPS officials for such a plan.

flag MSNBC: You might have heard that the United States Postal Service is in trouble: that it's losing billions, that it will have to end Saturday service and close branches — and most inflammatory, that it might need a government bailout. Perhaps you heard that the Postal Service couldn't pay $5.5 billion bill that came due Sept. 30 and that only an emergency postponement saved it from the government's equivalent of default. In fact, it's the Postal Service that's currently bailing out the U.S. government. Politicians have been raiding Postal Service revenues for years, using them to make the federal deficit appear smaller than it really is. The fiscal gyrations are so twisted that the Postal Service is right now forced to pre-pay health care benefits for employees the agency hasn't even hired yet — in fact, for many future employees who haven't even been born yet — all to artificially shrink the federal deficit. It's these crushing accounting tricks, not the cost of delivering mail, that has pushed this 200-year-old institution to the brink. Welcome to the wacky world of Washington, D.C., accounting.

flag Federal Times: Only 31 U.S. Postal Service employees have been laid off following an administrative reorganization that eliminated some 7,500 positions, a spokesman for the mail carrier said this week. Another 1,800 USPS workers took advantage of $20,000 buyouts and left last spring. Employees in the remaining 5,600-plus positions either left on their own terms or were moved into vacant positions. The reorganization, announced in January, aimed to pare the ranks of administrators, line supervisors and postmasters by between 10 percent and 20 percent, with predicted long-term savings of $700 million per year, postal officials said at the time. Although the restructuring was completed last month, the agency was only able to provide numbers on the final impact this week.

flag Wall Street Journal: "Payrolls Rise as Striking Workers Return"

flag Reuters: U.S. employment grew more than expected in September and job gains for the prior months were revised higher, according to a government report on Friday that could ease fears the economy was heading into recession. Nonfarm payrolls rose 103,000 the Labor Department said on Friday, while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent as an increase in household employment offset a rise in the participation rate.

flag Daily News: The government has prepared a plan to computerize post offices spending Rs 646 million in an effort to modernize the country's postal services. Sri Lanka Post, once dubbed as snail mail due to the slowness of its services, is set to go high speed and hi-tech under this programme. It plans to offer a gamut of services under one roof.

flag KTUU: Alaska's U.S. senators are among the bipartisan sponsors of an act that would severely hinder plans by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to close post offices in many of the nation's rural areas. The Protecting Rural Post Offices Act was introduced in the Senate Thursday. Under the act, the Postal Service could not close any location which would leave the next closest post office more than 10 miles away, as measured on roads with year-round access. Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski both sponsored it, along with Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester, (D-Mon.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore).

flag Washington Post: For all you history buffs. There were 5,837 federal employees in 1861, excluding the 30,000 postal workers who represented the largest arm of government before the war and well after. Today the workforce stands at roughly 2 million.

 
The latest issue of the
PostCom Bulletin is available online.
 In this issue:

  • The Association for Postal Commerce Board met this week in Washington, DC. It held its Postal Operations Committee meeting, Study Day meeting, and closed Board of Directors meeting. It welcomed three members, reelected 13 current members, and held elections for its Executive Committee. It passed 2 resolutions.
  • This week the U.S. Postal Service responded to the Commission's Order No. 864 by filing its statement to ‘stay' its request for exigent relief. The Postal Service explained that for a variety of reasons, it submitted that now is not an appropriate time to commit to the next steps in the proceeding. It moved for a stay of the proceeding until December 15, 2011.
  • This OIG white paper expands the analysis of the electronic payment landscape by evaluating the opportunity for the Postal Service to expand its offering of money transfer services with prepaid cards.
  • This paper analyzed the major components of the Postal Service's revenue structure in fiscal year (FY) 2010 as well as substantive product, business segment, and customer trends. It assessed existing opportunities to extract further value from its core business as well as to explore new initiatives permissible under the existing framework. Finally, it discussed future options and policy considerations in a new era.
  • According to the Courier, Express, and Postal Observer, "the Postal Service faces significant problems that threaten its survival. The financial problems are well known but solvable. However, solving the financial problems in a way that ensures a vibrant postal market as long as the prevailing story line is that "we have a delivery service whose raison d'être is rapidly vanishing before our eyes." as illustrated by a recent New York Times article. Until that view is reversed, neither Congress nor any President will look at any proposal ensuring the survival of the Postal Service beyond the impact on the budget or local jobs and services."
  • The Postal Service marked National Energy Awareness Month as postal officials highlighted energy savings and cost avoidance - credited in large part to postal employees' actions - and with Go Green Forever stamp messages that encourage Americans to participate in low- and no-cost ways to go green.
  • Senator Baucus introduces postal bill. Unions don't approve of postal reform support. Zumbox announces two new utility customers. Spending measure give Postal Service 6 more weeks to pay bills. Postal Service's rescue plan: Junk Mail. USPS proposal would oust FEHBP for single health plan. Junking the junk mail office. Direct marketing spending to hit $163B in 2011.
  • An update on Federal Register notices.
  • An update on the Domestic Mail Manual.
  • An update on business before the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

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From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Post Office Closings , 62465–62466 [2011–25939] [TEXT] [PDF] 62464–62465 [2011–25940] [TEXT] [PDF] 62463–62464 [2011–25941] [TEXT] [PDF] 62462–62463 [2011–25942] [TEXT] [PDF] 62461–62462 [2011–25944] [TEXT] [PDF] 62460–62461 [2011–25993] [TEXT] [PDF] 62468–62469 [2011–25994] [TEXT] [PDF] 62466–62468 [2011–25995] [TEXT] [PDF]

flag Hellmail: New research released today by Consumer Focus shows that people are unconvinced and unimpressed by Royal Mail proposals to leave post with a neighbour if they are not home. With the high level of consumer concern – and one in five people unhappy for any of their neighbours to receive any of their post – Consumer Focus thinks that any Royal Mail trial of their delivery proposals should be independently monitored for customer satisfaction. If the scheme is subsequently implemented, it is essential that people have a choice about whether to participate in the scheme. A range of other solutions, such as the increased use of post offices as alternative delivery points, lockerbanks at convenient locations, or paid-for evening deliveries should be considered before full roll-out of the delivery to a neighbour option.

flag UN News Centre: South Sudan has become the newest member of the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU).

flag 4-Traders: Laura Lane, an experienced public affairs professional with extensive government and corporate service, has been named to lead UPS's public affairs office here and will oversee the company's government relations efforts around the world. Lane will succeed Arnie Wellman, who has guided UPS's worldwide public affairs operations since 1992.

flag MyBankTracker: The United States Postal Service is looking towards entering the digital currency market, in an effort to raise revenues and stay relevant, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General. Should the USPS actually be able to implement this plan, it could be an excellent win-win for Americans: not only will we help keep our postal service from going bankrupt (maybe), but it will provide lower-cost banking solutions to our most needy citizens.

flag Bernama: A special panel will be set up to decide the fees and charges for postal and courier services upon the enforcement of the Postal Services Bill 2011, Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said. He said that according to Section 100 (h) of the bill, the minister, on the recommendation of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)would be given the power to decide the fees and charges for postal and courier services. "The rate to be decided will have to get feedback from consumer associations and organisations responsible for safeguarding public interests," he said when winding up the debate on the bill in the Dewan Rakyat Thursday. On the stamp rate raised by some members in the Parliament, Rais said it was controlled by MCMC and based on several principles. "They include being fair and no discrimination, cost-oriented and should take into account the standard rate which is recommended by international organisations on postal service where Malaysia is a member," he added. The tabling of the Postal Services Bill 2011 is to replace the Postal Services Act 1991 to ensure better regulation of the postal industry. The new act would ensure quality postal services and promote the growth of an effective, competitive and innovative postal industry. With the enforcement of the law, Malaysia will be the first country to fully privatise its postal service.

flag Bloomberg BusinessWeek: FedEx Corp. doesn't see a recession or contraction, rather a slow-growth economy, Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith said.

flag American Postal Workers Union: The APWU is challenging proposed changes to USPS service standards that would result from a major reduction in the number of mail processing facilities. The Postal Service announced plans to eliminate 252 mail processing facilities on Sept. 14, and one week later published an "advance notice" of the proposed changes in service in the Federal Register. [PDF]

October 6, 2011

oig A white paper has been posted today on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) website (http://www.uspsoig.gov). If you have additional questions concerning the report, please contact Wally Olihovik at 703-248-2201 or Agapi Doulaveris at 703-248-2286.

Postal Service Revenue: Structure, Facts, and Future Possibilities (RARC-WP-12-002). New digital technologies are transforming the communications marketplace. Because of this profound change, postal services operate in a new business environment that threatens traditional mail segments and creates novel opportunities. The Risk Analysis Research Center's white paper, Postal Service Revenue: Structure, Facts, and Future Possibilities, addresses the major components of the Postal Service's revenue structure in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, assesses existing opportunities permissible under the current framework, and discusses future options and policy considerations in a new era. The Postal Service's future financial health depends not only on its ability to cut costs, but also to generate sufficient revenue to support its operations. To learn more and read the paper in its entirety, click here.

speaker Now hear this: "This Week In Postal".........the latest podcast posted now!

flag Post & Parcel: The world's largest publicly traded company is set to enter the hybrid mail business next week, creating physical mail from a digital application. Apple, the consumer electronics giant, is launching a new application for its iPhone smartphones that will allow users to create and mail personalised greetings cards using the phone's camera. Cards, as the app is called, will cost $2.99 per card if sent within the US and $4.99 if sent to or from anywhere else in the world. Purchased cards will be sent out via the US Postal Service, within premium cotton paper envelopes, and Apple will then send a text message back to the sender when the card has arrived in the recipient's local post office for delivery the next day. Patricia Licata said USPS has been developing a "Picture Permit" system for its commercial customers to use a visual or logo in place of text-based permits, as an extra branding or attention-attracting device. The project is currently in the process of being tested with a "couple of customers", she said. Yawn.

flag E-Commerce Times: If there were ever a time when an overhaul of a business model was urgently needed, it is now. It's obvious that we can't let the USPS fall by the wayside in light of electronic communications. There is certainly still a need for "paper" communications. Consequently, it is in our best interest that the USPS develops a strategy for surviving in the 21st century.

flag AllBusiness: As your organization makes its 2012 marketing plans, direct mail might be worth putting back on the list. As competitive new services emerge design with the small business in mind, it could be the "closer" for some of your electronic campaigns.

flag Post & Parcel: Deutsche Post has struck a deal with Ver.di, the United Services Union, on a new collective bargaining agreement for the company's 130,000 employees in Germany. It covers mainly working conditions, with the issue of employee wages and salaries subject to a separate agreement between the two sides, for which negotiations begun in January 2012. However, the deal did include a 4% cut in entry-level wages for new employees, so that new mail carriers will earn EU 10.70 an hour, instead of the current EUR 11.13. As Deutsche Post seeks to respond to declining mail volumes, it has also been granted extra flexibility to outsource its work, particularly in the field of transport.

flag PostalNews Reporter: Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Louise Slaughter (NY-28) are joining forces to fight the proposed closing of the United States Postal Service (USPS) mail processing facility on William Street in Buffalo. "The proposal to close the William Street facility would leave an indelible stamp on Western New York's economy," said Congressman Higgins. "It's bad for working families and especially bad for local business and we are urging the Post Office to reconsider."

flag Postalnews Blog: The web site 21st Century Postal Worker has posted a copy of a letter from an unnamed USPS District Manager telling employees that they are not to "engage in campaigns for or against changes in mail service." As examples of offending behavior, the letter says "Some of our Postal employees have written congressmen and senators", and accuses them of misleading "community members on the costs, revenues and benefit of retaining their local Post Office".

flag News.az: The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is connecting its postal system to automated corporate information system Azerpocht. [EdNote: Betcha didn't even know there was a Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

flag Marketwatch: I.D. Systems, Inc. IDSY -0.43% , a leading provider of wireless asset management solutions, received a series of purchase orders from the United States Postal Service (USPS) for software upgrades and support services related to its wireless industrial vehicle management system (VMS). Over the past six years, the USPS has deployed I.D. Systems' wireless VMS at more than 100 postal distribution facilities throughout the United States. The new contracts cover an enterprise-wide upgrade of I.D. Systems' state-of-the-art PowerFleet Vision(TM) software, enhancements to the system's material handling productivity optimization module, and a new generation of automated system health analytics and reporting. The software upgrade includes compatibility with all current Windows operating systems, new interactive dashboards for system users, and enriched functionality to play back and analyze industrial vehicle travel routes inside distribution facilities.

flag PressConnects: Eric P. Dibble of Endwell has received the Golden Knight Award from his alma mater Clarkson University. The award is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves either by service to Clarkson through Alumni Association activities or have demonstrated outstanding career achievement, bringing distinction to themselves and Clarkson. Dibble began his career in 1981 as a process engineer with IBM, working his way up to senior engineer/manager. In 1999, he accepted a position with Lockheed Martin in Owego. As project manager and business development leader for optical character recognition software and hardware technology products and programs, Dibble developed business opportunities to serve the automation needs of the U.S. Postal Service, France and Sweden's postal agencies and multiple U.S. government agencies.

flag American Postal Workers Union: The APWU and USPS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [PDF] that establishes guidelines for the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures (ADRP), Director of Industrial Relations Mike Morris has announced. The MOU, dated Oct. 5, 2011, stipulates that only seven issues identified in an MOU dated Sept. 2, 2011, [PDF] can be addressed through the ADRP, unless the parties at the national level agree to include additional issues. The time limit for grievance appeals and meetings at each step is governed by Article 15, with a clarification regarding disputes involving Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) duty assignments. The 14-day time limit for appeals of NTFT roll-out disputes starts on the date the duty assignment is posted for bid, the MOU says.

flag Washington Post: The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said that Congress should not create a national do-not-spam list. Jerry Cerasale, chief lobbyist for the Direct Marketing Association, discussed his group's opposition to the list. Cerasale and washingtonpost.com reporter David McGuire were online on Wednesday, June 16, at 11 a.m.

flag Wall Street Journal: Courier company TNT Express NV Thursday issued a profit warning, saying customers are increasingly sending parcels by road rather than air to cut their costs and demand from Asia is falling. TNT now expects full-year revenue for its European business to grow only slightly, with an underlying operating margin of 8% to 9%. It had expected this to remain at or slightly above last year's 9% margin. TNT, which earlier this year was spun out of the former state postal operator PostNL NV following shareholder pressure, has struggled against widening earnings losses in Asia and Latin America, mainly Brazil, adding pressure on management to sell the company.

flag Wall Street Journal: Many consumers are irked by the catalogs, credit-card pitches and other "junk mail" they receive. But the U.S. Postal Service loves it—and wants to deliver more. The agency, beset by historic losses and a plummet in first-class mail, is running promotions, easing rules and planning television and radio ads to encourage more businesses to send pitches by standard mail, the official term for bulk mailings used by marketers to prospect for customers. Boosting advertising mail is just one tactic the financially strapped postal service is turning to as it seeks to boost revenue. Postmaster Donahoe said while people may complain, he believes they like their coupons and other advertising mail and may trust it more than email. It also recently announced it's launching a campaign to sell off its property, from huge processing facilities to post offices, including some built in the 1930s New Deal era.

flag Burlington Free Press: In the past three to four years, declines in print advertising have been the demise of many newspapers and magazines, and U.S. Postal revenues are way down because people are not mailing as much. Meanwhile, digital forms of communication, including the Internet, social media and mobile have assumed center stage. Printing businesses around North America that have been slow to change, innovate, or reinvent themselves are disappearing like water down the drain. Today's printers — and certainly tomorrow's — must embrace new technology and digital forms of communication. They should be able to recommend marketing and communication solutions that address all their customers' needs, and be knowledgeable about the best options for generating leads, raising brand awareness and maximizing return on investment.

flag The Sofia Echo: Bulgaria's Cabinet approved on October 5 2011 the sale of 15 properties owned by the country's postal services operator Bulgarian Posts. The properties on the list are in Sofia, Varna, Bourgas, Vratsa, Nessebur, Yambol, Blagoevgrad, Apriltsi, the Government's press office said. The properties have lost their initial designation and function and Bulgarian Posts lacks capacity to keep them in good condition. Besides, their upgrade and maintenance requires investment that the Bulgarian Posts cannot provide, the statement said. "Most of the properties have been closed for years, while others that are still in operation record higher costs than income," according to the statement. The asset sales are expected to ensure proceeds that will help the state-run company improve its financials.

flag Democrat Herald: Closing the post office here would "rip the heart out of this community," one of more than 50 people told representatives of the U.S. Postal Service Wednesday night. Cascadia has had a post office for more than 100 years. Now the office, housed in a small trailer, is one of more than 3,000 nationwide being studied for closure.

flag The Trenton Times: For the second time in 14 years, the U.S. Postal Service is looking to sell and relocate its Palmer Square post office to a smaller location in the downtown area.

flag The Argonaut: The U.S. Postal Service is standing firm on its decision to relocate retail operations from the Venice Post Office to a facility across the street despite appeals from residents and elected officials to save the historic building and the public's access to a storied artwork.

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Post Office Closings , 62096–62097 [2011–25804] [TEXT] [PDF] 62097–62098 [2011–25824] [TEXT] [PDF] Postal Service PROPOSED RULES Express Mail Domestic Postage Refund Policy and Waiver of Signature , 62000–62002 [2011–25803] [TEXT] [PDF]


At the most recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Association for Postal Commerce, the following were elected as Directors of the Association:

Robert J. Arnish, Bank of America; Joe Mizrahi, Direct Brands, Inc.; Bob Zendarski, Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies; Michael Baranofsky, Christian Book Distributors; Cameron Bellamy, GrayHair Software; Kelly Browning, American Institute For Cancer Research; Robert B. Buhler, Accenture; Hamilton Davison, American Catalog Mailers Association; Richard Domagala, Mystic Logistics; Donna Hanbery, SMC & AISOP; Bruce Heston, Meredith Corporation; Steven W. Lopez, Experian; Carol Murphy, Lands' End; Howard Schwartz, Conde Nast; Brendan Sheehan, International Masters Publishers, Inc;. James West, Williams-Sonoma.

Elected as officers of the Association for a two-year term were: Steven Lopez, Experian (Chairman), Dan Emens, JPMorgan Chase (Executive Vice Chairman), Kathleen Baker, Sprint (Secretary); Michael Winn, R.R. Donnelley (Treasurer).

As part of the Board's business meeting, a resolution was approved to authorize the use of a portion of the association's reserve funds to stimulate the development and support of a postal industry-wide effort to conduct a public informational campaign on the value and utility of mail as a medium for business communication and commerce emphasizing the role and contribution this industry sector makes to the nation's overall economic health and welfare.


Besides being an occasion for the Directors of the Association to meet, PostCom Board meetings also can serve as occasions to mark and celebrate other important events. Such as when PostCom Board member Kathleen Baker from Sprint (left) played the matchmaker's role when she introduced her sister-in-law Kim (center) to PostCom Board member Michael Baranofsky (on the right) from Christian Book Distributors. Upon meeting, let's just say they had a "fated" attraction. After a year's long distance courtship, the two got married last May.At this month's PostCom Board meeting, PostCom and its guests observed the second anniversary of their first cruise on the PostCom Love Boat.

October 5, 2011 

flag Federal News Radio: Tony Vegliante, the Postal Service's chief human resources officer and executive vice president, told Federal Times he thinks FEHBP has been "watered down" with too many options — more than 200 next year. A USPS health plan would take a cue from the private sector by scaling back the number of different plan — such as offering a single plan with one providers and some options within that plan.

flag Courier, Express, and Postal Observer: To the extent that the Postal Service binds the nation together, it binds businesses, governments, and non-profits to households and other businesses, governments, and non-profits. Businesses, governments, and non-profits send at least 46% of all single piece mail, but mostly they send their mail in quantities sufficient to get presort and other discounts. The following chart illustrates that the share of the Postal Service's First Class, Standard, and Periodical mail volume that is tendered in bulk. While mail faces competition from other communications and parcel delivery modes, it remains viable today. The postal market generates over $1.1 trillion in sales and employed 8.4 million people. Nearly all of the economic activity and jobs exist because mail provides a critial business service to the nation's economic infrastructure.

flag KGAN: Forty postal workers in Sioux City could still collect a total of over $1.7 million a year in salaries even though their office recently closed. The U.S. Postal Service mail-processing facility closed on Friday. But officials agreed to a four-year union contract with those workers in May. The total average costs of those 40 standby employees could tops $2.88 million a year once benefits are factored in. That number slightly exceeds the estimated $2.8 million annual savings from merging the center's functions with one in Sioux Falls, S.D.

flag Post & Parcel: Royal Mail is set to close three mail processing plants in the Midlands region of England, with the loss of 393 jobs. The move continues its consolidation programme in response to the ongoing decline in mail volumes. Royal Mail said yesterday that it will close mail centres in Worcester, Leicester and Derby by 2014. With expectations that mail volumes will more than halve from 2006 levels by 2014, the company said it will only need four mail processing centres in the region. The remaining centres will be its sites in Birmingham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Swan Valley in Northamptonshire.

flag Sen. Max Baucus: Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill today to address the most serious financial burden threatening to push the Postal Service into default. At the same time, the bill also prevents the Postal Service from closing the most remote rural Post Offices. "The Postal Service has serious budget troubles to tackle, and Congress has a responsibility to play its part. This bill provides the life preserver the Postal Service needs to stay above water while we work together to find longer-term solutions to preserve the postal services and jobs Montanans depend on," Baucus said.

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

flag Germany's Federal Network Agency is currently reviewing allegations of Deutsche Post's competitors accusing the post of thwarting competition.
flag French La Poste restructured its standard letter services pledging improved environmental compatibility.
flag The strike at Brazilian ECT Correios has turned to the court now. On Friday last week ECT announced that all attempts to reach an agreement with the union Federação dos Trabalhadores dos Correios (Fentect) have failed.
flag From the beginning of next year crisis-ridden Latvijas Pasts will abandon newspaper delivery on Saturdays. Initially the Latvian post planned to provide a Saturday delivery at an extra charge.
flag Britain's former regulatory authority Postcomm adopted two rulings on its last work day which make life easier for Royal Mail. The claim period for loss or damage will expire after 80 days in the future and not after twelve months as hitherto. Furthermore Royal Mail is allowed to deliver parcels to a neighbouring address if no-one is at home.
flag Bpost will focus on parcel terminals in the future.
flag Austrian Post's recently announced pilot project with parcel boxes is apparently well received by customers.
flag Itella merged its Danish and Swedish logistics operations.
flag Britain's new regulatory authority Ofcom faced several demands from TNT Post UK already on its first business day. Establishing conditions for a fair competition is the central focus of the company's demands. According to TNT the regulatory authority should end Royal Mail's exemption from VAT on business mail services.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

flag Federal News Radio: As a leading proponent of overhauling the Postal Service argues that the agency needs more flexibility to act like a private business, the regulator that oversees the agency worries that it is losing sight of its public mission. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is leading the Republican charge to make the Postal Service solvent. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Monday, Issa said laws, contracts and regulations are holding the agency back.

flag OneNewsNow: A tea party group has been inundated with mail from postal union workers who don't approve of the group's support for postal reform, but one reform supporter says a majority of the letters are "misinformed or completely uniformed." Not counting the e-mails sent directly to spokesperson Donna Keene, TheTeaParty.net (TTP) has received 110 pounds of mail in response to its support of HB 2309, The Postal Reform Act, over the last two weeks. TTP reported in August that its members sent more than 114,000 letters to Congress to show their support for the measure that addresses the 2010 annual deficit of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

flag Baylor Lariat: Sure, times are changing. Some things aren't what they used to be. But did you ever think that you'd see the day where the mail didn't come on Saturday? If the Obama administration's plan is put into action, that could become a reality. While the government obviously needs to find ways to get the Postal Service back on the plus-side of its balance sheet, canceling Saturday mail service is not the answer.

flag The Guardian: The advancement in technology, particularly information and communication technology (ICT), should not be blamed for the decline in the number of users of postal services in the country, Tanzania Posts Corporation (TPC) managing director Deus Mndeme has said. He said that one Tanzanian sends and receives an average of approximately no letter per year compared to other developing and developed countries in the world. "A person in Tanzania sends and receives almost no letter per year while one in Asian countries sends and receives not less than 12 letters in a year," he said. Concerning a rumor that the TPC was slowly getting out of the market, he said he would rather term it as being shaken due the coming of ICT, but stressed essentially the services were not threatened at all. "Our postal services have not declined; we have rather simply been shaken due to the technology. We are not threatened because at the moment 65 of our offices in the country are connected to the internet." Mndeme agreed to the fact that majority of those owning the 173,000 postal boxes are not private individuals in the country, but ministries, local governments and private companies and institutions.

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Post Office Closings , 61758–61759 [2011–25647] [TEXT] [PDF] 61760–61761 [2011–25648] [TEXT] [PDF] 61759–61760 [2011–25681] [TEXT] [PDF] Postal Service NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records , 61761–61762 [2011–25735] [TEXT] [PDF]

flag WhatTheyThink: DST Output and Zumbox today announced two Georgia-based utility companies, Cobb Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) and Gas South, are now delivering digital postal mail via the Zumbox digital postal system as an additional channel that their customers can opt into. Through an agreement between DST Output, a leading provider of print and electronic customer communications, and Zumbox, the world's first digital postal system, DST Output's customers can realize vital paper suppression savings, reduce costs related to billing and customer service and enhance customer education opportunities.

flag Financial Times: Advertising on the internet increased its share of the overall UK market to a record 27 per cent in the first half of 2011, retaking the position as the dominant platform for advertisers from the television industry. The IAB pointed out that people were now spending 25 per cent of their time online using social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. UK web surfers look at 2.3bn videos in an average month, the data revealed, averaging 4.1 hours a month in total.

flag The Foundry: "How Rep. Darrell Issa Would Save the U.S. Postal Service"

flag The State Journal-Register: The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a study by Northern Illinois University on the economic effects if 250 postal jobs are lost at the city's Cook Street station. Chamber and city officials said Tuesday time is short to head off the U.S. Postal Service's plans for layoffs at Springfield's Cook Street processing and distribution center. The chamber's interim president and CEO, Erich Bloxdorf, said initial contacts with NIU were made this week, and study results should be ready this fall.

flag Security Management: The USPS has the capability to deliver mail to every residential address in the country, allowing it to rapidly distribute initial doses of antibiotics to a large area in a short amount of time. The program would rely on existing postal workers who volunteer for the duty. One problem with relying on the postal service going forward is that the USPS has its own financial woes, which have led it over the past four years to reduce its workforce by 110,000 employees. The postal service is also discussing closing thousands of local offices and reducing delivery days, all of which could limit its ability to fulfill any agreement to deliver antibiotics in an emergency. Officials say there won't be any impact, however

flag Washington Post: The House approved a short-term spending measure Tuesday that will keep the federal government operating through Nov. 18. While the bill sets spending levels for the next six-and-a-half weeks, it also gives the U.S. Postal Service time to come up with the money necessary to make annual payments required to prefund the future retirements of its workers. Those payments usually total about $5.5 billion, a hefty annual sum that USPS says is primarily responsible for causing its recent financial malaise. Attempts to secure a 90-day extension for the payments failed, and some congressional aides have cautioned that lawmakers might not give the Postal Service another break if they need to pass another short-term measure. So what happens on Nov. 18 if the Postal Service can't pay? Well, legally, nothing. There are no penalties if USPS doesn't pay. The hope among postal executives is that Congress can agree on legislation that would revamp the Postal Service's finances and give it more flexibility to set delivery schedules and close locations, if necessary.

flag Post & Parcel: The US Postal Service could have an important role in helping customers who do not have a bank account or credit card to make online purchases, according to a new white paper from the Inspector General. Another in a series of papers released this year by the IG's Risk Analysis Centre pointing to big opportunities for USPS in the digital world, it suggests the Postal Service expand its existing money transfer services into the world of digital currency.

flag Wall Street Journal: The United States Postal Service (USPS) lost $9 billion last year and is facing default if it doesn't soon make a $5.5 billion payment into its bloated retiree medical plan. Meanwhile, artificially low prices in non-monopoly areas—such as bulk-mail discounts that result in a glut of unwanted catalogues and credit-card offers in our mailboxes—have led to billions of dollars in losses. In addition to rejecting a bailout and permitting bankruptcy, our political leaders should end the USPS's dysfunctional first-class mail monopoly, opening it up to private competition.

flag MacDaddyNews: Apple was able to keep one of their announcements at the company's "Let's talk iPhone" event a secret. The one thing I don't think anyone expected is a new app that sends out greeting cards in the mail….the postal service mail, not email. I'm not joking, this is very real. You will be able to create a card on your iPhone and send it to any address in the US for $2.99 or internationally for $4.99. With all the news lately about the United States Postal Service having a hard time staying alive, maybe this is an attempt by Apple to save the USPS like they saved the music industry with iTunes.

flag The Street: FedEx Corporation has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and growth in earnings per share. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and poor profit margins.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: