Latest News and Highlights  

President's Task Force Report Released. On December 4, the White House released recommendations from the President's Task Force on the postal system (link). The Task Force recommends that the USPS and Congress work to overhaul the USPS’s business model in order to return it to sustainability. Both administrative and legislative actions are needed to ensure that the USPS does not face a liquidity crisis, which could disrupt mail services and require an emergency infusion of taxpayer dollars. 

Governors Appoint Inspector General.  On November 29, the U.S. Postal Service Governors appointed Tammy L. Whitcomb as the third Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service. The Office of Inspector General conducts audits and investigations to promote efficiency, and detect and prevent fraud, in Postal Service programs and operations. Ms. Whitcomb has been acting Inspector General since February 2016 and served as Deputy Inspector General since November 2011. She also served as the Assistant Inspector General for Audit. Tammy joined the Postal Service in November 2005 as an Audit Director. 

USPS Reports Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Results.  On November 14, USPS reported their Fiscal Year 2018 financial results.  The Postal Service reported overall volume decline of 3.2 billion pieces and a net loss of $3.9 billion.  In addition, the Postal Service made a call for the need to advance legislative and regulatory reforms, along with continued aggressive postal management actions to generate new revenue and control costs.

PRC Approves USPS Rate Adjustments. On November 13, the Postal Regulatory Commission issued Orders 4875 and 4876 approving the Postal Service’s planned rate adjustments for both Market Dominant products and Competitive products respectively.  Price changes will go into effect on January 29, 2019.

President Signs STOP Act. On October 24, President Trump signed the STOP (Synthetics Trafficking and Opioids Prevention) Act into law. While the legislation contains a number of different provisions, it will require the Postal Service to collect advanced electronic data (AED) — including sender information, destination and contents — on merchandise entering the country. The law is designed specifically to stop shipments of fentanyl. By the end of this year, foreign posts must provide AED on 70% of shipments. By 2021 AED is required on all shipments and the Postal Service may be liable for civil penalties for failure to comply; though US Customs and Border Protection will have authority to waive penalties under certain conditions. Information about the STOP Act and broader administration efforts can be found here

USPS Announces Price Change. On October 10, the USPS announced price changes effective January 29, 2019. The proposed prices, approved by the Governors of the Postal Service, would raise Mailing Services product prices approximately 2.5 percent. Shipping Services price increases vary by product. The price increase percentages by class are First-Class Mail 2.486, Marketing Mail 2.479, Periodicals 2.520, Package Services 2.522, and Special Services 2.512.

Robert Duncan Elected Chairman on the USPS Board of Governors. On September 13, the USPS announced that Robert Duncan was elected Chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, with David Williams having been elected Vice Chairman. Mr. Williams will also serve as Chairman of the Temporary Emergency Committee of the Board.

Plan Would Restrict Marketing Mail Content The U.S. Postal Service is contemplating a plan to limit Marketing Mail letters and flats (regular and nonprofit) to paper-based printed content – a move the USPS says will improve on-time delivery and processing. If implemented, the proposal would push all merchandise or goods, “regardless of value,’” into another product such as Priority Mail or Parcel Select. In an advanced rulemaking published in the August 23 Federal Register, the USPS said it is posting the proposal for extended comments in order to obtain as much feedback as possible. Comments are due Oct. 22.

White House Memo to UPU. On August 23, the White House issued a memorandum providing guidance for the U.S. delegation at the upcoming Universal Postal Union Extraordinary Congress in Addis Ababa. While terminal dues are not on the agenda for the Extraordinary Congress, the memo encourages a U.S. position that would unilaterally revise terminal dues to make them more similar to  comparable domestic rates. The memo also addresses provision of advance electronic data - which has been part of the STOP Act - and reform of the UPU. In addition, the memo requires the Secretary of State to present the President with a report summarizing actions undertaken to implement the recommendations and lays the groundwork for the US to adopt self-declared inbound rates.  

House Resolution Opposing USPS Privatization Introduced. On July 13, Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced a resolution calling on Congress to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Postal Service remain an independent agency of the federal government and not be subject to privatization. As of this date the resolution has ten co-sponsors in all. Lynch's resolution comes in response to an Office of Personnel Management Report which endorsed the eventual privatization of the Postal Service. 

President Proposes Privatizing the US Postal Service On Thursday, June 21, the Executive Office of the President of the United States released a report titled:  "Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations".  Starting on page 68, the plan discusses privatizing the Postal Service. The summary states: This proposal would restructure the United States Postal System to return it to a sustainable business model or prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation. Like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator while maintaining strong regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition and reasonable prices for customers. The President’s Task Force on the United States Postal System will make recommendations on reforms towards this goal in August 2018.