PostCom Members - The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is now available online. Not getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere? Contact us to see what you've been missing!
April 22, 2017
BillingsGazette: So the Postal Service is a driving engine of our national economy, as much today as ever. USPS and letter carriers also play a key role in improving the quality of life in communities everywhere. Next month, as they do the second Saturday of every May, letter carriers will conduct the nation’s largest single-day food drive to help replenish food banks, pantries and shelters. Despite what you may have heard, the Postal Service operates in the black — $3.7 billion since 2013. Operating profit for Fiscal Year 2017’s first quarter alone was $522 million. As the economy improves from the worst recession in 80 years, letter revenue is stabilizing. And as the Internet drives online shopping in Billings and elsewhere, package revenue is rising sharply — up 16 percent in 2016. As a result, revenue earned from delivering the mail more than pays all normal costs of delivering the mail.
April 21, 2017
CityLab: Consumers today are spending less time in local stores and more time online, buying not only retail items but also such goods as groceries from Peapod, office supplies from Postmates, and whatever the hell they want from Amazon. It’s estimated that, on average, every person in the U.S. generates demand for roughly 60 tons of freight each year, according to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. In 2010, the United States Post Office—which has overtaken both FedEx and UPS as the largest parcel-delivery service in the country—delivered 3.1 billion packages nationwide; last year, the USPS delivered more than 5.1 billion packages. The growth in e-commerce is fueling a commensurate rise in the number of delivery vehicles—box trucks, smaller vans, and cars alike—on city streets. Cities, struggling to keep up with the deluge of delivery drivers, are seeing their curb space and streets overtaken by double-parked vehicles, to say nothing of the bonus pollution and roadwear produced thanks to a surfeit of Amazon Prime orders.
April 20, 2017
Presort: Despite a lot of big ticket consumer-oriented issues coming into focus for Congress lately, like healthcare and tax reform, it is also apparent that the United States Postal Service (USPS) and its chaotic operations have also had the attention of some legislators on Capitol Hill. For the new administration, the possibility of fixing the long-plagued federal agency represents a chance to streamline government practices, and could show that it is indeed possible to have an efficient postal system that benefits consumers across the country. Recent data from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) shows that the USPS is continuing its alarming trends in poor mail service performance. The PRC’s annual compliance determination, which it evaluates everything the USPS did in 2016, shows how the company failed to meet on-time delivery targets for all First-Class Mail products and nearly all Standard Mail products.
TheHill: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) shocked Washington on Wednesday by announcing he is leaving Congress after his term ends. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, kept the surprise decision under wraps, offering no hints that he planned to cut short his tenure leading the panel.
April 19, 2017
FoxBusiness: Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary and Pennsylvania governor, argues that the country’s growing drug problem can’t be cured until the U.S. closes loopholes in the postal system that allow illegal and deadly synthetic drugs to be shipped – undetected -- through the regular mail. In February, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced a bipartisan bill called the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act “to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 and ensure that merchandise arriving through the mail shall be subject to review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and mail must require advance electronic information. A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service told FOX Business that they share the same goal of those calling “for expanding efforts to keep illicit drugs and other dangerous materials out of the hands of the American public and maintaining the safety of our nation’s mail system.” USPS told FOX Business it has already been enforcing new regulations set in place earlier this year by the Universal Postal Union (UPS) to enhance its ability to require foreign posts to send electronic data.
April 17, 2017
BusinessWire: Improving digital performance at post and parcel organizations is critical to successfully capturing the revenue potential created by the explosive growth of eCommerce and to compete effectively in an increasingly crowded delivery landscape, according to a new report from Accenture. For the first time, Accenture measured post and parcel organizations by the same criteria it used to assess more than 370 companies across eight other industries as part of Accenture’s high performance digital research. The report, The Value Game-Changer: Digital Performance in the Post and Parcel Industry, examined the digital performance of 31 post and parcel organizations to understand how digital technologies could help generate revenue on pace with a booming eCommerce marketplace. The post and parcel industry shows stronger digital performance than consumer goods and services, energy and insurance industries, but lags the five other industries studied: electronics and high tech, communications, retail, banking and utilities. While eCommerce is driving a very different digital experience in retail, the shipping and delivery of goods purchased online is not nearly as digitally enabled as in other industries and lacks the investment required to keep up with changing consumer, the report shows.
Mercantile: The STOP Act would require foreign postal operators to send advance electronic data to the USPS for packages imported into the United States, enabling Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other agencies to target high-risk shipments for screening. The bill also give USPS more authority to scan arriving mail from places that are currently exempt from CBP protocol, helping stop these packages from reaching U.S. borders in the first place. A vigilant federal response, including the STOP Act, is a crucial component to reversing the tide of addiction, helping save lives in our community and across the country.
April 14, 2017
BLS: The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.3 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.4 percent before seasonal adjustment. The March decline was the first 1-month decrease in the seasonally adjusted all items index since February 2016.The index for all items less food and energy declined 0.1 percent in March.
April 13, 2017
FedWeek: An inspector general audit has raised concerns about the Postal Service’s continuity of IT operations plans–called Functional Workgroup Annex plans–saying they were not current at some of the IT locations examined. Postal management “did not annually review, update, and test the FWGA plans” and the plans “were also incomplete and missing key requirements such as identifying critical information system assets, alternative telecommunications services, and procedures for using alternative processing sites that are not susceptible to the same threats as the primary location,” it said. Also, it said, management did not sufficiently train the employees who execute the existing plans and did not define how the plans are to be managed. USPS responded that efforts are underway to determine which functions are essential, and that the FWGA plans will be updated.
DeadTree: What many have long suspected has now been confirmed: The U.S. Postal Service’s Flats Sequencing System is a disastrous failure that cannot be fixed. The FSS is adding so much to the costs of handling magazines, catalogs, and other flat mail that no amount of machinery tweaks, Lean Six Sigma projects, or "Tiger Teams" can ever make it right. “When all processing and delivery costs are included, an average Periodicals flat addressed to an FSS zone costs over 10.5 cents more than if addressed to a non-FSS zone,” postal expert Halstein Stralberg wrote recently. Assuming the same 40% cost differential applies as well to flat-shaped Standard Mail, such as catalogs and retailer flyers, Stralberg’s analysis indicates that FSS is adding several hundred million dollars annually to the Postal Service’s costs.
April 12, 2017
PubExec: For the past decade, changes in publishers’ average postal rates have been limited to the rate of inflation. But a Congressionally mandated review of how postage rates are set, coupled with USPS’s failure to rein in magazine-delivery costs, has raised serious doubts about whether that protection will continue. Scores of organizations – from tiny charities to behemoth corporations like Amazon, FedEx, and UPS – have submitted comments and evidence to the Postal Regulatory Commission, which is conducting the review and may recommend overhauls to the current law. Fortunately for publishers, the PRC recognizes an inconsistency in the Postal Service’s data: In the past eight years, publishers have responded to rate incentives by dramatically increasing their participation in co-mailing and dropshipping programs. That should have significantly lowered the USPS’s Periodicals costs, the PRC noted recently. “The Postal Service should face reality, mothball the FSS, and promote efficiency by increasing the rate discounts offered for carrier route presorting,” the organizations said. “Doing this would stimulate a massive surge in co-mailing, enabling Periodicals Mail and Marketing Mail Flats to cover most if not all of their reported attributable costs.” But removing the price cap on Periodicals would give postal officials no incentive to unwind the FSS disaster, the MPA and its allies said.
April 11, 2017
WashingtonPost: It’s bad enough for family members when a loved one dies.Getting cheated by Uncle Sam afterward makes it worse.He did that in cases involving more than 2,000 beneficiaries who didn’t get the full benefit of U.S. Postal Service life insurance policies. After waging a losing fight, the Postal Service surrendered, agreeing to a settlement of up to $49 million. The agency is now sending checks to the beneficiaries it can find, but some of them may never know they are owed money. They would have been easier to find if postal officials had not taken decades to resolve the situation. So far, checks to more than 400 beneficiaries have been mailed.
APWU: New postal reform legislation introduced in the 115th Congress helps to solve the pre-funding crisis and is fair to active and retired postal workers. The APWU supports two companion bills introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R. 756 and H.R. 760. As these bills move through the legislative process, the APWU will continue working to improve them.
April 10, 2017
PressHerald: A New Hampshire Democratic senator is backing a bill with bipartisan support that targets the flow of drugs sent through the mail. U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan is co-sponsoring legislation to require the U.S. Postal Service to provide package tracking information. Private postal companies such as UPS and FedEx are required to provide such details.New Hampshire law enforcement authorities are seeing more deadly fentanyl coming into the state.
April 9, 2017
BusinessofFederalTechnology: The U.S. Postal Service may be ill-prepared to fulfill essential operations in the event of an IT outage, according to a recent inspector general report. The Post Office is required to have continuity of operations plans in place to prepare for a range of possible disruptions to normal postal operations, whether they're due to tech failures, cyber attacks or natural causes, such as rain, sleet, snow or gloom of night. But the IG found that USPS's IT management lacks complete continuity of operations plans, and USPS does not annually train personnel responsible for executing them.
April 7, 2017
KATC: Tax Day is Tuesday, April 18, 2017 and many last-minute filers will be trying to wrap up their taxes and get them filed by the tax return deadline. A portion of those will file on the very last day; some will submit tax returns electronically while others will head to the USPS on Tuesday to mail their tax return. Some offices will have extended hours during tax season, so visit https://www.usps.com/ to locate your nearest post office. After all, you don't want to file taxes late and risk tax penalty.
Post&Parcel: DHL Supply Chain has launched a pilot project in collaboration with technology developer Locus Robotics to assess the suitability of its collaborative warehouse picking robots in the DHL facility in Tennessee.The LocusBots are being tested as a picker companion for order fulfillment within the life sciences sector of the DHL warehouse. LocusBots work collaboratively alongside warehouse staff, helping to quickly locate and transport pick items, so pickers don’t have to push carts or carry bins. The pilot will implement different picking strategies while simultaneously assessing how the robot navigates the warehouse, its versatility, and its ability to communicate with the picker and the warehouse management system.
PostalNews: The Postal Service is distributing the final payment of the 1.6.b Global Settlement to retirees on April 21st. The payment is part of the remedy agreed upon in the Global Settlement reached between the APWU and the USPS on December 5, 2014. Eligible active employees have already received their final payment.
April 6, 2017
USPS: The number of postal employees attacked by dogs nationwide reached 6,755 in 2016 — more than 200 higher than the year before. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) released its annual ranking of top dog attack cities today, highlighted safety initiatives to help protect its employees and offered tips to pet owners.
April 5, 2017
QG: 2016 was generally a good year for USPS delivery of Standard Mail. On average, 5% more mail was in-home early during that timeframe in 2016 and 10% more was in-home through Day One of client’s target in-home windows. In 2016, mail moved at its slowest rate during the second week of October and the second week of November. USPS performance in January of 2017 has proven to be very good. This year, we are seeing consistently good delivery and have no reason to believe it will not continue. Looking forward to the summer and fall, at this point, we expect mail delivery to be better than that of 2016.
MarketWatch: If U.S. Postal Service (USPS) branches offered banking services, more lower income people and minorities could benefit, according to a new study, “Can Post Offices Increase Access to Financial Services?” by researchers Mathieu Despard, Terri Friedline and Kevin Refior, as part of the Mapping Financial Opportunity project, which is part of the University of Kansas. The study found that rural communities could benefit the most if this happened, because they have more post offices than banks (0.89 Post Offices for every 1,000 people) compared with cities (0.04 per 1,000). In fact, almost 40% of the zip codes in the U.S. don’t have a bank or a credit union — mostly in rural areas. The study recommends “postal banking” to help people in these underserved communities. Around 7% of U.S. households are “unbanked,” according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which represents 9 million households. Another 20% (24.5 million households) are “underbanked,” meaning that the household had a checking or savings account but obtained financial products and services outside of the banking system.
KSHB: Snail mail is officially getting a digital twist.Thanks to the United States Postal Service, you'll be able to see photos of your mail every morning before it's delivered. It's called Informed Delivery, and starting April 14, it will be available to most addresses nationwide. Right now, the service only covers letter-sized mail. But in the future, it might include other items, like magazines. You won't be able to see the actual contents of your mail until it arrives, but USPS thinks earlier access to that stuff will make life a little easier and could eventually cut down on mail theft.
April 4, 2017
FedWeek: The IG’s office at the Postal Service has started an examination of the potential for insider threats there and whether the agency has taken effective steps against such threats. “Insider threat is the potential for a current or former employee, contractor, or business partner to accidentally or maliciously misuse their trusted access to harm the organization’s employees, customers, assets, reputation, or interests. An insider threat program provides an organization with a designed resource to address the problem of insider threats. It must protect the information, documents, files and material provided by USPS components in accordance with current and applicable laws, rules, regulations and policy,” the IG’s office said. It said it is specifically examining what elements are needed for a good insider threat program and what industry best practices the Postal Service might adopt.
PostalNews: UPS for the first time offers Saturday ground delivery and Saturday pickup services, delivering shippers industry-leading Saturday choices. The time-in-transit improvement is one of the largest in the company’s 109-year-history. This planned expansion is expected to create more than 6,000 new UPS jobs nationwide when operations are fully implemented by the end of 2018. UPS began testing the Saturday delivery program in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles in 2016. Further expansion is underway in these cities and broader deployment begins in April to15 additional metropolitan areas including New York, Chicago and Boston. By November – in time for the holiday shipping season – nearly 4,700 cities and towns are planned to be covered. In 2018, coverage will expand to more than 5,800 cities and towns.
April 3, 2017
Post&Parcel: The Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) review of the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) performance in 2016 indicates that “financial concerns persist despite improvements in liquidity – and USPS’s “significant liabilities” are impacting its cash position. USPS generated an operating income of $610m in financial year (FY) 2016, despite an increase in operating expenses and the expiration of the exigent surcharge in April. The PRC report suggests that, when put in context, this is not such a positive result. Revenues from Market Dominant and Competitive products rate increases, the exigent price surcharge on Market Dominant products during the earlier half of the fiscal year, and continuing growth in Competitive products volume contributed to the net Operating Income. However, when all adjustments are included, the Postal Service incurred a net loss of $5.6bn, a $531m deterioration from FY 2015.The increase in the total net loss is largely driven by a $1.5bn increase in overall compensation and benefits costs and an increase in non-cash workers’ compensation expense of $906 million caused by a decrease in the discount rate.
TheHill: Far from being a drag on taxpayers, the Postal Service operates – by law – without a dime of taxpayer money. And, despite the lingering impact of the worst recession in 80 years and the challenges posed by the Internet, the earned revenue from selling stamps and other products and services has produced a $3.7 billion operating profit since 2013 – including $522 million in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2017 alone. The Postal Service provides Americans and their businesses with the industrial world’s most affordable delivery network. Moreover, USPS is the centerpiece of the $1.3 trillion national mailing industry that employs 7 million Americans in the private sector. So USPS is a driving engine of our national economy, as much today as ever.
April 1, 2017
PostalReporter: Today the Postal Regulatory Commission (Commission) released its Financial Analysis report, which analyzes the United States Postal Service’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 overall financial position. In FY 2016, the Postal Service generated an Operating Income of $610 million despite an increase in operating expenses and the expiration of the exigent surcharge in April 2016. While this is the third consecutive year of net positive Operating Income, it is $578 million less than the net operating income of $1.2 billion recorded in FY 2015.