Association for Postal Commerce

"Representing those who use or support the use of mail for Business Communication and Commerce"

"You will be able to enjoy only those postal rights you are willing to defend."

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Postal News and Information from Around the World

March 29, 2015 

Media for Freedom: The scope for developing countries to participate in and benefit from e-commerce is expanding, according to a new United Nations report released today, with improved connectivity, new e-commerce applications, platforms and payment solutions, and the emergence of local e-commerce companies that are tailoring their services to local demands.

Stoke Sentinel: Businesses are 'fuming' at an increase in the price of stamps – the second hike since Royal Mail was privatised. The cost of first class stamps will increase by 1p from tomorrow, taking them from 62p to 63p, with the price of a second class stamp also increasing by 1p to 54p. This follows last year's price increase, which came just months after Royal Mail was sold off, when first class stamps went up by 2p and second class stamps by 3p. The cost of sending a letter has now more than doubled over the last 10 years.

usptoNewly awarded patents to the Postal Service

  • Methods and systems are provided for filtering of a mail item addressed to a recipient. In accordance with an embodiment, preference information about mail items form the recipient is obtained. The preference information is compared with information on the mail item and based on the comparison, it is determined whether the mail item should be delivered. The preference information may include at least one of a size of the mail items, a type of the mail items, a classification of the mail items, a weight of the mail items, and preference information about senders. In accordance with another embodiment, the preference information of a recipient may be provided to a sender so that the sender can determine whether the recipient wants mail items from the sender. Inventor: Michael J. Amato (USPS).
  • An interrogating and processing system and method for codes is described. In one embodiment, a wireless communication device interrogates an information source, having a barcode or tag, and wirelessly transmits data indicative of the information source. The interrogator can be built into or adjunct to the wireless communication device. An automated processing subsystem receives the transmitted data and identifies an item corresponding to the data. A fulfillment subsystem effects delivery of the item to a destination. In another embodiment, there is a coupon code scanning and processing system and method. A wireless computing device having an interrogator reads a coupon code. An automated processing subsystem receives the corresponding data and provides a benefit associated with the coupon. The benefit can be a discount on a product or service. Alternatively, at least a portion of the coupon including a code is displayed on a screen of the computing device for processing at a point of sale terminal. Inventor: Gary Reblin (USPS)

March 27, 2015 

Postal Service Delays April 2015 Price Change

The Postal Service Governors decided today to delay the implementation of new market-dominant and competitive rates and classification changes until all of our proposed market-dominant changes are approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission ("PRC"). This decision was primarily motivated by a desire to eliminate potential adverse impacts on postal customers that might result from a staggered implementation of our new prices. After considering the complexity of the required programming changes in view of the remand of some of our proposed changes by the Postal Regulatory Committee, the specific complications that our customers might face; the potential cost to the supply chain as a whole of a staggered implementation, the Postal Service has decided to delay implementation until all of our proposed rates and classification changes can be implemented at one time. While proposed prices for First Class Mail, Special Services and Competitive Products have all been approved by the PRC, prices for the Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services classes have twice been remanded back to the Postal Service by the PRC for a wide array of technical and other concerns that are primarily related to the complexities of the price cap and the manner in which it is calculated. Rather than subject our customers to a piecemeal implementation of our new prices, the Postal Service has decided that the best course of action would be to wait until our complete price proposal is approved by our regulator. We have no desire to saddle our valued customers with the additional costs and burdens of a staggered implementation while we work with the PRC to obtain final approval of our remaining prices. We will set a new implementation date when we propose new prices for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services in response to the PRC's March 18th remand order.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: PRC Evaluates USPS Performance in 2014 Annual Compliance Determination

Today the Postal Regulatory Commission issued its 2014 Annual Compliance Determination assessing the pricing and service performance standards of the Postal Service in fiscal year 2014 (39 U.S.C. Section 3653). The Commission's review is based on the exigency rates approved in Docket No. R2013-11 for Market Dominant products. Principal findings include: Twenty-six workshare discounts do not comply with section 3622(e) of the law. Workshare discounts that exceed avoided costs adversely affect Postal Service finances because they incent mailers to perform worksharing that the Postal Service could have done on a less costly basis. Seven noncompensatory Market Dominant products are identified: Periodicals In-County, Periodicals Outside County, Standard Flats, Standard Parcels, Media/Library Mail, Inbound Letter Post and Stamp Fulfillment Services. The Postal Service is directed to provide a detailed analysis in its next Annual Compliance Report of the progress made in improving cost coverage for Periodicals. With respect to Standard Mail Flats, the Commission finds that the Postal Service is making progress toward addressing its cost coverage shortfall and that no further remedial action is required at this time. Revenue for two Competitive products failed to cover attributable costs and therefore do not comply with the law: International Money Transfer Service – Inbound, and International Money Transfer Service – Outbound. The Postal Service met its service performance targets for Presorted First-Class Letters/Postcards (Overnight and 2-Day), while performance results for Periodicals and Package Services fell short despite initiatives to increase performance. The full report, including an executive summary, is available at www.prc.gov, along with related documents under Docket No. ACR2014.

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/4 - FY 2014 - Standard Mail
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91866/PRC-LR-ACR2014-4.zip

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/2 - FY 2014 Financial Ratio and Trend Analysis
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91863/PRC-LR-ACR2014-2.docx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91863/PRC-LR-ACR2014-2.xlsx

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/7 - FY 2014 Special Services
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91869/PRC-ACR2014-LR7-Special Services Final.xlsx

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/1 - FY 2014 Postal Service's Product Finances
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91862/PRC-LR-ACR2014-1.zip

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/5 - FY 2014 - Periodicals
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91867/PRCACR2014 5.zip

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/3 - FY 2014 First-Class Mail
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91865/FCM%20FY2014%20Results.xlsx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91865/FY2014 FCM Letter Cost Model PRC.xls
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91865/FY2014%20FCM_Prsrt_Flats_PRC.xlsx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91865/FY2014%20QBRM%20Cost%20Model%20PRC.xlsx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91865/PRC-ACR2014-LR3.docx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91865/UDCmodel14_prc.xlsx

ACR2014 PRC-LR-ACR2014/6 - FY 2014 Package Services
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91868/FY%202014%20BPM%20Mail%20Processing.xlsx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91868/FY%202014%20MM-LM%20Mail%20Processing.xlsx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91868/FY%202014%20Package%20Services%20Worksharing.xlsx
http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91868/Preface.docx

Canada NewsWire: Today, the Canada Post Group reported a massive profit from operations of $299 Million for 2014. The Canada Post segment reported profit from operations of $204 M and a profit before tax of $194 M. "This is affirming news for our members," said Denis Lemelin, CUPW National President, "It's some $555 Million better than the loss projected in Canada Post's corporate plan. Postal workers are justifiably proud to perform a valuable, profitable public service. Now if only Canada Post's executives could see how clearly it shows that there's no need to cut door-to-door delivery for millions of families." As Canada Post acknowledges, these profits are built on growth in parcels, postage rate increase, and reduced benefit costs for workers. The profits are not credited to door-to-door delivery cuts.

Fortune: Robert Shapiro—former Treasury undersecretary and chairman of the economic consultancy Sonecon—points out in a new analysis, American taxpayers subsidize the USPS at a rate that surpasses the costs associated with any Congressional mandate. He estimates that, all told, the subsidies and legal monopolies that Congress bestows upon the post office is worth $18 billion annually.

 PostCom Members !! The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is now available online. 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. See what you've been missing.

Practical Ecommerce: Understanding the dimensional weight impact on your shipping expense is critical. Ecommerce merchants should audit how much their shipping costs have increased and how to proceed. Dimensional weight is cubic volume: length x width x height of the box divided by the applicable dimensional factor, which is 166 for both UPS and FedEx for domestic shipments and 139 for international. When performing this calculation, fractions of an inch are either rounded up or down. If the measurement of a box is one-half inch or greater, it is rounded up. If the measurement is less than one-half inch, it is rounded down.

From the Federal Register: 

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
16464 [2015–06954] [TEXT]  [PDF]
16464–16465 [2015–06956] [TEXT]  [PDF]
16465 [2015–07017] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Washington Post: Special treatment from federal, state and local governments has given the U.S. Postal Service an unfair advantage over private-sector competitors such as the United Parcel Service and FedEx, according to an economic analysis released this week. Robert Shapiro, a former top official at the Commerce Department and principal economic adviser to Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, said in a report on Wednesday that USPS benefits from about $2 billion per year in tax exemptions, a monopoly on mail delivery and unique access to federal financing. "In consideration of the current postal framework, USPS's monopoly rights and associated subsidies may well impair healthy competition in this large and growing market," the analysis concluded. In terms of advantages, Shapiro said USPS's monopoly on mail delivery — including its exclusive access to mail boxes – is worth nearly $15 billion per year. However, the Postal Regulatory Commission estimated the value to be a much lower $810 million in 2013. Shapiro said USPS also reclaimed about $850 million in federal taxes from last year through a program that allows the agency to put its tax payments into a special account that can be used for expenses. He said the agency also benefited from about $1.5 billion in property-tax exemptions from state and local governments in 2012. Additionally, the report said the Postal Service has borrowed about $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury with interest rates "far below market rates."

Northlands News Center: Expect delays in your mail delivery, starting as soon as next week, as the United States Postal Service begins consolidating the Duluth mail processing facility. Officials say it could take three or four days for mail to be delivered in Northeastern Minnesota.

March 26, 2015 

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: It is important, however, for the Commission to be aware that neither the existing measurement reports nor the system of proposed internal measurements that USPS contemplates for the immediate future provide any useful service information on the transit of Periodicals newspapers through the mail. NNA is currently working with USPS on certain improvements and additions to the measurement system that it believes could provide, in time, data that are not presently captured. NNA also believes the Postal Service's new visibility system may permit more precise measurement of service to rural areas. It urges the Commission to consider the statutory obligations to ensure service to rural areas and to work with USPS to develop a periodic report on rural service.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  

  • PostalOne!® Release 40.0.6.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! Release 40.0.6.0 will deploy on Thursday March 26, 2015 between 5:00PM Central and 7:00PM Central. This release is intended to address several known issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the patch. There is no mandatory Mail.dat® client download required.
  • PostalOne! Release 40.0.6.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur on Thursday March 26, 2015 between 5:00PM CT and 7:00PM CT. TEM will remain available during the release. TEM validation will occur tomorrow Friday March 27, 2015 between 9:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Yahoo! Finance: Despite all the hype around commercial use of drones, the small unmanned vehicles are unlikely to be a large part of business for Deutsche Post DHL, the world's biggest courier firm. "It's going to happen but it will be a niche business, with deliveries to reach places or where speed is of utmost importance," according to Lawrence Rosen, the company's chief financial officer. The company is already using a drone to deliver medication to a German island, the first regular drone delivery to customers. Rosen described this as "working out very well".

Linn's Stamp News: Citing the "goodwill" generated by its forever first-class stamp, the United States Postal Service wants to add five more forever stamps to its lineup. In a March 25 filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission, the USPS said it wants to give "non-denominated, non-expiring status" to postcard-rate stamps, 2-ounce letter stamps, 3-ounce letter stamps, additional-ounce letter stamps, and first-ounce nonmachineable surcharge stamps. Under the proposal new stamps bearing the word "forever" presumably would be issued for each of these categories. If approved by the commission, the change would become effective April 26, the filing states. "It is expected that the conversion to Forever stamp status for these additional product categories will reduce Postal Service costs for inventory maintenance and stamp distribution," the filing said. "Once the new categories of Forever stamp are in place, future rates change should no longer require the retrieval and destruction of outdated denominated stamp stocks and replacement with new denominated stamps. "In addition, the ability to continue producing a particular Forever stamp design without regard to price changes, will enable better management of stamp printing," it said.

Post & Parcel: Polish Post has announced plans to double its income from e-commerce parcels over the next five years, as it seeks a stock market float in 2016. The state-owned national postal service in Poland released a brand new business strategy this week as part of preparations for an IPO, in which it stated its plan to become one of the top three parcel operators in the country by 2020. The company said it wants to push its e-commerce parcels revenue up by 100% to PLN 1.5bn (EUR 367m).

From the Federal Register: Postal Service NOTICES Product Changes: Parcel Return Service Negotiated Service Agreement , 16031 [2015–06881] [TEXT]

Postalnews.com: The US Postal Service reported an operating surplus of $76 million for the month of February, bringing its fiscal year to date profit to $1.4 billion. Those numbers reflect actual revenue and expenses, and do not include the non-cash accounting entries the USPS records every month to comply with the 2006 PAEA law. Ironically, the February numbers actually would look better using the PAEA figures, since they include a whopping $666 million paper "credit" for the change in valuation of future workers comp liabilities. Unfortunately for the USPS, that $666 million is just as ephemeral as the half billion or so the USPS charges to PAEA "trust fund" payments every month, even though it never actually makes the payments.

Government Executive: Postal experts and economists sparred at a panel discussion Wednesday over whether the cure to what ails the U.S. Postal Service is more competition or new streams of revenue. David Williams, USPS' inspector general, was a strong advocate for growing postal services, calling for postal expansion in areas ranging from banking to Wi-Fi tower construction, during the Brookings Institution event. Robert Shapiro, however, founder and chairman of the economics firm Sonecon, said years of congressional protection of the Postal Service has prevented the agency from innovating and acting efficiently. Shapiro's argument was based on the notion that the benefits of the government subsidies USPS has received in recent decades far outpace official estimates. The Postal Regulatory Commission has said legislative protections of the Postal Service add up to about $4.5 billion annually, but Shapiro argued the figure is actually closer to $18 billion. Shapiro pointed to the monopoly on mailbox delivery as saving USPS $14.5 billion annually alone. Additionally, exemption from state and local taxes, low interest rates on loans from the U.S. Treasury and federal corporate tax breaks are among the subsidies the government provides the Postal Service. Postal failures are therefore not an "issue of mismanagement," Shapiro said. "I think it's an issue of responding to incentives.

Christian Science Monitor: Google is developing a new service that would allow users to pay bills through Gmail, instead of through separate companies' websites or the postal service, according to a report by Re/Code. The project, currently called Pony Express, would allow Google into yet another arena of users' lives, potentially opening doors to more financial services. According to documents procured by Re/Code, the service would compile all your monthly bills into one folder on Gmail. At the moment, it appears this would be done by a third-party service – no word on if Google will partner with any telecoms or financial institutions just yet. Then a payment option hooked up to your bank cards would allow you to pay those bills right then and there, or even split a bill with another Gmail user. There are also options to upload a photo of physical mail to be saved for later, as well as an option to contact customer service for a company. Though paperless billing is nothing new, this is one of the first services that could potentially bring all bills to one place for easy and quick payment. And it comes on the heels of a huge year for mobile payment. Apple equipped all new iPhone 6 models with Apple Pay, Facebook recently introduced a feature where friends can send each other money, and Google Wallet will soon be installed on nearly all Android phones.

Daily Caller: The United States Postal Service receives $18 billion in annual federal subsidies, but that is still not enough to offset the $20 billion in lost productivity that results from its monopoly status. A study released Wednesday by Robert Shapiro, founder of the economic advisory firm Sonecon, finds that in addition to billions in direct subsidies like reduced-rate loans and tax exemptions, the USPS receives "special privileges" worth at least $15 billion thanks to its government-mandated monopoly. To assist with its mandate of providing universal service, for instance, the USPS "is supported by a range of subsidies, including appropriations, exclusive access to residential and business mailboxes, borrowing subsidies, and favorable tax treatment," which together serve to insulate the Postal Service from competitive pressure and create significant economies of scale.

Government Executive: House Republicans have a lot of ideas about how to save taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately for federal employees, a number of those ideas would come at their expense in the form of retirement and health benefits. Postal employees would also have to contribute more toward their health and life insurance premiums under the Republican plan.

Eureka Times Standard: Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today sent a letter to the new Postmaster General reiterating his strong opposition to the United States Postal Service's (USPS) plan to close both the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Petaluma and the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center. Huffman has routinely opposed the USPS' plan and strongly criticized them for their lack of transparency throughout this process, disregard for public input, and ambivalence to the impacts reduced service standards will have on local communities. Huffman previously opposed the consolidation plan when it was first proposed in 2011, citing that this plan would cause disruption of mail delivery, cause job loss, and damage local economies.

Federal News Radio: Consider this: Post offices sell money orders and conduct international transfers. Would it be such a big step to expand into the banking world via debit or prepaid cards? Postal Service Inspector General David Williams revived the debate during a discussion Wednesday at the Brookings Institution. As local bank branches close, post offices could step in, he said. "The Postal Service could provide a financial-services platform and front-office services where there are no banks. Today 59 percent of our post offices, 17,000 locations, are located where there are no banks or a single bank within the zip code." The Postal Service declined an invitation to join the panel, according to Brookings. The agency isn't wild about the idea, though.

MAIL PREP AND ENTRY FOCUS SESSION WEBINAR Thursday, May 7 2:00-3:00 p.m. (EST) The Mail Prep and Entry Focus Group will host a webinar for MTAC members that will include all of the regular updates normally given during the focus group meetings at MTAC. We look forward to seeing you at the next MTAC meeting at the National Postal Forum on Wednesday, May 20. Please note this is a condensed meeting without focus session breakouts. This webinar is your opportunity to receive the quarterly MTAC Mail Prep and Entry updates. Our next MTAC focus session meeting will be in August. Registration is required. You will receive the agenda prior to the webinar. Instructions for participating appear below: Attendee Information US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (866) 381-9870 Conference ID: 12624075 Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=e6253b701459ee2dc6f72af713d83ff5b If you cannot join using the direct link above, please use the alternate logins below: Alternate URL: http://usps.webex.com Event Number: 998 139 062

USPS Shipping Products and Services Webinar Series Beginning March 31, 2015, 10am EDT – Premium Forwarding Service ̶ Commercial. In an ongoing effort to meet the needs of our customers, the Postal Service is hosting a series of informational webinars on a variety of products and services. The webinars will focus on service enhancements, features, benefits, how to get started, and onboarding information to acquire the knowledge and skills to effectively use these products and services. The webinars will be held every other Tuesday starting March 31, 2015 from 10am to 11am (EDT) with a webinar on Premium Forwarding Service ̶ Commercial
Premium Forwarding Service ̶ Commercial allows businesses to consolidate mail received from multiple business PO Boxes and/or street addresses into a package for delivery to a single business address. The online application on Business Customer Gateway also allows the customer to pay postage and fees for enrollment online, receive email or text messaging with tracking numbers and notifications, and to select the days and duration of service. Speaker: Evonne Thomas, Product Development Specialist
Attendee Dial-in: (866) 381-9870 Password: 033115 Conference ID: 15344371. Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?d=990422259&t=a
If you cannot join using the direct link above, please use the alternate logins below: Alternate URL: http://usps.webex.com .
Please visit us on the Industry Outreach website on RIBBS to view the upcoming webinar schedule. Prior to each webinar, you will receive an Industry Alert outlining the webinar topic, description, and attendee information.

Mark these dates on your calendar now! (1) April 14, 2015 USPS Package Intercept (2) April 28, 2015 Collect on Delivery Electronic Funds Transfer (COD EFT) (3) May 12, 2015 Print and Deliver Return Labels Service (formerly Return Call Tag) (4) May 26, 2015 Delivery Instructions (5) June 9, 2015 Returns (6) June 23, 2015 Extra Services (7) July 7, 2015 Click-N-Ship Business Pro (8) July 21, 2015 Hold For Pickup (9) August 4, 2015 Pickup Services (Package Pickup and Pickup on Demand) (10) August 18, 2015 My USPS.com

March 25, 2015 

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: The Postal Regulatory Commission will hold its first public meeting of 2015 on Monday, March 30 at 11:00 a.m. All interested parties are invited to attend the open portion of the meeting in person or join via webcast through the Commission website, www.prc.gov. The public meeting will take place at Commission offices in the Hearing Room, 901 New York Avenue NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20268. Portions of the meeting that are open to the public include: Report from the Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations; Report from the Office of General Counsel; Report from the Office of Accountability and Compliance A discussion on pending litigation follows the open portion of the meeting and is closed to the public. A copy of the full agenda is available on the Commission's website. Future Commission public meetings will take place on a quarterly basis and are scheduled as follows: Monday, June 1, 2015, 11:00 a.m. Thursday, September 3, 2015, 11:00 a.m. Thursday, December 3, 2015, 11:00 a.m.

Postal Service Proposes "Forever" Status for Additional Stamps Five Additional First-Class Mail Stamp Categories. Today the Postal Service filed a notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission for a proposed classification change that would give non-denominated, non-expiring "Forever" status for five additional First-Class Mail stamp categories. If approved by the PRC, the following denominated stamps would be converted to Forever status, effective April 26, 2015: (1) A postcard stamp (2) The two-ounce letter stamp (includes wedding stamps) (3) The three-ounce letter stamp (4) The additional ounce stamp (5) The first ounce nonmachinable surcharge stamp The change will provide customers with additional convenience in purchasing and maintaining stocks of up-to-date postage and be more economical for the Postal Service. Whenever prices change in the future customers will no longer have to purchase stamps with the new prices and the Postal Service will no longer have to retrieve and destroy stamps with outdated prices. In addition, the ability to continue producing a particular Forever stamp design, without regard to price changes, will enable better management of stamp printing. The PRC filing can be found at: http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91834/MC2015-42ForeverStampPSNotice.pdf.

EuroWeekly News: CORREOS (the Spanish national postal service) has alerted people to a scam being perpetrated in several Mallorcan municipalities. The company reports that fraudsters are sending emails claiming to represent CORREOS - a practice called phising - informing the recipient about the arrival of a packet or letter for them. The email contains links urging the recipient to download content, which in reality is viruses that infect files and encrypt them. Fraudsters then ask for money to decode the files and return them to their owners.

  C-Span: The Future of the Postal Service Elaine Karmack (Moderator); Gene Del Polito (Association for Postal Commerce); Rob Shapiro (President, Sonecon); Robert Taub (Acting Chairman, Postal Regulatory Commission); and David Williams (Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service)

Fierce Government: Disagreement over the Postal Service's role in business outside of mail delivery sparked debate at a March 25 Brookings Institution event. The Postal Service needs to act as an intermediary between those who have access to digital services and those who don't, USPS Inspector General David Williams said at the event. USPS should fill what Williams called the "essential American neighborhood role" by helping those left behind in the digital divide. With mobile banking becoming so prominent, many brick and mortar bank offices are closing, Williams said, and the Postal Service is in a position to help out those Americans that can't engage in e-commerce or mobile banking by offering financial services at local post offices. Williams said 59 percent of post offices are in zip codes with one or fewer banks. "There needs to be some infrastructure for those who don't have digital capabilities," he said. But economist Robert Shapiro, who runs Sonecon, a private economic and policy consulting firm, said the Postal Service shouldn't stick its nose in business it doesn't understand.

Trade Arabia: Postal networks are critical elements of the e-commerce chain, a UN report said, including home postal delivery as an indicator in a new global index to measure countries' readiness to carry out business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce. The reach of the national postal network makes it a cost-effective method for connecting all citizens and businesses to the global e-commerce economy, especially for consumers and producers outside urban areas and in underserved communities, added the report entitled United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTD) report, Information Economy Report 2015: Unlocking the potential of e-commerce for developing countries. The report entitled underlines the need for posts to get ready quickly for the growth of B2C e-commerce, which is expected to double from $1.2 billion in 2013 to $2.4 billion in 2018, according to the research firm e-Marketer.

The Sun Chronicle: The Postal Service is launching an investigation into potential problems at the Norton and Taunton post offices following widespread complaints of poor service.

Post & Parcel: Profits at Poste Italiane fell sharply last year despite improvements in its important insurance and financial services, mainly as a result of its declining mail volumes. The national postal service in Italy, which is in the process of preparing for privatisation, said yesterday that while its revenue grew in 2014 compared to the year before, up 11% to EUR 29bn, net profit slumped from just over EUR 1bn in 2013 to EUR 212m. The company said some of its profitability was hit by one-off costs related to its ongoing transformation programme, the falling value of its stake in national airline Alitalia, and an increased tax bill.

Tristate Home Page: Apparently some federal government employees haven't felt the need to get their taxes done on time. According to a report out Tuesday, federal workers and retirees owe the IRS $3.5 billion. More than three percent of federal employees, including military members, are tardy with their taxes. The US Postal Service is the most delinquent with about five percent of workers owing taxes. On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will look at a bill that calls for penalizing federal workers for being late with their taxes. Right now, the IRS is the sole agency with the ability to fire workers who are late with their taxes.

Wall Street Journal: United Parcel Service Inc. on Tuesday said Chief Executive David P. Abney's total compensation for 2014 more than doubled, including a base salary increase he received in September when he was promoted to the helm of the package-delivery giant. Mr. Abney's total compensation package rose to nearly $8.4 million in 2014 from $4.1 million in 2013, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The pay package included an increase in his base salary to $674,546 from $499,494. However, most of the pay increase was in the form of stock awards, which rose to $5.4 million from $3.2 million.

NASDAQ: Stamps.com® has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Newell Rubbermaid Inc. for Stamps.com to acquire Endicia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid, for $215 million in cash. Based in Palo Alto, California, Endicia is a leading provider of high volume shipping technologies and solutions for use with the U.S. Postal Service® and other postal partners. Endicia offers solutions that help businesses run their shipping operations more smoothly and function more successfully. Endicia sells its products under brand names including Endicia®, DYMO® Stamps™ and PictureItPostage®. Endicia also provides seamless access to USPS and other shipping services through integration with more than 250 partner applications. Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/stampscom-announces-intention-to-acquire-online-shipping-company-endicia-from-newell-rubbermaid-20150324-00878#ixzz3VO7UZs7P

March 24, 2015 

The Association for Postal Commerce has filed comments with the Postal Regulatory Commission on the PRC's direction to the Postal Service to file further amended rates to bring proposed market dominant price changes in accord with the requirements of PAEA. In addition to the anomalies specifically enumerated in Order No. 2398, the Association for Postal Commerce has identified several price discrepancies which may not be addressed in that Order.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

"The Postal Service seeks to add a new negotiated service agreement1 (NSA) with Discover Financial Services (Discover) to the market dominant product list. The Commission is unable to approve the Request because the Postal Service has not demonstrated that the Discover NSA complies with the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements . . . . The Commission . . . cannot conclude that the agreement is likely to improve the Postal Service's net financial position after evaluating it using the accepted methodology. Acknowledging this difficulty, the Postal Service suggests an alternative approach for use in reviewing this NSA. Yet its alternative approach is improperly based on subjective intuition rather than the objective evidence necessary to support its claims . . . . Under current statutory and regulatory requirements, the Commission does not have discretion to approve an NSA for a market dominant product without a showing by the Postal Service that the NSA will either: (1) improve the net financial position of the Postal Service through reducing costs or increasing the overall contribution to institutional costs; or (2) enhance the performance of mail preparation, processing, transportation, or other functions. Based on the accepted methodology, the Commission cannot find that the agreement is likely to improve the net financial position of the Postal Service . . . . The Commission notes that although the PAEA granted flexibility to the Postal Service in setting postal prices, the law also made it clear that market dominant NSAs can only be approved if they improve the net financial position of the Postal Service through reducing costs or increasing overall contribution to institutional costs or enhancing the performance of mail preparation, processing, transportation, or other functions. This statutory responsibility leaves the Commission with no choice but to find that the Discover NSA cannot be approved because the Postal Service fails to demonstrate that the Discover NSA complies with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements."

Green Bay Press Gazette: For dozens of Fox River Valley residents, Oshkosh truck driver Richard Radtke was the Grinch who stole Christmas. And birthdays. And graduation. Radtke, who drove a semi for a company contracted by the U.S. Postal Service to haul mail to a central post office in Oshkosh, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Green Bay of stealing hundreds of dollars' worth of gift cards, cash and greeting cards being mailed from post offices in Appleton, Menasha, Neenah and Omro in 2013 and the first half of 2014. Radtke admitted to prosecutors that he had been doing it for years. He regularly would stop his truck on the roadside and go through the mail that he had been charged with delivering and take out envelopes that looked as though they may contain gift cards, court records say.

Globe Newswire: BCC Software™, a leader in postal products and data marketing services, is proud to announce that Director of Architecture Shawn Baldwin has been awarded the prestigious IDEAlliance® Circle of Excellence award. The award was presented today at the Print Distribution 2015 conference in Clearwater, Florida. Mr. Baldwin was nominated by his peers from across the industry earlier this year and selected for the honor in recognition of his leadership in development of the Mail.XML™, an industry standard for streamlining communication between the mailing industry and United States Postal Service® through standardized, automated methods that save time, money, and improve overall mail acceptance.

Globe Newswire: SP Express, a leading national provider of logistics and order fulfillment services, is pleased to announce a new partnership with APC Postal Logistics. The partnership allows SP Express to offer ecommerce and other merchants very cost-effective outbound direct-to-consumer parcel shipping options for reaching over 230 international markets around the world. Many consumers in these countries purchase U.S. goods online and merchants are seeking competitive delivery options for reaching them.

Postalnews.com: From USPS News Link -- The Postal Service is deploying new software to make it easier for employees to serve customers at retail locations. More than 17,700 sites will receive the new Retail Systems Software (RSS), which replaces Point of Sale (POS) One software. RSS offers improved data recovery, easier access to top transaction functions and reduced training time. "This system allows the Postal Service to be flexible and adaptable to the consumer's evolving needs while helping to reducing cost," said Retail and Customer Service Operations VP Kelly Sigmon. RSS is part of the Postal Service's broader effort to invest in technology and provide employees with more tools to better serve customers.

Post & Parcel: Royal Mail is set to expand its international tracked shipping services to more countries from the end of this month. The move particularly aims to expand the potential for smaller online retailers to sell to customers abroad. From 30th March, the UK postal service will extend its International Tracked & Signed service for individuals and businesses to 10 new countries — Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, Serbia, Latvia, Moldova, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. It will mean the service delivers to 53 countries in total worldwide, providing shippers with a signature on delivery.

Office of the Inspector General: Network Consolidation: It Takes Two … Phases

Reshaping a postal network doesn't happen overnight. Especially one built to handle mainly letters and flats and not the tremendous anticipated growth in parcels. The Postal Service is attempting to tackle realignment in two phases, playing out over 4 years....Speaking at the February Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee meeting, postal officials said they are confident consumers will not notice the service standard changes. Surveys suggest most people don't know what the service standards are, but they do care when their mail arrives in their mailbox. So the Postal Service is working to ensure consumers receive their mail at the same time each day. They also reminded people that consolidation doesn't necessarily mean closing. Some facilities could be repurposed for other services. Business mailers have generally supported efforts to eliminate excess capacity and reduce costs, with the exception of those whose business model depends on overnight service. But mailers also worry that some costs could be shifted to them....Are you concerned that network consolidation has resulted or could result in mail delays? Or do you think network rationalization is necessary to reduce costs? If you oppose consolidation, how do you recommend the Postal Service better match its capacity to demand?

CRRI: Prospects for Reforming the Postal Sector March 27, 2015 Location: Venable LLP, 575 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. The full program is available at http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/WS15M6.pdf.

From the Federal Register: 

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
15644 [2015–06602] [TEXT]  [PDF]
15643–15644 [2015–06657] [TEXT]  [PDF]

March 23, 2015 

Save the Post Office: Mr. Obama's rhetoric about economic inequality and the problems that result in redistribution of wealth upward in our current economy is often not matched by his policies or his appointments. That is nowhere truer than in the case of postal issues. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama's latest appointments to the BOG will not help solve anything. Instead, they're part of the problem. The basic structure of the Postal Service is flawed. In a typical corporation, the board of directors is ultimately accountable to shareholders. Boards are often not as responsive as they should be, but at least the shareholders serve as a check. The USPS Board of Governors is accountable to no one. It has the power to determine national policy for an essential infrastructure, but it has no accountability to the general public. The latest bunch of nominees to the BOG will take us further down the path into the darkness of privatization. We will inevitably see further degradation of the network, more job losses, and greater deterioration of service. In this end, it's not just the Postal Service that will suffer but the American people.

flag Westport Now: Robert "Bob" DeLay of Tucson, Ariz., a former Westport resident and the longest-tenured president of the Direct Marketing Association at 26 years, died Feb. 14. He was 96. During a run of service spanning 1956 to 1984, DeLay helped establish direct marketing as a distinct channel of commerce. DeLay became the face and the spokesperson of direct marketing through hundreds of radio and TV appearances. DeLay kept active in the industry, editing and publishing The DeLay Letter on direct marketing topics for 13 years from his home in Westport.

flag eCommerceBytes: The dramatic spike in online retail sales has provided a welcome bright spot for the U.S. Postal Service, which has been buffeted in recent years by declining mail volumes and hefty costs associated with its workforce due to its mandated requirement to prefund long-term pension and healthcare liabilities. So it's no wonder that the executive responsible for evaluating potential new revenue lines is looking to ecommerce as a cornerstone of the agency's future business. Gary Reblin, the Postal Service's vice president of new products and innovation, appeared at the recent PostalVision 2020 conference, where he noted the industry projection that the $200 billion ecommerce market is expected to nearly double in the next five years. And the Postal Service wants to do everything it can to accelerate that growth.

March 22, 2015 

flag Stamford Advocate: Pitney Bowes' handling of exports leaves Canadians exasperated Stamford company expanding Global Shipping Program amid Canadian catcalls.

March 21, 2015 

International Business Times: Would you pay Google to scan your snail mail and forward it to your Gmail inbox? The search giant is trying to see if consumers would buy into a mail-scanning service to help Gmail replace your physical mailbox. Google Inc. sent a survey to users of its Google Rewards app for Android seeking interest in such a program on Friday. The survey did not mention a fee, and by itself certainly doesn't mean that the Mountain View, California-based tech titan is planning to offer a service, but it is an interesting premise. Google might be on to something by offering people a spam "filter" for their physical junk mail. Other than offering the service for a fee, Google could monetize it by scanning keywords the same way it does with Gmail. The practice allows it to create more in-depth profiles about its users, which it then uses to charge advertisers more for targeted ads. By scanning people's real mail as well as their emails, Google might learn a little bit more about a person's spending habits, relationships and interests.

The Daily Caller: A former postal worker is alleging that preferential treatment of Amazon packages by the United State Postal Service is part of a larger trend toward valuing corporate partners over regular citizens.

Business Standard: For India Post, the sudden growth in Indian e-commerce space has come as a lifeline. Not restricting itself to the big players alone, India Post has tied up with some of the niche online players too

Office of the Inspector General:

  • Do you think reducing the window hours at selected post offices will generate the savings the POStPlan proposed now that it is fully implemented? -- In May of 2012, the Postal Service announced a new strategy —the Post Office Structure Plan (POStPlan) —which aligns retail window hours with customer use. Under the Plan, some offices will be open less than they have been while others will be open longer than previously. Access to Post Office boxes won't change, nor will towns' ZIP Codes and community identities. The Postal Service expects to save approximately $516 million annually in labor costs through the POStPLan. Under the plan a Post Office might be closed if customer traffic is extremely limited. If this were to happen, the Postal Service would provide mail delivery service to residents and businesses via a rural carrier or highway contract route, a Village Post Office, or a nearby Post Office. Regardless, the Postal Service will not close offices unless a community expresses a strong preference for doing so. We would like your input on the projected cost savings the Postal Service expects with the POStPlan. Do you think reducing the window hours at selected post offices will generate the savings the POStPlan proposed now that it is fully implemented?
  • Deputy Postmaster General's Use of Data -- The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General initiated a U.S. Postal Service-wide series of audits to review the Postal Service's use of data. These audits included discussions and analyses of the data the deputy postmaster general (DPMG) and the executive vice presidents use. Our objective was to determine whether the DPMG effectively uses internal and external business data to manage business activities and mitigate risk. Read the report.

Aviation Week: FedEx Corp. is pushing back hard against major U.S. passenger airlines that, in the cargo giant's view, are trying to get the U.S. government to alter open skies agreements with Middle East states that are integral to FedEx's business.

Investopia: The demand for retail banking services is clearly rising while brick-and-mortar bank locations are staying level, indicating that customers are using online and mobile banking services with greater frequency. Customers at physical banks are becoming dissatisfied with standing in long lines, waiting for feedback and poor customer service. As more people choose to bank at home or on the go, retail branches will likely shut down, and the number of physical locations will begin to steadily decline. JP Morgan Chase (JPM) recently announced it will close over 300 branch locations since a growing number of customers prefer mobile banking. According to Bank Of America's (BAC) Trends in Consumer Mobility Report for 2014, 81 percent of Americans use their mobile banking app to check balances, 49 percent to transfer funds, 48 percent to pay bills, 38 percent to make check deposits, 33 percent to receive alerts and 17 percent to find a local branch or ATM. As more millennials become banking customers, these statistics are likely to increase across the board. The future of retail banking will be dominated by technology and mobile computing. Physical bank branches are already closing even as the demand for banking services steadily increases. Banks offer online banking and mobile apps that can do most banking functions, including check deposits and fund transfers. Technology companies have also entered the space and are leveraging their high-tech capabilities of innovation and data security to compete with traditional financial companies.

March 20, 2015 

USA Today: The Federal Aviation Administration approved Amazon Logistics Inc. on Thursday to fly drones experimentally. The approval will allow the company to conduct research, development and crew training for deliveries called Amazon Prime Air.

Andover Advertiser: Royal Mail sorry over 'third class' postal service in Andover area. NEW delivery procedures have left the postal service in Andover in meltdown, forcing Royal Mail to apologise for the "poor service". The Andover Advertiser has received several reports of sporadic deliveries, post going to wrong addresses and people missing hospital appointments in both Andover and Ludgershall over the past few weeks. In Andover, an Eastfield Road resident has been receiving post for three other properties, forcing him to deliver items to the correct houses himself.

flag Telecompaper: Netcetera launched apps for Swiss postal delivery staff. New apps have been launched for postmen and women in Switzerland who have been using Android devices since last autumn, inside-it.ch reports. Zurich-based software company Netcetera has optimised the scanners and developed three apps that allow mail delivery staff to record their working time on the device. When loading the delivery car, they can scan special delivery items so the recipient can track the delivery in real time. Another app enables customers to pay at the door. The roll-out of approximately 20,500 devices in total is expected to continue until the end of the year.

 From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission Commission Meeting. TIME AND DATE: March 30, 2015, at 11 a.m. PLACE: Commission hearing room, 901 New York Avenue NW., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20268 0001. STATUS: The Postal Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting to discuss the agenda items outlined below. Part of the meeting will be open to the public as well as audiocast, and the audiocast may be accessed via the Commission's Web site at http://www.prc.gov.

usBrookings Institution: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the oldest and most revered institutions in the U.S. government. Despite this storied past, USPS now faces substantial financial challenges and threats to its survival, including unfavorable economic conditions, an evolving business environment, and declining mail volumes and revenue. And to add to the agency's woes, Congress has failed repeatedly to act on postal reform. On March 25, the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings will host a discussion to address the current health of the USPS and reform efforts to modernize and improve the financial condition of this government institution. Panelists will outline the problems faced by the postal service, examine opportunities for reform, and ask questions including: What is the core function of the USPS in the 21st century and how can it best deliver services to Americans? What is USPS's relationship to the private sector and how do laws and regulations shape that relationship? What is the status of postal reform in Congress and what political barriers exist? What are the causes of USPS's financial problems? What innovations might be the way forward for USPS? After the program, there will be audience Q&A.

March 19, 2015

us_flag Cary Brick, Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (2002-2014) and former Chief of Staff for Congressman McHugh - Quote on USPS Manabe's departure:

"As perhaps the most vocal of her outside L'Enfant Plaza critics, I wish my friend Ms. Manabe well as she moves on to the next step in her marketing career. While  I know her intentions were sincere her job performance demonstrated a lack of understanding and appreciation of the historical place postage stamps hold in the American experience.  She never really understood that role. Her background in the hardcore competitive marketing of soap, soft drinks, soups, baby lotions, bandages, mouthwash and mayo did not serve USPS's stamp program well; stamps are not kitchen cupboard or bathroom medicine cabinet products. To her credit she didn't toss traditional subjects overboard, though some within USPS believe she may have privately wanted to do so,  but she overemphasized the need for pop culture subjects aimed at the social media generation to satisfy billion dollar Postal Service deficits. Hey, Ms. Manabe, most don't mail and a few stamps aren't going to change their mindset. It was perhaps a lofty marketing goal but one not based in postal reality economics.  While no one  argues against those subjects in the stamp subject and design process, she didn't seem to understand that creative and lively 'traditional' stamps can also attract consumer attention while also meeting the published mission  of stamps to be "contemporary, timely, relevant, interesting and educational."  She didn't understand the need for balance. I wish she had taken time to personally ask front-counter postal clerks what the postal consumer wants; such a simple one day outing away from L'Enfant and the marketing madness world  would have demonstrated to her that her goals could have been addressed without the turbulence she brought to the office."

Industry Alert: Postal Service Statement on PRC Ruling: The United States Postal Service is currently reviewing the Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) ruling issued yesterday on the Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services price change filing. The PRC returned the proposed rates and asks the Postal Service to provide additional information. The Commission's complete analysis of the Postal Service's revised price adjustments can be found in Order No. 2398, under Docket No. R2015-4.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Service
NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act
14418 [2015-06372] [TEXT] [PDF]

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Milder winter weather around Christmas helped FedEx Corp. have a happier holiday season than it did a year ago. But despite beating analysts' predictions for the third quarter, the Memphis shipping giant's projections for its full fiscal year results were below Wall Street's expectations. That helped send company shares down about 1 percent Wednesday, closing at $173.30. Meanwhile, CEO Frederick Smith shrugged off the potential competitive threat of ride-sharing services such as Uber, which is dipping a toe into the logistics business, albeit on a limited basis. FedEx reported third-quarter earnings of $580 million, or $2.01 per share, compared to $378 million, or $1.23 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.87 per share for the quarter ended Feb. 28, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Verge: Amazon's one-hour delivery service is coming to Baltimore and Miami. Prime Now lets Amazon Prime subscribers order from a limited range of products including toys, books, and toiletries and select either free two-hour delivery, or one-hour delivery for $7.99. The service, which first appeared in New York last December, is accessible via a dedicated Prime Now app on iOS and Android and is available seven days a week between 8am and 10pm.

Nasdaq: European Union regulators said Thursday that they had approved the U.K.'s plan to grant 640 million pounds ($943.7 million) in aid to its national Post Office to help pay for public services such as handling social-welfare payments and passport applications. The European Commission, the EU's top antitrust authority, said the aid didn't violate rules that prohibit selective government support for businesses.

The Japan Times: The ruling Liberal Democratic Party wants to raise the deposit limit at state-owned Japan Post Holdings Co.'s lending arm before a planned initial public offering later this year, according to a lawmaker who is backing the change. A higher ceiling than the current ť10 million cap for individuals will narrow the gap between Japan Post Bank Co. and private banks, LDP member Hiroshi Moriyama said in an interview Wednesday.

Linn's Stamp News: Nagisa Manabe, chief marketing officer for the United States Postal Service and supervisor of the stamp program, told associates she plans to leave the agency May 22, Linn's learned March 18. No announcement of the often-controversial officer's departure has been made at Postal Service headquarters, but a source told Linn's Manabe began telling her top aides of her plans in early March. David Partenheimer, a Postal Service spokesman, declined to comment on Manabe's plans.

Industry Alert: The National Postal Forum 2015 Workshop Matrix is Now Available Online.

Pursuant to Postal Regulatory Commission ("Commission") Order No. 2294, the Association for Postal Commerce ("PostCom") submits these comments on the United States Postal Service's ("Postal Service") proposal regarding changes to the city carrier street time model. PostCom's comments focus specifically on the City Carrier Street Time Study ("Study") contained in the Postal Service's filing and presented at the technical conference held on January 14, 2015. PostCom does not take issue with the methodology used in the study and generally commends the Postal Service for its efforts to better understand the costs associated with delivery of the mail. The information presented in the Study nevertheless raises several questions that PostCom would like to see examined and answered to improve the value of the study and inform efforts going forward.

March 18, 2015

PRC AGAIN REMANDS PRICE ADJUSTMENTS BACK TO USPS -- Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services Products Affected

For the second time in this case, the Postal Regulatory Commission returned a Postal Service proposal to adjust rates for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services.

In Order No. 2378 issued on March 6, 2015, the Commission remanded the rates for these classes of mail so that the Postal Service could provide additional information and justifications, correct errors, and fulfill applicable legal requirements. The Commission held that the Postal Service needed to address several deficiencies, including unequal Standard Mail nonprofit and commercial discounts, improperly justified Standard Mail worksharing discounts with passthroughs above 100 percent, and improperly calculated billing determinant adjustments for all three classes.

In the order issued today, the Commission finds that the Postal Service has not adequately addressed the concerns described in Order No. 2378 and has failed to demonstrate that the proposed rates comply with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. As a result, the Commission again returns the proposed rates and directs the Postal Service to provide information demonstrating that they conform to the law.

Once the Postal Service files a response to the Commission's order, the public will have 7 days from the date of that filing to comment on the revised proposal.

The Commission's complete analysis of the Postal Service's revised price adjustments for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services can be found in Order No. 2398, under Docket No. R2015-4.

Attention Business Customer Gateway Users: The Parcel Data Exchange (PDX) Release 2.1 will be deployed to Production on Sunday, March 22, 2015 from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. CT. There will be an outage and the PDX service accessible via the Business Customer Gateway will be unavailable during this time. This release will provide additional features and enhancements to the PDX application.  If you have any additional questions please contact the help desk at 800-522-9085.

- Supply & Demand Chain: As supply chain executives know, preparations for one peak season begin almost as soon as the last peak season ends. What comes as a surprise is that the results of the 2014 peak season are already creating changes that affect shippers and carriers this year, particularly in the areas of costs and customer expectations. In the 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014, consumer demand spiked, fell off and leveled out, and then spiked again. According to the CFO of UPS, Kurt Keuhn, in a recent Reuters article, the spike-valley-spike made the peak season U-shaped. Reuters reported that these consumer demand fluctuations made forecasting difficult and led to higher costs for shippers, including UPS. These costs are already leading carriers to increase their surcharges, as they start planning for peak demand during this year. All carriers are likely facing the decision about raising delivery costs in 2015, and shippers will soon feel the consequences from these costs as well. In fact, FedEx already increased its rates by almost 5 percent this year.

Audit Report: Patent Review Process. This report responds to a congressional inquiry from Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas about the U.S. Postal Service's procedures for preventing infringement of private patents when it releases new technology. In addition, he asked how the Postal Service's right-to-use opinions compare to those of private industry. These opinions analyze patent activity to determine the likelihood of patent infringement.

usps_logo Industry Alert: Labeling Lists and Mail Direction File - Updates to L002, L004, L005, L801, L801B. Labeling lists recently posted on the Electronic Product Fulfillment (EPF) website had Roanoke VA 240 incorrectly consolidated with Greensboro NC 270 with an April 1, 2015 effective date. This impacted the L002, L004, L005 and L801 lists. New labeling list files were posted on EPF on Monday, March 9, 2015. However, the Mail Direction File will not be updated until the next cycle, and will be published on April 1, 2015 for the May 1, 2015 effective date. All attempts should be made to prepare and drop SCF, ADC and AADC mail for 240-241, 243 and 245 in Roanoke VA.  However, mailers will not be penalized for dropping this mail in Greensboro. Network Operations is working closely with Mail Entry and Payment Technology to ensure that mailers will not be negatively impacted during this transition period. We will follow the established criteria for mandatory dates and expiration dates based on when the data was published. The changes between the original lists and the new lists are as follows:

L002 (Column C):
Change From:   240: SCF GREENSBORO NC 270
                        241: SCF GREENSBORO NC 270
                        243: SCF GREENSBORO NC 270
                        245: SCF GREENSBORO NC 270
 
Change To:       240: SCF ROANOKE VA 240
                        241: SCF ROANOKE VA 240
                        243: SCF ROANOKE VA 240
                        245: SCF ROANOKE VA 240
L004:
Change From:   240-241, 243, 245: ADC GREENSBORO NC 270
Change To:       240-241, 243, 245: ADC ROANOKE VA 240
 
L005:
Change From:   240-241, 243, 245: SCF GREENSBORO NC 270
Change To:       240-241, 243, 245: SCF ROANOKE VA 240
 
L801A, L801B:
Change From:   240-241, 243, 245: AADC GREENSBORO NC 270
Change To:       240-241, 243, 245: AADC ROANOKE VA 240

Spy Ghana: The Postal and Courier Service Regulatory Commission (PCSRC) in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service is to arrest and prosecute all illegal courier operators in the country, especially those using motor bikes to deliver foods and parcels.

BD Live: THE Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services remained in a state of chaos with senior officials being fired seemingly at a whim, and there was no full disclosure of financial liabilities, MPs heard on Tuesday. But Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele told the Parliamentary committee that conducts oversight of his department that he was confident that all "will come right". The department is barely nine months old after having been separated out of the old Department of Communications after last year's national and provincial elections.

DM News: The Postal Service cracks down on business mailers who are using the prospecting vehicle for order fulfillment. Charging that many mailers were using Standard Mail Marketing Parcels for fulfillment instead of samples, the U.S. Postal Service tightened up the wording of the eligibility requirements of the service. Going forward, Marketing Parcels must bear an alternate addressing format and cannot be used to send something ordered by a customer. Alternate addressing minimizes the Postal Service's handling costs by allowing parcels to be delivered to current residents of an address if the original addressee had moved. USPS published the redefined rule in today's Federal Register, holding that the purpose of the Marketing Parcels was to create a low-cost prospecting vehicle for mailers to send non-requested items and samples to potential customers. "It came to the attention of the Postal Service," continued the notice, "that this product was being improperly used for fulfillment."

- UPU: What do governments and customers expect of postal services today, especially with the rise of e-commerce? How can they remain relevant as the communication landscape evolves rapidly? How can governments utilize the postal network to achieve policy goals linked to social, financial and economic inclusion? More than 600 delegates and high-level speakers representing governments, postal operators, regulators, United Nations and international organizations and other postal-sector stakeholders will bring insight to these questions and more during the Universal Postal Union's World Strategy Conference, to be held at the International Conference Centre in Geneva on 13-14 April 2015. Chaired by the Republic of C"te d'Ivoire (see article), the UPU World Strategy Conference invites postal-sector stakeholders to take stock of the organization's progress in achieving the objectives of its current world postal strategy and draw the outlines of its next four-year business plan, to be presented at the 2016 Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.

U.S. Army: Even in a time of constant digital communication - an age of Twitter, Facebook and FaceTime - there remains something special for deployed Soldiers about a tangible letter or package sent by loved ones halfway around the world. For those Service members deployed with Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command - Iraq, or CJFLCC-I, postal operations have been a challenge since Soldiers began arriving in the country late last year. It is not 2009 anymore, and there is not nearly the kind of postal infrastructure in Iraq that existed then. However, through a combination of creativity and determination, things have steadily improved. "Mail frequency is demanded at all levels of the military," said Maj. Jon Hermesch, the deputy personnel officer with the 1st Infantry Division and CJFLCC-I. "As we progress during the digital age of email and video communications, the simple act of receiving an actual letter is difficult to measure, but we know it is of great importance for communication purposes, and it also enables Service members to acquire many items that they do not have access to at their current location. "Mail is transported to Iraq via aircraft from a regional hub in Kuwait. Given the high operational demand on those aircraft to move things like life support supplies and additional personnel, the amount of space left over for mail can be minimal. "As CJFLCC-I establishes new bases and expands existing ones, many items are needed there that bump postal off [aircraft]," Hermesch said. "However, through dedicated leaders and continuous monitoring, we have been able to push mail regularly."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: -
    -
  • Docket No. R2015-4: Notice of Market-Dominant Price Adjustment - Notice of Revision to Response of USPS to Order No 2388, Attachments A (Part II) and C - - Errata:

  • - In particular, the Postal Service has revised 19 Exigent Standard Mail prices in Attachment A (Part II) and made corresponding changes to Attachment C. The need for these revisions stems from three miscalculations: 1) the use of an incorrect CPI price to calculate the final Exigent price for Commercial Origin High Density Letters under 3.5 ounces; 2) the use of an incorrect CPI price to calculate the final Exigent pound rate for Commercial DNDC Carrier Route Flats greater than 3.3 ounces, on 5-Digit Pallets; and 3) the use of an unadjusted Automation 5-Digit Flats surcharge when calculating the final Exigent prices for 17 additional rate cells. Copies of the revised pages in Attachment A (Part II) are appended to this pleading. A revised version of Attachment C, Attachment C-Remand (Revised 3-17-2015).xlsx, is also being filed contemporaneously. The changes in each document are highlighted in yellow.
Industry Alert: Mail Spoken Here -- Inaugural Communication. Keeping up with all the news affecting the mailing industry can be a bit challenging at times. What is it, and where can you find it? In response to customers' requests for more information, the Office of Industry Engagement and Outreach, Consumer and Industry Affairs, has created this messaging tool, Mail Spoken Here, on the latest mail news coming from the Postal Service. Mail Spoken Here is intended as an ongoing news recap of all mailing requirements, Federal Register notices, Postal Bulletin articles, and webinars. We'll keep you posted on any comment-period requirements, and let you in on upcoming events or changes to standards when the information is available.

From the Federal Register: -Today, the Federal Register published the Postal Service Final Rule, Clarification of Content Eligibility for Standard Mail Marketing Parcels. The effective date is April 16, 2016.

  • On the Horizon. We are currently planning two overall price change webinars that will include both market dominant and competitive changes with topics specific to each class. Both webinars will be identical in nature with attendees choosing the one best suited for their schedule. These pricing webinars will provide a way for you to ask specific pricing questions in the PowerPoint chat feature. We will consolidate and provide the answers in an industry communication such as Mail Spoken Here. Further information on dates and times of the webinars will be distributed after the PRC returns a final ruling on the Postal Service's price change filing. Stay tuned. We'll bring you the news as soon as we have it!
  • Did You Know? You can sign up for daily Postal Service Federal Register updates which include every notice, proposal, and final rule that the Postal Service publishes.   Know when it happens as it happens!  Another excellent resource is prc.gov.  You can request a "subscriber alert" email.
  • Published Mailing Standards Documents.
  • March 2015:IMM: Lithium Battery Terminology (PB, 3/5)

    FRN: Clarification on Content Eligibility for Standard Mail Marketing Parcels; Final Rule (3/17)
    FRN: Domestic Mail Manual; Incorporation by Reference: Final Rule (3/16)
    FRN: International Mail Manual; Incorporation by Reference: Final Rule (3/16)
     
  • February 2015:

    DMM: Domestic Competitive Products Pricing and Mailing Standards Changes (PB, 2/5)
    DMM: Products Mailable at Nonprofit Standard Mail Prices (PB, 2/5)
    IMM: GDE Wholesaler Program (PB, 2/19)
    IMM: International Merchandise Insurance Limit for Three Countries (PB, 2/19)
    IMM: Changes to Pricing and Mailing Standards for International Shipping Services (PB, 2/5)
    IMM: Burma, Kiribati, and Sao Tome and Principe Establish PMEI Services (PB, 2/5)
    IMM: Country Name Changes (PB, 2/5)
    Pub 52: Elimination of PS Form 1770, Revisions to SP2975 and Updates to Various Standards (PB, 2/19)
    Pub 52: New Mailing Standards for Lithium Batteries (PB, 2/5)
    FRN: International Product Change-PMI Regional Rate Boxes Contracts: Notice (2/11)
    FRN: New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products: Proposed Rule (2/5)
    FRN: Change in Rates and Classes of General Applicability for Competitive Products: Notice (2/4)
    FRN: Domestic Competitive Products Pricing and Mailing Standards Changes: Final Rule (2/3)
    FRN: International Product and Price Changes: Final Rule (2/3)
    FRN: International Service Changes Burma, Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe: Final Rule (2/3)
     
  • January 2015:

    DMM: Clarification on Content Eligibility for Marketing Parcels (PB, 1/8)
    DMM: Letter Tray Preparation (PB, 1/8)
    FRN: New Mailing Standards for Lithium Batteries: Notice (1/26)
    FRN: International Mailing Services: Proposed Price Changes: Proposed Rule (1/23)
    FRN: Clarification of Content Eligibility for Standard Mail Marketing Parcels: Proposed Rule (1/14)
    FRN: International Product Change Global Expedited Package Services-Non-Published Rates (1/5)
      
    Postal Explorer is a mailer's resource for all information contained in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), International Mail Manual (IMM), Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail, mailing standards Federal Register notices, and the Postal Bulletin.

Presidential Nominations:

  • Stephen Crawford, of Maryland, to be a Governor of the United States Postal Service for the remainder of the term expiring December 8, 2015, vice Alan C. Kessler, resigned. Stephen Crawford, of Maryland, to be a Governor of the United States Postal Service for a term expiring December 8, 2022.  (Reappointment)

  • James C. Miller, III, of Virginia, to be a Governor of the United States Postal Service for a term expiring December 8, 2017.   (Reappointment)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Some iconic publications by charities like Consumer Reports and Guideposts may decide to publish less frequently in print because of unexpectedly large postage increases due to take effect next month. Under the new rates, which will take effect April 26 if approved by the Postal Rate Commission, Guideposts will cost nearly 10 percent more to mail while postage on Consumer Reports and its three spin-off publications will increase by 8.5 percent to more than 16 percent. Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, which represents about 300 organizations, said he expected some publications would go online only or reduce their frequency because of the postage increase. The hardest-hit publications were those like Consumer Reports, which are light on advertising, he said. "This really hurt certain really important nonprofits," he said.

Ripon Gazette: Plans are being formed to provide a part-time outreach Post Office service in Darley following the closure of the village store. The parish council is working with representatives of Post Office Ltd (POL) to find suitable premises in which to host the service. Although plans are still at a very early stage following the closure of the Post Office service in January, it is anticipated that the outreach service in Darley will be up and running by June.

Directions Magazine: Esri and RouteSmart Technologies, Inc., are collaborating to help postal organizations deliver packages reliably, efficiently, and accurately. The companies provide comprehensive dynamic routing solutions based on Esri's ArcGIS platform. National postal and global and regional parcel delivery services, including Whistl, Posti, and Swiss Post, are among the customers that leverage these routing solutions. Most customers have experienced cost savings of 15 percent, on average, through reduced working hours, mileage, and new vehicle acquisition. Customers also report growth opportunities through opening new lines of distribution business to support the burgeoning e-commerce delivery segment.

March 17, 2015

From the Federal Register:
Postal Service
RULES
Clarification of Content Eligibility for Standard Mail Marketing Parcels
13767-13768 [2015-05885] [TEXT] [PDF]

Pakistan Observer: A five-day "Asian-Pacific Postal Union Executive Council" (APPU-EC) meeting will be held at Serena Hotel, Islamabad on March 24-28. According to spokesperson for the Pakistan Post, the purpose of the "Asian-Pacific Postal Union Executive Council" meeting is to enhance relationship among the member countries and encourage collaboration in the field of postal services. Delegates from 32 countries of Asia-Pacific working for a common concern will participate in the Asian-Pacific Postal Union Executive Council (APPU-EC) meeting. The countries whose delegates will participate in the APPU-EC meeting include: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Fiji, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Lao People's Dem. Rep., Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal , New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Independent State of Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga (including Niuafo'ou), Vanuatu, Vietnam and others. The Executive Council (EC) comprises all the member-countries of the Union with a quorum of the majority. APPU aims to extend, facilitate and improve postal relations between the 32 member countries and promote cooperation in the field of postal services.

eCommerce Bytes: A website called Save the Post Office posted an article yesterday about the USPS, how it treats workers, and its deals with Amazon.com. And it raises an interesting issue about whether the Postal Service is giving priority to Amazon packages over its own Priority Mail customers. As we've previously reported, the U.S. Postal Service is working with Amazon on same-day delivery, Sunday delivery and grocery delivery. And it's using low-cost "City Carrier Assistants" rather than union employees to staff the projects.

Harvard Gazette: The boxy mail truck familiar on American roads for more than two decades soon may be a thing of the past. The Postal Service is beginning the process of replacing some 180,000 of the trucks, a significant portion of its total fleet. The request for proposals sent to automakers in January carried several design considerations, including enhanced fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and enough space to allow workers to stand up in the back as they grab letters and boxes for delivery. The Gazette asked Henry Lee, an authority on electric cars and the Jassim M. Jaidah Family Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Belfer Center, about the opportunity for the Postal Service to improve its environmental footprint and perhaps spark broader automotive changes through a more fuel-efficient replacement for the current model

Huffington Post: The ongoing, preventable plight of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is an important issue for those of us who have observed its steady decline over the last several years due to unimaginative management, huge prepayment obligations imposed by Congress, and a deck stacked to favor corporate rivals such as FedEx and UPS. The historic institution, created by Benjamin Franklin, has cut thousands of jobs: There are 220,000 fewer postal workers now than there were just over a decade ago. In addition, postal rates have been raised, and services have been cut or scaled back.

March 16, 2015

Fierce Government: The Postal Service plans to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020 as part of an initiative led by an international organization of postal operators, says a USPS inspector general blog post. Half of the 25 national postal operators that make up the International Post Corporation have already reached the target.

Blog: This is the second blog in our two-part series on sustainability. Last week's blog, Green Scene, focused on recycling efforts.

When do growth and reduction go hand-in-hand? When the world's posts are trying to grow their business but reduce their carbon footprint. The 25 national postal operators that make up the International Post Corporation (IPC) have made great strides toward achieving their carbon dioxide emission reduction goals, but they hit a bump in 2013 and 2014. A coalition of the world's industrialized posts, the IPC is aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Half of the IPC members have already reached the target. But last year marked the first increase in emissions from the use of heating and transport fuel for the group as a whole since the IPC environmental measurement program began in 2009. One reason for the backsliding is actually a good problem. The global growth in e-commerce, which has boosted the posts' number of parcel deliveries, is making emission reduction targets more challenging. Especially harsh winters in some countries and a big increase in size in one of the operator's delivery networks have also contributed to the posts' higher fuel consumption. IPC officials are stressing the importance of switching to renewable energy, either self-generated or purchased, wherever possible. The U.S. Postal Service is one of the 25 posts taking part in the IPC Environmental Measurement and Monitoring Program. It's also one of the posts that saw its transportation fuel use increase. In its 2014 Sustainability Report, the Postal Service notes that "an aging [postal vehicle] fleet and the need to service more delivery points are pushing our fuel demand upward." Still, the Postal Service must continue its efforts to manage its fuel resources as efficiently as possible, for both its own fleet and its contracting vehicles. (Our 2014 audit report offered recommendations on encouraging fuel efficient practices in highway contract routes.) This should get easier in the next couple of years as the Postal Service replaces its long-life vehicle fleet. This summer the Postal Service will select vendors to build new vehicle prototypes and it will award a contract of up to $6.3 billion over several years beginning in 2017. With continued parcel growth expected, how can the world's posts meet the demands of customers while reducing their carbon footprints? What technologies might benefit the Postal Service specifically?"

- Malta Independent: The Malta Communications Authority (MCA) recently published its report on the complaints received and related activities during the last six months of 2014. In total, the MCA received 240 complaints, an average of 40 complaints per month.  During the period under review, the MCA also received 243 enquiries and requests for information on matters related to the sectors it regulates.  A number of these complaints/queries related to practices adopted by service providers in the sectors regulated by MCA over which the MCA has no legal power to intervene. In such cases, the Authority referred complainants to the competent Authorities.

- Times-Mail: Whether you're shipping a birthday gift to a beloved niece or returning a defective item to a manufacturer, you want to know that your package arrives on time and in good condition; however, changes to pricing and policies can make it hard to know which shipping service to use. "You can ease frustration and make the process more convenient by choosing a shipping provider that offers a spectrum of reliable shipping options," suggests John Budzynski, U.S. Postal Service consumer advocate and manager of customer relations. "That way, you have the freedom of selecting the price and service level that is best for your unique shipping needs."

-The Irish Times-: Another aspect of Dublin's heritage is about to disappear but will anyone really bother when the perjorative D4 is turned into DO4, which doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Dublin's postal districts will be transformed into new sets of letters and numerals with the imminent new postcodes, which will also give individual addresses their own alphanumeric "identity". The old postal district numbers will form the basis of the first part of these new postcodes. But nowadays, when hardly anyone writes personal letters any more, will many people take notice of the nationwide switchover?

Audit Reports:
  • Retail Systems Software Deployment and Functionality:--What the OIG Found- Functionality issues delayed completion of the pilot. In addition, management stopped RSS deployment in December 2014 because of an unrelated temporary national freeze on information technology deployment. RSS was deployed at only 396 of the 700 planned pilot sites as of December 2014. The Postal Service now plans to deploy RSS at 17,219 sites between February and December 2015. In January 2015-, 1 month before deployment begins, management plans a 50-site test of the Office Data Import tool, which converts point-of-service data for import into RSS. Management does not know if Office Data Import tooI testing will be successful or if it will affect the start of the national deployment. -During our 16 site visits we found an average of three functionality issues per site that required a workaround process. These issues included screen freezes, money order transaction errors, processing surcharges, and a lack of application for -international mail restrictions concerning height and weight and currency conversion. The RSS help desk also needs improvement. Inadequate functionality and help desk support can adversely affect the customer experience, the national deployment timetable, and users' confidence in RSS. The current deployment schedule is aggressive, making successful deployment in 2015 challenging. In addition, existing and future functionality issues may require more funding, which would further reduce the expected return on investment.- What the OIG Recommended-. The RSS help desk is adequately staffed with knowledgeable personnel and is able to support national deployment. 
     

  • Utilization of Data by the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President: The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General initiated an agency-wide series of audits to review the U.S. Postal Service's use of data. These audits included discussions and analyses of the data used by the deputy postmaster general and executive vice presidents. The Postal Service is dependent on data to manage its business strategies and daily activities. It needs effective and efficient access to appropriate internal and external data to make informed business decisions. This audit report focuses on the use of data by the chief financial officer (CFO) and executive vice president. The CFO manages the Postal Service's financial risks, planning, reporting, and analysis. The vice presidents of Supply Management and Finance and Planning report to the CFO and provide data from their organizations to help the CFO manage financial risks and responsibilities. Our objective was to determine whether the CFO effectively uses internal and external business data to manage business activities and mitigate risk.

March 15, 2015

All Africa: Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has said government would force infrastructure sharing among service providers as it seeks to improve telecommunication and data services in the country. Speaking at a consultative workshop for finalisation of the Zimbabwe's National ICT policy framework on Friday, Mandiwanzira said there was need to have a policy that restricted service providers to their core services and not infrastructure development.

National Association of Letter Carriers: (President Rolando) You can't judge a new CEO on the basis of only one week on the job. That would be like judging a book based on its opening chapter or the color of its cover. But I was encouraged by the performance of Megan Brennan during her first week on the job as the 74th postmaster general of the Unit- ed States at least in compari- son with her predecessor. Three things stand out. First, she posted a letter to all postal employees on the USPS website that set a very positive tone focusing on themes that will unite us: innovation, growth and working together to over- come the challenges we face. Second, she immediately met with each of the presidents of the Postal Service's four employee unions. Doing so shows respect for the craft employees who make the Postal Service what it is every day, an amazing public service and an invalu- able part of the nation's economic infrastructure. My first conversation with her was very constructive and useful; I look forward to many more like it. And third, she shifted in a subtle but significant way the manner in which the Postal Service communicates with the media and the public about our financial performance, again accentuating the positive. I want to focus on this last step the most because I think it is essential for achieving the kind of postal reform legislation that will strengthen the Postal Service, not dismantle it.

Taxpayers Protection Alliance: The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a major advocate of reforming the practices of federal agencies that are wasting taxpayer money on wasteful projects and endeavors, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been a major concern as they continue to lose billions and yet keep expanding into services they have no business at even attempting. TPA also released a video in December of 2014 highlighting these issues. Now, with Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) open docket to consider the U.S. Postal Service's Proposal Thirteen regarding the City Carrier Street Time Model (Docket No. RM2015-7), TPA is weighing in calling for transparency and full accounting of how the agency is working to do their best to ensure that the best service at the greatest value to taxpayers is being provided.

New Pittsburgh Courier: We need to protect the U.S. Postal Service and our right to a public postal system. Once it is lost to the private sector, all bets are off in terms of what we will be handed in return.

March 14, 2015

Audit Reports:

  • Badges for Postal Service Contractors. As a follow-up to our Security Clearances for Postal Service Contract Drivers report, our Office of Audit‬ has released its newes report assessing the Postal Service's badge policy for contractors.
  • Domestic Merchandise Returns and Forwarding. The package delivery market is an important and growing segment of the U.S. economy. American businesses and consumers spent more than $68 billion in 2013 to ship packages domestically.As well, the U.S. Postal Service is active in the returns market. To support this growing market, the Postal Service offers a variety of merchandise return and forwarding products and services and continues to develop additional services to keep up with eCommerce, digital innovations, and changing customer preferences. The objective of our review was to identify opportunities for the Postal Service to grow its merchandise returns and forwarding revenue.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Service:

Domestic Mail Manual; Incorporation by Reference 13492 [2015-05757] [TEXT]
International Mail Manual; Incorporation by Reference 13492-13493 [2015-05760] [TEXT]

 Gizmodo: Did you know that the United States Postal Service has its own police force? It's true. While the US Postal Inspection Service is typically tasked with looking into mailbox vandalism and mail fraud, an investigation in Denver reveals that they're also installing hidden cameras at post offices and spying on Americans. This postal surveillance program sounds shady as hell. FOX31 Denver found one camera disguised as a utility box that "was positioned to capture and record the licence plates and facial features of customers leaving a Golden Post Office." Within an hour of the local news station's discovery, the Postal Inspection Service had ripped it out of the ground, though the force later admitted that it had a "number of cameras at their disposal." So why on Earth is the postal service spying on people? That's the shadiest part: The USPS won't say. FOX31 filed multiple FOIA requests with multiple agencies. "None of the agencies could provide a written data retention policy," the station reports. This is exactly the kind of warrantless surveillance and data collection that's been spreading across post-9/11 America, and the fact that the government won't talk about it is a big problem. It's not just the NSA that's doing the spying either. It's the postal service too!

March 13, 2015 

Nextgov: Despite the U.S. Postal Service's piles of data generated by 31,000 facilities, almost half a million employees and 153 million delivery addresses, it has yet to follow the popular lead of other federal agencies and hire a chief data officer. But so far, it looks to be handling its data pretty well without one, according to a recent inspector general report. Instead of a CDO, the agency has given its chief information officer the responsibility for distilling its reams of data into business insights. "The CIO's data practices demonstrate effective use of internal and external business data," the report stated. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways for its data practices to be improved, according to the study. As with other federal agencies, the Postal Service's data is used for important day-to-day decisions as well as risk management. "Effective data use by the CIO supports the rest of senior management in their efforts to achieve the Postal Service's goals," the report stated. But the methods the CIO uses to communicate this data to management may need some updating, according to the IG.

From the Federal Register: 

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
13456 13457 [2015 05747] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Meetings; Sunshine Act ,
13457 [2015 05863] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Office of the Inspector General: What Do You Think of the New Mobile Delivery Device? Postal Service carriers are getting new mobile hand-held electronic devices to track packages and communicate with their local offices. The mobile delivery device (MDD) collects and transmits transactional data for packages at the Post Office and as packages are out for delivery. It operates over wireless carrier networks and the Postal Service's internal network. The MDD, built by Honeywell, is a major piece of a larger Postal Service plan to support the kind of multiple-event, end-to-end tracking used by commercial shippers. We will review and evaluate the functionality of the MDD and the plan to deploy it. We would like to have feedback from our clerks and carriers who use MDDs every day.

Postal Technology International: The postal logistics and delivery sector is a highly competitive marketplace. Each business in this space operates on very small margins, and the winners are those organizations which best understand their costs and drive their customers to sign up for longer term contracts at profitable levels. So why is this happening in so few organizations? The simple answer is that it is difficult. It is however achievable when organizations change from having very little interest in data, to being focused on the use of data to gain insight and drive the business forward. Gaining an understanding of your cost base is crucial, and every organization has the insight at their fingertips, all within the data flowing through the business just waiting to be revealed. The answers to the cost/profit equation are there it's all about using data in a smarter way.

March 12, 2015 

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

  • Response of The United States Postal Service to Order No. 2378
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91736/Response to Order 2378 (FINAL).pdf (The Postal Service's response contains adjusted pricing and further explanation consistent with the Commission's Order. The scheduled implementation date for the new pricing continues to be April 26, 2015. Attached to this pleading the Postal Service has provided: 1) updated Mail Classification Schedule ("MCS") pages with revised Standard Mail and Periodicals prices;5 2) updated workshare discount tables;6 and 3) updated exigent surcharges affected by various rate proposals in this docket.7 The Postal Service is also filing revised price cap calculation workpapers (with explanatory prefaces), and other supporting materials requested by the Commission, concurrently with this pleading. )

    "The United States Postal Service hereby provides its response to Order No. 2378, which was issued on March 6, 2015. In that Order, the Commission remanded the proposed rates for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services,1 because the Commission concluded that they did not comply with certain statutory and regulatory requirements.2 To address the Commission's findings, the Postal Service was given specific instructions concerning the additional information, price revisions, and source data that needed to be provided to the Commission in an amended notice of price adjustment. 3 In order to preserve its ability to implement the proposed prices on April 26, 2015, the Postal Service was directed to file its amended notice with the Commission no later than March 12, 2015.4 As discussed in more detail below, the Postal Service has complied with each of the Commission's directives and recommendations."

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  

  • PostalOne! Release 40.0.5.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! Release 40.0.5.0 will deploy on Thursday March 12, 2015 between 5:00PM Central and 7:00PM Central. The PostalOne! system will be available during the patch release. This release is intended to address several known issues. There is no mandatory Mail.dat client download required.
  • PostalOne! Release 40.0.5.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur on Thursday Mar 12, 2015 between 5:00PM CT and 7:00PM CT. TEM will remain available during the release. TEM validation will occur tomorrow Friday Mar 13, 2015 between 9:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Post & Parcel: La Poste Group is working with French vehicle manufacturer Renault to test out a longer-range mail truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Various postal operators have been trying out electric vehicles to handle shorter-range duties like urban last-mile delivery, while cutting out tailpipe pollution and reducing fleet carbon emissions. But the range of electric vehicles on a single charge is seen as a limiting factor for longer-range transport purposes. La Poste said this week that it believes using an on-board fuel cell could double the range of an electric vehicle.

Cape Breton Post: Union says Canada Post's franchises will mean job losses for postal workers. The president of the local postal union is asking all unions in Glace Bay and area to remind Shoppers Drug Mart they are a drug store, not a post office. Gordie MacDonald, president of the Canadian Postal Workers Breton 117, said the Canada Post Corporation's postal outlet in the Shoppers Drug Mart outlet will eventually reduce Canada Post jobs.

Independent: The regulator Ofcom should be given new powers to prevent a "race to the bottom" in pay and conditions among postal workers, a committee of MPs said today. Politicians on the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee criticised rivals to newly privatised Royal Mail highlighting Whistl for a "disproportionate" use of controversial zero-hours contracts among employees.

Forbes: Could Uber Put FedEx Out Of Business? Spoiler Alert: The answer is yes, and that is a very important lesson for you, as well.

From the Federal Register: 

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
13041 [2015 05582] [TEXT]  [PDF]
13042 13043 [2015 05583] [TEXT]  [PDF]
13041 13042 [2015 05584] [TEXT]  [PDF]
13040 13041 [2015 05585] [TEXT]  [PDF]
13042 [2015 05617] [TEXT]  [PDF]
13040 [2015 05636] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Product Changes:
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  13044 [2015 05597] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  13043 13044 [2015 05609] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  13044 [2015 05610] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  13043 [2015 05621] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  13044 [2015 05622] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  13043 [2015 05630] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  13044 [2015 05635] [TEXT]  [PDF

March 11, 2015 

Warrick Publishing: In a country where people extol the virtues of free enterprise, why is the U.S. government involved in the delivery of mail? After all, it would be difficult to find a better example of a violation of the principles of free enterprise than the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service is a monopoly. That means that the law expressly prohibits anyone in the private sector from competing against the government in the delivery of first-class mail. If some private firm attempts to do so, the Justice Department immediately secures an injunction from a federal judge enjoining the firm from continuing to compete. If the firm persists, the judge jails the head of the firm until he agrees to cease and desist with his competition. The real question is: Why not simply abolish the Postal Service and leave the delivery of mail entirely to the free market?

Office of the Inspector General: The USPS Office of Inspector General established an " Audit Asks" web site to provide an opportunity for our stakeholders to comment on our projects. Web site visitors can register comments and upload documents related to our projects on Election Mail, Small Business Exports, and Worldwide Shopping Services at the links below. We will consider and use this information as appropriate during the course of our work. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact me at 636-345-9722 or the auditors-in-charge listed here: Election Mail Roy Williams, Auditor-In-Charge, 201-499-5113; Small Business Exports Peter Sim, Auditor-In-Charge, 703-248-2163; Worldwide Shopping Services Min Aung, Auditor-In-Charge, 703-248-4653

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

Lloyd's Loading List: Air cargo remains too slow, unresponsive, and lacking in visibility according to shippers at the IATA World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Shanghai, whose views were echoed in a survey of cargo owners conducted by IATA. Speaking in a panel discussion at WCS, Robert Mellin, head of distribution logistics for telecommunications firm Ericsson, gave air freight a satisfaction rating of just 5, saying that although Ericsson spent almost US$200 million a year on air freight, it only did so where it had to in order to avert delays that were unacceptable to its customers. He said air freight was 10 times the price of surface transport, but not 10 times as fast.

The Hindu: The indefinite strike commenced by rural postal workers here on Tuesday has badly hit delivery of posts and money orders in rural areas. The protesting rural postal workers said the government should regularise their services as full-time employees of Department of Posts and extend all benefits. A committee headed by a judge should be formed to recommend pay scale and nature of work when rural postal workers were recognised as the employees of Department of Posts. The ongoing move to convert the Department of Posts into a corporate firm should be given up, the protestors said.

Quartz: As a key piece in fulfilling the promise of online commerce, delivery growth rates are expected to rise and include more food delivery and other types of services. Amazon, Google, and Wal-Mart are already competing with UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service, as well as crowdsourced-based startups such as Deliv and Postmates. Smart delivery platforms will have to prioritize.

Bloomberg: Deutsche Post AG said operating profit growth this year may be less than 3 percent as global expansion provides little tailwind for Europe's largest postal service. The shares fell the most in 10 months. Earnings before interest and taxes will rise to between 3.05 billion euros ($3.26 billion) and 3.2 billion euros, the Bonn-based company said in a statement today. That compares with an average estimate for 3.24 billion euros collected from 22 analysts by Bloomberg. "We will definitely remain on our growth track," Chief Executive Officer Frank Appel said in the statement. "We have to work hard on this though and address a number of structural challenges in order to remain successful in the years to come." Deutsche Post is adding capacity at express hubs and sorting centers and installing SAP SE software at its freight forwarding units as economic growth remain subdued. The World Trade Organization in September cut its forecast for this year's trade growth by one-quarter, and the European Central Bank this week started buying bonds under a quantitative-easing plan to boost the region's price growth.

Minot Daily News: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. has met with the new U.S. Postmaster General to push for improvements to mail service and delivery in rural areas across North Dakota. According to a press release, Heitkamp met with Megan J. Brennan, U.S. postmaster general and United States Postal Service chief executive officer, who took over as head of the postal service last month. Heitkamp stressed to Brennan that she hopes the agency will bring a stronger focus to addressing the mail delivery, service and postal worker challenges in rural areas like North Dakota. During the meeting, they also discussed Heitkamp's Fix My Mail initiative and the challenges North Dakotans have faced with reliable and timely mail service, particularly in rural areas.

Yibada: Several express delivery companies in the country are planning to expand their services in other countries as they continue to reshuffle and hire new staff to meet industry demand.

Las Vegas Review-Journal: U.S. Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., on Tuesday toured a United Parcel Service center and praised UPS for using alternate fuels and sophisticated computers to find the most efficient routes to cut delivery costs by 15 percent. "I like innovation and I like efficiency," Hardy said in an interview at the end of his 90-minute tour and talk with two dozen UPS employees and leaders, including several who have worked for the company for nearly 40 years. Hardy said UPS is a model company, providing generous salaries and benefits to drivers and managers. "These are career jobs," said Hardy, who opposes setting a minimum wage, preferring competition among companies to determine pay scales instead. "Competition will take care of itself." UPS drivers average $32.50 an hour with entry-level positions such as loaders paid $11 to $12 per hour. The federal and Nevada minimum wage is $7.25, or $8.25 for Nevada companies that don't offer health care benefits.

March 10, 2015 

Montreal Gazette: Canada Post's plan to phase out home delivery by 2018 has met resistance in Montreal. Jacques C"t‚, head of the mail processing and delivery network for Canada Post, answered questions on the controversial conversion plan.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Orchard Brands Junction Route 6 & 62 Irvine, PA 16329 Contact: Julie Bennett Operations Analyst

Office of the Inspector General: Green Scene --It's safe to say that sustainability has gone mainstream. It's not just that "going green" is the responsible thing to do; it's also good business. The U.S. Postal Service, too, is trying to do its part, particularly with recycling. Since 2008, the Postal Service has recycled an average of about 220,000 tons of wastepaper, cardboard, cans, plastics, and other reusable materials. In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the Postal Service diverted about 40 percent of its solid waste to recycling, and the target is to divert 50 percent by the end of this fiscal year. The Postal Service also created the USPS BlueEarth federal recycling program to make it easy for federal agencies to recycle inkjet cartridges and unwanted electronic devices. Federal agencies simply send eligible items through the mail at no charge to a certified recycler that cleans data from the devices. A similar service is offered to Postal Service customers through the Return For Good program, which allows you to recycle eligible small electronics through participating third-party vendors and even get cash back for certain items.

Post & Parcel: Post Danmark has extended its flexible parcel delivery service to 1m Danish residents who live in apartment blocks. The state-owned postal operator said the extension of the Modtagerflex (flexible delivery) service would make it easier for more people to receive items purchased online.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) is launching a new campaign with the tagline "United Problem Solvers." The campaign replaces the Atlanta-based company's "We Love Logistics" campaign that launched in 2010. The newest campaign - which includes TV, print and online components - debuted Sunday during the NCAA men's basketball tournament, reports AdAge. Print ads are running in general business publications and select trade magazines, the publication said.

Fierce Government: Standard Mail Postal Service products like periodicals and flats are not covering their own costs, despite a mandate that each kind of mail cover its own costs to be processed and sent, says a recently released Feb. 26 USPS inspector general report. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires postal mail products to generate enough revenue to cover costs and contribute to USPS overhead, the report (pdf) says. But, Standard Mail flats and periodicals have been unable to meet the requirement, the IG says. Standard Mail Flats are mailpieces like newsletters or catalogs that exceed the maximum dimensions of a letter. Periodicals are newspapers and magazines. To determine if postal products cover their costs, the Postal Service uses a complex system with two main components "costing and pricing" to attribute costs to specific postal products, the report says. Standard Mail flats and periodicals have consistently been unable to cover their costs despite increased investment in processing automation.

Federal News Radio: Many members of Congress campaign on advocating for government to run more like a business. And most businesses anticipating a 15 percent drop in employees, and a potential 7 percent revenue decline, would want to reduce the amount of space they occupy to match the shrinking workforce. But the answer to the Pentagon's request for another BRAC round has been "no" for the past several years, without even much discussion. And for now, there's no reason to believe this year will be any different. The Postal Service hit the same wall in 2011 when it proposed even thinking about the status of 3,700 locations. Many of the locations USPS wanted to consider closing are located in areas that are readily served by either other USPS locations, or by third-party vendors that provide most of the same services a full-scale post office would. But USPS has done worse than the Defense Department. Congress has slowed Postal Service efforts to make its 2015 operations better fit its 2015 customer base. BRAC is a dirty word in Congress.

Jerusalem Post: As part of the plan to make the Israel Postal Company more profitable and efficient and increase customer service, the company on Monday introduced a new service to make appointments to avoid lines. Instead of waiting in notoriously long lines at branches, customers can register online or via the postal app. Instead of taking a number when they show up at the branch, they will enter their information and get moved to the front of the line.

March 9, 2015 

Intelisent: "The challenge for the Postal Service is to embrace a faster pace of change" As evidenced by the recent disastrous rate filing that was (rightfully so) remanded by the PRC, this strategy is doing far more harm than good. Change and speed without focus almost always results in a crash, and effectively slows progress rather than speeding it up. There is a component of the definition of change that seems to be missing from the USPS strategy, and that is to transform or convert. Transformations do not need to take place overnight to be successful. In fact, the best and most beneficial transformations are methodical, well thought-out, carefully planned, and well-executed. Rather than "planning' with a scatter gun, USPS needs to focus, aim, and hit targets. Speeding change isn't working out so well for them. Focus on DELIVERING THE MAIL. Carefully plan and execute achievable, targeted goals. Recognize when a plan is going off the tracks, and rather than speeding up and wrecking the train, ease back, adjust, and keep moving forward. A slower pace is far better in the long run (unless your goal is, in fact, a train wreck).

Federal Times: When you click "buy" online you are doing more than just shopping, you are pushing to fundamentally change the Postal Service. Even as people continue to send fewer greeting cards, checks and letters through the mail the explosion in e-commerce is pushing the Postal Service toward a future where it delivers everything from your new shoes to your TV and that is propelling a shift within the agency toward package delivery.

The Postal Service Mailing Services team invites you to attend a webinar on Tuesday, March 10 to review the upcoming 2015 Promotion Calendar. The 2015 promotions will build upon the goals of past promotions and continue to build awareness of how mobile technology can be integrated in direct mail campaigns, as well as highlight new products and other innovative mail techniques that we believe increase the value of mail. The team will review the detailed participation requirements for the following planned 2015 Promotions:

* First-Class Mail: Earned Value Promotion Color Transpromo Promotion
* Standard* and First-Class Mail; Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion
* Standard Mail:  Mail Drives Mobile Engagement Promotion (Standard Mail promotions are pending approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission)

Webinar pre-registration is required and lines are limited so please sign up for this informational session today. An overview of all the promotions will be provided. Since registration for the Earned Value promotion starts on Sunday, March 15th, this information is being provided to assist in your planning. The same webinar will be provided again next week for those of you who are unable to attend tomorrow. Additionally the webinars are recorded and will be available on RIBBS at https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=mailingpromotions. Additional webinars are planned and information will be forthcoming as soon as possible.

Go here to register for the March 10th webinar https://uspsmeetings.webex.com/uspsmeetings/j.php?RGID=r1cafa3cad5c9db1e55c59ec54a9e1812 Call-in-toll-free number: 1-855-860-7461 Conference Code: 553 970 9242
Register for March 17th webinar at 2:00 pm Eastern Time: https://uspsmeetings.webex.com/uspsmeetings/j.php?RGID=r3324f0a2f6e06dfa250f124fbef0db42 Call-in toll-free number: 1-855-860-7461 Conference Code: 553 970 9242
If you have any questions, please contact the Program Office at mailingpromotions@usps.gov Additional information on the USPS 2015 Promotions can be found on the RIBBS website https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=mailingpromotions

Federal Times: The Postal Service's new Postmaster General will keep pressing for a comprehensive postal reform bill but will work to develop consensus legislation with wide support. Megan Brennan, officially sworn in as the postmaster general March 6, sat down with a small group of reporters to outline her approach to developing congressional legislation that has the support needed to become law. She said she would work with policymakers, the mailing industry and union leaders to identify reform areas where there is broad agreement such as eliminating the pre-funding of retiree health benefits. The pre-funding requirement alone costs the Postal Service about $5.5 billion a year. "So my approach with our key stakeholders is to sit down and have a constructive dialogue about the provisions of a bill that we can agree on," Brennan said. "I want to have those discussions with the key constituents as I move forward."

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

"Due to inclement weather, the Federal Government in the Washington, D.C. area was closed on March 5, 2015. The technical conference originally scheduled for that date is rescheduled for 10:00 a.m. on March 18, 2015, in the Commission's hearing room. The technical conference is open to all persons interested in the Postal Service's service performance measurement systems proposals. The Postal Service shall briefly outline the proposals contained within its plan, and be available to answer questions."

London South East: Escher Group Holdings PLC Monday said it swung to a pretax loss in 2014, as revenue was hit in some contracts including the roll out of its software with a North American customer, although it expressed confidence in its prospects for 2015. The postal industry software provider posted a pretax loss of USD470,000, compared with a pretax profit of USD1.5 million in 2013, as revenue declined to USD21.1 million from USD24.7 million. Escher Group did not propose a dividend.

e27: Singapore's national postal service SingPost today announced it is forming a partnership with Indonesian mobile phone retailer Trikomsel with the aim of entering Indonesia's rapidly growing e-commerce scene. What this means is that SingPost will involve in e-commerce services including technology deployment, operations management, warehousing, line haul and delivery, payment and parcel collection, digital marketing, and post-sales support, whereas PT Trikomsel will leverage its local experience to help optimise online branded stores for the Indonesian market.

Post & Parcel: Post Danmark has extended its flexible parcel delivery service to 1m Danish residents who live in apartment blocks. The state-owned postal operator said the extension of the Modtagerflex (flexible delivery) service would make it easier for more people to receive items purchased online. The service has already been available to rural and urban houses since 2010, with 400,000 properties now enrolled in the programme. Modtagerflex allows package recipients to nominate an alternative location for Post Danmark delivery staff to leave their packages if they are not at home to receive them. For residents in flats or apartments, it might mean leaving an item in a bike shed or yard.

Wall Street Journal: United Parcel Service Inc. is known for its brown trucks and drivers who wear shorts, but mostly it is known simply for delivering packages. It wants to be known for more. In recent years, UPS has focused more resources on more-profitable areas where it can offer additional services, like health care, when a shipment must arrive quickly and at the correct temperature. It has built out warehouse complexes with refrigeration, and even manages shipments for some pharmacies. It has also taken an increasingly active role in e-commerce returns, an expensive and logistical nightmare for retailers, as well as helping brick-and-mortar retailers in endeavors such as shipping packages from stores. For a company whose big brown delivery trucks are a common sight in any U.S. city, communicating a new message can be difficult.

Bernama: More than 100 Glock handguns were smuggled through the Australian postal body and illegally obtained by criminals. The guns were used in armed hold-ups and other crimes after passing through Australia Post.

Globes: The Ministry of Communications has fined Israel Postal Company Ltd. NIS 120,000 for late delivery of parcels. In a letter to Postal Company senior VP Yigal Levy, the Ministry writes that the reason for the fines was an audit it conducted at the company's central processing office in Tel Aviv and at the Rehovot branch, which discovered excessive quantities of piled up parcels that had not been delivered to their destinations.

WFMY: Although the economy has since regained all jobs lost, some occupations are shrinking. Topping the list of middle skill jobs likely to decline through 2022 is postal service clerks, who also happen to be the highest paid, earning almost $15,000 more annually than the second highest paid workers on the list. Also, the result of the growth of email and electronic bill paying as well as a growth in e-zines, electronic versions of what had been print magazines, all of which combine to decrease mail volume. Postal service clerks perform a wide range of tasks such as receiving letters and parcels; selling stamps, post cards, and stamped envelopes; filling out and selling money orders; sorting mail and checking mail for correct postage. The jobs, though, are threatened as the U.S. Postal Service continues to run an operating deficit despite increasing revenues. The number of postal clerk jobs is expected to shrink from 66,900 in 2012 to 45,700 clerks by 2022.

March 8, 2015 

Dead Tree Edition: To make some real dough, the folks at L'Enfant Plaza will need to use some creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Just imagine the following USPS-branded ventures that would build on the unique strengths of a proud organization that can trace its roots back to Benjamin Franklin. [EdNote: My favorite -- We-Deliver Obstetric Centers]

Daily Record: Royal Mail have sounded the last post for their first class service in Scotland by slashing collection times at low-use postboxes. The scheme is being rolled out to 3300 boxes north of the Border which carry 50 items or less a day as they do not cover their costs. Collection times have been cut by up to nine hours with the last daily pick-up at some boxes now 9am Monday to Friday when it was previously 6pm. The changes mean that first class letters posted later than 9am are unlikely to be collected until the next day.

March 7, 2015 

Office of the Inspector General:

  • Utilization of Marketing and Sales Data for Executives

    The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated an agency-wide series of seven audits to review U.S. Postal Service executives' use of data. Like any large organization, the Postal Service depends on data to manage its daily activities and business strategies. Postal Service executives and managers need effective and efficient access to internal and external data to make informed business decisions. Our objective was to determine whether the CMSO effectively uses internal and external business data to manage business activities and mitigate risk.

    What The OIG Found The CMSO does not have all the data necessary to manage business activities. As discussed in previous OIG reports, complete data on, or visibility into, customers and revenue are not readily available. The CMSO recognizes these data limitations and is working toward the goal of achieving complete revenue visibility through reliable customer data and information systems that track revenue associated with each customer. This visibility would assist in strategic planning, as well as Sales force deployment, customer retention, and reconciliation of sales and actual revenue. The CMSO effectively uses available data to manage business activities and mitigate risks. However, it does not have well-structured, comprehensive dashboards that consolidate data and key performance metrics related to domestic and international transactions, pricing, innovation, sales, and digital solutions. Comprehensive dashboards could help the CMSO digest and prioritize this information by integrating and presenting it in an accessible format. The use of comprehensive dashboards is a best practice and they are a primary management tool for executives.

    What The OIG Recommended We recommended the CMSO enhance and expedite efforts to achieve complete customer and revenue data visibility and develop a comprehensive dashboard to better use data.
     
  • Utilization of Data by the Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President

    The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General initiated an agency-wide series of audits to review the U.S. Postal Service's use of data. The Postal Service depends on data to manage its business strategies and daily activities. With effective and efficient access to appropriate internal and external data, Postal Service management can make more informed business decisions. Our objective was to determine whether the CIO effectively uses internal and external business data to manage business activities and mitigate risks.

    What The OIG Found The CIO's data practices demonstrate effective use of internal and external business data; however, opportunities exist for the CIO to better utilize data for the purposes of business activity management and risk mitigation. We found the CIO relies on a voluminous amount of granular metrics in the form of graphs, tables, scorecards, reports, and email correspondence. For example, the weekly reports on service performance for each class of mail contain about 800 individual metrics. Additionally, the CIO receives daily reports on information technology performance including security events such as malware and incident information. The CIO does not have an aggregated dashboard view of composite metrics representing the strategic priorities and risks across his areas of responsibility. This dashboard could reflect the following best practice metric categories: financial, project, operational, talent management, user satisfaction, and information security. By using an aggregate-type dashboard, the CIO could improve focus on sustaining the Postal Service's information infrastructure such as improving the availability of critical systems related to mail processing. Additionally, this dashboard could enhance the visibility of critical information.

    What The OIG Recommended We recommended the CIO implement an aggregated dashboard view of key composite metrics that represent strategic goals, risks, anomalies, and key issues requiring management action.
     
  • Management Advisory - Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Testing Compliance Oversight Reviews

    The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the U.S. Postal Service to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and report on the effectiveness of the agency's internal controls over financial reporting. The Financial Testing Compliance (FTC) group tests these financial controls at postal units. The overall objective of our review was to evaluate whether the FTC group properly tested, documented, and reported its examination of key financial reporting controls at selected postal facilities.We conducted this review in support of the independent public accounting (IPA) firm's overall opinions on the Postal Service's financial statements and internal controls over financial reporting.

    What The OIG Found We observed the FTC group conduct 209 internal control tests at 99 of 721 randomly selected units. During the review, the FTC group reported eight exceptions and we agreed with those results. However, we determined the FTC group did not properly test or document the inquiry portion of its examination of 12 key financial reporting controls at seven units. Specifically: ■ During the inquiry portion of the examination, we did not observe analysts at five units obtain all responses related to key financial reporting control procedures performed at the units. ■ An analyst at one unit did not accurately document results from the inquiry portion of the examination for the end-of-day reconciliation process. ■ FTC management discarded and retested the same unit because a control performer did not provide correct responses during the inquiry portion of the examination.

    What The OIG Recommended We discussed our results with management and the IPA firm throughout the fiscal year and issued interim reports. Based on discussions subsequent to the end of the fiscal year, FTC management established procedures to improve communication for future reviews. FTC management has already implemented improvements and will complete further improvements by February 2015; therefore, we are not making any recommendations.
     
  • Challenges in Controlling Costs with Standard Mail Flats and Periodicals

    The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted reviews from FY 2008 through FY 20133 of flat mail issues and FSS concerns. This white paper summarizes results from those reviews and identifies four overarching areas that have affected the cost component of cost coverage. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted reviews from FY 2008 through FY 20133 of flat mail issues and FSS concerns. This white paper summarizes results from those reviews and identifies four overarching areas that have affected the cost component of cost coverage. We did not address the impact of these overarching issues to the pricing component of cost coverage. We also evaluated the decline of Standard Mail Flats and Periodicals cost coverage from FY 2008, the year Standard Mail Flats was initially reported below 100 percent cost coverage, through FY 2013, the year of the most recent Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Annual Compliance Determination Report.

Wall Street Journal: Based on the jobs data alone, the American economy is doing fabulously. But overall economic growth has been less impressive. That's because productivity the amount of goods and services each worker produces is growing at a tepid rate. Productivity matters because it is the ultimate source of a rising standard of living. The more a worker produces, the more the employer can afford to pay. Over time, real wages those adjusted for inflation are determined by productivity.

Washington Post: Megan Brennan on Friday called the U.S. Postal Service an "indispensable part of the American economy and the everyday lives of the public," but acknowledged that in a fast-changing digital world, the mail agency needs to "embrace a faster pace of change" and "constantly improve our competitiveness." The comments from the 74th postmaster general came during a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at Postal Service headquarters at L'Enfant Plaza. Here are some of the changes she said she intends to pursue: New vehicle fleet and mail-sorting equipment - Better use of data and technology to improve the efficiency of postal operations - Improving "speed to value" through innovation and use of data - Aggressive pursuit of "marketplace" opportunities - Improved customer service.

March 6, 2015 

First-Class Mail 2015 Promotions Registration Begins March 15 As part of its commitment to grow the mail, the Postal Service is pleased to announce several First-Class Mail promotions that will offer incentives or discounts to mailers throughout 2015. Earned Value Reply Mail is designed to encourage mailers to use First-Class Mail as the primary reply means for their customers, by providing a postage credit for each returned Business Reply Mail or Courtesy Reply Mail piece. Color Transpromo is designed to encourage mailers to increase the value of bills, invoices, and statements by combining the power of digital and color technology, which can produce greater connection and response from customers. Emerging and Advanced Technology is designed to create omni-channel marketing opportunities by integrating direct mail with mobile technology. This engages interactive experiences and encourages mailers to use "enhanced" augmented reality, Near Field Communications (NFC), and other technologies.
 

Promotion

 

Registration Period

Program Period

Earned Value Reply Mail

 

March 15 - April 30, 2015

May 1 - July 31, 2015

 

 

 

Color Transpromo

 

April 15 November 30, 2015

June 1 - November 30, 2015

 

 

 

Emerging and Advanced Technology*

 

March 15 - October 31, 2015

May 1- October 31, 2015

On February 24, 2015, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) found the Postal Service pricing proposals for First-Class Mail to be consistent with the Consumer Price Index based price cap under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Customers may find registration and promotion details on the RIBBS website under the Promotions & Incentive Programs for First-Class & Standard Mail tab; postings on the website are scheduled to be available on March 9, 2015.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: Docket No. R2015-4 Order On Price Adjustments For Standard Mail, Periodicals, And Package Services Products

The Commission has reviewed the pricing proposals for consistency with the requirements of title 39 and the Commission's regulations. The Commission provided its analysis of the proposed prices and mail classification changes for First-Class Mail in Order No. 2365. This Order discusses the planned price adjustments for the Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services classes.

As currently proposed, prices for the Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services classes do not comply with certain statutory and regulatory requirements and are therefore remanded to the Postal Service for further action.

In section II of this Order, the Commission determines that the unequal commercial and nonprofit discounts in the Standard Mail class violate the requirement that disparities between commercial and nonprofit discounts must be justified. The Postal Service did not provide a justification for the proposed unequal nonprofit and commercial dropship discounts. The Commission also finds that the Postal Service failed to adequately justify the proposed disparity for nonprofit and commercial presort discounts. In addition, the Commission finds that several Standard Mail workshare discounts exceed 100 percent and have not been adequately justified in accordance with 39 U.S.C. 3622(e).

In section II, the Commission also finds that the Postal Service must revise the Standard Mail billing determinants in accordance with 39 C.F.R. 3010.23(d). The Commission also encourages the Postal Service to address other pricing issues when revising Standard Mail rates in order to send more efficient pricing signals.

In section III of this Order, the Commission explains that the Postal Service incorrectly adjusted several billing determinants associated with Flats Sequencing System (FSS) prices for Periodicals bundles, sacks, and pallets and failed to provide the Commission with the data necessary to calculate the actual average price increase for the Periodicals class. As a result, the Commission is unable to make the finding required under 39 U.S.C. 3622 and 39 C.F.R. 3010.11 that the proposed Periodicals price adjustment is consistent with applicable law.

In section IV of this Order, the Commission explains that it does not have the information necessary to calculate the average price increase for the Package Services class. As a result, the Commission is unable to make the finding required under 39 U.S.C. 3622 and 39 C.F.R. 3010.11 that the proposed Package Services price adjustment is consistent with applicable law.

In recognition of the Postal Service's pricing authority, the Commission remands all Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services rates to allow the Postal Service to modify its planned rates to comply with the applicable legal standards. Pursuant to 39 C.F.R. 3010.11(f), the Postal Service shall file its amended notice of rate adjustment and describe how the modifications to the planned Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services rates comply with applicable legal requirements. An opportunity for comments from interested parties will be provided. See 39 C.F.R. 3010.11(g). The amended notice is due no later than March 12, 2015, so that new rates that comply with applicable legal requirements can be reviewed and implemented, as planned, on April 26, 2015.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

Associated Press: Officials say a former letter carrier dumped undelivered mail into a ravine in Virginia four times this year. The Virginian-Pilot reports (http://bit.ly/1GqiCzW) that a neighborhood man in Norfolk found the mail and brought two trash bags filled with tax information, bills, handwritten letters and magazines to the local post office. Thirty-one-year-old Shalita Corley of Chesapeake was indicted Wednesday on four counts of secreting and detaining mail.

PRNewswire: The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) announced today that the 200,000 member union, with the assistance of the AFL-CIO, has engaged a team of financial advisors, lawyers and economists to challenge the merger between Staples and Office Depot. The union is urging the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to block a merger that it sees as monopolistic and unlawful. The union also will reach out to members of Congress and state and local officials to raise objections.

Special Podcast on the Mailing Industry Project at the
National Postal Museum

Join Allen Kane (Director of the National Postal Museum), Marty Emery (Manager, Public Relations and Internet Affairs), and Karen McCormick (Project Manager) along with Gene Del Polito in a discussion of the latest project to be undertaken by the National Postal Museum -- "The Telling of the Story of the Mailing Industry in America."

There are slides that accompany this podcast. The last two slides are specifically referenced during the podcast.

Dead Tree Edition: Although the April postage hike for Periodicals will supposedly average only 1.4%, some publishers are learning that their increases will be 10 times that amount. The biggest rate increases will probably hit relatively lightweight publications that contain little or no advertising, such as weekly magazines and association newsletters. Some other publishers, however, will probably see lower postage bills.

What They Think!: "US Commercial Printing Industry has Strong January"

Cleveland.com: Members of both parties of Congress this weekend will not only commemorate a watershed moment in civil rights history by traveling to Alabama. They'll also join President Barack Obama as he marks the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." The name was given after a mob including Alabama troopers used whips, clubs and tear gas to beat peaceful marchers who were trying to go from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery to demand equal voting rights. The violence began at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where the marchers were asked to turn back. This week, Brown, a Democrat, was joined by Portman, a Republican, and a handful of other colleagues including Beatty, a Democrat, in introducing a Senate-House resolution that would instruct the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp honoring the Selma anniversary.

Some Upcoming Postal Events of Which You Might Want To Be Aware

Prospects for Reforming the Postal Sector - March 27, 2015 Washington, DC http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/WS15M.pdf

34th Annual Eastern Conference - May 13-15, 2015 Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort, Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/EC15.pdf

23rd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics - June 3 6, 2015 Vouliagmeni, Athens, Greece http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/post/PC15.pdf

 

DC Velocity: Over the past 45 days, several parties have asked the Postal Regulatory Commission, the agency that oversees USPS' operations, to take a deep dive into how the Postal Service accounts for costs across its product lines. The question, according to entities ranging from Atlanta-based UPS Inc. and Memphis-based FedEx Corp. to the Association for Postal Commerce, a group composed of large mailers, is whether USPS provides enough information about its costs to prove the quasigovernmental agency is covering each product's expenses from its corresponding revenue stream, or if it is, in effect, "robbing Peter to pay Paul." By law, USPS provides costing data in its annual compliance review, submitted to the postal commission.

March 5, 2015 

Hursh Blackwell: Transportation contractors held five of the top 10 spots in the list of the agency's Top 150 U.S. Postal Service Suppliers for fiscal year 2014. Federal Express Corporation was again the U.S. Postal Service's largest contractor, a position it has held since 2002. Top-ranked FedEx's fleet of aircraft carries a variety of postal service products, including packages, letters and Priority Mail. FedEx earned postal revenues of $1.4 billion in 2014 down from almost $1.8 billion in 2013. The Postal Service attributes these savings to reduced rates under a new seven-year Air Cargo Network contract, which commenced on Oct. 1, 2013. Package giant United Parcel Service is also among the agency's largest suppliers, earning $123 million in Postal Service revenues and ranked No. 12. However, while they were removed from the top 10, another packaging company, Victory Packaging, jumped from No. 14 up to No. 4 with $214 million in Postal Service revenues. While FedEx and UPS are among the agency's largest suppliers, they are also large Postal Service customers. The Postal Service provides last-mile carrier delivery for FedEx's SmartPost and UPS's SurePost ground services.

FY 2014 Rank FY 2013 Supplier Name FY 2014 Revenue City, State
1 1 Federal Express Corporation $1,408,985,575.12 Pasadena, CA
2 2 EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corporation $433,947,370.45 Statesville, NC
3 4 Pat Salmon & Sons, Inc.* $226,058,006.23 Little Rock, AR
4 14 Victory Packaging $214,456,360.01 Houston, TX
5 3 Kalitta Air, LLC* $196,546,191.37 Ypsilanti, MI
6 5 United Airlines, Inc.* $176,568,690.27 Pasadena, CA
7 6 Hewlett-Packard Co.* $171,703,627.38 Atlanta, GA
8 8 Accenture Federal Services $170,856,752.85 Chicago, IL
9 9 Wheeler Bros., Inc. $159,298,582.16 Somerset, PA
10 7 Northrop Grumman Corporation* $154,790,095.31 Merrifield, VA

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 12048 [2015 05064] [TEXT]

Marketwatch: The Western Union Company, a global leader in payment services, and bpost, the leading postal services operator for Belgium, announced today the expansion of their long-standing relationship under a renewed agreement. Both companies will work together to drive customer-centric innovations in international money transfer along with services and technologies that improve convenience, reliability and speed for consumers. The renewed agreement will seek to extend bank account-based money transfer solutions including debit card for Western Union consumer-to-consumer (C2C) money transfer services, while also introducing self-service technology-led options to meet evolving customer needs and enhance convenience. Western Union will also extend the services offered through existing bpost post offices and franchised Post Points, co-located in other retail premises, to an increasing number of Post Points, reaching new customers and new locations across the country.

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Post has been delivering the mail for more than 200 years, but for many households the daily visit from the postie simply isn't as significant as it once was. The number of letters being sent is plunging 8.2 per cent a year. This sharp decline is set to continue as digital communication further displaces the humble letter. At the same time, we are sending and receiving more parcels than ever thanks to the online shopping boom. These shifts go to the heart of monumental challenges facing Australia Post, which have prompted the government to propose raising stamp prices to $1 and introducing a two-tier delivery system. The Herald accepts these changes are needed to keep Australia Post in good financial health and save taxpayers a costly rescue package in the future. Yet for Australia Post to best serve the interests of taxpayers and its customers in a sustainable way, further reforms will be needed to help this national institution survive.

iAfrica: Post Office workers belonging to the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have gone on industrial action the SA Post Office said on Thursday. SAPO acting group, CEO Mlu Mathonsi, said that CWU members had gone on a go-slow after the union had issued the employer with a 48-hour notice of its intention to commence industrial action. Mathonsi, in News24 report, said the the Post Office had contingency measures in place to deal with the go-slow and that the action would have "minimal interruptions on our services".

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   The Memphis Metropolitan area is currently under a winter storm event. The NCSC - Memphis inclement weather policy has been implemented, which impacts the PostalOne! Help Desk. If you should require assistance with PostalOne!, and experience difficulty making contact by phone, please send an email to postalone@usps.gov and we will respond as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Business Spectator: E-commerce has changed the way we buy, sell, package and send goods, and two recent developments highlight just how it is transforming the billion-dollar logistics industry. The first development was Singapore Post (SingPost) acquiring parcel delivery company Couriers Please in Australia for $95 million in December 2014. The second occurred last month when Japan Post made a $6.5 billion takeover bid for Toll Holdings. Arguably, the disruptive force of e-commerce has played an important role in these transactions eventuating and they make an interesting case study of how global companies are continually being shaken-up by the digital sphere. Like many postal organisations across the world who have declining revenues and profits, SingPost and Japan Post are contending with shrinking mail volumes in an increasingly digital world. Certainly, Australia Post's recent forecast of its first company-wide financial loss since 1982 is another proof point locally. Addressing this requires a transformation of a business model that has existed for generations. For SingPost and Japan Post, that includes an international strategy with a bigger footprint to take advantage of the e-commerce wave. It's a strategy that leverages off postal operators' expertise of owning the consumer relationship -- a big advantage in the e-commerce world of B2C deliveries.

Office of the Inspector General: How Can the Postal Service Use Promotions to Add Value to the Mail? The U.S. Postal Service uses price incentives and promotions to stimulate mail volume and increase the value of mail. Price incentives are meant to increase mail volume or curb its decline through rebates to large commercial mailers that exceed predetermined volume thresholds. Promotions aim to increase the value of transactional and direct mail so it will be sustained or grow over the long term. The Postal Service offered its first promotion in 2011 primarily to increase awareness of how mobile technology can be effectively integrated into mailers' advertising campaigns. To date, the Postal Service has issued 15 promotions, with another four planned in 2015. Our audit will evaluate the Postal Service's promotions program. Specifically, we want to determine whether the promotions are effectively managed and add value to the mail. We will also evaluate opportunities for new promotions and mobile enhancements. How can the Postal Service use promotions to improve the long-term value of mail and increase volume and revenue? How can the Postal Service change the mailing behavior of those who elect not to participate in the promotions program? What types of promotions would you like to see continuously offered?

ISE: Postal industry software provider Escher Group Holdings PLC on Thursday said it has renewed its contract with Hungarian national postal service company Magyar Posta.

March 4, 2015 

Supply  Chain Digital: Panasonic System Communications Company Europe (PSCEU) has announced the acquisition of DHL Digital Solutions, a team within DHL Specialist Services UK, part of the world's leading postal and logistics group, Deutsche Post DHL. The new company born from this acquisition, Panasonic Business Software Solutions Europe, offers advanced software for the control and management of logistics and supply chain. A total of 13 members of the UK based DHL Digital Solutions will join the new Panasonic organisation and will integrate the logistics software, with Panasonic hardware, to provide deep expertise in system solutions integration to clients across Europe.

The Messenger: Reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with changes made by the U.S.?Postal Service during the past few years, there is a move in Congress that has gained impressive, bipartisan support for a resolution to stop the decline in mail service.

Oregon Live: Earth Class Mail, briefly among the best-known Oregon startups, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday. But the Beaverton company is still operating and is apparently preparing itself for sale. "There's someone that's going to be buying Earth Class Mail," said Amber Hensley, the company's customer service manager. She said she cannot disclose the buyer's identity, but indicated Earth Class Mail will continue operating under its new owner. "We're doing business as normal," she said. "There weren't any interruptions in the service." Chapter 11 is a voluntary bankruptcy for companies that seek an orderly reorganization of their debts.

American Postal Workers Union: The APWU and USPS are facing off over management's latest scheme: The Postal Pulse, a new employee opinion survey. "The APWU vehemently opposes Postal Pulse and any other employee opinion survey despite management notices that say otherwise," said President Mark Dimondstein. A Feb. 19 USPS announcement says the APWU, along with other unions and management associations, supports the goals of the program. A Feb. 26 News Break repeats the assertion. The union filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Feb. 25, protesting management's false claim. The APWU has a long history of opposing employee opinion surveys because management uses workers' responses against union members during contract negotiations. The timing of management's notice to employees, Feb. 19, was especially insidious, Dimondstein said, because it coincided with the opening day of contract talks. [EdNote: An institution at war with itself.]

Government Executive: A new bill would give more U.S. Postal Service employees the right to appeal negative personnel actions, potentially providing thousands of workers with a new ability to present their cases to a third party. Democratic Sens. Jon Tester, Mont., and Brian Schatz, Hawaii, introduced the Postal Employee Appeal Rights Amendment Act this week, which would give about 7,500 mid-level postal managers the right to have their cases heard by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

eCommerceBytes: The U.S. Postal Service, reeling from a sustained decline in letter volume and hefty payment obligations relating to its workforce, could do more to glean value out of one of its most significant assets: its corporate brand. And the Postal Service agrees, indicating that it is set to begin the search for an outside partner to help it advance its third-party licensing efforts. So how much money is in play with the USPS brand? A new study from the Postal Service Office of Inspector General pegs the value of the USPS brand at $3.6 billion, measured by projected cash flows realized over the life of the agency. However, the OIG report also suggests that the Postal Service could up that number by taking steps to burnish the brand, including mobilizing the public relations team to paint the agency in a more positive light, and to increase licensing programs, through which the agency sells branded products like tape and mailing supplies at retailers like Office Depot. The study marks the first formal effort to quantify the value of the USPS brand, an exercise the inspector general's office said aims to sketch out the value and potential of an otherwise intangible asset, and, ultimately, to help the agency improve its financial position.

The Street: AMP Holding (AMPD) makes all-electric vehicles but has decided to focus specifically on the local delivery truck market, according to CEO Steve Burns. The vehicle, called the Workhorse, would be perfect for an entity like the United States Postal Service. The average USPS route is just 15 miles long, with plenty of stopping and going. the vehicles are equipped with a generator that can produce electricity if the vehicle gets too low on its charge. That's not the only innovation from AMP Holdings. The company also has developed its own drone delivery unit, the HorseFly. The HorseFly is mounted to the top of the vehicle and can deliver packages on its own, fly back to the vehicle and land. Once landed, it begins to recharge, he explained.

Prince George Citizen: The union representing Canada's postal workers wants the Federal Court to declare the cancellation of home mail delivery unconstitutional and a violation of the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada Post employees announced last October they would take the Crown corporation to court over the cost-cutting plan to end delivery and install community mailboxes across the country. The union's court filing is signed by six other organizations representing retired and handicapped citizens.

March 3, 2015 

Federal Times: The U.S. Postal Service's latest financial report is being called upbeat, but a closer look provides a far less optimistic assessment. While revenues grew this quarter, it lost $754 million outpacing the loss incurred this period last year by $400 million. The Federal Times' recent story effectively highlights the poor fiscal outlook facing the Postal Service. Yet the piece primarily focuses on the remedies proposed by the Postal Service and its advocates to grow the agency, mainly through expanded package delivery services, added 'flexibility' to change prices, and consolidation of mail processing centers. On paper, the Postal Service is not allowed to subsidize its competitive services with its monopoly dollars, but it is not obligated to confirm if and how this requirement is met by only having to attribute a limited portion of costs to its products, leaving the rest categorized as "institutional overhead." This preference for incomplete cost attribution not only hinders the Postal Service's ability to accurately price its products in fluctuating markets, but enables the risk of the agency using its monopoly power to prop up other products that are losing money.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

All notes and presentations from the February MTAC meeting are available on the MTAC website.

The New Daily: The Federal Government has given Australia Post the green light to implement a two-speed letter delivery system, while stamps could increase to $1, in an attempt to keep the service afloat. These sweeping changes come as Australia Post announced a 56 per cent drop in half-yearly profit last week, with the dive driven by mounting losses of $151 million in its letters business. See also The Guardian and Radio Australia.

Post & Parcel Daily News (You can subscribe to receive Post & Parcel News your inbox. It's a fantastic postal news source.)

  • Sustainability a top priority at Asendia Asendia, the Joint Venture between La Poste and Swiss Post has reinforced its commitment to sustainability by signing up to participate in a carbon offsetting scheme which involves the support of renewable energy projects in India. This important step is in line with Asendia's objectives and long-term vision to achieve environmental and corporate sustainability.
  • TNT receives contract renewal from AB Volvo for international delivery services TNT has received a three-year contract renewal from the Swedish truck and bus maker AB Volvo for inbound to production' and aftermarket delivery services in Europe.
  • Lithuania Post moves to new logistic centre Lithuania Post has opened a new logistics centre in Kaunas, Lithuania, with operations beginning in the middle of March.

Small Business Trends: FedEx is looking to give some shipping and other discounts to its loyal small business customers. The company has extended the participation eligibility in its FedEx rewards program. FedEx says that small businesses can earn shipping and printing discounts, receive exclusive offers. They can also be eligible to earn rewards like gift cards to popular restaurants or for popular websites, the company says. Called MyFedExAwards, the program now includes all FedEx small business customers that print or ship with the company. The company says the program's expanded eligibility will mean many more small businesses using FedEx services will be able to take advantage. The expanded program adds to a suite of services for small business in the company's Solutions that Work for Small Businesses. Included in these services, Small businesses that ship with FedEx can receive a special, more predictable payment plan, called OneRate. The company also offers a FedEx Delivery Manager app that allows small businesses to arrange for package pick-ups and drop-offs at their home address.

AllAfrica.com: Each year more than US$60 billion in remittances is sent to and within Africa but often at great expense. Finding ways to leverage this powerful financial and development force by making remittance services more affordable and accessible to rural people is the focus of the first African Conference on Remittances and Postal Networks, 4-5 March in Cape Town, South Africa, hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Over two days, some 100 delegates from postal operators, postal banks, regulatory authorities, governments, the private sector, international organizations, civil society and others involved in the remittance market from across Africa will focus on addressing the challenges for improving the provision of remittance and financial services through postal networks in rural Africa, and share experiences and solutions. Among the topics to be covered by the conference are market positioning of postal operators, linking remittances with financial inclusion, innovative technologies for financial inclusion, and the legal and institutional environment affecting post offices and remittances.

Office of the Inspector General: Where is the Love from Low Fuel Prices? If you're a shipper, you may have noticed your fuel surcharge fees aren't going down in step with the declining price of oil. That's because both FedEx and UPS tie their fuel surcharges to the price of diesel, which hasn't dropped as far or as fast as gasoline prices. Furthermore, both shipping giants recently adjusted how they calculate fuel surcharges, resulting in surcharges that won't drop as much as they would have under the previous calculation. In some cases, fuel surcharges are even going up. Fuel surcharges are common in the transport industry, from taxis and airlines to moving and delivery companies. Many of these industries instituted fuel surcharges to smooth out costs when fuel prices were skyrocketing. But in times of low fuel prices, like now, customers see these surcharges as a blatant money-grab. Right about now, you may be noting the U.S. Postal Service doesn't have a fuel surcharge. It also didn't go all in on dimensional weight pricing (See our previous blog). And it's not likely to chase the next big thing in pricing: "surge" or "peak" pricing. For the 2015 holiday season, UPS said it plans to follow the Uber model and hit shippers with "peak" prices on its busiest days. This comes after UPS said it experienced higher-than-anticipated 2014 peak season expenses. FedEx is expected to follow suit. For consumers, this could mean the end of free shipping, at least on last-minute orders around the holidays. So, the Postal Service might look even more attractive these days with its relatively straightforward, consistent pricing. Of course, the Postal Service isn't a public company, so it's not under the same pressure to deliver profits as UPS and FedEx are. But customers are not too interested in the whys and wherefores they just want low-priced, reliable, fast delivery. Do you think the Postal Service is well-positioned to lure away commercial package business from FedEx and UPS? Does the lack of a fuel surcharge put the Postal Service at any kind of a competitive disadvantage? Or is it only advantageous? Do you see the Uber surge or peak pricing model getting a foothold in other industries?

2015 Explore New Horizons at PostalVision 2020/5.0! Check out our Session Topics! Why? To expand our horizons, scope, imagination and vision of the ideal postal ecosystem to serve future generations worldwide To enlighten our comprehension of the technological, economic, market and political forces reshaping the global postal-parcel-logistics-delivery industry To be challenged and inspired by speakers and thought leaders from inside and outside the industry to envision a bright and sustainable future To discover new product ideas, technologies, applications and innovations To join the conversation, share concerns, ideas and solutions with stakeholders from everywhere What's 5.0 All About? PostalVision 2020/5.0 will discuss the significance of "Customers, Connections and Collaboration" as key empowering forces driving transformation and reinvention of the global postal ecosystem. Register Now!

Jalopnik: The USPS is replacing the squat little vans you're use to seeing around the neighborhood, and is now trying to find a replacement. This sketch has just been released as an idea of what the Postal Service has in mind. [A USPS Presentation for Next Generation Delivery Vehicle is posted here: https://www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=37207a283434e5c4b78a8b7992e43576 Some recent questions and answers about the program are posted here: https://www.fbo.gov/utils/view?id=001ad8da188cce10c8b495a9c03b3e89]

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

March 2, 2015 

Cato Institute: The United States Postal Service lost $5.5 billion last year. That is the eighth annual loss in a row and the third highest ever. The only good news is that it remains below the red ink tsunami of $15.9 billion in 2012. Why does the federal government deliver the mail? Why does it have a monopoly over delivering the mail? With politics rather than service the PO's priority, Congress took the next step and approved the Private Express Statutes, preventing anyone from competing with the government in delivering first class mail. That left the system ill-equipped to adapt to changing circumstances. Banning competition could not preserve the postal market. The number of pieces of mail peaked in 2001 and continues to fall despite a rising population.

Yahoo! News: Britain's Royal Mail is joining Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Tmall Global's online marketplace, hoping to link small British companies with Chinese consumers and boost trade for its overseas parcels business. Alibaba's Tmall Global is Asia's largest business-to-consumer retail platform, connecting 302 million online Chinese consumers with virtual store fronts and payment portals, Royal Mail said. It said its Tmall online shop front, which will launch later this month, would provide consumers with access to small- and medium-sized British retailers and exporters who want to do business in China, but do not have the means to do so alone. Royal Mail will handle the necessary documentation for the firms, as well as things such as marketing, promotions and customer services. In return, Royal Mail will receive commission on the sale of products and revenue for shipping them through its Parcelforce express unit.

REMINDER: Webinar on How to get Executive Mail Center Manager Certification at NPF For the first time, National Postal Forum (NPF) attendees will have the ability to receive Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM) certification at the National Postal Forum in Anaheim, CA, held May 17-20, 2015. This is an exclusive opportunity for NPF attendees! Instructors from the USPS National Center for Employee Development (NCED) will travel to the Forum and provide certification classes. Join an hour webinar on March 4, 2015 at 1 p.m. (EST) to understand more about the program and how this certification provides a solid foundation in mail center management and a return on investment. Speakers: Hear from Paul Warrick, Manager, National Center for Employee Development and Maureen Goodson, Executive Director, National Postal Forum The EMCM course is a comprehensive training program that is designed for individuals who wish to develop Mail Center Management skills. It offers a certified designation that emphasizes professionalism in Mail Center Management. The course teaches skills needed to manage more effectively, boost productivity and cut costs. The program is sponsored by the USPS and has been developed by a professional committee with representatives from the mailing industry. To earn official certification, participants are required to attend all 14 planned sessions and pass an exam at the completion of each module.

Lexology: On 11 February 2015, the Court of Justice of the EU rendered an important decision in response to a preliminary question submitted by the Brussels Court of Appeal in the context of a dispute between bpost and the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications ("BIPT") on the admissibility of the "per sender" tariff model. The "per sender" tariff model, as applied by bpost, entails calculating commercial discounts to be granted to clients (both direct customers and mail handlers) on a "per sender" basis (meaning that the separate volumes of various senders of the mail handlers are taken into account instead of the total volumes deposited with bpost). In its judgment of 11 February, the Court of Justice took a diverging view from that in the Deutsche Post case by ruling that the non-discrimination principle from the European Postal Directive does not preclude a postal operator from applying a system of discounts per sender, as applied by Bpost. The Court considered that the "per sender" model did not entail any discrimination between direct customers and mail handlers as these two categories are not in a comparable situation "as regards the objective pursued by the system of quantity discounts per sender, which is to stimulate demand in the area of postal services, since only bulk mailers are in a position to be encouraged, by the effect of that system, to increase the volume of their mail handed on to bpost and, accordingly, the turnover of that operator". Consequently, the different treatment given to those two categories of client which follows from the application of the system of quantity discounts per sender does not constitute discrimination.

AllAfrica.com: The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers has urged the trading bloc to fast track the implementation of the Regional Postal Sector Strategy, an official said over the weekend. The strategy would assist EAC partner states to harmonize their policies, laws and regulations for the sector. In the recent years the region has liberalized the sector, which led to a development of a vibrant private sector. The director said that development of the postal sector cannot take place without the involvement of the private sector. According to the EAC official, electronic commerce presents a great business opportunity for the postal sector. "This is because physical goods bought online have to be delivered physically to the buyer," Wambugu said." However, the challenge is for postal operators to develop strategies for exploiting the opportunities that e-commerce provides," he said.

Lloyd's Loading List: Amid news that three major US passenger carriers have requested that the US government should review and renegotiate Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, FedEx Express president and CEO David Bronczek has weighed in to express strong support for "honouring our Open Skies agreements" and warning against a "return to the restrictive, inefficient, expensive agreements of the past where customers, communities, air cargo, and the greater US economy suffered". Bronczek concluded: "FedEx urges the US government to honour the Open Skies agreements it has negotiated with over 110 countries in every region of the world. There is no need to consult with our Open Skies partners absent public proof that alleged unfair competition meets the standards long established in US law. "The US should not capitulate to the interests of a few carriers who stand ready to put their narrow, protectionist interests ahead of the economic benefits that Open Skies provides to the people of the United States."

eCommerceBytes: "Online Selling and the Future of Package Delivery" -- a conversation with John Callan of Ursa Majors on his upcoming conference, Postal Vision 2020.

March 1, 2015 

Direct Marketing News: The Postal Museum, housed in Washington, DC's old main Post Office near Capitol Hill, is now laying the groundwork for telling the complex and significant story of the mailing industry. It hired former Fulfillment Express President Karen McCormick as the project director who will reach out to the 12 segments it has identified as comprising the industry. A website is under construction, and the museum hopes to have a full-blown exhibit in place within the next two or three years. On the occasion of the opening of such an exhibit, scores of printers, list brokers, direct mail agencies, and sorting equipment manufacturers will assume a place in the history of the nation. Allied with the Smithsonian Institution, the Postal Museum creates exhibits on par with the best museums in the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of people a year. In 2013, with the help of a $10 million private donation, the museum opened the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery to showcase gems from its collection of millions of stamps. It's a state-of-the-art multimedia show, featuring interactive displays and a research room where philatelists can conduct digital searches and unearth historic materials from slide-out displays built into the walls.

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