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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
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February 9, 2013 

Dead Tree Edition: The U.S. Postal Service acknowledged this week that the Flats Sequencing System has increased the agency's operating costs. On the same day it very publicly announced the planned cessation of most Saturday delivery, USPS released data confirming what Dead Tree Edition speculated about two weeks ago. (See So Far, FSS Is A Step Backward, USPS Data Indicate.) The data show that two of the three major types of mail processed on FSS machines – Standard (non-carrier-route) Flats and Periodicals – had experienced larger increases in processing costs the past two years than they had gained in delivery savings. As in the case of the other major category, Standard carrier-route flats, FSS apparently caused the spikes in mail-processing costs, USPS documents added. [EdNote: After making repeated requests that the USPS file with the Commission a strategic view of where it intends to go with its flats program, the Postal Service still hasn't filed with the Commission a darn thing to cause anyone to believe that FSS is anything but a failure. It looks as if some in the Postal Service believe that if it has to bleed red ink, then perhaps its customers should be made to bleed too.]

Canton Repository: For more than three years, Congress has debated, but not enacted, legislation that would restore the financial solvency of the Postal Service. Last year, the Senate passed a bill that would have gone a long way to restoring the USPS to sound financial footing, but the House of Representatives did not even address the bill, and it died at the end of the last session of Congress. A simple relaxation of rules of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 would save the Postal Service $5.5 billion a year.

Florida Courier: The U.S. Postal Service’s decision to eliminate Saturday delivery could disproportionally hurt minority groups, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee. “You’re talking about just this reduction … from six days to five days will cut anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 employees. And with regard to Asian, African-Americans, and Hispanics, they comprise about 40 percent of the Postal Service employees,” Cummings told Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC Friday night. “So it’s logical to believe if they were to lose that 30,000 jobs, easily 40 percent of them would be African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans.” Cummings also pointed out that 40 percent of postal employees are female and warned that many are single mothers. “So you have a lot of women, many of whom are single women — head of household, and they depend upon that decent wage, decent working conditions and benefits to take care of their families,” he said. “So, yes, it would have a devastating effect in an economy that is already very, very fragile.” The U.S. Postal Service, which has been losing money for years due to decreased use, announced earlier this week that it would end normal Saturday delivery to save $2 billion in annual costs. Lawmakers have previously fought hard against such a change, and while there is resistance to the idea this time, the outcry hasn’t been as loud.

The Oakland Tribune: Unless Congress has intervened by now and sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service -- probably via FedEx -- declaring that first-class Saturday delivery simply must continue, we may be bereft of weekend mailbox missives beginning on Aug. 1. The good news: no bills to ruin my Saturdays. The bad news: no million-dollar checks to brighten my Saturdays and oh so many, many days after that. Call me crazy optimistic, but I always run to the mailbox, eagerly expecting roughly a million dollars (it could be more, and that would be fine, too) to arrive on any given day. It might be accrued interest from some long-ago, in-my-favor really big mistake by the Internal Revenue Service. Or maybe Mark Zuckerberg will need Unless Congress has intervened by now and sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service, we may be bereft of weekend mailbox missives beginning on Aug. 1. (Mike Blake/Reuters) ( MIKE BLAKE ) to unload some excess cash, randomly throwing darts at names of potential beneficiaries in the phone book. Or perhaps a previously unknown-to-me relative will have died -- rest his or her unknown soul -- leaving me some major coin.

Front Page Magazine: The United States Postal Service began as a reasonable and effective communications solution, but like everything touched by the government, it has become an employment agency, a collective bargaining program and a massive defunct pension fund. It’s the pensions and benefits that make the Post Office unsustainable, but the same thing can be said about the public school system. The difference is that the United States Postal Service is not just unsustainable, it’s of dubious relevance to the future. As personal and business communications continue to shift into the digital realm, the United States Postal Service exists as a way to cheaply ship packages, dump print spam in your mailbox and connect the unconnected. Not everyone in America has a computer or wants internet access, but the number of such people is going to continue dropping. And adding more personnel for an organization with no future is an unwise policy. The United States Postal Service is still necessary, but it’s also a disaster area tied to a bad business model and a million ton weight of pensions. Just about everything has been tried from raising rates to closing branches, but the problem lies in pensions and benefits and those cannot be touched.

U.S. News: Snail mail, as it is so sneeringly called, is so 20th century, a relic from a time when we didn't have the technology to conduct electronic communications. That smug judgment has always been flawed, but became more glaringly so with the disclosure that the E-mail accounts of both former Presidents Bush had been hacked. It doesn't appear to be a national security threat, but certainly, a deep personal violation has been committed. And we are all vulnerable to it. Paying bills online, sending intimate notes electronically, sharing photos you wouldn't necessarily want everyone in the world to see—all of these are wonderful conveniences and enormous potential threats. The personal violations are bad enough, but once someone's financial records—an individual's, a bank's, or a corporation's—are hacked, the damage can be far-reaching and traumatic. Yes, mail can be stolen, but it's less likely to happen, since its simply more cumbersome for a thief to scope out an appropriate victim and then try to gain access to his or her bank records or personal information. There's something comforting about opening a locked mailbox and finding your sealed letters—especially since opening someone else's mail is a federal offense (something many a college student has pointed out to parents wishing to open the envelope with their children's grades). Does it take longer, and does it cost more, to get mail hand-delivered? Of course. But it's also safer, and critical to national security. It'd be pretty hard for a terrorist cell to take down the uniformed members of the U.S. Postal Service as they carry our letters and packages. It's alarmingly easy to mount a cyberattack. And if we phase out so-called "snail mail," where will we be if the Internet is disable or even just compromised? During Superstorm Sandy, many people in my neighborhood lost their Internet connections. Mine went out briefly. But I got my mail.

New York Times: Postal correspondence is far more secure than e-mail and far less vulnerable to cyberattack. By capitalizing on its expertise in scheduling and high-volume sorting, the Postal Service has the potential to become a big platform for digital commerce. It helped pioneer optical character recognition, now a widely used technology. But Congress and regulations have frustrated the post office from issuing secure e-mail addresses and expanding by providing same-day service for digital retailers, for example, while obliging it to bankroll money-losing operations like six-day delivery.

Blackburn News: Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are holding a rally today in Windsor hoping to save jobs. Canada Post announced last month that through attrition they would be eliminating around 80 positions at the local plant. President of Local 630 Jeff Carroll says the move is unacceptable. “Why in a plant that had 96% we do local mail the next day, it would turn over that quick. Best in the country, best in Canada for the last five or six years and they’re closing us down. I just don’t see the business sense in it.” The rally is also to save to old post office in Sandwich town. Canada Post announced it’s plan to close the facility at the same time as the job elimination. MP Brian Masse along with the national union president Denis Lemelin will speak at the rally.

Union News & Sunday Republican: There may come a time – and not too terribly far into the future – when the thought of someone from the Postal Service delivering mail to each and every address in the land on each and every day will be a tale of another time. Few recall the era when the mail was so fundamental a part of daily life that there were actually two deliveries each day. People were writing letters, sending them off, awaiting a reply. There were folks, of course, who were beside themselves when the post office cut out the late-day delivery. Reality hasn’t been standing still since then. When was the last time someone sent you a letter? When was the last time you mailed one? Sure, it can still happen from time to time, but it’s awfully infrequent these days. And there’s the switch to online bill payments, too. The volume is simply not there. The mail must still go through – just not like it used to back in the day.

WHTC: We could bail out the big banks, and even pass laws to guarantee they can't go under again! We bailed out the UAW controlled automotive industry. We even "invested" billions on failed alternative energy sources...all money out of our pockets going to bail out those who should have probably been left to fail, or to let the market "decide" their fate. Now comes the early warnings of austerity from the Postal Service yet where is the Obama administration with a bail out for them?

Kabir News: The way things work now, the order is put together at a distribution center then turned over to the shipper who in turn feeds the package into their own system. This generally means the package has to travel to another distribution center before heading out for delivery. All that work isn’t fast enough for same day. To accomplish that, the package has to go directly from Amazon’s center to the customer. Enter the under worked USPS drivers and vehicles. The optimistic logic of this so-called “shared economy” just might be exactly the boost the in dire straits the flagging U.S. P.S. needs. Granted the postal service has a bit of work to do before they become the top choice for Amazon since the pilot program has been limited to a maximum of 200 packages a day. However, since there would be no need to hire extra drivers or put more trucks on the road, there is a good possibility that the test might just turn into a permanent arrangement.

The Edmond Sun: Changes expected in mail delivery may challenge business and institutions to make adjustments while others will not be impacted.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: No obstacle is bigger than Congress, which retained the ability to micromanage the Postal Service even after it became an independent agency, required to subsist on its revenue. As losses mounted, Congress ignored pleas to free postal officials from restrictions on rates and mandates including six-day service.

Direct Marketing News: United States Postal Service CFO Joe Corbett kicked off today's press conference announcing first quarter results of USPS's 2013 fiscal year in a defensive tone. He noted that despite a healthy spike in holiday mail, package deliveries, and election mail in the first quarter, the Postal Service still showed a net loss of $1.3 billion. “There is clearly something wrong with this picture,” Corbett said. “We can't operate on the precipice. Customers deserve better.”

Greensboro New & Record: Americans depend less on moving paper from one place to another and more on electronic communications and transactions. But they haven’t given up on mail. Taking a delivery day away will make a difference.

Boston Herald: Unions are furious over the ailing organization’s decision. The president of the American Postal Workers Union, Cliff Guffey, says that his union “condemns” the decision and claims that the Postal Service’s decision “will only deepen the agency’s congressionally manufactured financial crisis.” Strong words — and false ones, too. Instead, Guffey should recognize that his union’s years of demands have contributed to driving the Postal Service off its own fiscal cliff. In short: Despite the fact that the Postal Service has a congressionally-mandated monopoly on delivering First Class mail, its unwieldy union contracts keep the USPS from properly adapting to the marketplace. All told, employee compensation and benefits account for roughly 80 percent of USPS’ costs. A 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) notes that this “percentage ... has remained similar over the years despite major advances in technology and the automation of postal operations.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal: The underlying problem of the Postal Service - other than the rise of e-mail - is the vastly expensive pension and retiree health care obligations which were imposed on it by past administrations. Some now suggest amending a 2006 law that forces the agency to pre-fund its pension plan. But is the solution to allow the service to run up vast new obligations under unsustainable union contracts, without salting away funds to cover them? That's a sure recipe for either vast tax hikes in the future, or broken promises to postal retirees. The problems of the post office are a microcosm of the unwillingness of our elected delegates in Washington to endure a little political pain in order to adopt obvious and lasting solutions.

MENA-FN: Saudi Arabia needs to adopt the postal money remittance system, especially since the Kingdom occupies second place globally in the value of remittances. The value of those remittances exceeded 32 billion in 2012, according to Saudi Post President Mohamed Saleh Bin Taher Binten.

February 8, 2013 

Engadget: The Golden State's without a doubt at the forefront of the so-called green movement, and thus it shouldn't come as a surprise that UPS chose it as the destination for 100 of its brand-new electric trucks. This initiative is a natural expansion of UPS' eco-friendly scheme, as the delivery behemoth has already implemented something similar in New York City and Europe, with nearly 30 roadsters currently being operated around those areas. It's also worth noting that's only a small chunk of the more than 2,500 "alternative fuel vehicles" on the company's roster, which includes more electrics, hybrids and others with natural gas technologies. In California, meanwhile, the 100 delivery EVs mark the culmination of a plan that started back in 2011, and will see UPS take these (and all of their 75-miles-on-a-single-charge goods) to a few West Coast cities, such as Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento and San Bernardino.

VOA News: The head of the U.S. Postal Service has dismissed union calls for his removal, saying his controversial plan to reduce Saturday mail service is necessary to prevent one of America's oldest institutions from suffering the same demise as other iconic industries.

U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper released the following reaction to the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service lost $1.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013:

"The U.S. Postal Service continues to suffer unsustainable losses that threaten its long-term viability. Since August 2012, the Postal Service has defaulted on two payments to the U.S. Treasury, reached its $15 billion borrowing limit, and ended fiscal year 2012 with a record loss of $15.9 billion. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that today the Postal Service announced it lost $1.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013. While these losses are an improvement compared to its historic $3.3 billion loss in the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, it certainly makes it clear that the Postal Service continues to face financial challenges that can only be alleviated by comprehensive postal reform legislation. It is critical that Congress works together to pass a bipartisan and comprehensive bill as soon as possible – and this news should underscore that sense of urgency. While the Postal Service's losses are due in part to a continued decline in First Class mail and operating revenue, a significant aspect of loss can also be attributed to its retiree healthcare costs, something my colleagues and I addressed in our postal reform bill that passed the Senate last year.

"Now that the 113th Congress is officially underway, I have made it one of my top priorities during my first weeks as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to pick up last year's postal reform negotiations where they left off, beginning with a hearing next week to examine the financial crisis at the Postal Service and the potential solutions. As I've said time and time again, the Postal Service needs comprehensive legislation that reforms, right-sizes and modernizes this American institution. Although the Postal Service has made some progress in trimming costs – which is welcome news --far more work remains to make its outdated business model financially viable long term. Piecemeal efforts like those announced in recent days and months will not be enough to solve the Postal Service's financial challenges for the long haul. I hope my colleagues and the Administration share my sense of urgency to solve this situation and join me in working to find a bipartisan and comprehensive legislative solution to the Postal Service's serious but solvable financial crisis."

Here's your Wednesday Senate hearing line-up:

Solutions to the Crisis Facing the U.S. Postal Service
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
February 13, 2013 10:00AM Location: SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building

Member Statements
Chairman Thomas R. Carper D (DE)
Senator Tom Coburn R (OK)

Witnesses
Panel I
The Honorable Darrell E. Issa, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. House of Representatives

Panel II
The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Postal Service
The Honorable Eugene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, U.S. Government Accountability Office

Panel III
Cliff Guffey, President, American Postal Workers Union
Jeanette P. Dwyer, President, National Rural Letter Carriers' Association
Robert J. Rapoza, President, National Association of Postmasters of the United States
Joel Quadracci, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Quad/Graphics, Inc.
R. Richard Geddes, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

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Here's a question for you: If the President were to die, which officials would make up the line of succession?
Answer: 1 Vice President of the United States Joe Biden (D) 2 Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) 3 President pro tempore of the Senate
When you add POTUS to that assemblage, you have identified the four most powerful people in Washington.
How is it, then, that none of them individually, or collectively, can exercise whatever leverage is needed to get postal reform done?
Remind me, please. We actually won the cold war, right? With this seemingly endless postal nonsense, it makes you wonder how we did it.
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Martins Ferry Times Leader: Drastic times call for drastic measures. The Postal Service did just that Wednesday. It came in the form of ceasing mail deliveries on Saturdays beginning in August. Package delivery those days, however, will continue. The move is one that has been long rumored, with the intent of easing the agency's financial plight. Stopping Saturday delivery will do just that, saving some $2 billion annually. That is a major bandage being applied to stop the agency's financial bleeding. But will it be a long-term fix? [EdNote: A major bandage is no way to treat an arterial wound.]

Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Postal Service on Friday reported a $1.3 billion loss for its fiscal first quarter, highlighting the agency's financial strain even during the historically profitable holiday season and election period. The Postal Service earlier this week said it planned to eliminate Saturday delivery of mail, but not packages, in August in an attempt to trim losses. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said the move is expected to save $2 billion a year. The loss for the October-through-December period compares with a $3.3 billion shortfall a year earlier. A continued decline in first-class mail and a congressional mandate to set aside more than $5 billion a year for future retiree-health-care expenses were the driving factors for the most recent loss, the Postal Service said. "We have mitigated our losses," said Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett. "However, our liquidity concerns can only be fully resolved if Congress takes action to address our unsustainable business model."

New York Times: Total mail volume fell to 43.5 billion pieces from 43.6 billion in earlier year, agency officials told members of the Postal Board of Governors, which oversees the agency. The board, which told the agency to speed up measures to cut costs two weeks ago, endorsed the post office's recent move toward suspending mail delivery on Saturday. The data presented by the post office did show a slight increase in advertising mail from the 2012 election. The agency's packaging and shipping service continues to grow, increasing 4 percent in the first quarter.

The Hill: The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which announced further cost-cutting moves this week, said Friday that it lost $1.3 billion in the final three months of 2012. The losses came during the holiday shopping season, which has historically been the post office's strongest time of the year.

From the Board of Governors meeting: (check out the Postal Service's press release)

  • Postal board chairman Mickey Barnett stressed the need for Congress to move quickly to enact new postal legislation.
  • Barnett noted that the board was running dangerously close to not having the necessary quorum to conduct essential business.
  • PMG Donahoe said that the Postal Service is facing a historic decline in First-Class Mail volume.
  • Donahoe said that the Postal Service does not have all the flexibility it needs to return to profitability.
  • Donahoe noted that the Postal Service remains a vital part of the American economy.
  • The PMG said the USPS must meet its universal service obligation.
    [EdNote: Whatever that means, since Congress has done nothing to comprehensively define what constitutes the USPS' universal service obligation.]
  • Donahoe has announced the retirement of Paul Vogel and Tony Vegliante.
  • The Board will be addressing the plan for succession of senior postal executives.
  • Gov. Louis Giuliano reported that the Postal Service will soon present its ideas on the potential digital opportunities open to the Postal Service.
  • CFO Joe Corbett reported that the FY2013 first quarter (historically the USPS' best quarter) ended with a net loss of $1.3 billion and still have low levels of liquidity.
  • Package services are growing at a pace that exceeds our largest competitors. Higher margin First-Class Mail continued to a record migration to electronic alternatives.
  • Expenses have been held flat. Drops in revenue have been compensated for by expense cuts. The USPS is moving aggressively to bring on non-career workers to meet needs.
  • On liquidity: A 1% change in income & expense can shift cash position rapidly and significantly. USPS lost 7.8 billion dollars in the depths of the recession.
  • COO Megan Brennan: $20 million have been removed from the system, while providing improved mail service. She updated the board on hurricane-related impacts. Enhanced mail performance visibility is increasingly important.
  • Slides used for the CFO's financial review
  • Slides used for the COO's update on service performance.

Huffington Post: If you want to know the byzantine story of how the Federal Government took a profitable institution called the U.S. Post Office and made it look like a cross-eyed loser, the story has been well told here. (Believe it or not, the trouble began when the government discovered the Post Office had surplus funds.) But the fact is that there are mighty big cuts coming down the pipeline for the P.O. -- above and beyond the Saturday closings announced today. The fact is, we should be investing more in the post office to modernize it because millions of people still count on its service. But Republicans who keep shouting for smaller government (even if it actually helps people) and defanged Democrats will let it happen unless someone kicks up a serious ruckus. But who is going to fight the fight? Who cares about the silly little post office? Well, I'd like to suggest these mighty folks might want to start rolling up their sleeves and come out swinging . . . . (Read more)

MSN: The unfailingly crochety British magazine The Economist loves to shake its head at American lawmakers. And it's having a field day with the way Congress has handled the Postal Service. Congress' inability to take real action on the Postal Service shows that the U.S. is doomed, the magazine writes. Last year, the House of Representatives and the Senate each took up proposals reforming the service. Both bills died. The House bill never came to a vote, and the bill that passed in the Senate went nowhere in the House. That Senate bill was as toothless as it gets, by the way. It simply delayed any action on the Postal Service for two years. So the USPS went ahead and canned Saturday delivery on its own using what the Economist calls "dubious legal reasoning."

Financial Times: It is a scene playing out in supermarkets across the world: a consumer waits to pay and, instead of browsing the magazines and chewing gum displayed alongside, she pulls out her mobile phone for a quick digital distraction. US magazine executives call the habit the "mobile blinder" after the vision-narrowing headgear worn by racehorses, and say the trend is wreaking havoc on the industry. The trend is even more pronounced for the women's, fashion, sex and celebrity gossip titles prominent displayed in supermarket and drugstore checkout aisles. The news comes amid another blow to the print magazine business. The US Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it was ending first-class mail delivery service on Saturdays.

Suffolk News Herald: Whatever the U.S. Postal Service's motivation for suggesting that it will eliminate Saturday delivery, Congress should move quickly to accept the suggestion. It's time the agency moved into the 21st century.

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Ending Saturday postal delivery is like a getting a letter from a bill collector for a debt we incurred. We don't like it, but we have to pay the piper. Few know better than we in the news and information business that customers increasingly rely on digital products -- while at the same time, not everyone is clicking away on links. And not everyone relies on email for personal messages -- and there's even been a small resurgence in hand-writtten letters, which can convey feeling and depth in ways that digital substitutes will never match. But come August, those letters may have to be opened Monday through Friday. The post office's financial hemorrhaging can't wait for Congress to act. The post office is only trying to survive in a vastly changed environment. Before members of Congress compound the Postal Service's problems, they should consider what happens to businesses and agencies that fail to adapt. Better to maintain five-day-a-week service than lose mail delivery altogether.

Joliet Herald News: For as long as anyone reading this has been alive, Americans have checked their mailboxes on Saturday to see what the mail carrier brought them. That's going to end, if the U.S. Postal Service gets its way. And it should. The move is long overdue for an agency drowning in red ink and won't have much of an impact on most people's lives.

Enid News and Eagle: Various groups and interests have come out against the Postal Services plan. People in rural areas have come out against it, as have business owners and The National Newspaper Association. Newspapers are a major user of the Postal Service, relying on the agency to get newspapers into the hands of customers in a timely manner. Rural newspaper customers rely on the Postal Service. By cutting Saturday delivery, those newspaper customers face not receiving their paper until several days later.

  Delaware County Daily Times: For many years, Americans have been aware that the U.S. Postal Service has been in financial distress, so, when news broke on Wednesday that Saturday mail delivery will be discontinued after Aug. 3, no one seemed surprised. Despite the reduction in service, customers also seemed understanding of the need for the cost-cutting measure by the quasi-governmental agency that suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the last fiscal year. "I know they've been struggling. Postage keeps going up every year. I don't think it's a bad thing if it allows them to balance the budget," Tamitra Fontaine of Lansdowne told a Daily Times reporter. "I think that it's probably a reasonable thing to do. I don't think it's going to affect too much, said Albert Pasquarelli of Middletown.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Lawmakers who wouldn't help the U.S. Postal Service as its annual losses reached almost $16 billion may be spurred to act after Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he would end Saturday mail delivery without Congress's approval if necessary.

Carroll County Times: While many in Congress are quick to criticize the Postal Service for failing to operate in the black, those same representatives often have blocked efforts to make the Postal Service more cost-effective, as when lawmakers opposed consolidation plans that would have eliminated post offices in their districts. Whether members of Congress again block the Postal Service in its latest money-saving plan remains to be seen, but by announcing the change now, the Postal Service has provided them plenty of opportunity to do so.

Arizona Daily Star: After months of imploring Congress - with little success - to approve cost-cutting measures, including closing thousands of postal stations, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced Wednesday that the USPS will stop Saturday letter delivery. Package deliveries, an area where the Postal Service has increased business, would continue six days a week, as would service to post office boxes. The move is expected to save $2 billion annually. But it also conflicts with a 30-year mandate from Congress: Appropriations bills routinely call for six-day delivery. While many in Congress understand the situation, they've found it difficult to consider changes to an institution that their constituents often see as a vital service. But if the agency is to remain vital, Congress must let it be a viable business.

Orange County Register: Wednesday's announcement that the United States Postal Service later this year will cease delivering mail on Saturdays is a testament to the institution's decay. In the private sector, the most successful businesses work to increase quality while decreasing costs. Though technology and costs imposed by government regulations are responsible for some of the USPS's sapped vitality, the real drain on the coffers is an overfed, unionized work force. Of the $15.9 billion the agency lost last year, nearly 70 percent was attributable to labor costs, driven primarily by employee health care benefits. The time has come to give serious thought to privatizing America's mail delivery.

Washington Post: Donahoe may be counting on polls showing popular support for five-day delivery and indications from Congress and the White House that they are ready to abandon three decades of past practice. With everything on their legislative agenda, lawmakers might not take time to reimpose the six-day mandate before Donahoe can make it a done deal. But even if they don't, and even if his action is within the letter of the law, members of Congress don't like outsiders messing with their prerogatives. While five-day delivery certainly is a legislative possibility, preemptive agency moves to undermine years of legislative history are not appreciated on Capitol Hill. [EdNote: Here's a suggestion. If Congress doesn't like "outsiders messing with their prerogatives," then they should get off their collective duffs and pass a postal legislative reform bill that can bring the nation's postal system into the 21st century. Don't moan and groan. Do something!! My heavens, that's why American taxpayers are paying you.]

Des Moines Register: It's been more than a decade since the Government Accountability Office warned Congress that the U.S. Postal Service was in financial trouble. Year after year, postmasters general stood before lawmakers outlining problems and offering solutions. They asked to reduce delivery days. They asked to end a congressional mandate that forces the Postal Service to borrow money to prefund its future retiree benefits. Lawmakers promised to help, but they failed to deliver. Proposals to close post offices were met with opposition from politicians, including Gov. Terry Branstad, who owns buildings leased for post offices. Though some lawmakers immediately grumbled about Donahoe stepping on their toes, Congress has repeatedly failed to do anything to help. Rather than trying to stand in the way of this change, senators and representatives should be thanking him for stepping up.

Transport Intelligence: Press reports suggest that FedEx's voluntary redundancy programme has accounted for 10% of the company's senior management. Local press sources state that over 20 vice-presidents and managing directors will be leaving the company, although this has not been confirmed by FedEx to Transport Intelligence at the time of publication. [EdNote: Imagine that. The ability to shuck costs when necessary without the nonsense of congressional vituperation. What a concept!]

Washington Post:  Oceans of ink have been spilled debating whether the Postal Service's crisis was inflicted by Congress's decision to order more than $5 billion per year in health-benefit prepayments or by the inevitable consequence of technological obsolescence and high fixed costs, especially labor costs. We tend toward the latter view. If you think the Postal Service is a case study in the special-interest gridlock that plagues U.S. government generally, we agree with you. That's why reforming it, root and branch, is such an important test for Congress. So far, lawmakers have shown that they can't, or won't, do the job. We hope that, by precipitating the issue of Saturday delivery, USPS management will finally snap them out of it.

Wall Street Journal: Is there a better tutorial in government failure than a monopoly that loses about $25 million every day, like the U.S. Postal Service now? This is an outfit that is proposing to cut what it does by roughly one-sixth and only solve about one-eighth of its financial problem. This isn't to disparage Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and his plan to stop delivering mail on Saturdays, which is really a cheeky ultimatum to his political and union masters. For years Mr. Donahoe has been trying to run USPS like a business—or at least a business that isn't General Motors or Citigroup —but Congress won't let him. So now he's forcing a reckoning, and not a moment too soon.

WDEL: Senator Tom Carper will lead a Senate hearing looking for ways to help the postal service. The hearing was called in response to news that the Postal Service is discontinuing Saturday mail delivery. The hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will focus on the postal service's financial situation and seeking possible solutions that will maintain the agency's viability. Committee chair Carper gavels the session in at 10 am Wednesday in Washington.

BtoB: Industry reactions have been mixed following the U.S. Postal Service's announcement that it will eliminate most Saturday mail delivery in an effort to save $2 billion annually. The American Catalog Mailers Association supports action that keeps mailing costs low. American Business Media, an association of business information and media companies, said it supports efforts to reduce costs but also believes congressional action is needed.

Alaska Journal of Commerce: Sen. Mark Begich says the U.S. Postal Service's decision to stop delivering all Saturday mail except for packages is "bad news for Alaskans." In a release Wednesday, he said the decision will "undoubtedly slow overall delivery time." He said the agency should have let Congress address the issue. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says the time has come for the Postal Service to evaluate how it does things.

AARP: Myth: Most Americans use email and pay their bills online, so having a letter carrier show up on Saturdays doesn't really matter. Reality: Carriers do more than just deliver mail. Sometimes they're the only contact for disabled and elderly people who are homebound. Thanks to the Carrier Alert Program, a joint effort of the National Association of Letter Carriers and the Postal Service since 1982, mail deliverers contact appropriate officials if they see anything amiss with people on their route who have registered for the program. NALC president Frederic Rolando called the end of Saturday mail delivery "a disastrous idea…. It would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication."

Business Record: The U.S. Postal Service said it wants to stop delivering mail on Saturdays. The business community's reaction? OK.

HometownSource: U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who helped lead the charge last year to maintain reliable postal delivery for communities throughout Minnesota and around the country. Sen. Franken has long been fighting five-day postal delivery, and was among the Senate's most vocal advocates to prevent the closure of post offices and processing centers throughout Minnesota.

The Acton Institute: In a free market, businesses would be able to compete with one another to be the most efficient and effective mail delivery service, and if one business failed, others would be there—or others would be started—to fill in the gap in the market. Human beings, endowed by God with creativity in accordance with his image and made to cultivate the resources of the earth for his glory, ought to be free to creatively meet the needs of others, such as mail delivery, but that is not the situation today. The deeper postal problem in the United States is not that the postal service cannot afford to continue delivering mail on Saturdays. Rather, the problem is the privilege that granted them exclusive right to do so. Nevertheless, as Mitchell notes, the USPS only has exclusive rights over "nonurgent letters," so perhaps the private sector can still pick up the slack for small business, the elderly, the disabled, and others who have urgent deliveries that must be received on Saturdays. Just don't expect them in your mailbox, because that's still illegal.

MSNBC: The NALC has hired their own business-reinvention expert to succeed where they think Donahoe has failed. Ron Bloom was a senior adviser on President Obama's task force to restructure GM and Chrysler, and has plenty of experience getting unions and management to sacrifice on key issues. Bloom and Donahoe don't exactly see eye-to-eye. "If you degrade the network and your customers leave and you get into the death spiral, you can't have it back," said Bloom, who argues against getting rid of Saturday delivery. "All the guys who think six days is important to their business strategy for using the Post Office—they're going to leave. They're going to make other arrangements." The eventual restructuring of the Postal Service will involve a number of transformative changes. The first of these–doing away with Saturday delivery–has been tossed brazenly into Congress's lap. Is it legal? We'll find out by Aug. 1. The rest will be fought by Bloom, Donahoe, the unions, and Congress in the months and years to come.

The Monitor: Local business owners and residents were unfazed by the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will end Saturday deliveries in August.

Chicago Tribune: The U.S. Postal Service's plan to end Saturday first-class delivery in August angered unions that stand to lose jobs and faces an uncertain fate in Congress. But the decision, which the Postal Service says will save $2 billion a year, barely fazed a number of people interviewed at Chicago-area post offices.

PRWeek: The US Postal Service is planning to detail its course of action on the logistics of switching from a six- to five-day mail-delivery schedule, according to Dave Partenheimer, a media relations manager at the USPS. It plans to do a heavy PR push for its newly updated, five-day website. The new delivery schedule will begin the week of August 5, but package delivery will continue on Saturday after that date. The USPS expects to generate cost savings of about $2 billion annually, once the plan is fully implemented. At this point, the USPS is planning to handle most consumer and stakeholder outreach with in-house staff.

York Daily Record: The Postal Service is soliciting advice on how to create a high-technology system for routing mail and packages, in a move that could help close the gap between it and private-sector rivals FedEx and UPS. The financially struggling mail agency said it wants a "dynamic routing" strategy that can help it offer new products that could boost revenue, such as same-day delivery and pickups at retail locations. It would also help the agency deliver more efficiently as it moves to five-day delivery of first-class mail. The Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it will phase out Saturday delivery to cut costs.

Watchdog.org: This week's announcement that the United States Postal Service will end normal mail delivery on Saturdays has sparked fierce reaction from some federal lawmakers, who argue the move would harm rural Americans. In a completely unexpected coincidence, some of the fiercest critics of the plan also happen to be top recipients of postal union campaign cash.

Grand Island Independent: The death of Saturday mail delivery would seem to have the biggest impact in places such as Leisure World, where residents _ many in their 80s and 90s _ grew up with the mailbox as their connection to the rest of the world. But many people just don't care in the Southern California community where life slowly revolves around golf, card games and splashing in a heated pool. Now there's email for letter-writing and Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and relatives. And there's snail mail for ... Well, for what, really?

Seattle Times: Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe knows what to expect if Saturday mail delivery ends in August as he proposes. Virtually no one will notice. Harrumphing on Capitol Hill is about the only response to Donahoe's announcement on Wednesday. Congress may not like the plan, but in a familiar pattern, the institution could not get its act together to pass legislation preventing it. The Postal Service is hemorrhaging money with a $15.9 billion loss in 2012, three times the $5.1 billion the year before. Halting Saturday delivery of everything but packages, a service with modest growth, might save $2 billion.

From USPS Industry Liaison Maura Robinson: I am pleased to invite you to join other mailing industry stakeholders and postal leadership at the USPS Leadership Forum for Stakeholders on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Ben Franklin Room at Postal Service headquarters. The Leadership Forum provides an opportunity for a wide range of interested mailing industry stakeholders to directly hear about current initiatives and issues from the Posatl Service's senior leadership. You are also invited to a Stakeholder Reception immediately following the Leadership Forum from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The reception allows stakeholders and postal leaders, managers, and key staff to interact in a more relaxed environment.

If you would like to attend the Leadership Forum, Stakeholder Reception, or both, please respond no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, February 14, 2013, as follows: • Send a message to MTAC@usps.gov with "February Forum" in the subject line;

  • Provide your name, and indentify your company, agency or MTAC member association;
  • Indicate which event(s) you will attend on February 19:
  • Leadership Forum
  • Stakeholder Reception
  • Both the Forum and Reception

Your RSVP must be received by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 14, to ensure that your name appears on the attendee list provided to the guard stations at both public entrances to Postal Service headquarters (Metro level and Lobby/Street level). Due to recent changes in building security policy, it is extremely important for your name to be on the security list for these events. The current MTAC membership list will be provided to the US Postal Inspection Service and building security for the meetings on February 19-20, but we must still ask all MTAC association executives and representatives – even those with an unexpired badge – to RSVP to these events. Should you have questions, please send an email to MTAC@usps.gov, or contact Wendy Hocking, MTAC Program Manager, at 202-268-8149 or at wendy.a.hocking@usps.gov.

February 7, 2013 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

"While I question the legality of the Postmaster General's decision to suspend Saturday mail delivery, this unfortunate scenario could have been wholly prevented if the House had passed the Senate's bipartisan postal reform bill in the last Congress. Cutting down mail delivery to five days per week will not save the Postal Service from insolvency. This short sighted measure will deal a crippling blow to the millions of Americans and small businesses who rely on the timely and reliable delivery to every community in our nation.

"Given the importance of the Post Office to communities in Nevada and across our nation, such a drastic policy change cannot be enacted without approval from Congress. Instead, the Postmaster General relied on flawed legal guidance to claim that he can circumvent Congress' authority on the matter. The Postmaster Generals' actions have damaged his reputation with Congressional leaders and further complicates Congressional efforts to pass comprehensive postal reform legislation in the future."

"No one disputes that the Postal Service is in urgent need of reform. Passing meaningful postal legislation is one of my top priorities for this Congress and I hope House Republicans will finally join the Senate in bringing a bill up for a vote."

Patriot Ledger: Customers at the Quincy and Braintree post offices reacted with a shrug after the announcement that the Postal Service planned to discontinue Saturday mail deliveries in August. Most postal customers randomly interviewed at the two post offices Wednesday did not have a strong reaction to the end of Saturday delivery to homes and businesses, which the Postal Service said would save $2 billion a year. "It's one of those things, you know?" said Gerry Gorham of Randolph. "With the Internet, it's dwindling." While most of those approached at the post offices accepted the service reduction with little comment, others were quite supportive. Read more: http://www.patriotledger.com/news/x1433780171/Ending-Saturday-mail-understandable-many-on-South-Shore-say#ixzz2KEI8vunH

eCommerceBytes: As it faces a worsening financial situation and frustration with Congress mounts for failing to enact cost-cutting reform measures, the U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it will seek to phase out six-day delivery service later this year. However, of critical importance to online sellers, the agency said that it will continue to deliver packages on Saturdays, even as residential and business delivery of regular mail on that day would end in early August.

Wired: Amazon's strategy for consumer domination includes erecting million-square-foot warehouses near the country's largest cities. The company has played coy on whether its expanding physical infrastructure signals plans to offer same-day delivery on a wide scale. If so, it will still need a transportation infrastructure to go along with it. And that fleet can't just consist of UPS trucks that Amazon tells to go faster. Same-day delivery requires a fundamentally different logistical framework from its standard system, logistics experts say. To get orders delivered even as quickly as overnight, Amazon pulls together the orders at its distribution centers before turning the packages over to UPS or FedEx. The carriers then feed those packages into their own logistics operations, which typically means traveling to UPS or FedEx distribution centers and depots before heading out on trucks to people's houses. All of that transit doesn't move fast enough for same-day. To make same-day work, the orders must travel straight from the distribution centers to customers. The postal service still has miles to go before becoming Amazon's courier of choice. The pilot program is limited to delivering a maximum of 200 packages per day to customers of 1-800-Flowers.com's sister brands, which sell popcorn, cookies, chocolate and gift baskets. Friess says the USPS is planning to add more retailers soon. If the test is successful, which he says the agency believes it will be, Metro Post will roll out to other large markets across the country. Friess declined to speculate on whether the USPS' 214,000 trucks — what the agency calls the world's largest civilian fleet — could end up in the service of Amazon.

Sun News: Canada Post has publicly released a chunk of its postal code database, even as it continues to pursue a lawsuit against a small start-up for also giving away postal codes for free.

Foreign Policy: How do America's mail carriers stack up internationally? In late 2011, Oxford Strategic Consulting, a British firm, released a report ranking the postal services of the G-20 countries based on three metrics: "provision of access to vital services," "operational resource efficiency," and "performance and public trust." Guess who came in first? That's right: the good old U.S. of A.

 A special issue of the PostCom Bulletin is available online.......Postal Service to America: "May I have your attention."

George Mason School of Public Policy: James Campbell -- Study on Universal Postal Service and the Postal Monopoly

Wisconsin State Journal: Better late than later. The U.S. Postal Service is finally going to stop delivering letters on Saturdays — assuming Congress doesn't get in the way of much-needed savings. Congress should support the move and grant the Postal Service more flexibility to turn around its ugly bottom line. Congress has plenty of its own financial problems to worry about. Lawmakers shouldn't micro-manage the post office with lots of mandates and limits. Lots of other countries deliver mail five days a week, rather than six. President Barack Obama has supported the change, though his spokesman on Wednesday said wider reform is still needed. He's right about that.

Lafayette Journal Courier: Will there be some pain once the U.S. Postal Service cuts service on Saturdays? No doubt. But, honestly, what should Americans expect, long after they dropped shipping much of their everyday correspondence through the postal carrier? The Internet, apparently, is here to stay.

Omaha World-Herald: Whether the Postal Service is able to eliminate Saturday delivery depends on Congress. In the past, Congress has prohibited a shift to five-day-only delivery. Wednesday's announcement was an end-run around that ban because it took advantage of a temporary loophole in congressional oversight. Reaction from Congress was mixed, with some legislators condemning it and others announcing their support.

Sentinel and Enterprise: When the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday it would stop delivering mail on Saturdays come August, we were tempted to send them this note by Express Mail: What took you so long? Then again, the letter probably would have come back undelivered. After all, it's the Congress, not the Postal Service, that has refused to approve the move as part of the agency's attempts to reduce the billions in red ink it creates each year. That's because even though it gets no taxpayer dollars to run its day-to-day operations, the Postal Service is subject to congressional control.

Lowell Sun: Plans to bag Postal Sat. delivery no biggie to locals polled.

North Country Now: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced they intend to eliminate Saturday delivery for first class mail beginning in August, and North Country Congressman Bill Owens doesn't like the idea.

UT San Diego: The message did not come via special delivery. Instead, the news that the U.S. Postal Service is moving to end Saturday mail delivery of first-class letters in August landed with an unceremonious thud on our collective front porch. Given the fact that our friends at the Postal Service lost $15.9 billion in the last fiscal year, the writing was already on the civic wall. Like milkmen and gas-station attendants, Saturday mail could be a genteel luxury we can no longer afford. Judging by the no-sweat responses I got from locals, however, it is more likely just one more perk that a pragmatic America doesn't even expect anymore.

Federal News Radio: The Postal Service's decision to move to five-day-a-week delivery for first class mail means employees will see fewer overtime hours and another round of buyouts. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Wednesday the reduction in service would be the equivalent of 22,500 employees who would no longer be needed to process and deliver mail. "Right now the Postal Service, we run in excess of 10 percent overtime, almost 12 percent and we've done this on purpose by not hiring and using attrition to take advantage of people leaving without having to resort to layoffs," said Donahoe during a press briefing in Washington. "We think by eliminating overtime and by looking at some of the flexibilities we have with the part-time workforce, and potentially working with the unions on some buyouts, we'll easily hit that." USPS already has cut its workforce by 306,000 people over the last 13 years, so Donahoe said they have been preparing for this eventual cut back in service.

Ask Grapevine: Royal Mail Group has re-engineered its operational recruitment process to improve the way it selects postmen and women, drivers, sorters and data inputting staff.

The Independent: Royal Mail has won back a contract to deliver statements to British Gas customers, which it lost to a rival in 2007.

Well, say what you want. For sure, the Postal Service has finally gotten everyone's attention.

Pensacola News Journal: The decision by the U.S. Postal Service to stop delivering mail on Saturdays is a wise one. The Postal Service on Wednesday announced it will stop delivering mail six days a week, which will save about $2 billion a year. Packages will continue to be delivered six days a week. At one time the Postal Service was the glue that bound together our expanding country. However, during the last 20 years those postmarked gifts from the letter carrier became more rare. Email was preferred because of its convenience, speed and expense. Now it's common to pay bills online, rather than put them in the mail, hoping it will arrive before the due date. In addition to reduced mail, the Postal Service is being crushed by the future costs of health benefits for retirees. That figure – $11.1 billion, the Associated Press reported – accounts for most of the $15 billion in losses last year. Without that commitment and other expenses, the Postal Service still lost $2.4 billion. Like many companies, the Postal Service is responding with reductions to stay afloat.

Omaha World-Herald: The U.S. Postal Service can deliver the mail through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night — but the flood of red ink is too much. It cannot continue to lose billions of dollars a year. The Postal Service's plan to stop delivering mail on Saturdays is the very definition of a tough choice. But it is necessary to help reduce those losses.

Salon: Residents and business owners across the country expressed disappointment or concern, or just shrugged off the U.S. Postal Service's announcement Wednesday that it was doing away with Saturday mail deliveries except for packages.

The Chronicle-Telegram: Janet Bird wasn't surprised by Wednesday's announcement by the U.S. Postal Service that it plans to do away with delivery of letters, bills, cards, catalogs and other first-class mail Saturdays come August. "I expected it," Bird said of the move, which postal officials anticipate will save approximately $2 billion a year. "We'll get used to it like we do anything else," Bird said of the loss of Saturday delivery. "It doesn't seem like anything of importance comes on Saturday anyway," said one man, who declined to be named. Another woman agreed: "If that will keep their costs down and keep them from raising rates so often, then I'm for it." Elyrian Tony White said the shift to five-day delivery won't make a big difference in his life. "I don't go to the mailbox every day anyway," he said, noting he often works 10-hour days, especially on Saturdays. "Sometimes I don't even get the (Saturday) mail until Sunday."

Boston Herald: U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is slamming a move by the Postal Service to slash Saturday coverage, saying the change would hurt postal workers, businesses and people who rely on weekend mail to receive government benefits. "I have co-sponsored legislation in Congress that calls on the Postal Service to take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service," Markey, who is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, said in a statement last night.

MarketWatch: The U.S. Postal Service's announcement Wednesday that it will discontinue Saturday mail delivery sparked outrage and concern by businesses, consumers and postal worker unions worried that the change could hurt their livelihood and convenience. But the change matters little to the companies that deluge Americans with the most mail: They never delivered on Saturday anyway.

Foster's Daily Democrat: Reaction to the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will discontinue Saturday mail service this summer varied greatly among area residents, with some saying it was a good move for postal workers and others lamenting it would hurt their own businesses. Some fear one-day-a-week cutbacks could open the door to more drastic setbacks in the future. Others predict the USPS delivery change will not affect them.

Muncie Free Press: Judging from Congressman Luke Messer, the U.S. Postal Service will have to reform itself from going billions of dollars in debt by providing five day delivery service. "Every American understands the Post Office cannot continue to do business the same old way and simply raise the price of stamps every six months," said Messer, a former state lawmaker and leader of the freshman class of Republican congressmen. Messer likened the USPS plan to go to five day delivery and end Saturday delivery to recent reforms former Gov. Mitch Daniels imposed for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Although difficult, those reforms reduced cost and improved service, he said.

Springfield News-Leader: Missouri lawmakers raised questions about the plan. "For the last two years I've pressed the United States Postal Service for real numbers on cost-saving options," said U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield. "Dropping Saturday delivery was one of the first questions I asked about and was surprised to see how little they would save by ending Saturday delivery." U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill called the plans "an unnecessary loss." McCaskill, D-Mo., was involved in crafting a bill in 2012 that would have provided a short-term cash infusion and delayed decisions on closing thousands of post office closings and ending Saturday mail delivery. "Unfortunately, instead of passing the bill, the Republicans in the U.S. House abandoned rural America and allowed the legislation to die," McCaskill said. "And this is the result of their inaction — an unnecessary loss for business, rural families and the principle of compromise." U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said he wasn't sure how the Postal Service could end Saturday mail service without congressional approval. "We'll be watching that carefully to see what their plan is," Blunt said.

Federal News Radio: For the Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General, nearly every technology upgrade or new piece of hardware or software is focused on moving the office in one direction: mobile. With more than two-thirds of the office's 1,130 employees located outside the Washington, D.C., metro region, Gary Barlet, the chief information officer for the Office of Inspector General, said ensuring these workers in about 100 field offices have access to applications and data anywhere and at anytime is his top priority for fiscal 2013 and beyond. The OIG has more than 400 servers that are virtualized, and Barlet would like to move into the PC or laptop level by implementing a thin client set up. He said by virtualizing both the front end infrastructure and back end storage and computing power, OIG workers would have access to their data in a secure environment no matter where they were working. Barlet also is reorganizing one of the offices under him to focus more on mobile application development. He said the OIG will release its first mobile app for investigators in the coming month or so.

American Press: The decision of the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail deliveries by Aug. 1 isn't being well-received in some quarters, but 7 in 10 Americans think it's a great idea. Supporters are relieved to know that is one less day they will have to cope with mail boxes filled mostly with continuous appeals from charities, business solicitations. Unfortunately, Congress has been the main hindrance to postal reform. As you would expect, its members look at the issue from a political perspective. Closing post offices and reducing deliveries doesn't go over well back in their communities. Congress also has a reputation for putting off permanent solutions to most serious financial problems.

USA Today: The plan to end Saturday delivery in August, announced Wednesday, would cut costs by $2 billion a year. (Package delivery, which is thriving, would continue six days a week.) This is one of many steps postal officials have been begging Congress for years to allow them to take to stop the service from hemorrhaging money. Yet even though polls show almost 70% of Americans are OK with giving up Saturday mail delivery to help save the Postal Service, Congress has repeatedly objected, attaching provisions to spending bills to prohibit postal officials from acting on their own. That might be fine if the House and Senate had a broad plan for saving national mail delivery. But they don't. Year after year, postal officials sound the alarm and beg for a comprehensive bill to allow the agency to save money. But year after year, Congress dawdles, unwilling to do one of its most basic jobs. Last year, for example, Republican House leaders asserted they just couldn't find the time to bring a Postal Service reorganization bill to the floor, at the same time they were scheduling their 33rd vote to repeal ObamaCare. The nation's mail delivery system is in deep trouble.

Green Bay Press Gazette: For an organization that's been bleeding like a severed artery, the U.S. Postal Service has finally decided to end Saturday delivery, except for packages. It's about time. Eliminating Saturday deliveries seems to be a logical choice. Facing losses measured in the tens of billions of dollars and with cuts to those health benefits off the table, the USPS must look at operations, and eliminating Saturday home delivery makes sense. The move isn't taken lightly and is not without some dissent. Many businesses, as well as the elderly and rural customers, rely on first-class mail deliveries. Many media companies, including Press-Gazette Media, have newspapers delivered by mail on Saturdays.

Des Moines Register: Some Iowans view Saturday mail delivery as a necessary service, rooted in national history but still vital to individuals, communities and businesses. Others see six-day delivery as an irrelevant relic in a digital age. The comments came from worried newspaper industry leaders, rank-and-file stamp-lickers, state lawmakers, members of Congress and union leaders. They also came from Iowans who would rather see five-day delivery of most mail than face stiff price increases from the beleaguered, money-losing U.S. Postal Service.

Bloomberg Businessweek: That keystroke you just used to pay your power bill may have deleted Saturday mail service. Consumers, their banks and other services have fallen in love with online commerce. It's taken a toll on the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service will drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail beginning Aug. 5. It also will cut between 20,000 and 25,000 jobs nationwide as it makes the change. Older consumers are quickly embracing online banking. 57 percent of people age 55 and older preferred online banking in 2011, compared to 20 percent in 2010.

Dead Tree Edition: Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe confused both the news media and fuming Congress members today with his explanation of why Saturday mail service can be ended without Congressional approval. But he appears to be on solid ground legally. In fact, the case for the U.S. Postal Service making this move was laid out more than three years ago.

Multichannel Merchant: Direct-to-customer merchants who mail catalogs told Multichannel Merchant they are fine with the United States Postal Service's 5-day delivery plan, which is scheduled to go into effect the week of Aug. 5. USPS said in a statement that once the plan is fully implemented, it will generate a cost savings of about $2 billion annually. Catalog mailers and others in direct-to-customer said they think the savings will be passed on to them in the form of fewer future rate increases.

Rep. Stephen Lynch: Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, released the following statement in response to the United State Postal Service's announcement today on five-day mail delivery:

"I am deeply concerned by the United State Postal Service's decision to transition to five day delivery without congressional consent. The elimination of Saturday mail delivery will have a negative impact on thousands of businesses across the nation that are operating on a six day schedule. This could be a damaging policy change in a fragile economy. Clearly, the Postal Service continues to face a variety of significant fiscal challenges, from decreasing mail volume and declining revenue, to the onerous mandate that the agency prefund its retiree health benefit obligations 75 years before it is necessary. However, I do not believe that the solution to improving the financial viability of the Postal Service will be found in a unilateral and legally-questionable move to five day delivery, but rather through the enactment of bipartisan, comprehensive, and well-reasoned postal reform legislation."

Editor & Publisher: "The U.S. Postal Service's announcement today that it intends to maintain Saturday delivery of packages but abandon delivery of newspapers is an indication USPS is moving further and further away from the universal service the American public expects," said National Newspaper Association President Merle Baranczyk. "This unfortunate decision sees packages as profitable but forgets the importance of money in the mail for small businesses and thousands of American communities who depend upon local newspaper delivery on Saturdays," Baranczyk added.

The Beacon-News: Local reaction to the announcement regarding changes in the U.S. Postal Service varied from those who said cuts were predictable to others who felt it would have no discernible impact on their lives.

Henderson Dispatch: Is the U.S. Postal Service too big to fail? We may soon find out after the USPS pushed the envelope Wednesday on its disagreement with Congress. In its tug-of-war with Congress, reducing six-day-a-week delivery requires lawmakers' approval. It has been denied multiple times. The agency, defined as independent, gets no tax dollars for day-to-day operations, but is under congressional control. Congress, currently operating under a temporary spending measure expiring March 27, could still step in. Surveys nationally indicate about seven of 10 approve of the Postal Service reducing delivery from six days to five. Advocates for six days note the effects on businesses, rural areas, the elderly and the disabled.

MediaDailyNews: The National Newspaper Association, which represents community papers, has fought proposed cuts to Saturday delivery before, reports Poynter, since some members time editions to arrive on that day. About 30% of NNA's member papers mail a Saturday paper, NAA postal chair Max Heath told Poynter. The loss of Saturday delivery also impacts weekly magazines.

Argus Leader: South Dakota's congressional members weighed in on the decision via statements Thursday afternoon. "The Postal Service has been facing an incredibly difficult situation for some time, including a record net loss of $15.9 billion last year," said Sen. John Thune. "While reforms are needed to ensure the viability of the USPS, I also understand that changes to six-day delivery will inevitably impact many families and businesses across South Dakota." Thune added he will continue to pay close attention to the issue and hopes for smart reforms to help benefit the USPS. Sen. Tim Johnson said he was disappointed in the decision. "I have long said the elimination of Saturday mail delivery should be a last resort option, and I'm disappointed with the Postal Service's decision to end Saturday delivery," he said. Rep. Kristi Noem also disagreed with the decision. "I strongly believe that the Postal Service needs to focus on making additional internal and structural reforms before it cuts services," she said. "I understand that serious changes need to take place to make the USPS financially viable, but I do not support eliminating Saturday delivery. Coming from such a rural state, our postal service is critical to the way families and businesses operate."

ThinkProgress.org: The U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it will discontinue first class Saturday mail delivery, marking another milestone in the decline of the once-ubiquitous government service. But it isn't a switch to online mail that's causing the postal demise — it's Congress. The USPS doesn't actually receive money from the government, but still needs Congressional approval to make any changes to its structure. An analysis in July showed that the USPS, without its pension requirement, would have a $1.5 billion surplus. But Congress has repeatedly failed to address the issue. Last year, the Postal Service defaulted on a pension fund payment for the first — and then second — time in its history, and political infighting stopped Congress from bringing any remedy to the floor.

Salon: The deeper source of the Postal Services woes is the U.S. Congress, not some imagined incompetence on the part of its managers and executives. In fact, the Postal Service is quite well managed and operates as efficiently and effectively as we have any right to expect, given the constraints we have imposed on it. And the main constraint is political: We have allowed the U.S. Congress to control the agency, and for decades – centuries, really – Congress has dictated that the Postal Service operate in ways that are politically useful for members of Congress even though they make no economic sense. In the process, our elected representatives have steered the agency into a ditch. Members of Congress are so fixated on getting reelected that rather than serving the will of broad popular majorities, they pay attention to, and heed the wishes of, well-organized interest groups that represent tiny minorities of the population.

Bloomberg Businessweek: This is where Wednesday's announcement becomes intriguing. Until now, the USPS has taken the position that it needs congressional approval to end Saturday delivery. "Congress must elect not to renew the legislation requiring the Postal Service to deliver six days a week," it says on its website. However, Bloomberg News's Angela Greiling Keane reports that Donahoe now thinks the USPS can get around this legal obstacle by taking advantage of a technicality. She writes: "Cutting Saturday delivery is allowed under Congress's continuing resolution funding government operations that expires March 27, Donahoe said. ‘It is our opinion with the way the law is set, with the continuing resolution, we can make this change,'" he said. The strategy sounds legally tenuous, but it might be politically savvy. Donahoe is tired of begging.

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Top executives of the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service want to halt Saturday delivery of letters, bills, magazines and circulars as early as August. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the move will save about $2 billion a year. In the last fiscal year, the Postal Service lost $15.9 billion. Package delivery, a service that has grown busier as standard mail volume has plummeted, will continue on Saturdays, and individual post offices will have counter hours and stuff post-office boxes. In the past, Congress -- which appropriates no operating dollars for the Postal Service, but often dictates policies -- has blocked management proposals to curtail service. But given the Postal Service's troubled finances, lawmakers may have no choice but to go along this time. The obvious pressure point for congressional intervention will come in late March, when the continuing resolution that funds all government operations comes up for renewal.

Connecticut Post: U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd, said the move was "bad news both for the Postal Service's employees and people across the country," adding that it could lead to layoffs and the closings of postal facilities. "The Senate did their part last year and passed a bill, but just like so many other issues, Republicans in the House of Representatives were too busy posturing to take it up," DeLauro said in a statement. Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Return-to-sender-at-least-on-Saturdays-4257502.php#ixzz2KAl50CX2

Washington Times: Mr. Donahoe said U.S. Postal Service lawyers advised him that they thought the move was legal under a continuing resolution authorized by Congress set to expire in about six weeks. Still, he said he anticipates challenges to the move, which would not affect Saturday package delivery. Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, called the move irresponsible, while Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat, the daughter of a letter carrier, said it was disappointing but a reminder of the need for lawmakers to ease a costly mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund pension benefits.

Los Angeles Times: Hallmark says the end of Saturday mail delivery would have broad negative effects, while Amazon expects no problems for itself. "Hallmark continues to believe a reduction in service will not induce customer loyalty and will negatively impact small towns and small businesses that depend on timely, affordable, reliable mail delivery," the company said. "This move should only be considered once all other cost-saving options are fully explored and acted upon."

Baltimore Sun: Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, the top Democrat on the House committee that oversees the Postal Service, said that "comprehensive postal reform legislation" must be "an urgent priority" for Congress. But he added that "the issue of service delivery frequency should be addressed in that legislation rather than through arbitrary action by the Postal Service."

Albany Tribune: Ralph Nader -- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) today continued its tradition under the leadership of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe of shooting itself in the foot. The only question that remains is: When will the madness end? By ending Saturday letter delivery in August 2013, as the USPS has proposed, millions of customers who take advantage of its services will be harmed, mail service will be slowed, and the USPS's current death spiral will deepen. It is unclear where Postmaster General Donahoe thinks he has the authority to make this change without Congressional approval. In making the move to end Saturday letter delivery, Postmaster General Donahoe has not only shown his complete disregard for the good of the USPS's consumers, but he has also ignored the will of Congress. For decades, Congress has mandated six-day delivery. Congress must act to protect rural communities, small businesses, the elderly, and the disabled, among others by reasserting its authority over the U.S. Postal Service and stopping it from making such an irresponsible decision.

Green Bay Press Gazette: Steven Kotok, publisher of The Week, pitches his magazine to customers as a take-your-time, weekend read for current events followers. But the U.S. Postal Service's announcement Wednesday that it'll stop delivering mail and magazines on Saturday starting this summer could force Kotok to revise his marketing and operations. About 30% of small community newspaper publishers either publish Saturday editions or mail ad packets on Saturdays, according to Max Heath, chairman of the Postal Committee at the National Newspaper Association. "No one expected this bomb to drop," he says. "This is not a done deal. There'll injunctions filed. There will be challenges."

Oregon Live: Currently, many Oregon voters receive their ballot on Saturday, 17 days before an election. That could be pushed two days later, to Monday, under the Postal Service's plans. Ending Saturday mail delivery can also affect ballot returns. Elections officials might reconsider their recommendation that voters mail back their ballots no later than the Friday before an election, said Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout.

The Hill: Liberal Democrats, postal unions and some private-sector groups bashed the Postal Service's decision as a shortsighted power grab that flouts the will of lawmakers. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told The Hill that he hoped the USPS decision would spark a legal challenge. The National Association of Letter Carriers and National Rural Letter Carriers Association went so far as to call for Donahoe's ouster. "This is just one more in a series of mild to egregious missteps in his relations with Congress," Connolly said about the postmaster general. "If he's trying to show power or strength, I think in fact it reveals the opposite — that he's floundering." Groups like the American Forest and Paper Association also said the decision would be a loser in the long run. The greeting card company Hallmark, for instance, has lobbied against reducing delivery standards. And while key congressional Republicans who are active on postal issues were largely supportive of the switch to five-day delivery, even GOP appropriators have questioned the service's rationale for acting on its own. Some rural Republicans have also said they are skeptical of the move.

Home Media Magazine: The U.S. Postal Service's Feb. 6 announcement that it will suspend Saturday residential mail delivery beginning Aug. 5 to save $2 billion annually in costs barely elicited a yawn from Netflix — the letter carrier's largest commercial customer. The Postal Service has delivered residential mail on Saturdays for 150 years. Netflix spokesperson Joris Evers, in an email, said the by-mail-disc-pioneer-turned-subscription-video-on-demand leader had no direct comment. Netflix, which has more than 8 million subscribers who rent and/or also stream content, can typically deliver a disc within one business day. "You should know that we … are for a healthy Postal Service," Evers wrote.

Ruralinfo.net: But the current frontline of the austerity agenda is the assault on the US Postal Service, a vital public service that is older than the country. And it is advancing rapidly. On Wednesday, the Postal Service announced that Saturday first-class mail delivery is scheduled for elimination at the beginning of August—the latest and deepest in a series of cuts that threatens to so undermine the service that it will be ripe for bartering off to the private delivery corporations that have long coveted its high-end components.

Annandale Patch: Northern Virginia's U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8th) and U.S. Rep Gerald Connolly (D-11th) expressed concern Wednesday afternoon about the U.S. Postal Service's announcement that it plans to suspend delivery of first-class mail service on Saturdays beginning in August. The USPS released a fact sheet Wednesday.

CBSNews: FedEx, the world's second biggest package delivery company, said Wednesday that it will lose more than 10 percent of its U.S.-based executives under a voluntary buyout plan.

February 6, 2013 

usps logo DMM Advisory: Postal Service Announces New Delivery Schedule The United States Postal Service announced plans today to transition to a new delivery schedule during the week of August 5, 2013, that includes package delivery Monday through Saturday and mail delivery Monday through Friday. The Postal Service expects to generate cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually, once the plan is fully implemented. "The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings." Find the complete text of the Postal Service's news release at http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_019.htm.

National Association of Postal Supervisors: The National Association of Postal Supervisors has consistently warned in the past that moving to Five-Day delivery should be the last resort for the Postal Service after all other responsible options have been exhausted. That is because the success of our nation's postal system has been built upon timely, reliable and affordable service to all points around the country. Actions that compromise the timeliness and reliability of our postal system will only hasten further problems, not solve current ones. Moreover, moving to five-day delivery is inconsistent with current law.

Press Statement: The Postal Regulatory Commission learned of the Postal Service's plans for a new Saturday delivery schedule to be implemented this August. Under the Postal Service's revised delivery schedule, mail delivery to street addresses will occur Monday through Friday. Packages will continue to be delivered six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Mail addressed to post office boxes will also continue to be delivered on Saturday. Post offices currently open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays. In March 2011, the Commission issued an Advisory Opinion on a previous Postal Service proposal to largely eliminate Saturday deliveries. The Commission provided a significant analysis of that proposal to modify mail delivery schedule from six to five-days. The Postal Service's announcement today provides only a broad outline of its new Saturday

Rep. Dennis Ross: U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) issued the below statement in support of the U.S. Postal Service's decision to modify its delivery to five days, thereby eliminating Saturday delivery for first-class mail, but allowing the continuation of package delivery. Rep. Ross was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy last Congress.

Sen. Mark Pryor: Last year, the Senate passed—and I supported—a bipartisan postal reform bill to put the U.S. Postal Service back on the road to financial stability. Unfortunately, the House refused to bring our bill to the floor, or offer a bill of their own. Due to the House's inaction, the Postal Service is now facing crippling deficits. While I agree the Postal Service needs to cut costs, their plan to end Saturday delivery cannot move forward without Congressional approval. They need to consider alternative measures, such as capping the salaries of their top executives or eliminating bonuses, before making changes that would hurt rural communities who depend on the Postal Service for commerce, news, and necessary goods. That being said, I hope the House will work with the Senate to pass a common-sense postal reform bill that will keep the USPS viable.

Letter Carriers ‏@NALC_National Sen Tim Johnson: Disappointed with #USPS decision to end #Saturday mail delivery. @SenJohnsonSD http://www.johnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=5c8c0e33-a8ca-4424-819d-918c08581d72#SouthDakota

Postalnews Blog: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [said]..."The Postal Service's declining mail volume poses a significant challenge, and the enactment of comprehensive postal reform legislation must be an urgent priority for the current Congress. However, the issue of service delivery frequency should be addressed in that legislation rather than through arbitrary action by the Postal Service."

San Francisco Chronicle: Residents in small Bay Area towns where the post office is a community centerpiece reacted with a mixture of anger and resignation Wednesday to news that the U.S. Postal Service intends to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail.

Washington Post: White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president does not have an opinion on the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays. But he added that the Republican-controlled House had not passed legislation designed to help the USPS.

Washington Post: In a quick response to the postmaster general's plan to stop six-day mail delivery, the national board of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) voted unanimously to call for his dismissal.

The Herald: In response to the United States Postal Service's (USPS) announcement that it will soon move to cancel six-day delivery of first-class mail, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) expressed its support for USPS's drive to control its operations in order to cut costs and reduce the risk of a taxpayer bailout. CAGW has long called for Congress to allow the USPS to operate more like a private-sector business. Accordingly, Congress should resist pressure to block the USPS from reacting as any business would to the problem of falling demand for its services: by cutting costs.

New York Times: Some members of Congress called the Postal Service claim that it had the authority to go to a five-day delivery schedule dubious, setting up a potential showdown between the agency and the Congressional committees that oversee it. "The passage of the continuing resolution did not suspend that language, as they claim, but in fact extended it," said Representative José E. Serrano, Democrat of New York and ranking member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which also has jurisdiction over the Postal Service. "Rather than use very dubious legal arguments to end Saturday delivery, the U.S.P.S. should work hand-in-hand with Congress to come up with a successful restructuring and reform package that allows them to become more efficient while maintaining vital services like Saturday delivery." House Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, expressed his hope that progress would be made on postal overhaul legislation, but said that he understood the dilemma facing the Postal Service, since "Congress, in its wisdom, has tied their hands every which way in order for them to actually run the post office in a revenue-neutral way."

27East.com: After receiving word that the U.S. Postal Service plans to cut Saturday mail delivery as of August 5 to cut costs, U.S. Representative Tim Bishop on Wednesday called for the Postal Service to reconsider its decision.

CBSNews: A pair of key congressmen today said they support the U.S. Postal Service's plan to halt Saturday delivery service of most mailers, letters and catalogs, but several other members are quite unhappy with the plan. A number of congressmen today decried the decision as bad for their constituents. They also said it's the purview of Congress -- not the Postal Service -- to make such decisions, and some placed the blame on the House of Representatives for failing to act last year.

Time: The United States Postal Service announced Wednesday morning that it was moving from 6- to 5-day delivery to help reduce its ever-growing budget deficit. But for years, the post office has argued that it needed Congressional authorization to do so. So is the Post Office's proposal even legal?

The NonProfit Times: The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced today that it will end mail delivery on Saturdays, starting the week of Aug. 5. Packages will continue to be delivered six days a week. The plan has the support of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers (ANM). "As far as nonprofits are concerned, given USPS's dire situation, and decline of mail volume, this is an adjustment that we can adapt to and support," said Tony Conway, the organization's executive director. "The savings they will get are substantial given their situation," he said, noting that this method of savings is much preferred over another increase in postage rates.

The Patriot News: We deride it as snail-mail, that modern-day absurdity of sticking a stamp on an envelope and waiting three-plus days to reach out and touch someone. Or to simply pay a bill. To many, the U.S. Postal Service has become a quaint anachronism in this lightning-quick age of the Internet. Our lives are online now. We pay bills there, communicate there, conduct business there. And the good old post office – long the very stitches that held the fabric of our Republic together – has been slowly unwinding its role as the country's connective tissue. The red ink, piling up as a result To staunch the flow, the Postal Service is about to cut Saturday mail delivery, likely starting in August. For now at least, post offices will retain Saturday hours, and post office boxes will still get six-day delivery. But some see the slashing of Saturday delivery as merely the first step toward snail-mail oblivion.

The Dallas Morning News: Texas Sen. John Cornyn said he's disappointed that the US Postal Service is cutting Saturday delivery but agrees that it's probably a necessary cost-cutting step. "The Postal Service needs to get on a sound financial footing," he said on his weekly call with Texas reporters. "It simply refuses to adapt to a new environment where many people simply communicate by email…Fedex and UPS deliver a product on time in a way the Postal Service struggles with."

Chicago Business Journal: We knew this day was coming: The U.S. Postal Service will end Saturday delivery of mail in August. Packages, however, will continue to be delivered on Saturday, and post offices that currently are open on Saturday will remain open that day. Mail addressed to post office boxes also will continue to be delivered on Saturday. The move to five-day delivery of mail to street addresses will save the Postal Service $2 billion a year.

Newsmax: The decision by the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail is a responsible plan that will save taxpayers money, the chairman of the House subcommittee with oversight of the Postal Service tells Newsmax.

Bangor Daily News: Members of Maine's congressional delegation blasted the U.S. Postal Service's proposed elimination of Saturday mail delivery, saying the move would disproportionately affect the rural communities that make up the majority of their home state.

ABC15.com: The National Association of Letter Carriers, vows to fight the plan, arguing the Postal Service doesn't have the authority to eliminate a day of service without Congressional approval. But the Postal Service says it has authority to go ahead with the plan, and members of Congress haven't yet said they will pursue any action to stop the agency. There could be 22,500 jobs eliminated nationwide under the plan that the Postal Service says would save it $2 billion annually. The Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he will not lay off any workers and accomplish the cuts by cutting overtime and part-time hours and offering buy outs to current employees.

Associated Press: The U.S. Postal Service's announcement that it plans to end Saturday mail deliveries apparently had little effect on shares of private-sector competitors FedEx and UPS. Citigroup called the end of Saturday service a "baby step" toward fixing the Postal Service's financial problems, and one that would have little impact on competitors. If there are fewer rural post offices, FedEx and UPS will be able to consolidate their SmartPost and SurePost shipments to fewer locations and save money. Meanwhile, FedEx is waiting to hear from the Postal Service about its expiring contract for air-shipping express and priority mail, which generates about $1.3 billion in annual revenues for FedEx. Wetherbee expects FedEx will hang on to most or all of the business but is likely to see a rate cut because of the post office's financial situation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Sen. Bernie Sanders said today he will oppose a U.S. Postal Service plan to end Saturday mail delivery. "The postmaster general cannot save the Postal Service by ending one of its major competitive advantages. Cutting six-day delivery is not a viable plan for the future. It will lead to a death spiral that will harm rural America while doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service," Sanders said. "Providing fewer services and less quality will cause more customers to seek other options. Rural Americans, businesses, senior citizens and veterans will be hurt by ending Saturday mail," Sanders added.

You can watch a recording of the PMG's press announcement here: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/postal-service-bids-farewell-mail-delivery-saturdays-1B8262819

The Association of Magazine Media: The Association of Magazine Media represents consumer magazines, among them weekly titles, that may be most impacted by the United States Postal Service announcement this morning to cease Saturday delivery, with the exception of packages, effective August 5, 2013. Like Congress, MPA was taken by surprise by today's announcement. While we have actively participated in conversations around postal reform, and in particular, five-day delivery, we did not expect the USPS would act unilaterally, without Congressional approval, and we await Washington's reaction and more details. Advocating for our members, MPA has long been a driving force behind postal legislation and policy. In 2011, we testified that five-day delivery would require substantial operational changes from some weekly magazines that often want delivery on Friday and Saturday so readers can enjoy their content over the weekend. Despite the difficulties the schedule change would entail, MPA told Congress we were willing to make changes if the shift to five-day delivery and resultant cost savings for the Postal Service were part of a comprehensive package of long-term reforms that would ensure a viable postal system for the foreseeable future. The move to five-day delivery would require substantial preparation on the part of affected magazines. We note that the Postal Service appears to have taken this consideration to heart, proposing the changes go into effect six months from now.

usps logo DMM Advisory: Automation Discounts for Periodicals Letters and Flats. We announced standards limiting automation discounts for Periodicals letters and flats to Intelligent Mail® barcodes only in the June 6, 2012, final rule correction Federal Register notice. That final rule correction amended the May 3, 2012, final rule Federal Register notice titled POSTNET Barcode Discontinuation. The standards provided in the corrected final rule became effective January 28, 2013, and mailers were required to prepare their Periodicals mailings in accordance with these standards. The revised standards limiting automation discounts for Periodicals letters and flats were inadvertently omitted from the January 27, 2013, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) revisions. On March 4, 2013, we will revise DMM sections 707.12, 13 and 14 to incorporate them. The text of the revised DMM sections will appear in the February 7 Postal Bulletin.

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

  • The United States Postal Service announced plans today to transition to a new delivery schedule during the week of Aug. 5, 2013 that includes package delivery Monday through Saturday, and mail delivery Monday through Friday. The Postal Service expects to generate cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually, once the plan is fully implemented.
  • Coburn and Issa sent the Senate and House leadership a letter expressing their support for the USPS' changes to Saturday mail service.
  • Sen. Thomas Carper said that while he regrets the Postal Service having to make this change in mail service, he understands.
  • National Association of Letter Carriers President Frederic Rolando reacted to the Postal Service's Saturday mail service announcement by calling for his resignation.
  • The APWU President says "The APWU condemns the Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, which will only deepen the agency's congressionally-manufactured financial crisis."
  • The Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) submitted comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission concerning its docket on the Modification of Mail Classification Regarding First-Class Mail Single-Piece Residual Price Table (Docket No. MC2013-30). PostCom believes that the Commission should simply reject the classification change the Postal Service has proposed in this Docket but should leave the already approved Residual Rate Category in place exactly as it is. The PRC should encourage the Postal Service to do what it should have done before this category was created: work with the mailers to come up with a set of policies to implement what is conceptually a sound approach to the handling of residual pieces.
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission's annual review of the U.S. Postal Service's compliance with rates and classification regulatory rules has given rise to comments from various interested parties not all of whom share the same perspective.
  • Senate Committee to hold postal hearing. EMA updates jobs study. USPS Guide on single-piece fcm. Video on folded self-mailers. Time to register for the National Postal Forum. Former GAO Head says USPS In trouble. USPS -Northrup dispute grinds on. Hallmark pulls out the stops for six-day. So, what's all this about federal immunity? All ahead fast . . . or is it slow? Consumers trust the mail.An update on notices regarding changes to the Domestic Mail Manual.
  • Updates from the Federal Register that affect the mailing industry.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • Postal previews.
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Sen. Susan Collins: U.S. Senator Susan Collins release the following statement today after the U.S. Postal Service announced it intends to end Saturday mail delivery this summer.

"As former Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Collins was coauthor of a bipartisan bill, that passed the Senate last year, that would prohibit the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday deliver for at least two years.  Instead, the legislation would have required the USPS to embark on a two-year period of aggressive cost-cutting first, and then only allow this reduction in service if the Government Accountability Office and postal regulators both certify that elimination of Saturday delivery is necessary to achieve solvency.             

"There is no doubt that the U.S. Postal Service is in a financial crisis.  It has been hit with falling mail volume, the recession, and the loss of customers to digital technology such as e-mail and online bill paying that has replaced traditional mail.  Cutting service should, however, be the last resort, not the Postal Service's first choice.  The Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday delivery is inconsistent with current law and threatens to further jeopardize its customer base." 

Sen. Thomas Carper Press Statement:

"I am disappointed by the Postal Service's announcement today regarding its plans to transition to a five-day mail delivery schedule in August.  For nearly three decades, it has been the clear intent of Congress that the Postal Service provide most communities with six days of mail delivery. That said, I have long argued that Congress should reduce the number of service mandates it places on the Postal Service so that the Postmaster General and his team can more easily adjust operations to reflect the changing demand for the products and services they offer.  I have even co-authored bipartisan legislation, which the Senate approved last year,  that would have allowed the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery within two years of enactment provided that the new delivery schedule was truly necessary to help the Postal Service survive.  That legislation also would have helped the Postal Service cut costs elsewhere and generate new revenue in an effort to preserve Saturday delivery for as long as possible.  While I welcome the Postal Service's intention to preserve Saturday package delivery under the proposal announced today, I would much prefer that any effort to move to a five-day mail delivery schedule occur in an orderly manner similar to the process the Senate approved last year. 
 
"Despite my disappointment, it's hard to condemn the Postmaster General for moving aggressively to do what he believes he can and must do to keep the lights on at the Postal Service, which may be only months away from insolvency.  The financial challenges that have been building at the Postal Service for years – attributable in large part to a reduced demand for hard-copy mail – are eminently solvable, yet Congress has failed at every turn to come to consensus around a set of effective reforms. 
 
"At the end of last year, I participated in bipartisan, bicameral negotiations that I hoped would lead to significant financial and operational reforms at the Postal Service.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time and were unable to produce a legislative compromise that we could present to our colleagues before the 112th Congress adjourned.   Now that the 113th Congress is officially underway, I have made it one of my top priorities during my first weeks as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to pick up last year's postal reform negotiations where they left off so that my colleagues and I can reach agreement on a meaningful bill as soon as possible.  Piecemeal efforts like the one the Postal Service announced today will not be enough to solve the Postal Service's financial challenges for the long haul." 

Press Release: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Tom Coburn M.D., R-Okla., sent a letter to leaders of both chambers of Congress supporting today's announcement by the United States Postal Service that in August it would shift from its current delivery schedule to a six-day package, five-day mail delivery schedule. Issa and Coburn are the top Republicans on the respective House and Senate Committees with jurisdiction over USPS.

Five-Day Mail Delivery Announcement: Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has promised to provide business mailers a six-months period before Saturday delivery is ended. Package delivery will still occur on Saturday, Post office box deliveries will be made. Retail postal services will continue to be provided. But letters and flats delivery will be curtailed on Saturday. No change is expected until August 2013. This move is precipitated by the Postal Service's endangered financial position. He said it is the Postal Service's opinion that this move is legal. The current congressional language prohibiting the Saturday change expires March 27. If Congress wants to stop the Postal Service, they'll have to do so before then.  He said the USPS can work with Congress to address any concerns. The move will eliminate 45 million work hours and 22,500 jobs. It also will allow the USPS to eliminate overtime. All changes will be done without layoffs. See the USPS press release. Slides Used During Press Release

Press Announcement: Postmaster General Pat Donahoe will hold a press conference at 10 am today to announce his intention to end Saturday delivery on August 5, 2013, even though current law mandates six-day delivery. Carriers will be subjected to stand-up talks today on the unilateral decision. The PMG is dubiously claiming a "loophole" in the law will allow him to do this. NALC released this statement to the press denouncing Donahoe's arrogant decision and calling for him to step down. The union is exploring all legal and political options to block Donahoe's gambit. If he were allowed to get away with this brazen attempt to override the law and the will of Congress, he would be free to go to four-day or even three-day delivery in the future.

APWU President Cliff Guffey has issued the following statement: "The APWU condemns the Postal Service's decision to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, which will only deepen the agency's congressionally-manufactured financial crisis. "The USPS has already begun slashing mail service by closing 13,000 post offices or drastically reducing hours of operation, shutting hundreds of mail processing facilities, and downgrading standards for mail delivery to America's homes and businesses. The effects are being felt in cities and towns across the country. "USPS executives cannot save the Postal Service by tearing it apart. These across-the-board cutbacks will weaken the nation's mail system and put it on a path to privatization. "Congress has the power to restore the USPS to financial stability. To do so, it must repeal provisions of the 2006 law that created the Postal Service's financial crisis. "The agency's crisis is a direct result of an unsustainable congressional mandate that was imposed on the Postal Service by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The federal law forces the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees and to do so in a 10-year period. No other entity — public or private — bears this burden. Since the PAEA took effect in 2007, the Postal Service has been required to pre-pay approximately $5.5 billion per year. Yet the same law prohibits the Postal Service from raising postage rates to cover the cost. "The USPS has a vital mission — to bind the nation together by providing efficient, inexpensive service to every part of the country. The Postal Service should be seeking ways to expand its offerings to the American people so that it can remain relevant in the digital age."

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission

 

NOTICES

New Postal Products ,

 

8597–8598 [2013–02570]

[TEXT]  [PDF]

8598–8599 [2013–02571]

[TEXT]  [PDF]

 

Postal Service

 

RULES

Authorization to Manufacture and Distribute Postage Evidencing Systems:

 

 

Discontinued Indicia ,

 

 

8407 [2013–02514]

[TEXT]  [PDF]

NOTICES

Product Changes:

 

 

Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,

 

 

8599 [2013–02521]

[TEXT]  [PDF]

 

8599 [2013–02522]

[TEXT]  [PDF]

Associated Press: The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays, but continue delivering packages six days a week. In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the cut, beginning in August, would mean a cost saving of about $2 billion annually. The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010. The delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet use.

Haaretz: Companies subscribing to Israel Post's "business to business distribution" courier service are being charged as much as 50% more beginning this month – but only those located outside the country's main population center. Rates were previously uniform throughout the country. Businesses in 50 localities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Kfar Sava and Kafr Qasem will continue paying NIS 26 before value added tax on 50 to 100 items per month. But those in places like Rehovot, Hadera, Haifa, Tiberias and Nazareth will be charged NIS 28 for the same service, while businesses in remote locations like Eilat, Safed, and Kiryat Shmona will need to pay NIS 30.

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

The looming industrial action at Austrian Post (CEP-News 05/13) has been averted for now. In a two-day bargaining marathon on Tuesday andWednesday last week, Austrian Post's CEO Pölzl and union leader Köstinger reached an agreement 'in all material respects', the post announced on Thursday.
Itella Information is going to withdraw from Romania just three and a half years after its market entry. The IT services and information logistics unit of the Finnish post said the decision was made for 'profitability reasons'.
The Czech post has been prohibited to monitor its deliverers using GPS data. Last week, the office for the protection of personal data (OPPD) disallowed Ceska Posta to use data obtained from handheld GPS devices. According to the authority, there was no legal basis for a systematic surveillance of posties.
Apparently Poczta Polska managed to remain in the black in 2012, too.
Austrian Post only converted a part of the so-called residential letterboxes before the deadline at the end of 2012.
Meelis Atonen, Eesti Post's chairman of the supervisory board, spoke out in favour of a fast privatisation of the company.
Ken Allen, member of the board of Deutsche Post and responsible for the Express division, continues to streamline his unit's portfolio.
The decline in addressed letter mail volume further accelerated at La Poste in 2012.
China Post has equipped its deliverers with respirator masks. After the highest smog alert level 5 has been declared in the Greater Beijing region 29 days ago, the company equipped all its posties and couriers with respirator masks. [EdNote: That's not Darth Vader, that's the mailman.]
Bad news for PostNL yet again. The coverage ratio of its pension fund remained at 102.5% in the fourth quarter and was thus lower than the statutory coverage ratio of 104.1%. Therefore, the post could face subsequent payments of up to 133m euros, which were determined by an arbitrary court.
The Federal Network Agency's advisory body called upon the regulatory authority to comprehensively examine labour conditions on the postal market in Germany.
The Czech post plans to outsource around 200 of its post offices to franchisees.
Eesti Post achieved the target to deploy 100 parcel terminals in the three Baltic States, which was announced in the middle of 2011
Magyar Posta got a new CEO.
Arcep, the French regulatory authority gets a new general director. At the beginning of March, Benoit Loutrel will succeed Phillippe Distler, who will join the regulator's executive board. The latter is the authority's official governing body while the general director is responsible for the day-to-day business. Loutrel already served as deputy general director of Arcep from 2007 to 2010.
Pos Malaysia has to search for a new CEO. Datuk Khalid Abdol Rahman, who just assumed his position one year ago, returned to car manufacturer DRB-HICOM.
 

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

Directions Magazine: Are you ready to replace your home or business address with a postal code like 8CNJ Q8ZG? Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg offers three organizations that will try to convince you that's exactly what you should do, and they describe their plans to make this type of address code a reality. Natural Area Code (NAC) is to unify all representations of areas and locations in the world: addresses, postcodes, area codes, geographic coordinates, map grids for all people with different languages, cultures and professions and all applications: GPS navigation, postal/courier/delivery/emergency/taxi services, surveying, mapping, property identifying, etc.

Telecompaper: Italian postal management company Agenzia Espressi has launched TVPost, a service that delivers documents through the TV and smartphones. The customer has a virtual mailbox associated with his/her postal address and accessible through a password or through a health card and by registering on the appropriate website. It is possible to access the mailbox via the TV, the web and mobile devices through applications (IOS or Android) for free download on smartphones. The documents are transmitted over the airwaves via Advanced Encryption Standard and the postal address given will only be used for personal correspondence and advertising.

CBC News: Some Canada Post union members say the Crown corporation's decision to start sending mail to Halifax for sorting will cause delays in mail delivery.

Glen Falls Post-Star: Politicians like U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, a Democrat who now represents the Glens Falls area, have to balance the wider public interest with the narrow interests of their constituents. It's in the public interest, for example, to eliminate federal subsidies to the U.S. Postal Service and allow it to run as the standalone business it is supposed to be. But it is in the interests of his constituents in rural towns, such as Hartford, for Mr. Owens to advocate for the preservation of small post offices, even if they operate at losses. Do away with post offices in places like Hartford and you take away another shred of their dwindling identity as unique communities and force their residents to do even more driving. But we have to set limits on the subsidizing of rural identity with post offices and schools and other services paid for by a wider population. It's unfair to expect the nation's taxpayers to cover the cost of a post office for a handful of customers in tiny communities in Washington County or the Adirondacks, when the services could be consolidated at substantial savings.

Roll Call: "The Budget War Is Back" [EdNote: I didn't know it ever left.]

PostalVision 2020, the groundbreaking forum that has challenged industry, government and the private sector to examine a modern national mail infrastructure, will return in 2013 for a third annual conference, slated for April 23-24 at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), incoming Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a co- author of the 21st Century Postal Service Act, Hon. Robert G. Taub, Vice Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and Hon. David M. Walker, Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former Comptroller General of the U.S., will join the conference for the first time this year. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, will return as a speaker this year after providing the keynote at the first conference in 2011, as will Jeff Jarvis, author of "What Would Google Do?"

This year, PostalVision 2020/3.0 will take a visionary look at "Positioning America for the New Millennium." Beginning with a world view of the 21st Century as seen by Vint Cerf, successive panel discussions led by Jeff Jarvis and Matt Swain of InfoTrends will consider positioning America to meet the needs of future generations for communications and commerce. David Walker will introduce a discussion on the role of government with Robert Taub and a panel comprising policy experts from government and academia. Alternative postal models will be considered by returning speakers, attorney and author Jim Campbell and international postal policy expert Elmar Toime in conversation with USPS Inspector General David Williams and PostCom President Gene Del Polito. Senator Carper will share his legislative perspective while participating in the exchange of diverse opinions as expressed by conference attendees in open forum.

February 5, 2013 

Media Advisory: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) will hold a hearing titled "Solutions to the Crisis Facing the U.S. Postal Service" on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Press Release: "The Postal Service ranks as the fourth most trusted company — a two-point increase from 2011 and its highest company ranking since the survey's inception by the premier privacy trust study in America. The same survey also named The Postal Service the ‘Most Trusted Government Agency for the 7th year in a row"* The Ponemon Institute in its Most Trusted Companies for Privacy Study ranked the Postal Service as the fourth most trusted company of 704 entries from 25 industry sectors. The results show that customers regard the Postal Service as one of the best in keeping their information safe and secure. Consumers Trust the Mail"

Earned Value Promotion – Mail Service Provider (MSP) Enrollment Webinar Friday, February 8, 2013 12 Noon EST Beginning February 11th, Mail Service Providers who send Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) and Business Reply Mail (BRM) pieces for their customers can register for the Earned Value Promotion. This webinar will provide further information about the Earned Value Promotion and how registration can be made through the Business Customer Gateway incentive tool. Click here to register for the webinar or go to: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?d=998189703&t=a Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada): 1-877-668-4493 Access code: 998 189 703 Event number: 998 189 703 Pre-registration is required and lines are limited so please sign up for this informational session today.


Audit Projects:

  • Springfield Network Distribution Center – Postal Vehicle Service Operations – 13WG009NO000 -- The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) plans to audit Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) operations at Network Distribution Centers (NDCs). This self-initiated audit addresses operational risk. This will be a nationwide audit.
  • Review of the New Castle and Greensburg PA Consolidations – 13XG023NO000 -- "The Postal Service recently started processing destinating mail at the Pittsburgh Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) for the New Castle and Greensburg facilities. With the newly acquired equipment at the Pittsburgh P&DC, the OIG would like to know your opinion as to how the consolidations are going thus far. The OIG is planning to conduct an audit at the Pittsburgh Plant starting in February to assess the consolidation. In your opinion, has the consolidation done its part as far as saving the Postal Service money? Is mail being processed timely?"
  • Management of Vacant Properties – 13YG017SM000 -- The U.S. Postal Service is one of the largest real estate owners in the United States. In addition to owning and leasing land, the Postal Service has approximately 33,000 facilities nationwide with over 280 million square feet of space. The Postal Service's Facilities Real Estate and Assets Group manages the Postal Service's real estate portfolio by developing and implementing strategies that align with organizational goals and objectives related to the disposition, acquisition and leasing of property. Opportunities may exist for the Postal Service to optimize excess facility and land space (either owned or leased) that is vacant. The OIG has identified instances where the Postal Service continues to rent vacant leased properties because the leases do not contain early termination clauses. Such clauses would allow the Postal Service to terminate leases early without penalty. The OIG has also identified unused vacant land parcels the Postal Service has "land banked." Land banking is the acquisition of land in anticipation of long-term future needs or expansion of services rather than for a specific project. The purpose of land banking is to gain control of land in high cost or land scarce areas when it becomes available. We want to hear from you! Do you know of any vacant Postal Service properties (facilities or land) in your area? Is it better for the Postal Service to sell these properties now to generate revenue or hold onto the properties because the value may increase? What else do you think the Postal Service can do with its vacant properties?

Politico: Warning of grave economic consequences if a package of automatic spending cuts takes effect in coming weeks as part of the sequester, President Barack Obama Tuesday urged Congress to pass a short-term package of spending cuts and to close tax loopholes. "If they can't get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe they should at least pass a smaller package," Obama said at the White House. "There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy-not to mention the growth of the entire economy-should be put in jeopardy." However, the idea of raising new revenues is already running into resistance among Republicans on Capitol Hill.  [EdNote: So much for putting postal reform on a fast track . . . . laid on a track, yes. But there is another more important engineer running the train.]

Lexology: Unperturbed by the High Court's initial dismissal, ex parte, of their attempt to judicially review HMRC's VAT exemption for postal access services provided by Royal Mail, TNT applied for an oral hearing and have now been granted permission to challenge the VAT exemption by way of judicial review (R (on the application of TNT Post UK Limited) v Commissioners for HM Revenue & Customs (defendant) and Royal Mail Group Limited (Interested Party)1). The dispute concerned whether access services provided by Royal Mail benefit from the exemption from VAT for universal postal services. TNT were arguing that the exemption currently afforded to Royal Mail directly, and indirectly, distorts competition for postal services and confers an unfair advantage on Royal Mail.

New York Times: Did you know....? Africa is the world's fastest-growing region for smartphones, with an average sales growth of 43 percent a year since 2000, according to the GSM Association, an industry trade group based in London.

Irish Times: Ireland remains one of only a few European Union member states that still use cheques for regular payments, according to a new survey from the Central Bank, despite the high charges. According to the analysis, Ireland ranks behind France as the second most intensive cheque user in the EU, with 20 of the 27 member states having effectively eliminated cheques. In these countries, usage is down to two or less cheques per person per year, while Ireland's average is 19 cheques. A study from the European Central Bank estimates that a cheque costs around €3.55 when all costs are included. "For a small business this cost includes the 50c stamp duty on each cheque, bank charges and postal charges, not to mention the time it takes for staff to process cheque payments. Further, there is strong evidence that cheque usage is a contributor to Ireland's ‘late payment' culture. Unless we move from the ‘cheque in the post' culture, the problem of late payments will remain," Ronnie O'Toole, programme manager of the National Payments Programme said. For businesses, cheques remain a key payment tool, with Irish businesses issuing 44 per cent of all cheques in Ireland. In 2011, this equated to about 37 million cheques.

The Chronicle Herald: Here's a conundrum. Did my handwriting deteriorate due to lack of practice, or did I stop writing longhand because my handwriting had deteriorated? I'm pretty sure I wrote myself a note on that precise issue many years ago. Unfortunately, I've been unable to decipher the perplexing scribbles I left using pen and paper; though from the length of the message, I apparently had a lot to say on the matter. Either that or I was really low on groceries. I can't remember the last time I sent anyone a handwritten letter. I know I used to write letters and mail them. I just don't anymore, and don't remember stopping. I don't recall placing the folded-up sheets of ink-scratched paper into an envelope, licking the awful-tasting glue, pressing it closed, attaching a tongue-moistened stamp and thinking, well, there it is, the last letter I'll ever write. The Internet, of course, and specifically email, certainly played a role. And compared to those early years of wide-eyed excitement about a new technology that allowed people to send instant text messages back and forth, regardless of distance and seemingly at no cost, today communicating instantly — in its many, many forms — is taken for granted. You can text, tweet, post, share or email. And if typing isn't enough, you can Skype (which has become a verb, apparently). Regardless of when a thought occurs to you — and, all too often it seems, even when you've got really nothing to say — as long as you've got a tech gadget handy, you can send it to anywhere, to virtually anyone. Who needs longhand writing anymore?

The Oakland Press: The U.S. Postal Service is facing serious financial troubles that could force it to reduce the speed of delivery or shutter rural post offices. Congress failed to address the problem last year and has not gotten closer to a solution so far this year. In 2006, Congress passed a law that requires the Postal Service make annual payments of nearly $5.5 billion for future retirees. The Postal Service say the pre-funding is straining its budget, accounting for 70 percent of its losses last year. Even some supporters of pre-funding say the requirement has made it harder to restructure. The rise of email and electronic bill-paying has cut the use of first-class mail, while catalogs and magazines have been replaced by websites. The volume of mail handled by the Postal Service dropped 22 percent between 2007 and 2011. On the bright side, more people are getting packages shipped because of e-commerce.

Reuters: David M. Walker, former Comptroller General of the U.S. --You may not know this, but the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) raised the price of a first-class stamp this past weekend—by one penny, to 46 cents. It also introduced a "Global Forever" stamp, which can be used to send letters anywhere in the world for $1.10. My advice: Stock up on "forever" stamps. For while a one-cent increase in regular stamps might not seem like much, if the USPS doesn't get its act together, we're likely to see far higher prices in the future. Though there are now limits on postage increases, the related financial math doesn't come close to working over time. The Postal Service is in trouble. The agency is bleeding red ink; has hit its authorized borrowing limit with the Treasury; and is unable to make its scheduled retirement funding contributions. Something has to give ‑ and must this year. Sound familiar? In so many respects, the USPS is a microcosm of the federal government — two entities in desperate need of fundamental transformations that will make them more focused on the future and financially sustainable.

Citizens Voice: A federal jury has cleared the U.S. Postal Service of employment discrimination against a Shickshinny man who claimed he had twice been passed over for custodial positions at a postal facility in Wilkes-Barre because of service-related disabilities.

NBCNewYork: Nearly two dozen people face federal charges in connection with a vast fraud and identity theft ring that caused more than $200 million in losses to the financial and credit card industry, NBC 4 New York has learned. Teams of FBI and U.S. Secret Service agents as well as U.S. Postal Inspectors began making arrests early Tuesday in New Jersey and several other states in connection with the takedown, law enforcement officials said.

Post & Parcel: PostNL has won a new e-commerce contract that should add up to around 1.5m additional deliveries each year in the Netherlands and Belgium. PostNL will now be working with the retailer as it develops new e-commerce websites for its Gamma and Karwei brands. The new websites are expected to be launched this summer.

Gizmodo: If you're looking to trasnfer hundreds of gigabytes of data, it's still—weirdly—faster to ship hard drives via FedEx than it is to transfer the files over the internet. Cisco estimates that total internet traffic currently averages 167 terabits per second. FedEx has a fleet of 654 aircraft with a lift capacity of 26.5 million pounds daily. A solid-state laptop drive weighs about 78 grams and can hold up to a terabyte. That means FedEx is capable of transferring 150 exabytes of data per day, or 14 petabits per second—almost a hundred times the current throughput of the internet.

Washington Post: It seems only right to Pamela McKinney. If you owe the federal government back taxes, you have to pay interest on top of the base amount. So, Uncle Sam also should have to pay interest when the government owes individuals money. That gets to the nut of her case against the U.S. Postal Service. If she wins, a lot of people could be surprised with a nice check.

Paper Age: The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has announced the election of Graphic Packaging President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Scheible as the new AF&PA board chairman, along with the 2013 slate of board officers.

Postalnews Blog: Last month the USPS Bord of Governors directed the Postmaster General to accelerate the restructuring of USPS operations in response to the service's precarious financial situation. The PMG has scheduled a press conference at USPS Headquarters for Wednesday at 10 AM EST to make a major announcement regarding those restructuring plans.

SBWire: Postal Job Placement, a leading provider of entry level job placement support to people looking for post office jobs with the United States Postal Services, will launch a new website and services. The mission of the said provider is to lessen the rate of unemployed individuals in the US. To ensure that visitors will not find it hard to use the new website, the team behind Postal Job Placement hired the most qualified, knowledgeable and experienced web designers. It is expected that the website will have a simple layout, functional application and will feature easily navigability. To keep visitors and job hunters updated of the latest events and USPS jobs, Postal Job Placement will also send notifications via email to individuals who will sign up in their website. It will also post a list of different entry level jobs with corresponding qualifications to let job hunters know instantly if they will fit to the position they are applying for. Apart from qualifications, information about salary and job descriptions are also provided.

Federal Times: It looks like a long road lies ahead in the high-stakes legal battle between Northrop Grumman Corp. and the U.S. Postal Service over a botched automation project worth more than $900 million. In a joint filing last week, lawyers for the two sides laid out their timetable for conducting the legal fact-finding process known as discovery. Their deadline for wrapping it up (and yes, you are reading this right): Jan. 15, 2016. Along the way, each side may conduct up to 50 depositions a piece, and that doesn't include expert testimony.

Washington Examiner: "Saturday mail delivery is corporate welfare for Hallmark" Any fight in Washington will have special interests lined up on one side or another. I've reported before how the envelope lobby — yes, the envelope lobby — is lobbying against postal cutbacks. Well, so is Hallmark. Hallmark this month hired Washington lobby firm EnGage, and is supporting a House bill introduced this month, HR-30, that would preserve six-day mail delivery service. In 2012, the Kansas City, Mo.-based card and gift retailer spent $240,000 to lobby on postal reform and tax issues.

ABA Journal: A U.S. Postal Service lawyer got some blowback recently for writing a letter saying the agency is not obligated to pay state and local fines for traffic violations, according to USA Today.

"In providing mail service across the country, the Postal Service attempts to work within local and state laws and regulations, when feasible," wrote Jennifer Breslin, a USPS senior litigation counsel. "However, as you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation."

"I was not aware that the Post Office doesn't have to stop at red lights or obey the speed limit," East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "But since they are, I wish I'd get my mail faster."

Breslin got a less humorous response from a lawyer for American Traffic Solutions, a private vendor based Tempe, Ariz., that operates the photo-enforcement system. "By attempting to hide behind an immunity claim, you are aiding and abetting your drivers in their blatant disregard for the traffic laws in East Cleveland, which have endangered other drivers, pedestrians and school children," wrote George Hittner, ATF's general counsel. Hittner suggested transferring the cost of the tickets to the drivers themselves. [EdNote: An EXCELLENT suggestion.]

Federal Times: David Van Allen, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said in an interview that postal employees "are subject to obeying local traffic laws and ordinances just like any other citizen. However, the Postal Service cannot legally be billed for any traffic violation fines incurred by its employees." He added that there is no legal system in place to transfer liability from the Postal Service to an employee, an issue because these tickets were the result of traffic cameras, not police stops with tickets handed to individuals.

In comments to the Postal Regulatory Commisson regarding the Postal Service's "Modification of Mail Classification Regarding First-Class Single-Piece Residual Table," the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) said:

 "In its most recent pricing filing, the Postal Service attempted to clarify on the record its process for determining what qualifies for Commercial Residual Single-Piece First-Class Mail (FCM). The Postal Service continues to move in a direction that the mailing industry cannot support. Therefore, PostCom believes that the Commission should simply reject the classification change the Postal Service has proposed in this Docket but should leave the already approved Residual Rate Category in place exactly as it is. Although we do not think it advisable or appropriate for the Commission to become involved in development of implementation rules, it can and should encourage the Postal Service to do what it should have done before this category was created: work with the mailers to come up with a set of policies to implement what is conceptually a sound approach to the handling of residual pieces."

usps logo DMM Advisory: January DMM Update. Postal Explorer® (pe.usps.com) is your source for up-to-date mailing standards. The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) is fully searchable on Postal Explorer and features fly-out menus, cross-reference links, and an extensive subject index. On January 27 we updated our mailing standards to include the following changes:

  • New Standards for Domestic Mailing Services.  We revised various sections to reflect price adjustments and mailing requirements changes associated with the October 2012 filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). We published this information in the December 27, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • Every Door Direct Mail. We revised various sections to add new standards for saturation mailings of Standard Mail® mailpieces known as Every Door Direct Mail-Retail® (EDDM-R or EDDM-Retail). We published this information in the December 27, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • Domestic Shipping Services Pricing and Mailing Standards Changes. We revised various sections to reflect changes to prices and mailing standards for the following Shipping Services: Express Mail®, Priority Mail®, First-Class Package Service™, Parcel Select®, Parcel Return Service, Mailer Services, and Recipient Services. We published this information in the December 13, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • Customs Declaration Requirements for Mailpieces Sent To or From APO, FPO, and DPO Locations. We revised 703.2.3.7 to stipulate that mailers may use either PS Form 2976, Customs Declaration CN 22 or PS Form 2976-A, Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note – CP 72 for items sent to or from any Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO), or Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) location. We published this information in the December 27, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • New Eligibility Standards for Parcel Select Nonpresort Mailpieces. We revised 453.3.3 and 604.5.1.2 to provide new minimum volume eligibility criteria for Parcel Select nonpresort mailpieces, either entered within a single mailing or as part of a combined mailing of mixed class parcels. We published this information in the December 27, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • Retirement of FASTforward Technology. We revised 602.5.0 to terminate the use of FASTforward® technology as a Move Update option for commercial First-Class Mail®, First-Class Package Service, Standard Mail®, and Parcel Select Lightweight® mailings. We published this information in the December 27, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • Products Mailable at Nonprofit Standard Mail Prices. We revised 703.1.6.11 to reflect that, for 2013, the value of a low-cost item is $10.20 or less. We published this information in the November 29, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • New Marking Standards for Parcels Containing Hazardous Materials. We revised 601.10 to adopt new marking standards for parcels containing mailable hazardous materials which will be required for parcel intended for air transportation. We published this information in the December 13, 2012, Postal Bulletin.
  • POSTNET Barcode Discontinuation. We revised various sections to discontinue price eligibility based on the use of POSTNET™ barcodes on all types of mail. We published this information in the December 27, 2012, Postal Bulletin.

February 4, 2013 

PostCom Webinar:  Please join the Association for Postal Commerce, PostCom on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1:00 Eastern for a FREE webinar presented by Shahrom Kiani, General Manager, for AddressVision, Inc. Mr. Kiani will detail the USPS' requirements for the March - April "Direct Mail Mobile Coupon" and "Click-to-Call" promotion. Learn how you can quickly position yourself to participate! Title: USPS Spring Promotion: Direct Mail Mobile Coupon / Click-to-Call - Easy Steps to Participate Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/297268001

The USPS has put on its RIBBS website a tech guide for Commercial Single Piece First Class Mail. https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_latestnews/documents/tech_guides/FCMResidualJan2013.pdf

From the Manager Business Alliances U. S. Postal Service Headquarters: There have been many questions on the folded self mailer requirements. Here is a link to a you tube video that makes it very easy to understand the changes. She does an outstanding job of making the design rules easy to understand and the reasons the industry worked with us to establish them. Please provide to all relevant members of your company that have mail design consulting in their responsibilities. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK4CkcZTN6Q

CBSNews: With a March 1 deadline looming before the December deal expires, Congress faces yet another round of painstaking negotiations over a way to avert the $1.2 trillion worth of reductions, which are spread equally over defense and domestic non-defense spending over the course of 10 years. And while the sequester package was never intended to go into effect - in fact, it was designed to be so potentially devastating as to force Republicans and Democrats to on an alternate solution to reduce the deficit - the political atmosphere in Washington has been so bitterly partisan as to make any compromise near impossible. [EdNote: Maybe Congress should try addressing what SHOULD be an easier issue: postal reform.]

Post & Parcel: Top executives from around the global postal and courier industry are set to convene in Brazil later this month, as the World Mail and Express series of conferences makes a return to Rio de Janeiro. One of the world's biggest and most growth-hungry postal services, Brazil Post, will be hosting the event on 26-28 February, in which delegates will also get the chance to engage with some of the most forward-thinking companies in the mail and express business within the Americas region. The conference programme is led by Wagner Pinheiro de Oliveira, the president of Brazil Post, which has recently been granted new powers by the government to grow its business outside Brazil's borders, and enter into new business partnerships with private sector companies. Other key speakers who will address the Americas event in 2013 include Correos Chile director-general Pablo Montané, Correios de Portugal chairman and CEO Francisco de Lacerda and Correo Uruguayo president José Luis Juarez. Delegates will also hear from Marcela Maron, President of the UPU Consultative Committee, and Antonio Juliani, Vice President of ABRAED.

Courier Times: What is now the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) was organized by Ben Franklin and is older than the United States. It has been self funded since its inception and has never required an appropriation from the Congress. The cost of stamps has of course risen over time, as has everything else But now we are told the USPS is massively broke, teetering on bankruptcy, and can only be "saved" if it is privatized. Competition from private mail and package services and the advent of the Internet for routine correspondence and bill paying are the often cited reasons for the failure; that and "inefficiency." It's a scam.

Audit Report Update: International Small Business Commerce MS-WP-13-001



Pushing the Envelope: The Right Strategy on Intellectual Property Rights:

"The number of Postal Service patents has grown significantly in the past few decades, as have the patents for rival carriers FedEx and UPS. When compared to other industries, such as information technology and wireless communications, the Postal Service has not significantly leveraged its intellectual property or fully recognized the potential financial and strategic value of these assets. If the Postal Service considered the commercial significance of each of its patents and licensed its intellectual property, it might find a valuable source of significant revenue. A 2011 Office of Inspector General report found that the Postal Service has 329 global families of patents, which means each "family" of a patent may have a multiple number of U.S. and international patent documents. The study looked closely at three specific patents to assess the commercial significance of each patent, or the revenue that the Postal Service may be able to generate through licensing of the patent. Those three patents alone hold a commercial value of more than $18 million per year. The report concluded that the Postal Service did not manage its portfolio of patents to maximize commercial significance. However, some stakeholders have argued that the Postal Service is different from private industry, even if it is encouraged to act like a business. It is a public institution held in the public trust. In that sense, it belongs to the American people. Shouldn't a public institution that belongs to the American people open up the technology and patents it has developed for the benefit of the national infrastructure? There is a risk that in licensing patents or holding proprietary technology, the Postal Service may stymie innovation in the public and private sectors. Some people have looked to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a model. Its idea to link computers into a national system eventually led to the development of the Internet."

Transport Intelligence: According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo demand fell 1.5% for the full year 2012. This marked the second consecutive year of decline following a 0.6% contraction in 2011.

Press Release: DHL Express has introduced the GoGreen carbon neutral feature to its DHL Express Envelope shipping option, allowing customers to further reduce the environmental impact of their shipping activities. DHL Express Envelope ensures the door-to-door delivery of urgent non-dutiable shipments weighing up to 300 grams by the end of the next possible business day, in recyclable, environmentally friendly packaging. It is the optimal delivery choice for account customers shipping lightweight documents internationally.

Wall Street Journal: On a visit to our offices last year, a U.S. lawmaker with knowledge of intelligence affairs explained that, when it comes to cyber-espionage, there are only two kinds of American companies these days: Those that have been hacked, and those that don't know they've been hacked. So it comes as no great surprise to learn that The Wall Street Journal has also been hacked. Specifically, the email accounts of under two dozen Journal editors, reporters and editorial writers have been hacked for months and maybe longer by the Chinese government. The hackers entered our systems and sought to monitor our China coverage. We identified the hacking last year and have taken steps to prevent it. The attack parallels similar Chinese infiltration of the New York Times, which believes the cyber-espionage originated with a Chinese military unit, as well as a hacking attempt last year against Bloomberg News. [EdNote: Nuthin' like online security. Here's a thought. The Chinese have never hacked a U.S. mailbox.]

Florida Today: Residents face losing another post office, as the U.S. Postal Service proposes closing the third facility in the city in five years. The Titusville Main Post Office location is about 3 miles away.

Dead Tree Edition: The U.S. Postal Service's cash crunch could cause a "catastrophic" disruption of mail service this year, according to a government official who wants USPS to reveal its crisis-management plans. The Postal Regulatory Commission "should request a description of the Postal Service's priorities and plans for providing service across the Nation and across classes in the event cash shortages require services to be reduced."

The Express Tribune: In the absence of telecommunication services, people in far-flung areas of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) depend solely on the postal service. However due to the heavy snowfall this season, the people have been finding it hard to send and receive letters. The post offices have been grossly understaffed due to postmen being unable to come to work due to heavy snow. "The postal service comes under the federal government and despite repeated requests, the Ministry of Postal Service is delaying the approval to recruit more people and make more post offices in far-off areas," said Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Ayub Shah. He added that the locals are finding it extremely difficult to stay in touch with others via email, due to disrupted services. To make things worse, the snowfall has blocked the routes of postal staff, dealing a blow to the postal services.

February 3, 2013 

Washington Post: Hallmark really wants you to be able to open that birthday card on a Saturday. But Saturday mail delivery costs the U.S. Postal Service $2.7 billion a year, and it's a burden the cash-strapped agency is trying to shed — to the dismay of greeting-card makers everywhere. Cutting Saturday delivery is a key part of the USPS's five-year plan to save $20 billion by 2015, but it is bumping up against businesses such as Hallmark that benefit from six-day mail delivery. Hallmark Cards has long paid federal lobbyists to try to keep Saturday mail service, combat rising postage rates and shape other aspects of postal reform. In the last Congress, the Greeting Card Association, which represents 200 publishing and design houses including Hallmark and American Greetings, opposed a measure that would have reduced USPS mail delivery service to five days a week, and a proposed amendment to a Senate bill that would have added a five-cent surcharge on single rate pieces, thereby raising the cost of mailing greeting cards from 45 cents to 50 cents. Those objectives remain, but there is some uncertainty about the approach because of turnover in the House and Senate committees that deal most closely with postal reform, said Rafe Morrissey, senior vice president for government relations at the Greeting Card Association. Morrissey is also a lobbyist at EnGage, the firm lobbying for Hallmark.

The Hill: Lawmakers are reevaluating how to move forward on postal reform this year, after running out of time at the end of the last Congress. Now, with postal officials urging Congress to move quickly on legislation this year, some key senators from last year's negotiations have either left Capitol Hill or are taking more of a backseat on the issue. Even with the last-minute work in the lame-duck, lawmakers still have to work through differences on how or if to let the Postal Service scrap Saturday delivery and how the agency should handle healthcare for future retirees. With all that in mind, lawmakers are not rushing to sketch out their plans on how to get a postal bill to President Obama's desk. The Senate Homeland Security panel, meanwhile, is scheduled to hold a hearing with postal officials and other stakeholders in the coming weeks, and Carper has said that hearing will help decide how the panel builds on the strides made over the last two years. Carper has promised Coburn, a noted fiscal hawk, that he will not reintroduce the previous Senate bill, and the Oklahoma Republican told The Hill this week that lawmakers needed to quit tying the Postal Service's hands on issues like delivery standards. But Coburn did express some confidence that he and Carper, Issa and Cummings could make headway on overhauling the agency.


The Envelope
Manufacturers Association Foundation has produced a slide presentation summarizing the data that soon will be published in a more complete report and update on EMAF's study of the "mailing industry"-- its contribution to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), the total dollar generated by sales of products and services, and the total number of jobs created by mail across all sectors of the economy. This is excellent stuff, and should be reviewed in detail by everyone who is a part of the mailing industry. Our industry owes a debt of gratitude to the EMAF and all its contributors and supporters for undertaking this very important work.

Auto-Mobi.info: USAMail1, a company dedicated to providing superior online shopping, shipping, and mail management solutions for families and business around the globe and in the USA, announces the appointment of one new board member today. Elmar Toime is the founder of E. Toime Consulting Limited and chairman of Postea, Inc., a postal technology group incorporated in 2006. Toime is a member of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Post DHL, the world's leading logistics company, and is a non-executive director of Blackbay Limited, a market-leading mobile solutions service company. In addition to his formal rolls, Toime also advises a number of startup firms in the postal and logistics sector. From 1993 to 2003, Elmar was the chief executive of New Zealand Post Limited and was responsible for diversifying the company's business base into new areas, including courier and express services, third party logistics and electronic services. In 2002, Elmar led the charge to establish a new, full-service retail bank, Kiwibank Ltd. This move exemplified Toime's commitment to extracting value from the post office retail network. In 2003, Toime was appointed Executive Deputy Chairman of the Royal Mail Group.

The  Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: The federal government didn't go over a fiscal cliff this year, but the U.S. Postal Service could if Congress doesn't act soon. Sen. Mark Begich is working with the Alaska Congressional delegation and other members of Congress to save the Postal Service, and they have made progress working across party lines despite partisan rancor in Washington, D.C. This effort is essential. For the last 40 years, the U.S. Postal Service has been a self-supporting entity that is not subsidized with taxes. We need to keep it that way, and we need to maintain its service in Alaska.

February 2, 2013 

Bermuda Sun: The Supreme Court granted the Attorney General an injunction yesterday afternoon preventing postal workers from going on strike.

7thSpace Interactive: To express its gratitude and appreciation to its valuable customers for their unceasing support as well as to promote the broad spectrum of products and services offered, Hongkong Post will offer eight special privileges in the coming seasons. These offers cover personalised stamps and the "Make My Card" Birthday Card Series, postal souvenirs, stamp gift sets, the trade declaration service, circular mail and Speedpost posting discounts, thereby presenting a complete range of products and services for people from all walks of life, from members of the public looking for gifts to business customers in need of cost-effective business and mailing solutions. This promotion will be launched on February 18.

Pakistan Observer: Global Postal Services Market would reach US$323.6 Billion by 2015, as mail volumes continuously declining owing to growing prominence of digital alternatives.

Cleveland Plain Dealer: U.S. Postal Service won't pay East Cleveland for traffic camera tickets because it says it's exempt from local laws

New York Times: The money-starved United States Postal Service is considering selling the Bronx General Post Office on the Grand Concourse — an official city landmark, a centerpiece of life in the borough for more than 75 years and a monumental gallery of the work of Ben Shahn, one of America's leading Social Realist artists. Postal operations would move to a much smaller leased space.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

February 1, 2013   

The National Postal Forum San Francisco, CA March 17 - 20 2013

 The 2013 National Postal Forum is fast approaching!
San Francisco, CA - March 17-20, 2013 

Back this year is the Mail Design Professional Course! This two day course being offered on Tuesday, March 19th and Wednesday, March 20th focuses on USPS mail design compatibility and achieving lower postage costs through automation.  The course in San Francisco has been updated to reflect the following Postal Standard changes:

  • New Folded Self-Mailer standards
  • Elimination of the POSTNet barcode to qualify for automation prices
  • Parcel Post has been renamed to Standard Post
  • Changes to the Move Update standards

Don't miss this industry standard learning experience, designed by the U.S. Postal Service, to improve your mailing standards and lower your postage costs!  Just one of many opportunities offered at the 2013 National Postal Forum that you and your business cannot afford to pass up! Register now!!

Wall Street Journal: The U.S. added 157,000 jobs last month, signaling a slow start to the year, though revisions showed 2012 job growth was stronger than once thought. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%. [EdNote: It only makes sense to expect that as the economy shows signs of growth, those who had given up looking for jobs would reappear on the unemployed roles as active job seekers.]

The Triangle: The real reason for passing the pension obligation could be more nefarious than providing for the future at the expense of the present — it is a move to kill the USPS and hand its services over to private companies. Look at it this way: Having deliberately crippled the finances of the USPS, Congress can say, "Well, the post office is insolvent because of the incompetence of government. Look at how private industry is able to manage an effective parcel delivery system! Let's give the USPS to FedEx/UPS/DHL/Two Guys and a Truck Moving Co./some other company that donated a lot of money to my campaign!" and then give lucrative postal routes to said company that donated a lot of money to their campaign. (Of course, private companies don't have pensions anymore, so they can give all that saved-up pension money away, too!) It could also be a move to neutralize political opponents such as the AFL-CIO by targeting smaller affiliated unions like the American Postal Workers Union, which comprises around 425,000 of the 11 million AFL-CIO members. If the USPS is eliminated or sold, the APWU goes down the drain along with a significant percentage of the AFL-CIO's membership and political clout.

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

  • "USPS Spring Promotion: Direct Mail Mobile Coupon/Click-To-Call Easy Steps To Participate"  Please join the Association for Postal Commerce on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1:00 Eastern for a FREE webinar presented by Shahrom Kiani, General Manager, for AddressVision, Inc. Mr. Kiani will detail the USPS' requirements for the March - April "Direct Mail Mobile Coupon" and "Click-to-Call" promotion. Learn how you can quickly position yourself to participate!Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/297268001
  • The Association for Postal Commerce Board of Directors met this week to discuss matters facing the mailing industry and to elect new members to the Board.
  • This week, Dave Williams, USPS VP Network Operations, gave an update to the Network Rationalization initiative. The Postal Service is undergoing a consolidation of its network through a program called Network Rationalization. The initiative is comprised of both service standard changes and two phases of mail processing operation consolidations.
  • According to postal commenter Gene Del Polito, "the misinformation and disinformation of those who simply want to advance agendas of their own ostensibly for good or even ill reasons pose a greater threat to the fiscal viability of the republic than postal reform ever could. Postal bills will come and go. Most will never find their way to enactment. But the threat to public confidence in the mail by those who would rather have mail-based dollars flow from your pockets into their own constitute the real threat. And when the threat of an ill-designed postal bill will go away with each expiring Congress, the threats posed by mail 's detractors will be more enduring. These are the threats your mail-based business faces every day. These are the threats you cannot afford to ignore. Arm yourself with facts, and make sure the universal mail system you enjoy today will still be around to serve you and your business tomorrow."
  • IDEAlliance® has announced a revision in its popular Mail.dat® User License Code program that will substantially reduce the fees paid by mail preparers and facilitate the transition to electronic postage payment. The Mail.dat specification specifies a User License Code to accompany files for the purpose of uniquely identifying the sender through the postal supply chain. The Mail.dat specification, and the software infrastructure upon which it's built, defines mail preparation today and is developed and maintained by IDEAlliance, a non-profit industry association, in cooperation with the United States Postal Service® (USPS®).
  • Green teams help USPS save millions. USPS responds to info request on Commercial Single Piece FCM. PRC dismissed AdvoCare complaint case. USPS submits monthly IMb progress report. PRC Chairman submits info request in ACR. PRC approves classification change related to Parcel Select Nonpresort. MTAC releases new membership guide. Save the Postal Service from collapse. USPS releases dynamic routing solicitation. At the Postal Service, new reports reveal the strain of change. Consolidation and cost-cutting are USPS 2013 resolutions. Postal Service audit behind shop shift. So far, FSS is a step backward, USPS data indicate.
  • An update on notices regarding changes to the Domestic Mail Manual.
  • Updates from the Federal Register that affect the mailing industry.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • Postal previews.
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

International trade and cooperation has become a key driver of small business success according to an in-depth and wide-ranging DHL Express study by IHS, the leading global source of information and analytics. In an exacting economic environment, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have been presented with a challenge. A challenge to grow and increase the profitability of their businesses against a backdrop of often weak demand. This report summarises the results of research into the performance and competitiveness of SMEs in this business environment, with a specific focus on attempts by SMEs to ‘internationalise' their businesses and how this impacts on their growth.

Direct Marketing News: On January 28 the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) began requiring customers to use POSTNET barcodes to transition to new Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) to retain their discounted pricing. "POSTNET is not going away," says Roy Betts, senior public relations representative at the USPS. Instead, POSTNET customers taking advantage of automation prices—discounts for flats, letters, and parcels that are barcoded and can therefore be processed via the USPS's automated equipment—will have to transition to Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) to qualify for those same discounts. Additionally, Permit Reply Mail (PRM) and Qualified Business Reply Mail (QBRM) are also required to have an IMb.

Lacrosse Tribune: Thousands of area residents will find some innovative deals in their mailboxes next week as a La Crosse company rolls out a high-tech use for an old-fashioned medium. In a test partnership with Downtown Mainstreet Inc., Address Vision is sending out postcards with offers from a dozen local merchants. Bring in the card and you can redeem one of the coupons. But scan the barcode with your smart phone, and you'll have all 12 to use throughout the month. Called mailScan, the technology is designed to enhance the value of bulk mail by bringing it into the digital age, said Christina Kiani, program director for Address Vision. "Direct mail still has a real value for marketing," Kiani said. "People look at it more than email." But instead of tossing it on the kitchen counter — or worse, the trash — Address Vision hopes the digital coupons will draw potential customers into stores, where they simply have to show the coupon on their phone to get a deal.

PressTV: Cheap and easily accessible synthetic drugs are flooding Europe's illegal drug market. The reason these substances are so prevalent is that they're produced in Europe, close to the consumers, in so-called mobile production units that can be easily installed at the back of a truck. Transporting drugs also takes place away from the view of police officers. More and more often, it happens through legal options, such as postal services.

Bowdoin Orient: Now, more than at any other time during its long history, the agency needs the autonomy to adapt to the 21st century. Over the course of its 238-year existence, the USPS has survived wars, economic collapses, and natural cataclysms, and persistently endured through the term of every single President. Whether or not it can survive the partisanship of modern-day politics remains to be seen.

Business New Europe: Russian Post (Pochta Rossii) is a crucial piece of infrastructure underpinning the country's burgeoning e-commerce sector. But the institution only just coped with the onslaught this year and likely will fall short next year unless there is the heavy investment that forms part of its modernisation plans. "The New Year for postal workers is like an exam – there is an avalanche of letters, packets and parcels," Alexander Kiselev, CEO of Russian Post, tells bne in an exclusive interview. "This December we were expecting 2m inbound international items – twice the volume from a year earlier – but we actually received more than 3m registered letters and delivered several million more unregistered letters." A roadmap for reform of the postal service was summited to the Russian Ministry of Communications in September and a draft law has been tabled that will make several important changes, including allowing the post office to sell shares, set up commercial courier services and provide the regulatory underpinning for a long-mooted "SvyazBank", or postal bank: two-fifths of Russian Post's revenues already come from financial services. Improving the postal service – which was ranked in the middle of a recent survey looking at the world's biggest post offices – is also crucial to support the growth of Russia's ballooning e-commerce business, which turned over about $50bn in 2012 and is growing by some 30% a year, according to experts.

Washington Post: If the genial, soft-spoken Democratic senator from Delaware responds to a question with "let's back up just a little bit," it's a signal that the line from question to answer isn't going to be a straight one. Carper is the new chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as of Jan. 24, and the panel is not fully organized. Carper has been a leader on postal issues, cosponsoring postal reform legislation that the Senate passed last year. Carper...said he, Issa and Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the oversight committee, and their staffs have been making progress toward a compromise. [EdNote: Word has it Carper will be holding a hearing on postal reform in the a.m. on February 13.]

Ruralinfo.net: This is an email Ebay sent out to sellers recently. Note that customers must go to an alternative online label printing system to print labels for Parcel Post packages during the mail count.

"Dear Ebay seller: As someone who has used eBay Labels to purchase Parcel Post® in the past, we want to tell you about a recently-announced change that will go into effect January 27, 2013. USPS will discontinue Parcel Post service as of January 27, 2013. Active listings with Parcel Post will automatically be updated to the new comparable replacement service—Parcel Select®—which will be available in the selling flow and shipping calculator as of January 27. Know that the new Parcel Select service will not be available for purchase through eBay Labels until March. Sellers that wish to utilize this service before it is available via eBay Labels—and sellers who have sold items with the Parcel Select service—will need to go to the post office or an alternate online postage provider (i.e. Pitney Bowes, Endicia.com, Stamps.com, etc.) to purchase this class of service. Also, be sure to upload tracking information within your stated handling time. If you would like to continue to take advantage of the convenience of eBay Labels until Parcel Select is added to the eBay Labels system, consider temporarily offering a similar service."

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