What's New in the Postal World
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August 5, 2009
The Washington Post has reported that "Though much of the debate regarding the Postal Service's future focuses on cutting mail service to five days per week, the removal of underused mailboxes and the potential closure of hundreds of Post Offices, the USPS' financial woes can be tied in large measure to roughly $7 billion in payments it must make each year to fund current and future retiree health benefits. Congress mandated the pre-payments in 2006 when it passed a Postal reform bill. "We simply cannot afford these costs," Postmaster General John Potter said during a news conference announcing the financial results. The payments will contribute to a $700 million cash shortfall at the end of its fiscal year in late September, Potter said, unless Congress quickly changes the payment rules. "If we were part of the federal government and treated as an agency, we would not be paying pre-funding to a retirement benefit trust," Potter said. "On the other hand, if we were in the private sector, we would not be pre-funding these retirement payments. So therein lies a bit of a dilemma."
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
From today's USPS Board of Governors meeting:
From Business Wire: "ecoEnvelopes (www.ecoEnvelopes.com), the world’s leader in innovative, eco-friendly mailing solutions is pleased to announce the hiring of Kent Dunham as the company’s new Director of Sales. In this new role, Dunham and his team will be responsible for working with licensee manufacturers, resellers, mail shops and end users to develop existing and emerging markets for ecoEnvelopes products. His initial focus will be to expand the company’s internal support group to meet growing market demand and to hire a sales team to increase market expansion and revenue generation."
As the Wichita Examiner has noted, "At issue is a listing of hundreds of post office across the country that are on a suggested closing list recently submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission. It is common knowledge that the Postal Service has been bleeding billions as e-mail has reduced the number of pieces actually entering the "snail mail" system and the recession has reduced the number of junk mail pieces clogging up mail receptacles the nation over. It is also common knowledge that any time you begin tinkering with long standing institutions, politics will enter the debate faster then a long tailed cat running from a room full of rocking chairs....In the real world, efficiency and customer service drive profits, maybe 234 years after the establishment of the first Post Office the heads of the current system could at least feign an attempt to comprehend that."
Federal News Radio has reported that "Your raise at the Postal Service next year may depend in part on how well you're doing with the environment. That agency's sustainability office tells FederalNewsRadio that they're adding new indicators to management's pay-for-performance scorecard."
The Times of Zambia has reported that "Parliament yesterday heard that the Zambia Postal Services Corporation (Zampost) operated under a three-member board for the past three years, which was an irregularity. Communications and Transport Deputy Minister, Mubika Mubika told the House that the Government would soon appoint a new board for Zampost and explained that there were no intentions to privatise the corporation."
According to the Roanoke Times, "The smaller market needs only a streamlined postal service. Fewer post offices will help, and the closures under consideration seem mostly logical. Perhaps someday postal mail will become obsolete. That day has not yet arrived."
FM World has reported that "Swiss Post Solutions has won a five-year-contract to provide an integrated mailroom and courier management service to the Telegraph Media Group. The Swiss Post Solutions team will assume responsibility for the distribution of the huge volume of reference materials delivered daily to all Telegraph departments. The company will take over management of the courier room and handle the collection, sorting and delivery of the group’s mail and also that of the other tenants in the Telegraph’s head office building in central London."
The Financial Times has reported that "Candover Partners is considering plans to inject fresh funding to support its investment in DX Group, the UK postal services company it bought two years ago for £347m and which now faces declining volumes with the collapse in house sales and credit card issuance."
According to Dead Tree Edition, "With the U.S. Postal Service struggling to make ends meet, could it cut its losses by getting rid of the money-losing Periodicals Class or at least by jacking up Periodicals rates? No. USPS is better off with Periodicals than without. And a radical increase in Periodicals rates to make publishers pay their “fair share” of postal costs would probably deepen the Postal Service's financial losses. With its current structure, the Postal Service’s main problem is not that it doesn’t charge enough for mail pieces but that it doesn’t have enough mail pieces to charge for. With limited prospects for growth, USPS must reduce its cost structure, not jettison customers, to get its financial house in order. "
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From the Federal Register:
According to Learning Markets, "The United States Postal Service yesterday announced that a $7 billion loss may require the shutdown of operation centers and branches across the country. This is good news for public parcel companies who stand poised to gain. United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) is the most obvious candidate, and this news will only add to the strength it has seen in the last three weeks as it is holding steady above $50. The Company focuses its operations in the field of transportation services, mainly in domestic and international letter and package delivery. Through subsidiaries, it is a global provider of transportation, logistics and financial services. FedEx Corporation (FDX) is poised to likewise find strength on this news. The Company provides a portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services through companies competing collectively, operating independently and managed collaboratively, under the FedEx brand."
Fox News has reported that "The Government Accountability Office has called for the nation's postal system to undergo a drastic overhaul that includes office closures, layoffs and changes to retiree health benefits. Other critics also say overhaul is the only way out. But some lawmakers, like Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the committee that oversees the Postal Service, argue that slamming the door on 667 post offices around the country is no way to fix the agency. "It seems to me that cutting back on service will only cause the Postal Service to lose more business and more customers," Collins said Tuesday."
August 4, 2009
The Financial Times has reported that "Georgia will stand by its liberal economic policy despite a recession that has stoked popular discontent since the disastrous war with Russia last August, Nika Gilauri, the Georgian prime minister said. The country’s western leaning government unleashed a whirlwind of economic reforms after the Rose Revolution in 2004, cutting taxation and red tape, reducing corruption and vowing in the words of Kakha Bendukidze, the former economy minister, to privatise “everything that could be sold except its conscience....Some arable land, real estate and, possibly, the post office will be sold off this year, underscoring the government’s commitment to privatisation."
The BBC has reported that "Post deliveries and collections in large areas of Bristol and Somerset are set to be halted on Saturday by a strike of Royal Mail workers. Up to 900 members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) in 15 local centres may take part in the one-day stoppage."
According to The Examiner, "No one knows as of this writing how many of us are trying to access the www.prc.gov (postal regulatory commission) website to see if "our" post office is one of those on a proposed hit list, but I do know that it's at least one too many. Over the past hour, multiple attempts to access the site utilizing two different internet browsers have all resulted in the same "waiting for www.prc.gov..." message at the bottom of the screen. Frankly it's not much different than the agonizingly long waits I must endure every time I visit my own local postal interface exchange to mail a package or pick up some stamps. No matter the time of day, no matter the day of week, the story the same: long lines due to never having enough employees to serve the demand and then those that are there slowing the line even further with a barrage of "upsells" to every customer at the counter."
The Fort Myers News-Press has told its readers that "With one post office in Fort Myers (Miracle Mile), three in Naples and two in Punta Gorda on the latest to-be-closed list, with a $7 billion loss looming for the postal service despite yet another increase in stamp prices (2 cents in May), it’s a reminder that this outfit should have given up the ghost years ago. Abolish the postal service, or at least abolish its monopoly on first-class mail. One justification for the monopoly was to allow mail to reach remote locations at a price people could afford, a social benefit at one time, perhaps. But today with telephone and Internet, regular first-class mail delivery is not the lifeline it once was. This is not medical care. Let mail delivery go private and let the market pick the winners."
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Courier, Express and Postal Observer has told its readers that "reading recent news reports about the Postal Service, one would think that it is on its deathbed. While times are dire and a major restructuring is in order, the underlying business may be better than what some of its competitors face even if the Postal Service's ability to remain a sustaining enterprise under the current business model looks increasingly unlikely. Why do I think the future of the mail business is positive even though the Postal Service's situation is dire?"
Check out the latest entry on the blog posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Internet site “Pushing the Envelope.” The public, mailers, postal employees, and other stakeholders are invited to weigh in on the online discussions taking place. To view the site, visit http://blog.uspsoig.gov/. Will Electronic Reader Technology Affect the Postal Service? A revolution is occurring in the publishing industry with the introduction of electronic reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader that allows users to download digital versions of books, newspapers, and magazines. Now, newspaper and magazine publishers have another option besides the Postal Service to reach customers. The OIG blog asks, “How will this affect the Postal Service?” You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at: www.uspsoig.gov. If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.
From PR Web: "Window Book releases new 'IMb NMS Number Management System' in TagMaster software to ensure 45-day uniqueness of Intelligent Mail® barcode numbers on tray/sack/pallet tags across all jobs for all classes of mail."
The Associated Press has reported that "The local post office long has been the center of many American communities, but with people turning increasingly to the Internet to send messages and pay bills, financial losses are forcing the Postal Service to consider consolidating or closing hundreds of local facilities. The post office is facing a $7 billion loss this year despite a 2-cent rate increase. The agency has shed 150,000 workers since 2000, removed hundreds of mail collection boxes and taken other steps to save money."
The Independent has reported that "Communications ministers from Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries will meet in Zimbabwe from Wednesday to consider ways of strengthening postal services in the region. The three-day meeting under the auspices of the Southern Africa Postal Operators Association would draft a four-year plan for postal services in the region, the SA Post Office said in a statement."
From the Federal Register:
The Star has noted that "vsHub (short for Virtual Shopping Hub) is a local parcel forwarding service aimed at reducing the hassle of online shopping in the United States. Once users become a vsHub member they will get a physical US address, which is used as the local shipping address when shopping online before getting the products re-delivered to their home."
According to CNN Money, "It's a bad time for the Postal Service to be hamstrung, because its entire business model is under threat. Mail use is in epic decline. Any solution has to address the fact that the USPS is still functioning on a scale far larger than the demand for mail. Last week the Government Accountability Office released a report with several recommendations for what the USPS should do. Among the solutions: speed up the streamlining. There are about 400 major mail processing facilities, far more than the USPS needs given that it has 50% excess capacity for processing first-class mail alone. The Postal Service also needs to scale back its workforce, most likely through attrition. (The USPS has never had layoffs.) In March, about 150,000 out of 646,000 workers were offered early retirement. That process will speed up as more workers approach retirement age."
Your issue of The Prescott Report awaits you at www.PrescottReport.com or use this Safe Download Link
According to My San Antonio, "Congress has much on its plate, but it is time to tackle the job of fixing the USPS without increasing debt."
According to Multichannel Merchant, "If there’s an upside to the down economy, it’s that you can probably get lower prices for some services—including parcel delivery."
Yahoo! Tech has reported that "Coming soon to your TV: More advertising, in places you might not expect. The ads are showing up where people used to enjoy a break from advertising, such as video on demand and on-screen channel guides. Even TiVo, which became popular for its technology that lets people skip TV commercials, is developing new ways to show ads. As a result, you won't necessarily see more traditional, 30-second commercials. Instead, many of the new TV ads will resemble online ads — interactive and often shaped for individual members of the audience. They'll also be harder to ignore. Typically, you can't opt out of seeing them." [EdNote: What?? No newspapers protesting all this "junk" TV? No greenies decrying the waste of energy generating resources?]
August 3, 2009
The Guernsey Press has reported that "Guernsey Post could lose its monopoly under plans unveiled by the Office of Utility Regulation. The OUR, which regulates Guernsey Post, Guernsey Electricity and the island’s telecoms industry, today announced its proposals aimed at increasing competition in the postal market."
The Cloud Computing Journal has reported that "The US Secret Service, the Italian Post Office and the postal division of the Italian police are teaming up to fight transnational cyber-crime as the Rome-based European Electronic Crimes Task Force (EECTF). It will be the first - and long overdue - task force designed to fight cyber crimes outside the United States and will use as its model the Electronic Crimes Task Force the Secret Service created in America. Poste Italiane, which describes the Task Force as "the first step in a global project that will develop over the coming month according to a well-defined plan," has software and an infrastructure - derived from its banking and insurance interests - that tracks electronic payments, monitoring some 20 million transactions a day."
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
DMM Advisory: The Postal Service has released two DMM Advisories today, both of which you can find on this site:
The Postal Regulatory Commission has submitted to
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Federal
Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia its
Review of Retiree Health Benefit Fund Liability as Calculated by
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the U.S. Postal Service Office
of Inspector General (OIG).
The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service will meet in Washington, DC, at Postal Service Headquarters, 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Aug. 3-5. The public is welcome to observe the Board’s open session, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 5 in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor. The Board is expected to discuss the following items:
Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 8:30 a.m.
According to the Journal of Commerce, "The decline in gross domestic product slowed dramatically in the second quarter, giving hope the recession may indeed be coming to an end."
The Fort Myers News-Press has reported that "mailings typically decline when tourists and snowbirds depart for the summer. This is more severe, Hixson and Murray said: It’s the economy cutting into direct mail advertising — fliers, postcards and catalogs. There’s no single answer as to why. Some businesses — seeking to cut costs and try new media — are redirecting some of their advertising to Web sites, e-mail, and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Others make direct mailings but are more closely defining their target areas. Some businesses just hope to keep their doors open. Some have closed."
According to SearchEngineLand, "The direct mail industry is enormously sophisticated. They’ve been on the leading edge of data modeling since the 1970s, and smart PPC advertisers and agencies would do well to study them. RKG is in the midst of a research collaboration with Digital Element and Kevin Hillstrom of MineThatData to determine if some well-known truths from the catalog industry also apply to the world of paid search, namely that geography matters. Catalogers have known for 50 years or more that people in rural areas respond to offers at a significantly higher rate than those in urban areas. Indeed, postal zones C & D, corresponding to semi-rural and rural areas, have always outperformed zones A & B. Is the same true in Paid Search? The early answer appears to be: “Absolutely!”
Stars and Stripes has reported that "The Army plans to consolidate mailing centers scattered throughout communities into centralized locations called postal service centers. The centers will combine unit and community mail rooms, regional post offices, Army post offices and official mail distribution centers all into one facility for each military community, according to Installation Management Command-Europe officials."
August 2, 2009
Dead Tree Edition is wondering: "The rapid decrease in prices for coated paper the past few months caught nearly everyone by surprise. Now the question is whether the drop is over. Some people argue that prices will start rising because the mills are hurting so bad. By that logic, magazines will see their ad pages start bouncing back and the Postal Service can stop worrying about the loss of First Class Mail. Wishes don't always come true. In fact, mills that are struggling to stay afloat are more tempted to drop their prices rather than idle their machines -- unless the prices no longer cover their cash costs."
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has sent a letter to Postmaster General and CEO of the U.S. Postal Service Mr. John Potter requesting assurance that the needs of greater Cleveland would be central in the decision-making process used in the review of 16 area post office locations for potential closure. Congressman Kucinich sent the letter after demanding assurances from a representative of the U.S.P.S, Mr. Jordan Small, that community input would be included in the review. In the hearing, Congressman Kucinich also expressed concern about the potential for privatization of the services provided by the U.S.P.S.
The Indianapolis Star has reported that "Authorities say a postal carrier in northern Indiana stockpiled hundreds of pieces of undelivered mail in vacant mailboxes and parcel lockers along his Elkhart County route. A three-count federal grand jury indictment charges 56-year-old Bruce R. Graybill with obstruction of mail, unlawful delay of mail by a postal employee and embezzlement of mail by a postal employee."
The Times has reported that "trade union leaders have received increases in their pay packages of up to 20%, despite many of their members having their wages frozen or even cut. The union “fat cats” include those whose members are causing serious disruption to the public over the summer through a series of strikes. Billy Hayes, leader of the 260,000-member Communication Workers Union, which carried out four postal strikes in London last month, had a 5% pay rise. The union declined to comment."
August 1, 2009
The Great Falls Tribune has reported that "Members of a group dedicated to keeping the Black Eagle post office opened hand-delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures supporting their cause to Great Falls Postmaster Dave Chiavaras on Friday. The group, Citizens Against Closing Black Eagle Post Office formed after a July 21 public meeting in which United States Postal Service officials informed the community that the Black Eagle station may be closed and consolidated with the Great Falls office as part of a nationwide budget reducing effort."
The Society of Procurement Officers has noted that "Royal Mail is looking for suppliers to help its business and technology transformation under deals that could be worth up to £750m. According to a contract notice issued by the firm, the plan is to establish a framework for the provision of business and technology transformation and execution services. Suppliers are required under three separate agreements – expected to last for five years – which will include systems design, build and implementation, as well as the support and hosting of the postal service’s software applications."
BtoB has reported that "In a video announcement delivered to its membership Friday, American Business Media CEO Gordon T. Hughes II said opposition in Congress to the elimination of Saturday postal delivery "appears to be waning." In the "Presidential Flash" video, Hughes goes on to say: "Mailers appear to be accepting with reluctance [the] inevitability" of the end of Saturday postal delivery."
"Closing stations and branches and reducing mail delivery to five days per week “will unquestionably have a negative effect on the postal monopoly,” APWU President William Burrus told a House subcommittee at a hearing July 30. Such actions “will impede the Postal Service’s ability to compete” when the economy rebounds, he said. “These are acts of surrender — when the outcome of the battle is still in doubt,” Burrus said."
The Expositer has reported that "The end-of-the-driveway mailbox, its red flag alerting homeowners to a delivery, have been dotting roadsides for decades. Now these country symbols are being assessed for safety in Brant County and across Canada. Canada Post began a review two years ago of the way it delivers mail to rural areas as a result of a growing number of health and safety complaints from drivers who put mail in rural boxes."
According to Folio, "While there has been recent speculation that the U.S. Postal Service is close to raising First Class stamps from 44 cents to 50 cents or seeking an “exigent increase” of 2 to 3 percent in order to improve its dire financial outlook, there are a couple of actions that it will probably take before getting to that point, according to postal consultant Ed Mayhew. While each class is supposed to contribute 100 percent of its postal costs, the Periodicals class only contributes about 83 percent. Because Periodicals only accounts for 5 percent of overall volume, Mayhew said, this fact has gone largely unnoticed—that is, until coupon mailing company Val Pak recently filed a complaint. In order for periodicals to start contributing what it should, the USPS will have to increase their rates by 17 percent, which would be financially detrimental to most publishers. Mayhew guesses that if the Commission does decide to make the periodical class pay up, the increase won’t come this year and will most likely be done in phases."
Dead Tree Edition has reported that "The “black liquor” tax credit is driving down paper prices, according to NewPage, North America’s largest maker of coated paper."
The July 31, 2009 issue of the National Association of Postal Supervisors Legislative & Regulatory Update has been posted on this site.
CNN has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is considering ways to save money on mail delivery as Americans send less mail and the service loses more money."