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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April 23, 2014 

The U.S. Postal Service has issued a document of its own addressing some of the issues that have been raised by the APWU and its colleagues in opposition to the recent deal with Staples for the provision of over-the-counter retail postal services. [EdNote: Do the world a favor. Go buy a pencil tomorrow at Staples. You can wave to the protesters on the way in and on the way out. Remember the APWU? They're the ones that want to screw flats mailers to the wall for simply complying with the Postal Service's requirements associated with its failed flats program.]

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

The Jerusalem Post: Snail mail has always had a bad rap. But you think we had it bad till now? It might soon get a whole lot worse. A word of caution: This is a global trend and not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. The advent of the Internet, email, assorted social networks and cellphone messaging applications has expectedly hit traditional mail services hard, and this is true everywhere. By and large, most people nowadays no longer rely on written letters as their primary mode of communication. The inevitable upshot is that most postal services the world over are sinking ever deeper into the red and struggling to keep going. Israel is no exception.

The Motley Fool: The Teamsters' Local 89 Union at United Parcel Services' famed Worldport Hub has once again voted down the proposed Louisville air supplement in a vote of 2804 against and 185 for the proposal. This marks the second time that the contract has been voted down, and it highlights the ongoing strain between UPS and one of the company's most important local unions.

KTVI: The US Postal Service has been struggling over the past decade, losing billions of dollars because of the decline in mail volume and the rise of the internet and electronic mail. Now there are new strategies and new partnerships in place to keep the US Postal Service going.

Retail & Marketing: As more Canadians turn to online shopping, courier operator FedEx hopes an agreement to open shipping centres at Home Hardware Stores Ltd. will help it grab a larger piece of the growing e-commerce market. Federal Express Canada Ltd. said Wednesday that the centres, which serve as mini-hubs, will offer more “points of access” for customers to drop off and pick up parcels.

24/7Wall St.: Could the USPS go through an initial public offering of its own? The major hurdle is the postal service’s enormous pension obligation and whether or not that would be part of the deal. Far simpler to contract out the labor-intensive postal window business.

Postal Technology International:

InformationWeek: US Postal Service wanted to virtualize its systems for auditors working in the field but didn't have room for added storage. It found the answer in a specialized appliance. The Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is migrating to a virtual desktop environment that soon will give its traveling investigators anytime, anywhere, any device access to the applications and data they need to do their jobs. Looking to transform its IT infrastructure and better support its users and mission, while also meeting a federal datacenter consolidation mandate, the OIG's IT team last year began to explore the idea of building out a virtual environment that eliminated the need for a costly, complex, and space-devouring storage-area network (SAN) architecture. "Almost 1,000 of our 1,100 full-time employees are true mobile workers," says Gary Barlet, CIO in the OIG. "Some only go to the office a few days a week. They're investigators working on cases and auditors out at various postal facilities. The concept of having to be tied to a specific location or a specific device to do their work just doesn't fit well in that environment."

Sharpen your postal smarts. Become a Member of PostCom.

Join Jessica Dauer Lowrance, Executive Vice President, PostCom on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 for a discussion on "How the USPS Uses Its Current Pricing Authority", and understand the potential changes you could be facing with the current legislative efforts. Title: Demystifying the Postal Price Cap Scenarios Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/394089704

If you haven't done it in a while, you owe it to yourself to check out what's new on the Postal Service's RIBBS web site.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   The “Heartbleed” bug hasn’t affected Postal Service websites that require customers to provide usernames and passwords, according to USPS IT and the Corporate Information Security Office (CISO). “USPS was not vulnerable — nor is it today — to the threat that Heartbleed was responsible for creating,” said CISO Manager Chuck McGann. “Information Technology and Corporate Information Security continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and provide updates to our customers as warranted.” Because the Postal Service was not using security software susceptible to the bug, its certificate keys are not susceptible to exposure, McGann said. However, USPS will update these certificates and work with Web service providers to monitor threats. In addition, USPS has updated its websites to restrict access from older Web browsers. Employees and customers using browsers older than Internet Explorer 7.0 no longer will be able to access usps.com. Browsers now must support Advanced Encryption Standard, 256-bit encryption capability to conduct secure transactions with USPS websites. McGann encouraged employees and customers who use the same login credentials for multiple websites to update their usernames and passwords on each site. “The Postal Service is committed to providing a safe and secure online experience for customers,” said IT Manager of Marketing Relationship Management Robert Dixon. “We will continue to monitor the Heartbleed situation and protect sites accordingly.”

WJLA: Joe Davidson, Federal Diary columnist with The Washington Post, discussed how Congress plans to stabilize the USPS, with Capital Insider.

Wall Street Journal: A postal-workers union is ramping up a campaign to try to slow the U.S. Postal Service's partnership with Staples Inc., including asking unionized teachers to boycott the chain and buy school supplies elsewhere.

Federal News Radio: As agencies move applications and services to the cloud over, two common themes emerged. First is the initial step toward the cloud usually begins with virtualization across multiple platforms: applications, server, desktop and user. Cloud then opened the door to enabling mission operations in a mobile environment. Federal employees could take advantage of smartphones and tablet computers to input or review data in real-time, and improve access to applications no matter where they are working. The Postal Service's Inspector General's office, for example, virtualized more than 400 servers serving both its front end infrastructure and back-end storage and computing power. By virtualizing, the USPS OIG now is moving toward a bring-your-own-device or BYOD strategy to let employees take advantage of the virtualized environment securely and efficiently. Other agencies are following suit.

Naharnet: Egypt's next president will have to contend with frustrated workers who have threatened a new wave of nationwide strikes if their demands are not met by an already cash-strapped government.

Evansville Courier & Press: A former U.S. Postal Service employee from Dawson Springs, Ky., has been sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home detention for destroying, hiding and delaying delivery of thousands of pieces of mail At least 44,900 pieces of mail were affected, said David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

Western Daily Press: A postmistress in a Cotswolds village stole thousands of pounds of parcels containing jewellery, clothing and antiques, it was alleged in court yesterday.

Daily Journal: A St. Louis woman faces up to 15 years in federal prison after admitting she opened and stole packages while working as a supervisor at a southwestern Illinois post office.

Bangkok Post: A man vented his anger online after Thailand Post allegedly folded an envelope with a 'Do Not Fold' notice on it. A two-and-a-half minute video clip of the frustrated man showing the folded envelope and a damaged picture inside it was uploaded to YouTube by Apichart Samsa-nugan on Sunday. In the video clip, the man complained that the picture was damaged because Thailand Post failed to follow the  the 'Do Not Fold' notice clearly written on the envelope by the sender. "The picture of the monk is not expensive but it has a lot of sentimental value. "Can't you (Thailand Post staff) read, you monitor lizard? If you can't do your job then go raise buffaloes at home," the man said. Many netizens shared their thoughts on the national state-owned Thai postal service, saying they were also disappointed by its services. YouTube user Siwasak Glinsubun wrote that his friend mailed him an expensive computer mouse but he did not get it because it was stolen at Thailand Post and they refused to take responsibility. Another YouTube user whiterope tuok wrote, "I put a 'Handle with Care' notice on my envelope but I saw the staff throwing it in front of me."

The Standard: Thousands of Londoners are battling postal chaos they blame on Royal Mail’s doorstep rival. Homeowners in Mill Hill, Harrow and other parts of north and west London blame TNT Post for a wide array of errors, with some residents saying "lazy" TNT postmen are dumping a whole street's mail in one customer's letter box for them to distribute to their neighbours. Others report that they have missed sensitive bank correspondence and failed to pay bills after letters were continuously delivered to their old home, despite paying Royal Mail as much as £54.99 for six months' diverted mail services. A senior postal source admitted privatised Royal Mail does not pass on re-direction notices to Dutch-owned TNT, which began its delivery operations in west London in April 2012 and has since expanded across the capital.

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 22708–22709 [2014–09252] [TEXT] [PDF]

April 22, 2014 

Fedweek: USPS Customer Service Operations has successfully managed periods of package growth, employee work-hours, and scan rates at delivery units, the Postal IG has found. It said however that opportunities exist to enhance readiness by improving acceptance scan rates, decreasing customer wait time in line during the holiday mailing season, enabling a Passive Adaptive Scanning System revenue-protection function, and reducing the number of non-barcoded packages to provide end-to-end tracking for customers.

National Postal Museum: The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is hosting Family Fun Day Saturday, May 10. The event will celebrate two different yet uniquely connected themes: Chinese heritage and National Train Day. Through special exhibits, programs and events, the museum will showcase how trains and the people of China have long shared a very special place in American history. The museum will offer a variety of educational activities and demonstrations throughout the day, providing visitors of all ages opportunities to learn, engage and take part in fun-filled activities. Visitors can participate in a special celebration of the 145th anniversary of the completion of the intercontinental railroad as the museum honors the Chinese immigrants who built it.

Minot Daily News: U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven announced Monday that the U.S. Postal Service will be introducing Mobile Point of Sale devices in six locations across North Dakota this week.

YLE: From Tuesday mail workers begin covering new daytime delivery routes, to accommodate some of the 500 job cuts that postal services company Itella is making. Despite company claims that post will arrive as before, union reps are warning that longer distribution rounds for the remaining staff will result in slower delivery times.

WKYT: A postal service worker has been caught on CCTV throwing parcels from truck windows instead of delivering them. The worker was seen chucking parcels - reportedly including a HD Kindle Fire worth around $400 - on to the driveway of a home in Georgetown on Saturday. The owners were perplexed as to why their parcels had not been delivered properly and watched back their CCTV to find out.

Office of the Inspector General: Like, Share, Tweet: Social Media and the Postal Service (RARC-WP-14-010) While the U.S. Postal Service is among the 70 percent of businesses and organizations worldwide that are active on social media, a stronger, more robust social media strategy could help the agency remain competitive in the digital age. A new white paper from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General says such a strategy would help the Postal Service to respond better to changing communication needs, improve the customer experience, create value through social commerce, cut costs, and even develop new products and services for new revenues.

BroadwayWorld: According to recently filed court documents, the two owners of a 20% market share of "The UPS Store" franchise locations in Manhattan have responded to a lawsuit filed by The UPS Store, Inc. ("TUPSS"), United Parcel Service, Inc. and United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (collectively "UPS") with counterclaims and a third-party complaint seeking more than $50 Million in damages, plus punitive damages, costs, attorneys' fees and other relief. The papers were filed on April 16, 2014 in New York Federal Court in lower Manhattan in the action entitled, The UPS Store, Inc., et al. v. Robert Hagan, et al. (S.D.N.Y., 12-cv-1200-WHP).

The Motley Fool: The burgeoning e-commerce market has opened up a sea of opportunity for delivery companies. So much so that the second-largest parcel carrier, FedEx, sees global e-commerce as one of its biggest growth drivers. FedEx's success will depend on how well it is able to mold its services to the need of the industry.

Daily Mail: The Zambia Postal Services (Zampost) has introduced soft loans for buyers of re-conditioned motor vehicles from Japan through its micro-finance subsidiary and has set aside K5 million for the scheme. Post master general McPherson Chanda said at a press briefing in Ndola last week that the top-up loans, which were with effect from Wednesday last week, will be accessible up to a maximum of 20 percent of the vehicle import cost through Zampost.

Federal Times: The Postal Service does not properly track its sale and maintenance of its historic properties, according to an April 21 Inspector General’s report.

Bloomberg Businessweek: As if the U.S. Postal Service didn’t already have enough to worry about, it has now become the target of gun enthusiasts, who are accusing the agency of stockpiling ammunition as part of a broader government plot to deprive Americans of their liberties. [EdNote: Did it ever dawn on anybody that the USPS has its own police force.....the Postal Inspection Service.....They carry guns. Helloooo!]

Wall Street Journal: One interesting item in the Federal Reserve‘s beige book, released last week, was a report from the Minneapolis Fed that “in the energy-producing areas of North Dakota, the U.S. Postal Service and its union recently agreed to pay increases of up to 20% for rural carriers.” According to the Associated Press, the postal service is having a hard time, competing even with fast-food restaurants to find workers in western North Dakota, the site of the Bakken oil fields and a state with a 2.6% jobless rate.

April 21, 2014

The Australian: Australia Post’s digital mailbox initiative, unveiled by chief executive Ahmed Fahour in 2012, must be struggling, judging by the monopoly postal service’s bizarre submission to the financial system inquiry. Post makes the arguable point that the big four banks stifle competition and don’t have a great track record on innovation, but then invites ridicule by putting up the major bank-owned BPAY — operator of the rival digital mailbox service BPAY View — as an example. Apart from BPAY’s “unique ownership arrangements”, it puts forward no evidence other than its rival’s “dominant market share”. The words pot, kettle and black spring to mind.

Trefis: United Parcel Service is set to announce its first quarter 2013 earnings results on April 24 2014. We expect that the shift in customer preference towards more economical means of shipping packages will continue to negatively impact revenue per package for the company. However, continued growth in e-commerce sales and international trade will drive up package volume and should help boost revenue.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: FedEx Ground Package System Inc. is proceeding with plans to build a large distribution center in Menomonee Falls that would have over 450 employees. FedEx would develop the 202,950-square-foot building on 30 acres on the south side of County Line Road, west of Held Drive, according to a village report. Most of the building would be used as a distribution center, with 8,625 square feet set aside for offices. At full capacity, the proposed facility would have 466 employees, including 74 office employees, the report said. It said 205 of the center's employees would be full time, and the facility would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

AzerNews: The Azerbaijani postal operator, "Azerpoct" LLC is preparing itself for provision of micro-credit services. The postal operator is planning to apply to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) for obtaining a license in this regard. As the Communications and High Technologies Ministry reported earlier Azerpoct LLC is ready to proceed with the issuance of microcredit through banks' mediation and without a banking license- as it is practiced today in a number of CIS countries. None of the banks in this area can compete with the postal operator because of its branching network, which in turn affect the economic activity in the regions of Azerbaijan.

Daily Mail: Thousands of letters are being dumped or delivered late by Royal Mail's doorstep rival. Customers blame TNT Post for missed hospital appointments, lost bills and delayed medical test results. The company's orange-clad staff are paid according to how quick they are – giving them an incentive to ditch mail. Letters have been found dumped in undergrowth in Manchester and London.

Washington Post: Rep. Darrell Issa may introduce a U.S. Postal Service overhaul bill next week that more closely tracks with a White House plan, a move that the California Republican hopes will help rally more Democrats, congressional aides say. With the clock ticking on his tenure as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa, the leading House advocate for legislation to overhaul the financially troubled agency, may introduce the bill as soon as next week, when Congress returns from its break. The new strategy comes as roadblocks in the House and Senate continue to dog a three-year effort to stabilize the Postal Ser-vice. The Senate, after painstaking negotiations, passed one postal bill in the last Congress in 2012, but an overall agreement remains elusive. But nothing has had enough support to pass, and leaders of the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House are not inclined to bring them to a vote before the midterm elections, congressional aides and Postal Service observers say.

East Bay: United Public Workers For Action -- "The national protest on April, 24, 2014 called by the American Postal Workers Union APWU and other postal unions is an important step in fighting the privatization and destruction and looting of our US post office. It is not only the Republicans that are pushing these attacks by Democratic politicians in every state, the corporate controlled Congress and the Obama administration which wants to end 6 day service."

Washington Post: Plans to stabilize the money-losing U.S. Postal Service have been bouncing around Capitol Hill for a long time, long enough to make you wonder if Congress will ever do anything about it. The proposals are designed to help the Postal Service deal with a changing business climate that left it with a net loss of $5 billion in fiscal year 2013. Yet if the legislation in the Senate becomes law, its reach will extend well beyond the postal facilities and those who work there. The measure could have a significant impact on many federal employees, particularly those who are injured. That worries feds across the government. The overall bill won bipartisan approval in the committee with a 9-1 vote in February and the full Senate voted 62-37 on the same measure two years ago. The one "no" vote in February was cast by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). He complained that the legislation "includes sweeping changes to the federal workers compensation program, even though the committee has yet to hold a single hearing on the issue." It certainly seems there was time to hold a hearing, given how long the provision has been around. And the Senate seems in no rush to move the legislation now. [EdNote: Labor's not alone. S. 1486 as it currently is written would make rotten law. As the late PostCom luninary Lee Epstein once told a congressional legislator about a postal bill he had written that Lee didn't like:  "I've seen your baby. And your baby's ugly."]

April 20, 2014 

Associated Press: Newspaper industry revenue in the United States fell last year, as increases in circulation revenue were not high enough to make up for shrinking demand for print advertising, an industry trade group said on Friday. The Newspaper Association of America said revenue fell 2.6 percent to $37.6 billion in 2013. Circulation revenue rose 3.7 percent to $10.9 billion, the second straight year of growth. Advertising revenue fell 6.5 percent to $23.6 billion. Digital advertising revenue increased 1.5 percent to $3.42 billion. But that wasn't enough to offset an 8.6 percent drop in print advertising revenue to $17.3 billion.

April 19, 2014 

Engadget: If you've never contacted your congress person then you might not realize how difficult our politicians have made it to get a hold of them. There are 535 members of the House and Senate all whom have some arcane contact form on their websites that obscure their direct email address. It's inconvenient for a single person to write a letter to all their elected representatives. But for organizations looking drive letter writing campaigns it's a nightmare. Individuals wont want to visit three separate sites as part of a push to pass or block a piece of legislation. And while there are services out there that can automate part of the work by routing messages to the right email addresses, they charge thousands of dollars a year for access to their tools and databases. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Sunlight Foundation saw the need for a better solution and asked the open source community for help. After just a couple of days of marathon coding, the advocacy groups had their answer: Contact-Congress. The idea is to allow easy mass messaging of members of congress through a simple form. The core of the system is a database of email addresses and contact forms that have been hacked together from the various sites for elected officials. And that database is open to be used in other ways, beyond simply sending out form letters from an angry electorate.

NPR: The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy. On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania. But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know. The computer doesn't just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle's truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck. Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you're alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.

Lawyers.com: The accuracy of forecasting a future event is based upon the validity of present facts and information, and generated within a program of patterns relying upon past models. But as present circumstances can change at any given moment, and unforeseen variables can alter the patterns modeled on previous occurrences, the science of forecasting can be a precarious venture into the foolish unknown. For Federal and Postal employees preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS (although, as the latter category is becoming more of a rarity, one may forecast that in a decade or so, the designation of "CSRS" may well become expunged from the lexicon of recognizable acronyms; just another forecast). Attempting to achieve some semblance of knowledge such that one can peacefully predict future outcomes is a natural desire; basing all hopes upon the certainty of a future forecast may be an act of monumental folly; the alternative is to have a balanced approach, and to recognize that the probability of a predicted outcome may approach a reasonable degree of certitude, but with potential pitfalls based upon unknown variables still to be encountered. Or, as most of us would do it, wet one's forefinger, put it up into the air, and declare a bold prediction with little or no knowledge or factual basis upon which to rely.

BBC: Delivering mail to Scotland's 94 inhabited islands - not to mention hundreds of remote communities in the Highlands - is an expensive business. The complex logistical operation involves trains, planes, ferries, Land Rovers and vans, not to mention an army of posties, six days a week. In the case of remote islands like Auskerry in Orkney, which has just a single family, it is delivered by a fisherman on his boat. Yet until now, no-one has thought twice about such costs. But now that Scottish independence is a possibility, it has become apparent that Royal Mail is, in effect, subsidising its remote Scottish operations with income from customers elsewhere in the UK.

New York Daily News: Viewers who have been begging for a TV drama that's not laced with sex or violence will find their prayers answered with Hallmark's new scripted series "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." But those viewers will pay a price. The characters, all of whom are terribly likable, speak as if they are reading from Hallmark greeting cards.

Salina Journal: During the five years since rural mail carriers stopped delivering mail to her home, Geraldine Kohman said she's written a stack of protest letters. Some correspondence to her Washington, D.C., lawmakers, the U.S. Postal Service and Dickinson County officials has been mailed from the post office in Hope, 14 miles round trip from her home. Other letters have been sent by email. Regardless of how they were sent, few of her letters have been answered.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
22169–22170 [2014–08953] [TEXT]  [PDF]
22169 [2014–09004] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
RULES
Rules of Practice in Proceedings under the Debt Collection Act ,
22025–22028 [2014–08963] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Associated Press: A former U.S. Postal Service employee in Anchorage was arraigned today on charges he accepted at least $334,000 in disability and worker's comp payments while he spent his summers fishing. The U.S. attorney's office says in a release that 56-year-old Amacio Zamora Agcaoili Jr. was indicted by a federal grand jury on 18 counts, including theft of government funds. They claim every summer between 2009 and 2013, he went dipnetting and fishing on multiple occasions despite being on disability.

April 18, 2014 

NY1: A New York congressman is calling for the U.S. Postal Service to stop selling off its historic post offices until it can figure out a better way to unload them. The statement comes from Bronx Democrat Jose Serrano, but echoes a report by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The report says the USPS has been selling off historic buildings quicker since it hit financial trouble in 2008, and that it has not always done the proper reviews before selling. Serrano called the process "willy-nilly."

Post & Parcel: Finland's national postal operator Itella Group is developing a major new all-in-one e-commerce fulfillment service that could eventually provide same-day delivery for online purchases. The EUR 10m project involves an investment in a new warehousing system, with automated fulfillment systems, at the company's logistics centre at Voutila, not far from Helsinki-Vantaa airport. The new warehouse facility should be completed next year. Itella said the new service will offer online retailers access to "one of the most sophisticated warehousing and delivery systems in the whole of Europe". The company said machines will help in the processing and fulfillment of online store orders.

The Star: Postal and courier firms have managed to hold their forte despite despite stiff competition from revolutionary communication mediums such as mobile and internet, latest data from the Communication Authority of Kenya shows. According to the CAK quarterly report, the number of letters posted locally grew by about 30 per cent in the second quarter of year 2014 to hit 17,324,016 up from 16,859,790. During the first quarter of year 2014, letter business grew by 27 per cent to 16.8 million up from 13.2 million letters posted in the fourth quarter of year 2013. It said the number of courier items sent during the period increased significantly by 18.4 per cent to stand at 478,434 items from 404,090 items sent during the first quarter. International incoming letters also showed an upward trend of 10.1 per cent during the period to record 2.5 million letters up from 2.2 million registered previously. The report shows that traffic for courier items, local, and international letters increased by 18.4, 2.8, and 10.1 per cent respectively in the review period, thereby depicting sustainability of the business in future.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
21974–21975 [2014–08909] [TEXT]  [PDF]
21974 [2014–08910] [TEXT]  [PDF]
21975 [2014–08911] [TEXT]  [PDF]

April 17, 2014 

flag Imperial Valley News: Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez today named former FTC Chairman Janet Dempsey Steiger the 2014 recipient of the Miles W. Kirkpatrick Award for Lifetime FTC Achievement, honoring her steadfast commitment to public service and her many significant contributions to the agency. "Chairman Steiger was an extraordinary public servant who provided inspiring leadership during her tenure at the FTC," Ramirez said. "As the first woman to lead the FTC, she reinvigorated the agency's law enforcement, developed its international advisory role, and fostered deep working relationships with state enforcers. And above all, she created an esprit de corps that has made the FTC not just a workplace but a community." At the request of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton, Steiger, who passed away in 2004, served as Commissioner and Chairman of the Postal Rate Commission, then as Chairman of the FTC from August 1989 to April 1995, and as Commissioner of the agency until September 1997.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

flag The Economist: Earlier this year its inspector-general released a white paper suggesting that post offices should begin offering financial services, such as cheque-cashing, small loans, bill payments, international money transfers and prepaid cards to which salaries or benefits could be transferred. The reasoning is simple: a lot of Americans have scant access to banks and a lot of post offices have too little to do. More than one-quarter of American households are unbanked or underbanked, meaning they either lack a current or savings account, or they have one but still use alternatives to banks such as cheque-cashers and payday lenders. Some, notably the head of the committee of the House of Representatives that oversees the USPS, are unconvinced. They see the postal services' expansion into financial services as government overreach, and a delay of the necessary "right-sizing" of a massive agency that does far less than it used to.

Data Guidance: The State Post Bureau of The People's Republic of China (SPB) approved - on 28 February 2014 - the Postal and Delivery Service Users' Personal Information Security Regulations, the Undeliverable and Returned Shipment Regulations, and the Postal Industry Information Reporting and Processing Requirements. This represents China's continued expansion of sectoral data protection requirements, as opposed to adopted a single omnibus data protection law.

MyPrintResource: Bell and Howell today announced that through an agreement with Experian, it has expanded its Go Data solution (www.GoDataSolution.com), a 100-percent self-service data-quality and list-enhancement tool, to include marketing list rental. This update gives companies 24x7 access to lists of consumer and business customers compiled by Experian and integrated into Go Data's intuitive interface.

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

  • USPS load leveling for SCF entered Standard Mail --  Reserve your webinar seat at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/193830896
  • The U.S. Postal Service and the Petitioners (21 entities that participated in the PRC exigent proceedings) have filed initial briefs before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The USPS has requested that the Court grant the petition for review and remand for further proceedings, while the Petitioners requested the petition for review be granted and that upon remand, the Commission should be directed to provide two issues (properly differentiating between the declines in mail volume and revenue that can justify exigent relief/caused by the recession an those from other causes; and failing to implement in a reasoned fashion the "necessary" requirement of Section 3622(d)(1)(E).)
  • Frederic Rolando, President, National Association of Letter Carriers, Mark Dimondstein, President, American Postal Workers Union, John Hegarty, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and Jeannette Dwyer, National Rural Letter Carriers Association have written a letter to Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the President's 2015 budget.
  • USPS Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Nagisa Manabe spoke briefly at last week's PostalVision 2020 conference, about what the Postal Service sees for the future of mail and delivery. She said future opportunities include linking data and mail, same day delivery, grocery delivery, forward warehouse services, returns solutions, the mailbox of the future, new use of post office space and carriers, and a better mobile app.
  • Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Chair Ruth Goldway told the PostalVision 2020 conference attendees that the gathering was an example of how human beings like to gather to talk and socialize even in a technological age that includes 3d printers and drones. "That is a fundamental principle that has to be included in any planning that involves digital," she said.
  • Jim Sauber, Chief of Staff to the President, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) told attendees of last week's PostalVision 2020 conference that the NALC is adamantly opposed to threats to the USPS' transportation, delivery and sorting network. He said the last mile network is incredibly valuable to the USPS and to the country. "The ability to reach 150 million addresses six days a week is an asset to the Postal Service," he told the PostalVision 2020 conference attendees. "Policy makers and the USPS leadership should stop thinking of the delivery network as a cost factor," he said, "it is an asset that should be leveraged." The NALC represents about 200,000 city letter carriers, 90% of whom belong voluntarily to the association, Sauber said.
  • While much of the recent press over Amazon's announcement that it may use drones in the future for package delivery may have struck many as futuristic and absurd, attendees of last week's PostalVision 2020 conference learned enough about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also called "drones," to know they could transform delivery in the future.
  • Matt Swain, InfoTrends, reported highlights at last week's PostalVision 2020 conference on findings gained by InfoTrends from conducting focus groups for a USPS OIG (Office of the Inspector General) study titled, "What America Wants and Needs from the Postal Service." The focus groups included 101 Americans aged 19-92, representing 67 different ZIP Codes from 11 different states. Participants included those from urban, suburban and rural areas (about one third from each type), about even in terms of gender and with a range of incomes.
  • PostCom submits reply comments in price cap docket. Tax returns go from post office to digital. More from PV2020 to come. Lexington Institute's ‘Postal Trendwatch - April 2014.' USPS wants to mine and sell data gathered from your mail. Deregulating the USPS? Bad idea. Is 5-day delivery USPS's way of saying it's giving up on mail.
  • Announcements from the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Postings from the Federal Register.
  • Announcements on recent reports, projects, and blog entries of the USPS OIG
  • International postal news
  • Postal previews
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Ohio Newspaper Association: The relationship between newspapers and USPS is as old as the nation. Recent USPS' decisions have shown total disregard for this historic relationship. Proposed elimination of Saturday delivery, poor delivery and worsening service standards, exigent rate increases and unfair NSAs with direct mail companies would leave Ben Franklin rolling in his grave. USPS service is in shambles. USPS claims that service has not declined, but it has now shuttered half of its mail processing plants. This has caused service, most notably in rural areas, to crumble. Newspapers are losing subscribers because of late deliveries. Yet USPS defends its service standards. This disconnect is because the postal service does not measure on-time delivery of newspapers, only first-class pieces. It is a bad idea to deregulate the USPS, as proposed in a "reform" bill pending in Congress, Senate Bill 1486.  It does too little to protect the private sector from an unfettered government monopoly.

Direct Marketing News: Packaged goods marketers like to talk exclusive brand assets and unique selling propositions. It's fitting that the acronym for the latter—USPs—is the same as that for the United States Postal Service, because its claim to mailboxes is one of the few business assets worthy of the definition of the word "unique." It's the one and only organization allowed to open the lid of one's mailbox or cross the plane of one's mail slot. Try it yourself and you will soon be introduced to another unique USPS asset not found at FedEx or UPS: the Postal Inspection Service. The Postal Service delivers to 150 million addresses six days a week, adding up to total usage occasions of 900 million a week, or nearly 50 billion a year. Now here's where the Postal Service runs it truck off the road in the estimation of CPG marketers. CPGers battle to increase occasions. USPS managers want to decrease theirs to the tune of nearly 6 billion a year by cutting out Saturday delivery.

BusinessTech: The SA Post Office (Sapo) is upgrading its backbone datacentre infrastructure, applications and network as part of an R800 million "infrastructure refresh project". "The project will enable Sapo to provide IT services on both physical and digital channels throughout its network," said Brighton Tiribabi, acting chief information officer at the SA Post Office.

AllAfrica.com: The Kenyan postal and courier sector reversed its growth trend within the quarter under review, registering increased traffic in both local and international incoming mails at 2, 8 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. There was however decline in international outgoing mail. This growth signifies that there is still demand for this service.

Post & Parcel: The Universal Postal Union's member countries have demanded the organisation speed up its work to improve the flow of e-commerce through the global postal system. The Berne-based agency affiliated with the United Nations has been working to break down the barriers to cross-border e-commerce. The issue is seen as "critical" to the world's postal operators as their letter volumes decline, and the UPU said Posts are "well positioned" to help particularly small and medium-sized businesses expand their sales across national boundaries. But in the competitive delivery business, the UPU said "time is of the essence".

Pacific News Center: Utility ratepayers aren't the only ones affected by the recent changes in the delivery of US Postal Mail, the Guam Memorial Hospital received 1,500 returned bills in the mail in the past month. GMH Administrator Joe Verga is advising residents to get in touch with the hospital's billing department in case you were affected. The average returned mail that GMH receives every month is about 200 bills. But within the past month, the hospital got 1,500 sent back. They too were affected by the recent changes in the US Postal Service delivery system.

  Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
21813 [2014–08698] [TEXT]  [PDF]
21813–21814 [2014–08774] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Highland News: A broad national coalition of organizations representing users of the mail argued this week to the U.S. Court of Appeals that the Postal Regulatory Commission erred when it granted a $3.2 billion postage increase to the U.S. Postal Service last year. The group, which includes National Newspaper Association fighting on behalf of community newspapers, said the PRC ignored inconsistencies in the Postal Service's economic argument for the exceptionally high rates. Community newspapers in January faced increases of 7 percent to 9 percent, in a year when inflation hovered below 2 percent, because of the commission's decision. Attorney David Levy of the law firm Venable LLP. in Washington, told the court in the coalition's brief that the Postal Service's losses were not primarily created by the Great Recession but by the steady attrition of mail from Internet diversion. Levy and his legal team focused upon economic data analysis that the mailers considered flawed because it introduced variables inconsistent with the trends of the recession, recovery and accompanying Internet competition for messages. The PRC agreed with much of the mailers' position that the Internet competition drove USPS financial losses, but granted the USPS request anyway.

April 16, 2014 

Bloomberg Businessweek: It's unusual for a challenger to unseat an incumbent president in the postal workers' union election, but Mark Dimondstein did exactly that. The onetime postal clerk from Greensboro, N.C., ousted former American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey by a comfortable margin in October's vote, and now he wants to build public support for his effort to thwart U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's plan to downsize and reform the U.S. Postal Service.

Daily Caller: The United States Postal Service is looking to get in on the big-data-for-profit game played by tech giants like Facebook and Google, and begin mining and selling private data gathered from personal mail sent from and received by Americans everywhere. USPS chief marketing and sales officer Nagisa Manabe recently told the forward-looking PostalVision 2020 conference that the post office is "actively looking for ways to build new business lines around what not long ago might have been considered science fiction," eCommerce Bytes reports. While some of those ideas included new delivery services from partnerships like grocery chains, others seek to increase revenues from advertising by mining, storing and analyzing customer data. By mapping those datasets and determining consumer behavior, advertisers and retailers could target more effectively through traditional mail, much the same way Facebook and Google target ads based on search, profile, email and other data. Manabe described an example scenario in which a woman test drives two different types of cars and two different dealerships while trying to decide which to buy. "We're at the point where, all too soon… We're going to know exactly that she was shopping at two different car dealers looking at cars, and both of those car dealers should be mailing her communication about that vehicle, right?" Manabe said. "And we're there now, folks. I mean, you all know this. There are dozens of folks out there who are supplying that kind of information. If we're not testing and exploring some of that together, we should." Manabe described the obvious marketing opportunity as too big for USPS to pass up in the emerging digital world.

Did you miss this? Full-Service Intelligent Mail™ Outreach Randy Workman HQ Business Mail Support Analyst United States Postal Service. If so, you can still listen to the webinar and follow along with the slides used during the webinar.  Webinar | Slides

PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENTS CONSUMER & INDUSTRY AFFAIRS Effective Immediately, Judy de Torok will serve as Acting Manager, Industry Engagement and Outreach. Most recently, Judy served as the Acting Vice President for Corporate Communications. Judy began her postal career as a Communications Program Specialist and has held a variety of positions within Corporate Communications, including Manager of Media Relations, Manager of Marketing Communications and Field Liaison Communications Manager. She was Manager of Media Relations during the anthrax crisis of 2001; developed and implemented the Transformation Communication Plan; and served as editor to a variety of award-winning postal publications. In 2002, Judy joined Government Relations where she was responsible for managing Congressional hearings for the Postal Service and preparing a variety of internal and external communication materials. From June 2011 to July 2013, Judy served as the Manager of Integration and Support for the Deputy Postmaster General, where she worked to align communications, legislative, customer and sustainability issues for the Deputy's Office. Judy has a Master's degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Political Science from Chatham College. Dale Kennedy, Manager, Business Customer Support & Service completed his executive detail opportunity as Manager, Industry Engagement and Outreach. Dale provided great insights and knowledge towards improving the customer experience. Dale will continue to support the Consumer & Industry Affairs department by working on special assignments.

Postal Technology International:

Western Morning News: Royal Mail were left red-faced after a whole fleet of its vans were given tickets - because the parking permits were late in the post. Ten vans were slapped with fines after they were parked in a car park which they had not displayed the correct permit for.

Postalnews Blog: The Postal Service has introduced Metro Post — a new option for New York businesses that need same-day package delivery service in the city. New York is the second test market for Metro Post, which began in San Francisco in 2012. In New York, businesses pay a fee to have packages picked up in the afternoon and delivered anywhere to customers in Manhattan by that evening. Metro Post is part of the Postal Service's strategy to grow its package delivery business.

Postalnews Blog: The four unions representing rank and file postal workers have sent a letter to Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Member. "We strongly oppose major elements of the Administration's proposed reforms as out‐dated and counterproductive to the goal of strengthening the Postal Service for the 21st Century. Simply re‐amortizing the disastrous retiree health pre‐funding mandate that was enacted in 2006, and which accounts for more than 80% of the Postal Service's losses since 2007, is totally unacceptable. "Kicking the can down the road" is not a solution to the Postal Service's most pressing financial problem. The payments are unaffordable now; they will be unaffordable two years from now. The USPS has already set aside more than $50 billion for decades of future retiree health benefits. It's time to repeal the pre‐funding burden that no other private or public enterprise in America faces (without taxpayer appropriations) or dramatically reduce the cost of that burden by enacting other reforms. Congress should either implement the recommendations of the Postal Regulatory Commission's independent audit of the postal CSRS account (Report on CSRS Pension Allocation Principles, Segal Company, November 22, 2010) or adopt FEHBP reforms that will reduce postal retiree health benefit costs. Any reform that fails to address the pre-funding burden will doom the Postal Service to endless cycles of service and job cuts that will destroy this national treasure."

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: Initial briefs have been filed with the appeals court by petitioners and the Postal Service in the matter of the Postal Service's appeal of the Postal Regulatory Commission decisions regarding the most recent postal rate proceeding.
USPS Brief | Petitioners' Brief

Radio New Zealand: New Zealand Post has warned the Government its mail volume is falling faster than it anticipated last year when it negotiated a new deed of settlement. Under that deed, the Government agreed the postal service could reduce its mail deliveries to three days a week from July 2015. In the last financial year New Zealand Post delivered 63 million fewer letters than the year before, a much bigger slump in deliveries than it had forecast. In a letter to its shareholding ministers the company says it will be increasingly difficult to operate commercially, even within the additional flexibility provided by the new deed. The company is also considering the future of its service accepting payments for third parties, such as power companies, as more and more people switch to paying their bills online. NZ Post chief executive Brian Roche says it's simply making ministers aware of the challenges the company faces.

April 15, 2014 

USPS Load Leveling for SCF Entered Standard Mail. Please join the Association for Postal Commerce, PostCom for a FREE Webinar on April 30, 2014 for an informative update on the United States Postal Service Load Leveling presented by Linda Malone, Manager, Processing/Network Operations, USPS Headquarters. The Postal Service, in its ongoing communication efforts, will provide this webinar to present the nationwide implementation of the DSCF entered Standard Mail service standard revisions for Load Leveling. Specifically, the Postal Service will review the benefits of load leveling volumes across the days of the week, the changes guiding the implementation, and the anticipated effects from the initiative. Title: USPS Load Leveling for SCF Entered Standard Mail Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/193830896

Lexington Institute: The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) lost $354 million in Q1 FY 2014 -- the 19th money-losing quarter of the prior 21. Still, the loss represents a significant improvement over the $1.3- billion loss posted in the same period last year. The Service's operating revenue grew $334 million, or 1.9 percent, relative to Q1 FY 2013, driven by growth in Shipping and Package services revenue and operational cost cuts totaling $574 million. But this revenue growth was not enough to offset losses from declining First-Class Mail volume. Monopoly consumers face higher rate increases than competitive products consumers. Monopoly service quality declines.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   The PostalOne Support teams restarted the database and application servers in order to restore the system. All the alerts have cleared up and the support teams have confirmed that the application is functioning normally. The support teams will continue to monitor the system but meanwhile if the mailers continue to see any issues with their jobs please contact the Help Desk at 800-522-9085.

PRNewswire: The Global Piracy and Counterfeiting Consultants is now offering to help the US Postal Service to stop delivering Chinese counterfeit pharmaceutical products via the US mail, because Chinese counterfeit drugs put at risk US consumers, and costs major pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders billions of dollars each year.

Non-postal news worth noting:

  • Gizmodo: Quantenna Communications has announced that it's working on a chipset due 2015 that will supports speeds of up to a staggering 10 Gbps.
  • Wall Street Journal: Google Inc. on Monday acquired a maker of solar-powered drones—a startup that Facebook Inc. had also considered acquiring—as the technology giants battle to extend their influence and find new users in the far corners of the earth. The drone makers are on the leading edge of a promising but largely unproven technology to beam Internet access to parts of the world not served by telephone wires or cellphone towers.
  • Wall Street Journal: The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, created by a Texas billionaire and his wife, has made a name for itself since 2011 by funding research on the fiscal health of public pensions. Now, irate public-employee unions are pressing nonprofits such as public television, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Brookings Institution to stop taking money from the Houston-based organization. The unions argue that the Arnold Foundation is trying to sway public opinion to support replacing public pensions—which give workers including police, firefighters and teachers guaranteed benefits at retirement—with defined-contribution accounts similar to 401(k)s, or hybrid approaches.

eCommerceBytes: In 2020, when your supplies of milk and butter start to run low, your refrigerator will know to send out a call to the grocery store and, later that day, the Postal Service will show up at your door with fresh provisions. Sound far-fetched? Not to Nagisa Manabe. Manabe, the chief marketing and sales officer with the USPS, offered a preview of an array of initiatives that the agency is working on to improve and expand its services through the use of technology, tapping into unused infrastructure and by forging new partnerships.

Wall Street Journal: Luisa Todini, currently on the board of state broadcaster RAI, was named for the chairmanship of Poste Italiane. Francesco Caio was named as new chief of Italy's postal service, Poste Italiane SpA, which is controlled by the state. Mr. Caio replaces Massimo Sarmi, who has turned the company around since taking the helm in 2002. Mr. Sarmi more than doubled the postal service's revenue to €26 billion ($36 billion) from 2002 to 2013, by aggressively pushing financial services. The government plans to sell up to a 40% stake in the postal service later this year, hoping to raise as much as €5 billion in one of the biggest Italian privatizations in years.

Stuff: NZ Post has warned falling mail volumes could force an early rethink of whether cuts to deliveries have gone far enough to keep it out of the red. The state-owned group is set to cut standard urban deliveries from six days a week to three days a week from July 2015, with the loss of up to 2000 jobs. A further review is due in 2018.

From the Rough
Remember Mike Critelli? The former CEO of Pitney Bowes? Well, he long ago discovered life after postal. His latest venture was to produce a film about the first African-American woman who coached a men's college golf team. Here's a trailer.
http://fromtherough.com/video/ The film is beginning to show. Check it out.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   The PostalOne!® Preprod environment will be unavailable from 4/14/14 thru 5/16/14 for a storage and database upgrade. During this outage PostalOne!® TEM will be available for testing purposes.

What They Think: Quad/Graphics, Inc., announced that it has priced a private offering of $300 million of its 7% senior notes due 2022. The offering is expected to close on April 28, 2014. Quad/Graphics expects to use the net proceeds from the notes offering and the previously announced extension and increase of its senior secured credit facility to: (1) repay its existing term loans, revolver borrowings and an international term loan; (2) fund the acquisition of Brown Printing Company; and (3) for general corporate purposes.

April 14, 2014 

USA Today: Three decades ago, April 15 was like a marathon national block party. As millions of Americans swarmed post offices to file their tax returns at the eleventh hour, vendors handed out free coffee, IRS representatives were on hand to provide advice, and jazz bands sometimes set the mood. Lines lingered for hours, and branches stayed open past midnight to accommodate the overflow crowds. But those days have faded into the realm of archaic, pre-Internet traditions; the yearly ritual of fingering through rumpled receipts and W2s has gradually experienced its digital awakening. This year, electronic filings are expected to reach 85% of total tax returns, "a new American record."

BBC: A very important date passed at the weekend - the end of the 180-day "lock-up" agreed by the government when it privatised the first chunk of the Royal Mail last October. The agreement meant that the coalition was prevented from selling any more of its stake until 13 April - yesterday. Now the deadline has expired, two things are happening: the share price is softening, because of the possibility of a future sale (called an overhang) and parts of the government are wondering how soon it might be politically possible to sell its remaining 30% stake. Senior figures in the Conservative Party are keen to get on with it as soon as possible.

Invezz: The lock-up period blocking the UK government from selling its remaining stake in Royal Mail Plc expired on Sunday. The government pledged to retain its near 30 percent stake in the company for 180 days after the start of unconditional trading, but with this period now over, the state is now free to sell its holding. The expiration has raised some concerns as releasing more shares on the market could impact the Royal Mail share price, which has already experienced a significant decline this year.

Miami Herald: Miami-based UPS Americas — 25 years old this year — is intensifying its efforts in Latin America, seeking to build on the company's record of success. By investing in new facilities and increasing its services to companies of all sizes, it hopes to ride the tide of increasing international trade and expanding emerging markets, perhaps especially in the medical field. This division of United Parcel Service is the largest single cargo carrier at Miami International Airport, and it is already a powerhouse: It has nearly 9,000 employees in Latin America and the Caribbean, including 598 in Miami; operates 142 flight segments daily; and has more than 900 ground delivery vehicles. (United Parcel Service in the United States is a separate division.) Last year, UPS moved almost 225,000 tons of domestic and international air cargo at MIA, and it also handles UPS package and cargo business in Canada.

April 13, 2014 

Dead Tree Edition: Partly because of a shift to lower-paid employees, the U.S. Postal Service experienced a rare improvement in its business last year, according to a Postal Regulatory Commission analysis. But the PRC warned that USPS is still on shaky ground – losing money for the seventh year in a row, short on cash, and unable to borrow money or invest in new equipment. In other words, the good ship Postal Service is still sinking, but it's not taking on quite as much water as it used to.

Magic City Morning Star: Congressman Mike Michaud is calling on Speaker John Boehner to prioritize legislation that would promote the stability and sustainability of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Rep. Michaud has sent a letter to the Speaker urging him to take action following the April recess. If Speaker Boehner refuses to act, postal facility hours will be cut, service standards will be reduced, and thousands of postal jobs will be lost. "The House cannot afford to delay again in fixing the Postal Service. Congress needs to approve constructive and comprehensive postal reform legislation before the end of 2014. That is why I ask that you bring postal reform legislation to the House floor as soon as Congress returns from April recess. Since the early days of our nation, the Postal Service has been a vital part of America, and Congress needs to implement adequate reform so that it can continue to surge ahead."

April 12, 2014 

Business2Community: Services like TowerData's Email Append allow you to grow an email list by as much as 25% by matching email addresses to postal addresses you already have. Email Intelligence services can fill in other informational gaps in your list, such as age, gender, size of family and home owner status, or, for a business list, position/job title, sales volume, number of employees and years in business.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
20931 [2014–08225] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Postal Contract Amendments ,
20932–20933 [2014–08226] [TEXT]  [PDF]
20931–20932 [2014–08227] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Delivering for America: This week, Jim Sauber, Chief of Staff to the President of the National Association of Letter Carriers, joined other leaders to discuss Postal Service issues at the Postal Vision 2020/4.0 conference in Washington, DC. At the conference, Sauber discussed the last-mile mail network and the promise of a stronger, more innovative future for the Postal Service.

Post & Parcel: Royal Mail has called on the UK postal regulator to launch an immediate investigation into the growing competition from rivals TNT Post UK. The company was responding yesterday to the launch of regulator Ofcom's review into its pricing proposals for downstream access mail. The newly-privatised universal postal service provider in Britain said Ofcom should complete its review into proposed discounts that would encourage business mailers not to use TNT Post UK's services "as quickly as possible" in order to avoid a "period of uncertainty" within the UK postal market. At the same time, Royal Mail demanded that Ofcom launch a fresh probe into the growing presence of TNT Post UK in the UK's last mile of postal delivery.

Direct Marketing News: What's present in every household and business in the nation but remains an enigma to Americans? The mail. This riddle is keenly relevant among pure-play digital marketers unaware that response rates to direct mail are typically 200 times that of email. But it's also true among consumers, who retain some surprising assumptions and notions about the U.S. Postal Service.

4-Traders: To capture the potential for growing the market for postal financial services, Posts must be open, forward-looking and innovative. "While postal financial services have been around for more than a century, they can still provide a large revenue stream for Posts," said UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein at a recent UPU forum organized prior to the Postal Operations Council in April. He called on public postal operators to boost their bottom line through a business area that also brings many social benefits. "Postal financial services can facilitate national economic growth and financial inclusion, as well alleviate poverty and provide a lifeline to many migrants," he said.

The Globe and Mail: The fallout from the controversial stock market flotation of Royal Mail has reopened a rift between the bank and independent advisers who run such deals.

April 11, 2014 

Direct Marketing News: Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway has criticized the U.S. Postal Service for moving ahead with a new load-leveling plan for presort mailers, alleging that the Post Office is insensitive to the needs of both senders and recipients of mail. The PRC had issued an advisory opinion on March 17 to delay the move that USPS management—as was its right—chose to ignore.

Matt Swain of InfoTrends tweeting live from PV2020:

* Here is a link to the @USPSOlG research I presented this morning at PostalVision2020: http://goo.gl/qdwukj @PV2020
    [EdNote: Get this! Read this!]

* Brody Buhler of @Accenture shares research findings at the @PV2020 4.0 conference pic.twitter.com/3RrQXh7bpc
*  In that focus on solving problems of today, we might be missing an opportunity to solve the problems of the future - Kent Smith @PV2020
*  Enhancing the Value of Mail for Digital Natives panel just kicking off @pv2020 led by IG Williams @USPSOlG pic.twitter.com/jdsJ1Ovbwi
*  Now a @blippar presentaton from Genna Sankin @pv2020 on how they have supported @USPS w/#AugmentedReality holiday cards
*  Digital natives love catalogs, but not having to go somewhere else to make the purchase - Thresher on augmented reality @pv2020 @OIGUSPS
*  A frequent speaker @pv2020, Marshall Van Alstyne (@InfoEcon) is now discussing "Saving Posts by Making Money" #pv2020
*  Even my grandmother, with no mobile phone, would love to use her Kindle to #interact with mail - Van Alstyne @pv2020 @InfoEcon
 

*  Matt Swain @SwainfoTrends presents the OIG Focus Group Findings at @PV2020 #postalpathways
*  Brody Buhler of @Accenture shares research findings at the @PV2020 4.0 conference pic.twitter.com/3RrQXh7bpc
*  Genna Sankin of @blippar shows off new technology in digital connections with direct mail at @PV2020 #postalpathways pic.twitter.com/VTWaBewqSL

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

  • On April 8, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the President's 2015 budget regarding the U.S. Postal Service. Brian Deese, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget was the only witness.
  • As we went to press, PostalVision 2020/4.0, "Pathways to a New Postal Paradigm," had just concluded the first day of its two-day event held in Washington, D.C. Attendees not only heard about future delivery ideas and directions from the USPS, the PRC, the NALC, and esteemed panels, but also the latest innovations from a variety of new entrepreneurs as well as established innovators. We got a view of a new twist on the traditional cardboard box, heard about the challenges of global delivery, and discussed consumer delivery preferences. And yes, the drones were among us...
  • Rolando: Postal Service needs real reform. Republicans, White House finally agree on something: Postal Reform. Zumbox to shutter its operations. Netflix DVD-mailer rate upheld by U.S. appellate court. GCA and NRLCA call for meaningful reform. Uber to launch bike-courier service. QuadGraphics to acquire Brown Printing Company. The real reason postal workers don't trust Paul Ryan. Amazon launches Amazon Dash for delivery of groceries, household items. Postal Service is profitable, doesn't need to cut services. Amazon rolls out Sunday deliveries, tests carrier drones.
  • Announcements from the U.S. Postal Service
  • Federal Register Updates
  • Office of the Inspector General Updates
  • International postal news
  • Postal previews
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Office of the Inspector General:

  • Revenue Opportunities for Innovative Mail Services. The Postal Service business and results of operations are significantly affected by competition and substitute products provided by electronic communication. Pending legislation would require a comprehensive innovation strategy for improving the financial position of the Postal Service through innovation, including new postal and non- postal services. Also under consideration in Congress is a mandate that stipulates customer discounts for presorting and handling will not exceed cost savings to the Postal Service from avoiding such activities.
  • Facility Repairs and Alterations Process. The Postal Service has a national contract with EMCOR Group, Inc. for facility repairs and alterations costing less than $25,000. Under the contract terms, EMCOR uses its project management tool, the Facilities Knowledge Center (FKC), to manage and complete repairs. Project managers at Postal Service facilities contact the FKC to obtain a broad range of services, including electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, fire and life safety, and security system repairs and alterations.
  • Impact of Reporting Certain Assets and Liabilities. Certain Postal Service liabilities have fluctuated significantly in dollar amounts in recent years, though not entirely from Postal Service operations. Specifically: * Long-term workers' compensation liability has risen steadily and sharply from $9.1 billion as of September 30, 2009, to $16.2 billion as of September 30, 2012, declining to $15.9 billion as of September 30, 2013. * Deferred revenue-prepaid postage rose from $2.4 billion as of September 30, 2009, to $4.0 billion as of September 30, 2012, then fell to $3.0 billion as of September 30, 2013. 

eCommerceBytes: For all the dismal news that has been surrounding the U.S. Postal Service over the past few years, the agency has one distinctive feature that separates it from every other government entity: the personal touch. The sprawling, nationwide infrastructure of the USPS has come to be seen by many as a liability at a time when the agency is bleeding red ink and mailing volumes continue to decline. But that network, and the human connections it facilitates, might be the Postal Service's most valuable feature, according to Ruth Goldway, the chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, a regulatory body. "The post's greatest asset is that they're the only structural agency, system, network, in most countries that goes to everybody's home five or six days a week. Now why would you want to do cluster boxes in every community and give up that personal connection?" Goldway said in a speech here at the the PostalVision 2020 conference.

Forbes: "FedEx Express Saver" is NOT valid for filing of a Tax Court Petition (or Tax Return).

WKRB: Royal Mail PLC stock had its "overweight" rating reiterated by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in a research note issued on Friday, American Banking & Market News reports. A number of other firms have also recently commented on RMG. Analysts at Deutsche Bank initiated coverage on shares of Royal Mail PLC in a research note on Friday, April 4th. They set a "hold" rating.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Service
NOTICES
Privacy Act; System of Records ,
20249–20250 [2014–08091] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Product Change:
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,

W*USA9: When you order delivery, something online from Ebay.com or a pizza from up the street, part if not all of that delivery is made on the ground, driven to you by a person. Matthew Sweeny, founder and CEO of Flirtey, an unmanned aircraft company in Australia, sees a different road for the future. "I think we're very rapidly moving in a direction where this technology will become ubiquitous and seeing unmanned aircraft or Flirteys making deliveries will be no different to seeing a UPS courier on the street," he said after a presentation at Postal Vision 2020, a business conference in D.C. that aims to reinvent the landscape of the postal business. The unmanned aircraft that Sweeny is talking about are not the drones that you may be thinking of - instruments of warfare, taking off from military installations, spying on and attacking enemies. Sweeny stresses that these would be instruments of commerce, delivering food or goods to your home or directly to you wherever you are. The drones would be able to locate you through the GPS program on your smart phone device. "They take off with the goods that you've purchased online, fly at an altitude that's below commercial airspace so there's very low risk of them colliding with commercial aircraft and then they lower the package to your location," Sweeny said.

Direct Marketing News: If there's one thing that postal workers unions and mailers can agree on, it's that, when it comes to the U.S. Postal Service, Congress is clueless. "There's very little thinking going on in Congress [about the Postal Service], in general," Jim Sauber, chief of staff of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), told a group of international postal stakeholders today. Not only is the union in favor or reamortizing the Postal Service's prefunding commitment to the retiree's health benefit funds, but it's in solid agreement with direct mailers and catalogers on the power of the individual mailbox. Addressing the Postal Vision 2020 conference in Washington, he said that the union's mission to save jobs for its members goes hand-in-hand with its commitment to help make the Post Office a more valuable proposition for mailers and consumers going forward.

JWeekly: Hackers in a coordinated cyber attack on Israel briefly brought down the websites of the country's postal service and Education Ministry on April 7.

Dead Tree Edition: Brown may have had a true competitive advantage for awhile in the tabloid magazine market that was dominated by trade publications. Colleagues describe an unusual configuration of its press folders (there's that German engineering at work) that enabled Brown to run magazine-formatted and tabloid- formatted pages on the same press. Combined with Brown's expertise in producing small-circulation weekly magazines (many of the tabloid trade magazines were weeklies) and its infrastructure for delivering them, Brown seemed to have a sizable market share in the niche. Then came the droop test. USPS instituted regulations in 2010 penalizing flat mail that wasn't stiff enough to be handled efficiently by sorting machines. In advances of the new regulations, B2B publishers rushed to transform their tabloids to the shorter, less droop-prone magazine format. Rising postage rates, a challenging advertising market, and improvements in browser-based magazine formats have meant continuing declines in B2B print orders.

The Register: In the letter, which was published on Thursday, Bezos took investors "on a tour that samples a small subset of [Amazon's] various initiatives". What this makes clear is that Amazon is less a retailer and more a logistics organization dedicated to moving physical goods and digital bits in as many ways and as efficiently as possible.

Wall Street Journal: After seven years and more than $30 million in funding from investors including former chiefs of Walt Disney Co., Priceline.com Inc. and others, digital post service Zumbox Inc. is calling it quits.

April 10, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Fast Company: To better deliver products to customers, Amazon, named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies in retail, has partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to offer Sunday deliveries in some cities. In China and India, it hired bike couriers to deliver packages in major metropolitan areas. Most interesting of all, the e-commerce company is testing the drone deliveries Bezos first alluded to in a 60 Minutes interview back in December. He said the company has flight tested its fifth- and sixth-generation drones and is in the midst of designing its seventh- and eighth-generation crafts.

Office of the Inspector General: Revenue Opportunities for Innovative Mail Services. The Postal Service business and results of operations are significantly affected by competition and substitute products provided by electronic communication. Pending legislation would require a comprehensive innovation strategy for improving the financial position of the Postal Service through innovation, including new postal and non-postal services. Also under consideration in Congress is a mandate that stipulates customer discounts for presorting and handling will not exceed cost savings to the Postal Service from avoiding such activities.

According to USPS CMO Nagisa Manabe speaking at Postal Vision 2020, the Postal Service now believes that living within the framework of a CPI cap is just fine.

Matt Swain ‏@SwainfoTrends (Tweeting Live from PV2020):
@matternet co-founder and CEO @andreasx asking #pv2020  attendees to consider drone delivery as leapfrog tech in developing countries
*  86% of what #Amazon is transporting is <5lbs - builds the case for UAVs @andreasx @matternet #pv2020
*  To transport a 2kg package over 20km, total cost is $0.24, energy cost is only $0.04 - #fascinating @matternet #pv2020
*  Autonomous vehicles will fly fixed routes to drop points, so airspace will be cleared #pv2020 @matternet #pv2020
@matternet co-founder and CEO @andreasx asking #pv2020 attendees to consider drone delivery as leapfrog tech in developing countries
*  Despite a -4.7% growth rate mail remains profitable, driving a higher EBIT than non-mail - Andre Pharand @Accenture
*  "Digital as a philosophy makes sense. Digital as a product does not." - Andre Pharand @Accenture
*  PRC Chairman Goldway taking a strong stance at #pv2020 against reduction of delivery days and a shift to cluster boxes
*  Chairman Goldway cites that these cost reduction initiatives are counter to the USPS mantra of "customer focused" #pv2020
*  PRC Chairman Goldway on drones - "I bet they turn out to be toys for wealthy people" #notbuyingintoit #pv2020
*  In 2013, the average delivery point got 1,036 pieces of mail - Larry Buc, SLS #pv2020
*  "We believe this network can be expanded to SEVEN day delivery." Jim Sauber, @NALC_National #pv2020
*  Stop thinking about the cost factor & recognize it as an asset." Jim Sauber, @NALC_National #pv2020
*  "We think we can be the essential public utility for the eCommerce age." - Jim Sauber, @NALC_National #pv2020
#USPS is updating its #mobile app - goal is to enable consumers to do via mobile that they can do in the post office - Manabe #pv2020
*  Nagisa Manabe, CSMO @USPS discusses the mailbox of the future @pv2020 pic.twitter.com/QUdrAHEHFn
*  Nagisa Manabe of the @USPS presents a vision of the future at @PV2020 #postalpathways pic.twitter.com/GQSC4p6K1W
*  Regarding 1st class rate increases: "if we just take CPI increases from here on out, we're OK with that." - Manabe #USPS #pv2020 
*  "I see 3D printing as more of a prototyping tool than a manufacturing tool." Chris Anderson @chr1sa @PV2020 @3DRobotics
*  Matthew Sweeny co-founder of @Fly_Flirtey on now with his drone at #pv2020 pic.twitter.com/QME7wFBV94
*  The vision for @Fly_Flirtey is that UAVs would deliver to the GPS location of the recipient's phone #pv2020
*  Engineering students @cooperunion now sharing their concept of The Rapid Packing Container - Sample here: http://goo.gl/BZcE25 #pv2020
*  Great design, especially since The Rapid Packing Container is fully reversible for reuse - @cooperunion @PV2020
*  Last session today is @Ship2MyID at #pv2020 - interesting concept to connect physical & digital worlds while maintaining privacy
*  "Our prediction by 2020 is that mailing addresses will be obsolete." - @Ship2MyID @PV2020

Times Newsweekly: Robert Holden, JPCA president, railed over the United States Postal Service's (USPS) slow delivery of the organization's quarterly magazine, The Juniper Berry. He stated the March/April issue was sent to subscribers on Mar. 20, but approximately a week later, many residents claimed their issues had not arrived. Members experienced similar problems back in December, Holden said, when subscribers received the magazine about nine days after the organization mailed them out. The all-volunteer publication includes news, commentaries and notices of upcoming meetings. Noting a drop in attendance at last Thursday's session, Holden reasoned that members who had not received their magazine +must not have known about that night's meeting.

Air Cargo World: Mail parcel volumes, growing because of e-commerce, are creating further challenges for pending advance data filing regulations, secretary general of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) said. The new regulations would require individual shipment information to be submitted to destination regulatory agencies in advance of transportation, rather than the present Customs' requirement for information prior to arrival at the port of entry, Douglas Brittin told the Universal Postal Union (UPU)'s Postal Security Group, a meeting of postal organizations. The air cargo industry and postal operators need to continue working closely with customs and civil aviation security regulators to ensure new data submission regulations and screening protocols are standardized, Brittin said at the meeting in Bern, Switzerland.

USPS Full-Service Intelligent Mail Outreach Program. Join the Association for Postal Commerce for a FREE webinar as Arlene Zisow, USPS Business Mail Support, Headquarters presents a comprehensive session about the Full-Service program including: Benefits, getting started, performance monitoring, and reporting. This will be a great forum for you to ask questions related to any aspect of Full-Service and the reporting of data. Register now by clicking below: Tue, Apr 15, 2014 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT Once registered you will receive an email confirming your registration with information you need to join the Webinar.

Fox Business: Amazon plans to roll out Sunday delivery to a "large portion" of the U.S. population this year. The company also said Thursday that it has started to flight test its fifth- and sixth-generation carrier drones. Its next two generations are currently in the design phase. Amazon in December unveiled its Prime Air unit that would focus on building out an aerial delivery service through drones. The goal of the project is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aircraft. The Seattle-based tech giant has warned that it will take "some number of years" to advance the technology enough and acquire the necessary FAA approvals before they can be put into commercial use.

Live from PV2020
PostalVision2020 ‏@PV2020 Brian Bieron of @ebayinc presents @PV2020 about the future of global e-commerce #postalpathways pic.twitter.com/pQqYg0cj9o
*  Cross Border E-Commerce is being examined @PV2020 by Steve Rifai of @Endicia, Richard Li of @4PX_WrldWideExp and more #PostalPathways

Wall Street Journal: AT&T said on Thursday it is in advanced talks to bring speeds of up to one gigabit per second to six North Carolina cities, or about 10 times the current fastest options. Google in February said it was eyeing North Carolina among dozens of municipalities where it wanted to expand its fiber network. The build-out brings more competition into services that have long been dominated by cable operators that have proven reluctant to ramp up Internet speeds.

WTKR: A backlog of mail at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is causing mail sent to service members stationed in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia to be delayed

On the Wight: Isle of Wight NHS make savings on paper and postage costs by going paperless.

CNN: "Using tablets to reach kids with autism"

Sys-Con Media: A report by BBC London last night (Tuesday) alleged that over 200 letters were found dumped in north west London with the postmark bearing the name of delivery company TNT Post. The report said that a local resident had contacted the company to notify them that the letters were there but no action was taken to collect them and deliver them.

BrookhavenPost: U.S. Rep. John Lewis will present replica of the Congressional Gold Medal to one such hero; Tuskegee Airman Harry Rock. Over the span of two years, Rock served the WWII effort in a myriad of roles ranging from Medical Basic to Basic Training Quartermaster, until honorable discharge in 1945. He transitioned into long-standing careers with the United States Postal Service and Sanford Realty, tucking away his life as a soldier–as many others did.

Marshfield News Herald: "The Postal Service's financial picture is sharply improving. Its fiscal year 2014 first quarter report showed $1.1 billion in profit exclusive of the congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits. "The facts are, 80 percent of the $46 billion in net losses since 2007 resulted from (the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act)," Rolando said. USPS' own annual report showed total assets of $439 billion including benefits, and had an operating profit of $623 billion in 2013. [EdNote: If that's the case, everyone should get over this "let's bake in the exigency increase," "let's give the Governors more ratemaking authority," and the "we can't live within inflation" nonsense and get on with reforms of FERS and CSRS pre-funding."

Post & Parcel: Electronic postal mail service Digital Post Australia has said it is "business as usual" despite the closure of one of the two companies behind it. The private sector service competing against Australia Post in the attempt to offer Australians a viable secure digital alternative to paper-based letter mail was a joint venture between financial communications firm Computershare and US digital mail provider Zumbox. However, Los Angeles-based Zumbox informed its US account holders earlier this month that it will close after five years of business. The company said the "time and cost" of delivering its digital mail vision were "more than the market is prepared to invest". Last night Digital Post Australia told Post&Parcel that it will be operating as normal, aware of the plan for Zumbox to close.

Telecompaper: Swedish postal and telecoms regulator PTS said e-commerce is expanding markedly but the volume of letters sent by traditional mail is falling. According to its report 'Service and Competition 2014 – the Postal Market in Sweden', there was a 17 percent rise in electronic commerce from 2012 to 2013, compared with a 2 percent growth in the retail trade as a whole. This rise in e-commerce has led to an increase in the number of small packages sent by traditional mail, although PTS expects a growth in dispatches of larger packages and bigger letters, too.

Post & Parcel: FedEx Express has opened a new North Pacific Regional Hub in Osaka, Japan, and a new national hub in Mexico. The express delivery giant said its new hub at Kansai International Airport will serve as a consolidation and transshipment point for shipments between the United States and Asia. The new facility in Cuatitlán Izcalli in the State of Mexico will be the "centrepiece" of domestic operations for FedEx Express in Mexico.

As announced in the March 5 Federal Register Final Rule the Postal Service is revising Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) Standard Mail service standards which allow the "load leveling" of mail volumes. This change will allow a more balanced distribution of DSCF Standard Mail across delivery days. For those DSCF Standard Mail pieces entered on Friday or Saturday, the Postal Service is changing the current three-day delivery expectation to a four-day delivery expectation. And for pieces entered at the SCF in San Juan, PR and destined for the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as all DSCF entry pieces destined for American Samoa, the delivery expectation for pieces entered on Friday or Saturday would change from four days to five days. This change will not affect service standards for First-Class Mail or Periodicals. USPS is not proposing any other changes in its service standards at this time. Implementation of the revised rules begins April 10. For more information, please visit the Important Updates section on the USPS RIBBS website.

San Ramon Express: Unionized workers Wednesday afternoon are planning to protest what they call the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service. According to the American Postal Workers Union, Staples has a deal to operate postal counters at more than 80 of its office-supply stores. They also say the U.S. Postmaster General would like to expand this plan to a total of 1,500 stores. Last month, Staples announced it will close 225 North American stores in 2015 amid declining sales.

Voxy: The Government's decision to rush through changes to New Zealand Post's Deed of Understanding has opened the door to privatisation and job cuts, says the union for postal workers. New Zealand Post yesterday signalled their intent to begin looking for third-party providers of PostShop services. "This decision will inevitably lead to lower wages and poorer customer service," says Joe Gallagher, EPMU postal industry organiser. "It's another step down the ladder for Kiwi workers and their families, who the government tells us should be benefiting from a ‘rock star economy'. "We call on New Zealand Post to ensure that any contracting out of PostShops guarantees fair wages and conditions for postal workers, and won't compromise this core public service."

April 9, 2014 

Baynews9: On Saturday, May 10, residents across America will be asked to join the U.S. Postal Service and its letter carriers to combat one of the nation's growing problems – hunger – by leaving food at their mailboxes. This one-day food drive is the nation's largest single-day food drive across America, and this year marks the 22nd anniversary of the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive in Partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, Campbell Soup, Feeding America and other sponsors. Currently, 49 million Americans -- or 1 in 6 -- are unsure where their next meal is coming from, and 16 million are children who feel hunger's impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. Nearly 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes often too embarrassed to ask for help. In 2013, 74 million pounds of food was collected by Postal carriers nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people. Over the course of the 21-year history, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Representatives from the Obama administration can usually expect a chilly reception, at best, when they testify before U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and his fellow Republicans on the House oversight committee. But Brian Deese, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, got just the opposite on Tuesday. Deese appeared before the committee to discuss the president's postal reform proposals in his 2015 budget. Rather than attack, Issa and company emphasized how the White House plan harmonizes with their own effort to fix the troubled USPS, which reported a $5 billion loss last year. The House Republicans are especially agreeable when it comes to ending Saturday letter delivery. "The administration's proposal includes giving [the Postal Service] the authority to move to five-day delivery," Deese testified. "It's our belief that this needs to be part of a comprehensive and balanced plan." Some Democrats and their allies in postal union circles have made the dubious argument that the prefunding requirement is the primary cause of USPS's fiscal troubles. If eliminated, they contend, the agency's fiscal woes would largely be over. That's not how the White House or the Republican oversight committee members see it. They fear that the USPS, which has lost more than 25 percent of its volume since 2008, might eventually need a taxpayer-funded bailout to make good on its long-term obligations.

Wall Street Journal: UPS, one of the earliest adopters of business analytics, is moving to a new dynamic package routing program which will save the company tens of millions each year in fuel costs. "UPS executives don't necessarily view Big Data as new," Guest Columnist Thomas H. Davenport writes, "but they do view it as providing revolutionary benefits through evolutionary implementation."

International Business Times: Royal Mail said Ofcom would create a period of uncertainty in the UK postal market because of its investigation into planned price rises.

National Association of Letter Carriers: NALC President Frederic Rolando -- "Congress should focus on unchaining USPS from the retiree health pre-funding burden—which is required of no other public or private entity—and freeing the agency to grow and innovate. Discussing job-killing proposals that degrade or dismantle our invaluable postal networks is not the conversation we should be having. It's time to move forward with innovative solutions that allow the Postal Service to evolve and use its established network to serve the nation's communication and e-commerce needs. It's time to start thinking about how we bolster service for tens of millions of businesses and households that have come to rely on door-to- door delivery, six days a week. It's time to discuss how to position the Postal Service to build successful partnerships with more American businesses, like Amazon has in moving toward seven-day delivery. It's no longer 2009

Government Executive: A key proponent of overhauling the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday vowed to introduce a new reform bill in the coming weeks, promising to work more closely with the White House in hopes of encouraging more bipartisan support. That support, however, remains far from guaranteed, detractors made clear during a committee hearing. All the minority party committee members made clear their opposition to many of the cuts put forward by both the White House and their Republican colleagues. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., for example, noted he has 210 co-sponsors on a measure that would require the Postal Service to maintain six- day mail delivery. "Good luck in trying to persuade Democrats into five day," Connolly told Deese.

InfoTrends: As of next Monday, April 14th, Zumbox will be shuttering its operations. "After more than five years of working to revolutionize the way mail is delivered, we have made the very difficult decision to shut down the company. All of us at Zumbox, along with our partners and the mailing community, remain committed to the concept of digital postal mail and have great confidence this capability will one day be the way you receive and manage your postal mail. However, at this point, the time and cost required to deliver on the vision is more than the market is prepared to invest. As a result, the Digital Postal Mail site will be taken down shortly." What Zumbox and other digital mailbox services are trying to achieve in a market as fragmented as the U.S. is extremely difficult and it is unlikely that any are profitable today. Consumers will not use the service without relevant business content (unless there is a chance to win $1M), and businesses will not partner unless the service has consumers. Without the governmental support—or mandates—that some services outside of the U.S. benefit from, digital mailbox services are tasked with building their own traction…often by scraping the content from business websites. Some have executed this task better than others, while still others never even made it to market.

Fierce Government: A House chairman presiding over the committee with main jurisdiction over postal reform endorsed most of President Obama's plan to overhaul the beleaguered agency. House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has long been pushing his own version of postal reform, said he would "embrace to the greatest extent possible" Obama's plan for the USPS during an April 8 hearing. Read more: Issa embraces Obama postal reform proposal

IFA: UK Mail forecast higher annual revenues, but warned that 2014 was likely to be a transitional year for the parcel and mail carrier. UK Mail expects quarterly group revenue to rise about 6%, which should fuel a 7% increase in total reported annual revenue. Total underlying revenue should rise about 5%.

Motley Fool: Louisville, known as UPS's Worldport, serves as the main distribution hub for all of the company's air package delivery. The facility is immensely important to UPS's business, but Local 89, the union in Louisville, has already voted down its contract twice. The union has now voted a third time, and the votes are to be tallied by April 10. If the contract is voted down a third time, which Local 89 has recommended its members to do, the union can then move to vote for a strike.

April 8, 2014 

Financial Post: A U.S. agency ruling that equalized rates for flat DVDs and first class letters was upheld by an appeals court in a case spawned by favorable treatment for Netflix Inc., the largest provider of subscription DVDs by mail. Equalizing the rates ended discrimination against companies such as GameFly Inc., the video-game rent-by-mail service, according to a ruling by three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. GameFly previously had to use a more expensive flat-package rate to avoid damage to DVDs while Netflix's were sorted by hand at lower prices, the court said. GameFly sued the Postal Regulatory Commission, the agency that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, in 2011, challenging its response to allegations that postal authorities were giving Netflix special treatment. GameFly won an appeals court order to the commission to change its policies on the DVD mailers. Tuesday, the court upheld the commission rules, turning aside a challenge by the Postal Service. The case is U.S. Postal Service v. Postal Regulatory Commission, 13-1229, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, (Washington).

Northumberland View: Canada Post has shut down over 1700 rural post offices since the 1980s. In spite of a 1994 moratorium on rural closures, the shutdowns are continuing right up to the present. A new survey of 1635 mayors, reeves and band chiefs, where a post office has been closed, documents the effects on communities. While some communities saw their federally run post office replaced with a franchise outlet, 53% of communities have no postal outlet of any kind. The closures of post offices are signalled out by many respondents as "another nail in the coffin of rural Canada". Some 24% of communities expressed very high levels of dissatisfaction with present postal service.

Testimony Of Brian C. Deese Deputy Director Office Of Management And Budget Before House Committee On Oversight And Government Reform.

"The proposals in the Administration's FY 2015 Budget seek to provide a responsible path to future viability focusing on four key principles:

  • First, the proposal provides the Postal Service with near-term financial relief, largely through the restructuring of some key retiree liabilities, to avoid destabilizing or draconian near-term measures that could undermine the Postal Service's core strengths.
  • Second, the proposal provides the Postal Service with flexibility to adjust to changing consumer demand, including the authority to gradually reduce mail delivery frequency to five days and to shift to centralized and curbside delivery where feasible.
  • Third, the proposal gives the Postal Service flexibility to generate additional revenue over the long-term by allowing it to enter into partnership agreements with State and local governments, ship wine and beer, subject to regulations, and extend the exigent rate increases currently in effect.
  • Fourth, the proposal seeks to make these reforms in a manner that improves the quality of services and strengthens the institution of the Postal Service for the American people, including in rural America, while at the same time protecting American taxpayers."

Herald Online: The Greeting Card Association (GCA) and the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA) issued the following joint statement calling for meaningful reforms to strengthen the Postal Service, and condemning proposals that would cut essential services, such as six-day delivery:

"The GCA and NRLCA strongly oppose Congress' constant attempts to eliminate essential services such as six-day delivery," said Rafe Morrissey, GCA Vice President of Postal Affairs. "This action would only serve to place a competitive disadvantage on the Postal Service and do nothing to fix the organization's financial problems. Additionally, the estimated savings assumed by proponents of these cuts are inflated and unrealistic, as they fail to factor in the costs of continued weekend parcel delivery. The Postal Service is in need of true reform, not shortsighted cuts that would fail to solve current budgetary problems and diminish the agency's ability to provide universal services relied upon by millions of Americans."

"The NRLCA and its members are proud to stand alongside the Greeting Card Association in support of six-day mail delivery," said Jeanette Dwyer, President of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association. "Americans nationwide have come to rely on the ability to send and receive mail on Saturdays, and the success of Sunday parcel delivery shows that there is increasing demand for delivery services. As the Postal Service looks to grow and thrive in the 21st century, scaling back delivery services is a misguided step backward that sends the wrong message to the Postal Service's customers and partners."

AllVoices: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has good news and bad news. The good news is that Issa's House Oversight Committee will meet in full session today and none of the three following subjects, favorites of Issa, will not be on the agenda: Obamacare, Benghazi and the IRS (that will have to wait until Thursday of this week). The bad news is that Issa is taking aim again on the United States Postal Service, and continuing his "war on the United States Postal Service."

Post & Parcel: Spain's national postal operator Correos has rebranded its express parcels business as Correos Express. The division previously known as Chronoexprés is being maintained as a separate and independent company within the Correos Group, the company said. The change of name aims to give the company a "modern, dynamic and accessible" image providing innovative products adapted for the new demands of consumers.

Post & Parcel: Polish people living outside their native country can now send international mail digitally, for conversion into physical letters and postcards prior to final delivery in Poland. The new service comes within the Envelo digital mail platform developed by Polish Post in response to customer demand for an interactive and mobile online postage system. Customers based outside Poland are also able to use the Envelo service to send mail to people in Poland, offering guaranteed delivery to any location in Poland from PLN 1.99 (EUR 0.48) per item. The company said through Envelo its domestic customers can also send letters and postcards by Polish Post services to any address in the world.

Nelson Star: Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko is sounding the alarm over reductions to mail service in his riding, but Canada Post insists the changes will have limited impact on customers. Atamanenko wrote to Lisa Raitt, the minister responsible, in late March expressing "grave concerns" about cuts to local post offices, including the elimination of Saturday service in several rural communities. "These changes threaten jobs, limit access to the post office for my constituents and reduce Canada Post staff morale," he wrote, citing several examples.

Daily Record: Thousands of Scots are being hit with huge delivery fees because bungling firms regularly class mainland towns and cities as offshore, it was revealed yesterday. A report by Citizens Advice Scotland has discovered that 15,000 businesses – including in locations such as Fort William and Inverness – have been penalised by unfair charges in a delivery postcode lottery. Many people on mainland Scotland were classed as living on islands by delivery firms, with the crippling charges leaving many struggling small firms unable to afford to buy stock. Of almost 250 firms who took part, more than 90 per cent said they were charged extra to have items delivered just because of their postcode.

The State Register-Journal: FedEx plans to nearly double package-processing capacity at its ground-shipping center on the north end of Springfield this year.

Wall Street Journal: Got stuff to deliver? A new way to send and receive items is emerging in Manhattan, courtesy of Uber, which is expected to launch a bike-courier service that will allow users to flag couriers to schedule pickups and deliveries using a smartphone app. A job listing on Craiglist tipped off online news site VentureBeat earlier to this development. According to the listing, Uber will pay $20 an hour or more for "on-demand deliveries." Uber will provide the couriers with an iPhone 4S to receive pickup requests from nearby customers. Other news outlets, including CNBC, also reported the launch of the Uber service on Tuesday. Uber posted its own announcement later; it noted that messengers will only make deliveries within Manhattan below 110th Street to start.

Business Wire: Quad/Graphics, Inc. ("Quad/Graphics") and Brown Printing Company ("Brown") today jointly announced a definitive agreement whereby Quad/Graphics will acquire Brown, which serves premier publishers and catalogers with printing, distribution and integrated media solutions. The acquisition will enhance Quad/Graphics' position as a leader in the printing industry.

Post & Parcel: Irish parcel carrier Nightline Group is increasing the automation of its network in partnership with logistics technology specialist Postea. The company delivering about 12m parcels a year at present says the investment will improve the speed, accuracy and quality of its services. Nightline has begun using the QubeVu scanning system from the US-based technology firm, which automatically measures the size and weight of anything from postcards to parcels, as well as capturing a range of data including barcode and labeling information through optical character recognition (OCR) technology. The system has already been implemented in Nightline's Dublin depot to support the Group's network of self-service parcel locker terminals, Parcel Motel.

The Republic: Federal officials say two former U.S. Postal workers from Maryville have admitted to lying to collect government benefits by falsely claiming that one of the pair was so injured she couldn't work. Federal Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office in Knoxville say the couple was caught after video captured the two taking a cruise, waking for hours at a time at different ports, followed by a trip to Disneyland.

Examiner: If you want to find out how much a particular Postal Service employee makes in a yearly salary, can that be done? FedSmith.com announced on its website on April 7 that it has updated the individual employee salary information for Postal Service employees.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, has weathered plenty of criticism since he released his proposed 2015 budget on April 1. Some of the most spirited attacks have come from, of all people, U.S. postal workers. American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein zeroed in on a section of the document titled "Reform the Postal Service." He calls it "a thinly veiled attempt to plunder the Postal Service—to slash service, cut workers' benefits, and render our great national treasure ripe for privatization." That's a bit of an overreaction. Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" recites the standard Republican line on the USPS—that the agency needs to be restructured because it can't afford the annual $5 billion payment it owes the U.S. Treasury to prefund its future retirees' health benefits. The Ryan budget would, among other things, require postal employees to pay a greater portion of their government-subsidized health care and life insurance. Dimondstein offers a theory, often repeated in union circles, that both the 2006 law requiring the retirement prefunding and the Ryan budget's unwillingness to eliminate it are part of an elaborate scheme to weaken the Postal Service so many of its operations can be privatized.

April 7, 2014 

American Postal Workers Union: The Postal Service and Staples are working overtime to keep the details of their sweetheart deal a secret, but a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board — and documents the USPS was forced to provide to the APWU — have revealed some disturbing truths.

Federal Times: Timing is a crucial factor when it comes to deciding when to retire. It is also important when it comes to how older workers perceive their retirements. In fact, research has shown that retiring sooner than expected makes older workers two times more likely to perceive their retirements as being forced, compared to those who retire on time. With the positive perception of a retirement largely riding on when federal employees retire, they must not let agencies get away with forcing them to leave the federal civil service before the time that is right for them. This is one freedom federal employees do not want to lose, because the quality of their golden years may hinge on it.

Fedsmith: "Service" is part of the name of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In a Post Office in Miramar Beach, Florida on March 31, a sign was displayed at the service counter that read: "I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. TOMORROW doesn't look good EITHER." One might think that displaying a sign for the public to see is an indication service is not a high priority—or even a concern of the employee or USPS management that, presumably, allowed the sign at a service counter.

WRAL: Something inside a package may have ignited a small fire at the main postal distribution center in Raleigh early Monday, authorities said.

Business Wire: Quad/Graphics, Inc. ("Quad/Graphics" or the "Company"), today announced it is reaffirming its 2014 annual guidance for net sales, Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow.

The Nation: Raja Muhammad Bilal, president of Postal Workers Union, has warned that postal employees may go on strike against stoppage of fuel allowance to postmen and resultantly services in the federal capital may face disturbance. According to union officials, after 30 per cent reduction in postal department budget from the government, postal officials have stopped paying fuel charges to the postmen. He said that postmen in Islamabad have been paying fuel charges from their own pockets for the last many months. Moreover, the house hiring facility of the staff has also been stopped. Bilal in a statement issued here on Sunday warned if the allowance was not resumed immediately, employees would go on strike.

Post & Parcel: Deutsche Post DHL will become the 18th member of the IPC Bag Pool as of May 2014, following the signature of the agreement on 19 March 2014. Deutsche Post will be using the pool of standardised IPC bags for its registered mail, E-format and letter packet mail of maximum 2 kg, such as e-commerce products. The new volumes coming from the German market will most probably contribute to expand the operational capacity of the pool, with a forecasted increase in the number of routes and bags exchanged between the Pool members, which, in 2013, amounted to some 700,000 bags.

Financial News: The Royal Mail Pensions Trustees, who oversee the postal group's pension schemes, have hired an investment expert from consultancy JLT to run the group's £100 million defined- contribution scheme, in an unusual move for the industry.

The Guardian: Vince Cable has been recalled by MPs to give further evidence on the privatisation of Royal Mail following a damning National Audit Office report that found the government had cost taxpayers £750m in a single day by massively undervaluing the postal service. The business secretary will be called before the business select committee on 29 April to answer claims that he botched the sale and allowed City traders to make huge instant profits at the expense of taxpayers.

New York Daily News: It's the mystery of the missing magazines. Dozens of copies of the Juniper Berry, a glossy publication of the Juniper Park Civic Association, never got delivered to subscribers' mailboxes last week, irked readers said. Those that did were badly mangled, and in many cases, only the cover of the 88-page magazine was delivered. "We put a lot of work into the magazine," said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, who first noticed the mailing snafu sometime last week. "Volunteers write it and deliver it. Somebody had to discard our mail, which is a federal crime." Holden said he mailed 1,400 copies of the Berry on March 24 to paid members of the civic group and other readers. But he's been flooded with calls from loyal readers who didn't receive their copies or can't read the pieces that were delivered by mail carriers. Even editor Lorraine Sciulli received a torn copy — in a plastic bag with a "We Care" sticker affixed from the postal service.

April 6, 2014 

Reuters: Amazon.com Inc launched a new product named Amazon Dash on Friday that allows the user to add groceries and household goods to their shopping lists using the company's AmazonFresh service. A black-and-white hand-held wand-shaped remote-control features a microphone, speaker as well as a bar-code reader and links directly to the user's AmazonFresh account. However, the device is available only for users of the AmazonFresh which currently operates exclusively in Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle.

STV: The postal service in an independent Scotland may need to increase charges for customers or rely on government subsidies, the Tories have warned. Conservatives fear SNP plans to renationalise the Royal Mail if there is a Yes vote in September's independence referendum could lead to higher costs and a poorer service. First Minister Alex Salmond has already vowed that if Scotland leaves the UK and he is in power he will "bring the Royal Mail, our postal service, back into public ownership".

Business Insider: "Here's The Story Behind The Strike That Got 250 UPS Workers Fired"

Express: The former state-owned postal operator, which critics say the -Government sold on the cheap, has welcomed privatisation as a way to compete more flexibly with rivals. But it claims it is working with one arm tied behind its back because less heavily regulated - competitors are cherry-picking the juiciest parts of its business. The group, led by chief executive Moya Greene, is urging industry regulator Ofcom to shake up the market to eliminate what it says are rivals' unfair advantages.

April 5, 2014 

B2BMarketing: A really important component of marketing is where you actually market the products or services. Your products basically need to leave from where they are manufactured and reach customers that make purchases. Marketing and logistics have to work together in order for that client to be efficiently serviced.

Government Executive: The federal government lost more than 10,000 jobs in March, continuing a downward trend in the size of the civilian workforce over the past two years. About 1,200 of the job losses last month were at the U.S. Postal Service, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the rest of the federal government lost about 9,000. Uncle Sam has cut 85,000 jobs in the past 12 months. Overall, the U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7 percent. The federal government ended the month with just more than 2.7 million civilian employees, including USPS workers.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Where's Jerry Seinfeld when you need him? In a classic episode of "Seinfeld," he takes over postal employee Newman's mail route and manages to deliver the mail to nearly 80 percent of customers. "Nobody's ever cracked the 50 percent barrier!" an aghast Newman complains. Out on Kinsman Road in Point Breeze, it seems, they'd be happy with the 50 percent for as spotty as they say their mail service has been lately. Some 30 households in that neighborhood say they have been complaining for several months now about not getting their mail. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn't. They say they've not received bills, checks, magazines, letters.

Wall Street Journal: How would FedEx Corp.know its customers were shipping millions of cigarettes? One clue was the name of a merchant authorities allege used FedEx to ship 94 tons of untaxed tobacco into New York State: Cigarettes Direct To You. The question is at the heart of New York State's $235 million lawsuit against FedEx. The suit filed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week, alleges the company illegally shipped 80 million untaxed cigarettes for smugglers from 2006 to 2012.

Trinidad Express: Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPost) workers are refusing to use 50 new motorcycles purchased for them because they said it was the wrong type of vehicle normally used for the job. The new vehicles were "clutch-driven" and not designed for the kind of delivery that was required.

April 4, 2014 

Global Post: Japan Post plans to triple the number of post offices with convenience stores operated by Lawson Inc. to 100 by 2016 from the current 33, company officials said Friday. Japan Post Co., a subsidiary of state-owned Japan Post Holdings Co., will also consider scrapping some of the 221 contract post offices which have been temporarily closed under the postal privatization scheme since 2007, the officials said.

The Contractor's Perspective: Is mail dead? Let's ask Google, the ubiquitous source of all things online. This should be a lay-up on the home court of those who would say yes. And guess what. The top ten results for a Google search of "Is mail dead?" produces seven articles on why e-mail is dead, two unrelated articles, and one article on why direct mail is not dead. The primary reason that mail will not die is that it still works.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  

  • PostalOne!® Release 37.2 Deployment- This release repairs known issues in PostalOne!® and also includes database maintenance activities. The deployment will occur during the scheduled maintenance window of 4:00 a.m. CT through 8:00 a.m. CT on Sunday, April 6, 2014. There will be an outage during the maintenance release, i.e. the application will be unavailable. A mandatory Mail.dat® client download will be available immediately following the software update. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 37.2 can be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2014/releaseoverview2014.cfm .
  • PostalOne! Release 37.2 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will occur also on Sunday, April 6, 2014, TEM will be unavailable from 4:00 a.m. CT thru 10:00 a.m. CT.

Global Post: Ukraine's post office has asked its foreign counterparts to stop sending it mail destined for breakaway Crimea because it can no longer deliver it, the Universal Postal Union said Friday. The Swiss-based UPU said postal service Ukrposhta had told it the ongoing crisis in the region had created "difficulties delivering postal items" to Crimea, which was taken over by Russia last month. "Ukrposhta therefore asks the designated operators of UPU member countries to suspend the dispatching to Ukraine of any international postal items addressed to the Crimea," it said in a statement. The Black Sea peninsula has been the subject of a geopolitical tug-of-war since massive protests by pro-European Ukrainians ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych in February. Crimea then voted to split from Ukraine and was taken over by Russia, which argued it needed to protect the rights of the peninsula's majority Russian-speaking population. Ukraine says the separatist referendum and annexation violated international law, and the moves have been widely condemned by the international community.

On the Record: Greta Van Susteren: "'It is still a crime': US Postmaster General, Greta face off over government credit card abuse charges against postal workers."

AllAfrica.com: In an age when many opt for the email and other instantaneous communication systems, the postal services appear still to remain very relevant in Namibia. The future of the local postal services sector was given more backing on Monday when the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joël Kaapanda, announced in parliament that Nampost would open five new post offices later this year. The planned opening of new post offices will bring to 141 the number of post offices scattered across the country.

Office of the Inspector General: "Enhancing the Value of Mail Follow Up: Discussion Forum Recap" -- "Although mail still elicits a strong emotional response, people are beginning to expect more than a static advertising experience. Mailpieces can connect recipients with ways to purchase products or services; mailpieces can also work seamlessly with other vehicles to promote the brand. Most importantly, marketers and mailers can take simple steps to increase the impact of their mailpieces. These and other points were established in a recent forum discussion hosted by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) with marketing and mail industry leaders. Highlights of the forum are detailed in a new paper just released by the OIG."

The Forum: City and state officials fired back against the United Parcel Service's firing of 20 Queens drivers this week by threatening to cut contracts that save the company tons of cash. The delivery service notified 250 of its workers of their pending termination last month and passed out its first 20 pink slips on Monday, with potentially more to follow. City Public Advocate Letitia James helped lead a booming rally on the steps of City Hall Thursday morning in protest of the company's actions, which a UPS spokesman said came in reaction to workers walking off the job in February to support a fired co-worker. James stood alongside several city and state officials, including City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), City Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who used the platform as a reminder to UPS that the company saves millions of dollars each year through various contracts and parking breaks, which they threatened to have revoked. "We will not stand by idly when New York City workers are being mistreated," James said. "They must come to the table and revoke these terminations."

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

  • USPS FULL-SERVICE INTELLIGENT MAIL OUTREACH PROGRAM Reserve your webinar seat now: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/282619417 Join the Association for Postal Commerce for a FREE webinar on Tuesday, April 15 from 2:00-3:00 PM EDT, as Arlene Zisow, USPS Business Mail Support, Headquarters presents a comprehensive session about the Full-Service program including: Benefits, getting started, performance monitoring, and reporting. This will be a great forum for you to ask questions related to any aspect of Full-Service and the reporting of data.
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission has issued its Annual Compliance Determination. The Commission found that 18 of the 42 workshare discount were not in compliance with Section 3622(e), of which 15 of those 18 the USPS did not propose statutory exception therefore the Commission found them out of compliance. It also found that four competitive products did not cover attributable costs and did not comply with the law: Parcel Return Service Contract 4, International Priority Airmail (IPA), International Air Parcel Post (at non-Universal Postal Union (UPU) rates), and International Money Transfer Service – Outbound. The Commission ordered the Postal Service to take corrective action. Concerning Standard Mail Flats, the Commission finds that progress is being made toward addressing the issues raised by the Commission in the FY 2010 ACD. As a result, no further remedial action is required at this time. For Periodicals, in the FY 2014 ACR, the Postal Service must provide a detailed analysis of the progress made in improving Periodicals cost coverage.
  • The Postal Service published its unaudited February results with the Postal Regulatory Commission. USPS lost $381 million in February 2014. The Postal Service's controllable operating INCOME for the month was $166 million.
  • According to the USPS Inspector General, "On average, the underserved spend almost a tenth of their income on interest and fees. To put that into perspective, that's about the same portion of income that the average American spends on food. The Postal Service could add a much-needed element of trust to that market, serving as a place where everyday people could turn to get transparent financial products that won't break the bank."
  • New hires mean more ‘return to sender' mail. Want a job? Delivery, or protect. Why Gmail and other email services aren't really free. Direct Mail's dynamic duo gird for a fight on the Senate floor. Based on a falsehood, Ryan budget would plunder USPS. Postal Service dragging its feet on fixing periodicals. Johnson introduces legislation to name a post office. House GOP budget would cut compensation for postal workers. PBSA Survey from MTAC User Group #5 due April 8, 2014. Undervaluing Royal Mail shares costs taxpayer 750m in one day.
  • Announcements of postal related filing in the Federal Register.
  • Announcements on recent reports, projects, and blog entries of the USPS OIG.
  • International postal news
  • Postal previews.
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American Postal Workers Union: Postal Support Employees should beware of management's latest ploy, union leaders are warning: Beginning in April, the Postal Service plans to ask non-career employees to take Voice of the Employee (VOE) surveys. Management is after a lot more than meets the eye, according to APWU Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy. "What management won't tell you is that historically the USPS has used the Voice of the Employee data against workers at the negotiating table," she said. The surveys have been a point of contention between the USPS and APWU since 1998, when management first cited survey data during bargaining; the APWU National Executive Board responded by adopting a resolution opposing "the use of surveys, focus groups, polls, audits, as a means of interviewing employees and union officials to evaluate job-related and internal issues."

April 3, 2014 

The Wall Street Journal: Italy will continue with its planned privatization of Poste Italiane SpA and aviation authority ENAV SpA, but selling off the state railway is "anachronistic," the country's transport minister said Wednesday.

Postalnews Blog: A message to all employees of the United States Postal Service from Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.

U.S. News: Attorney General Eric Holder said during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday that a surprising number of people use the U.S. Postal Service to ship illegal drugs. "The postal service, the mails are being used to facilitate drug dealing," Holder said. "It is shocking to see the amount of drugs that get pumped into communities all around this country through our mail system, and we have to deal with that." The nation's top law-enforcement official was responding to questions from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who said remote communities in her state were flush with drugs, including heroin and synthetic substances.

Federal News Radio: Nearly 250,000 letter carriers will get handheld devices that let them track packages in real time. It's part of a major technology upgrade at the Postal Service that the agency hopes will give it an edge over competitors like UPS and FedEx. Chief Information Officer Jim Cochrane has called the deal a "billion-dollar bet on the future of the shipping business." He joined Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp to explain the new device that enhances delivery infrastructure. .mp3

Chicago Tribune: Deutsche Post is no longer accepting letters bound for Crimea after its Ukrainian counterpart told the Geneva-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) that delivery to the region was no longer guaranteed, the German postal company said on Thursday. A Deutsche Post spokesman said that Ukraine's advisory to the UPU after Russia's annexation of Crimea also affects delivery of parcels and packages sent via the traditional postal networks of both countries.

By unanimous vote, the Association for Postal Commerce Executive Committee voted unanimously (in behalf of the PostCom board) to award long-time PostCom board member Joe Lubenow Director-Emeritus status in recognition of his extraordinary work at the Universal Postal Union on the development of comprehensive postcode systems for posts around the world.

Financial Times: Russia's shoppers are buying more goods online than ever before. E-retail sales have grown at a rate of around 26 per cent a year and 57 per cent of non-grocery retail spending is now made online. This may seem odd for a nation that prefers to pay in cash and doesn't have a reliable postal service, both typically important for e- retail. Attitudes to other payment methods are changing, however, and some home grown businesses have adapted their approach to suit Russian preferences. The number of Russian households with internet access exceeded those without for the first time in 2013, according to a report by PwC. Home internet penetration is projected to grow to 68 per cent by 2017, reaching 38m households. More significantly, the number of people with mobile internet is increasing. In 2013, 41 per cent of respondents of PwC's survey said that they use their mobile phone for shopping. About 61m people in Russia (43 per cent of the population) have mobile internet, which is expected to rise to 100m by 2017. But while consumers in Russia may be happy to buy online, they often prefer to pay in cash.

Post & Parcel: New Zealand Post has sold its social media website business Localist for an undisclosed sum, understood to be in the region of $8m ($6.82m USD). The postal operator said it sold the subsidiary to a group led by Localist's chief executive, Christine Domecq. Localist was launched in 2011 to provide information on local businesses in the Auckland area, including consumer-produced reviews. It launched into Wellington last year, with plans for a national roll out in 2013/14. The company started looking for a investment partner for the project in October 2012, to help accelerate the website's growth. Yesterday New Zealand Post said selling Localist was part of its strategy to focus on the core business.

The Crimson White: In the state of Alabama, many individuals resort to payday and title loan dealers to pay off regular expenses. Sixty-nine percent of first- time borrowers are taking out a payday loan for regular expenses such as rent, utilities and food. They often become trapped in a cycle of having to pay off loans that can last well beyond the original 14- or 30-day borrowing period. The average borrower will be indebted five months out of the year. These loans have extremely high annual percentage rates, and companies mostly don't examine the debt-to-net income ratios. For a 30-day title loan, the APR is 300 percent, and for a 14-day payday loan, the APR is 456 percent. Almost half of the lenders are based outside of Alabama, so we do not receive the full benefit of their profits or taxes. A surprising way to solve these issues came up recently. A report by the USPS' inspector general was picked up by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, progressives and groups such as the public interest Appleseed Network, and it was based on the idea of post office banks.

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission PROPOSED RULES Periodic Reporting (Proposals One through Two) , 18661–18662 [2014–07399] [TEXT] [PDF]

Government Executive: The House Republican budget considered in committee Wednesday would require U.S. Postal Service employees to pay more for health care, using that reform and others to save $19 billion over 10 years. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., targeted USPS employees in his budget blueprint as part of a larger effort to find cuts through the federal workforce. Ryan's plan would also impose pension contribution hikes on all federal employees and reduce the size of the workforce through attrition measures. Ryan pointed to the Postal Service's large unfunded liabilities and continued losses to justify the need for reductions at the agency.

April 2, 2014 

♪♫"Oh I heard it -- Heard It -- Yes, I heard it through the grapevine. . . ." ♫♪  
"Advisory Opinion? We don't need no stinking advisory opinion."
Word has it that the Postal Service intends to press ahead with its load leveling program despite concerns cited by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

From Sen. Ron Johnson: S. 2185: A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 123 South 9th Street in De Pere, Wisconsin, as the "Corporal Justin D. Ross Post Office Building". [EdNote: Well, he's learned how to name a post office. Let's hope he can learn how to save the post office AND the private sector's businesses that drive postal commerce AND actually pay for the nation's universal mail delivery system.]

Reuters: Deutsche Post, the world's biggest postal and logistics group, is betting on emerging markets and an e-commerce boom to boost profits through 2020, it said on Wednesday in unveiling its new medium- term financial targets. The company, which grew into a global logistics conglomerate after going public in 2000, forecast its annual operating profit would increase by an average of more than 8 percent annually through 2020, driven mainly by its DHL logistics businesses. See also Bloomberg.

The Telegraph: David Cameron has accused Ed Miliband of attacking the sale of Royal Mail because he is "paid by the trade unions". The Prime Minister said the sale of Royal Mail was a cause for "celebration" because it had generated £2 billion for the Exchequer and granted shares to thousands of postal workers. He said Labour had criticised the sale on the orders of trade unions that donate to the Labour Party.

The Cap Times: The U.S. Postal Service has been a favorite whipping boy in recent years of many Republicans in Congress. Congressman Darrell Issa, the scorched-earth California Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is quite open about his determination to end the USPS as Americans have come to know it. He and many of his GOP colleagues believe the service is too expensive, that its practice of delivering mail to every American address — residential or commercial — six days a week needs to be cut back so that it can relieve itself of a good share of its employees, who account for about 80 percent of expenses. What the anti-post office politicians probably don't know is that the U.S. Postal Service has long been and still is a major employer of American veterans.

Office of the Inspector General: "Readiness for Package Growth – Customer Service Operations Management Advisory Report" -- "Customer Service Operations has successfully managed periods of package growth, employee workhours, and scan rates at delivery units. However, opportunities exist to enhance readiness by improving acceptance scan rates, decreasing customer wait time in line during the holiday mailing season, enabling the Passive Adaptive Scanning System revenue-protection function, and reducing the number of non-barcoded packages to provide end-to-end tracking for customers. Overcoming these challenges could improve the Postal Service's competitiveness in the package business."

AsiaOne: The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has imposed a financial penalty of $30,000 on SingPost Ltd for a breach of its Public Postal Licence condition. IDA had investigated into the incident of missing mail on 5 September 2013 at Woodlands Circle and found SingPost in breach of its licence which requires it to establish, maintain and comply with measures and procedures to ensure that the risk of loss, theft and damage to letters is minimised.

BusinessLife: Jersey Post will be amending its postal rates with effect from Wednesday 23rd April 2014. In the first rise for two years, the changes will see a penny increase for local and UK Letters of less than 100g. At the same time, small packet rates will remain static or are being reduced, which it's hoped will assist small and micro businesses. The key rates will be Local Letter (up to 100g) at 46p (from 45p in 2012/2013) and UK, IOM and Other CI Letter (up to 100g) at 56p (from 55p in 2012/2013). The price increases reflect three key pressures: (1) The impact of cost increases over the last two years, including those implemented by Royal Mail. (2) The removal of Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) for products exported from the Island. Jersey Post continues to achieve efficiency savings where possible but the effect on the company following the loss of LVCR has been dramatic. Sales are nearly 50% lower than two years ago, some £30 million less. (3) The continuing financial impact of falling letter mail volumes coupled with an increasing number of households to deliver to.

Post & Parcel: The Dutch postal regulator has launched an investigation into competition concerns within the unsorted business mail market in the Netherlands. Changes to the 2009 Postal Act, which came into effect in January this year, have given the Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM) increased powers to intercede in the postal market if it believes competition is being unnecessarily restricted. The regulator held a public consultation exercise in January and February to seek views on whether there were problems in the Dutch postal market.

Dead Tree Edition: Postal officials, who frequently complain about losing money on Periodicals mail, bear much of the blame for that loss, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission. "The Commission is increasingly concerned that the Postal Service's Periodicals pricing strategy is leading to inefficient mailer preparation," the commission wrote recently in its review of 2013 postal rates, echoing a complaint that magazines have been making for the past decade. "The inefficient pricing signals being sent by the Postal Service's prices prevent the Postal Service from maximizing contribution from Periodicals. Further, the inefficient price signals are increasingly creating winners and losers within the Periodicals class." Postal officials never have offered a plausible explanation for the USPS's allegedly escalating costs for handling Periodicals.
 

THE POSTAL WORLD AWAITS
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) at the National Postal Forum (NPF) provided session attendees with highlights of its soon to be published "2014 Strategic Guide for Flats Planning." The Guide will outline the USPS' strategies to "increase the profitability of flats, both for the USPS and for industry users." Attendees were told:
The USPS strategies focus on product growth, service improvement, and cost reduction/efficiency improvement.

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act , 18590 [2014–07452] [TEXT] [PDF]

Los Angeles Times: David C. Williams, USPS OIG -- Drive through the dilapidated main strip in Terry, Miss., and it's easy to see that the town of 1,063 is a hardscrabble place. And last month, life there got harder when the last bank branch in town closed, leaving in the lurch residents who have long depended on it as a convenient place to manage their money. The same thing is happening in countless other small towns and inner-city neighborhoods across the country, which have been left behind as banks adjust to new financial realities by shuttering branches by the thousands. The vast majority of the closures have hit poor areas, and residents are often left having to rely on other types of costly financial services. But these towns and neighborhoods all still have one beloved asset: a post office. And if ideas my agency outlined in a recent report come to fruition, those post offices could offer residents basic, affordable financial services, including prepaid cards, check cashing, bill payments and perhaps even small advances.

Solomon Star: Solomon Islands Postal Corporation violated the Universal Postal Union Convention when it temporarily closed its Auki office in Malaita. That's according to former deputy chief executive officer Sione Kelly. He said under the convention, Solomon Post is required to give a three-month notice to the public about closing its office before it could do so. "By failing to meet this requirement, Solomon Post has violated an international convention that every postal service organisation needs to adhere to," Mr Kelly said.

Wall Street Journal: Amazon.com has quietly rolled out a new service to let customers return unwanted merchandise using large metal lockers it has installed for deliveries in garages, convenience and grocery stores in major metropolitan areas.

American Postal Workers Union: The postal provisions in the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on April 1 are a "thinly-veiled attempt to plunder the Postal Service — to slash service, cut workers' benefits, and render our great national treasure ripe for privatization," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

April 1, 2014

PR Newswire: The Postal Service has printed 100 additional sheets of stamps of the recently issued $2 Inverted Jenny stamp but with the plane flying right-side up. These very limited edition stamps were circulated with the recent issue of stamps mimicking the most famous stamp error in U.S. history. Customers who purchased the new Inverted Jenny stamp could have a very limited edition of the famous stamp. Unique to this stamp issuance, all sheets were individually wrapped in a sealed envelope to recreate the excitement of finding an Inverted Jenny when opening the envelope and to avoid the possibility of discovering a corrected Jenny prior to purchase. "We are leveraging the incredible story behind the rare collectible as a creative way to generate interest in stamp collecting while highlighting the role the Post Office Department had in developing the commercial aviation industry," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. Individuals purchasing 'corrected Jenny sheets' will find a congratulatory note inside the wrapping asking them to call a phone number to receive a certificate of acknowledgement signed by the Postmaster General.

Entrepreneur: There are many details that go into setting up a direct mail campaign. If you establish a set of procedures to follow for each mailing and use a checklist to guide you, scheduling your campaign can be much faster and easier than you think. Include the following items on your direct mail campaign checklist....

Postal Technology International:


PostCom Members!!
The latest issue of PostCom's Postal Executives Issues Update has been posted on this site.

The Guardian: Business secretary Vince Cable has refused to apologise over the government's privatisation of Royal Mail, despite a scathing report from the National Audit Office which said undervaluing the share sale cost the taxpayer £750m in a single day. In a lively debate in the House of Commons, Cable defended the controversial float last October, after coming under fire from shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna and other MPs. "The last thing I intend to do is apologise", Cable said. He insisted that the privatisation had been a "success" and that there had been a real risk that the flotation could have failed if the shares had been priced higher. "We've taken a lossmaking public enterprise and turned it into a successful public company," he added. He accused Labour itself of selling state assets off on the cheap.

Direct Marketing News: Mailers will be ecstatic to learn that, though they've found a new ally on HSGAC in Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, Collins will be in the middle of the fray if and when the new Postal Reform Act of 2014 (PRA) hits the Senate floor in the coming months. Baldwin's proposed amendment to dump the bill's Section 301—which would make exigency permanent, adjust rates using CPI plus 1%, and remove rate-setting powers from PRC—was diverted by a "second degree" amendment that PRA drafters Tom Carper and Tom Coburn rammed through committee. Baldwin was not amused. She intends to fight it on the floor, and with Collins by her side.

Direct Marketing News: The Postal Service dispensed workshare discounts in 42 classes of mail last year in which the amount of the discount was greater than the operational cost savings realized, according the Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) Annual Compliance Determination Report. But while USPS had sufficient strategic grounds for the majority of these so-called passthroughs, PRC determined that 18 of them fell short of statutory compliance. The PRC's newly released Compliance report demands that some resolution of the Standard Flats issue be set in motion. "We're saying [the Postal Service] should address those areas that cause concerns with [its] financial situation," Goldway says. "The two areas we point out are giving away money in work-sharing and not covering costs, and in Standard Flats. Something has to change."

Post & Parcel: New Zealand Post has won a contract to provide delivery and supply chain services for the largest bricks-and-mortar electronics retailer in Australia and New Zealand. The deal is being operated in partnership with Australia Post, with New Zealand Post handling the New Zealand part of the arrangements so that Dick Smith can expand its business across Australasia. New Zealand Post will run the retailer's warehouse operation in South Auckland, with 21 employees transferring to the Post. The state-owned postal service will also take over distribution of products to 61 Dick Smith stores across New Zealand. It will also support the retailer's e-commerce activities, delivering items bought online direct to the consumer.

Office of the Inspector General: "Information Storage Security Audit Report" -- "The Data Management Services group did not manage the storage environment in accordance with Postal Service security requirements because its managers did not provide adequate oversight of the storage teams. They did not, for example, conduct periodic employee access reviews. The absence of proper security practices and training increases the likelihood of an adverse impact on Postal Service operations, such as an outage of a customer-dependent system. In addition, the Corporate Information Security Office did not provide guidance for storage environments as it has for operating systems, databases, and telecommunication security. Establishing minimum security expectations for storage environments can reduce the likelihood of critical system and application outages throughout Postal Service operations."

InsuranceNewsNet: More than 250 delegates from the United Nations family, including the World Customs Organization, the International Telecommunications Union and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, as well as leading e-tailers, e-commerce associations and Posts provided insight into the challenges of cross-border e-commerce, still in its infancy compared to domestic e-commerce. And the message was clear: to catch the wave, stakeholders must get in the game early and adopt a coordinated approach. "E-commerce needs networks that are efficient, intelligent and secure, and that requires the cooperation of all stakeholders," said UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein. Anticipating the rise of e-commerce and trade and the need for simplified and integrated postal solutions, the UPU, at its 2012 Congress in Doha, created groups under its Postal Operations Council to deal with e-services and e-commerce and find solutions to main challenges facing postal operators and other stakeholders. The creation of an international merchandise return solution is in the works, among other activities.

City A.M.: What they saw in Royal Mail five months ago was a company with strong leadership that had been consistently growing profits (from £12m in the second half of 2011 to £144m a year later) and upping its presence in the lucrative parcels delivery market. The business case made sense; Royal Mail dominates the UK's letter and small parcel deliveries, and was handed much more freedom to raise prices following Ofcom reforms in 2012 – a point it proved yesterday when first class stamps jumped 2p to 62p and second class by 3p to 53p. It's also managed to avoid expensive strike action, and slashed outgoings further this month when it said it would cut a net 1,300 management jobs – a move it says will lead to annual cost savings of £50m. Five months on, analysts are split on the shares' value. Early buyers (and subsequent sellers) have made huge profits on their investments, but there's little to suggest that those who've stuck around don't have a decent, long-term income stock on their books.

Post & Parcel: Poste Italiane maintained its profits at just above the EUR 1bn mark in 2013, according to its latest results. The universal postal service provider in Italy said it achieved a "strong performance" last year despite a "highly uncertain" economic backdrop and the ongoing decline in the postal business, thanks to its strategy of diversifying its services. Financial services and insurance products helped the company generate a total revenue of EUR 26bn in 2013, up 8% on the previous year. Poste Italiane said the "substantial costs" of its universal postal service dragged down its results since these costs were only partly compensated by the government.

Daily Times: The Senate Standing Committee on Communication and Postal Services expressed its annoyance and displeasure on Monday over what it described as poor knowledge of the issues reflected in a seemingly dubious briefing given by the senior officials of the Pakistan Post and Post Foundation to the lawmakers.

The Times: The taxpayer has ended up more than £1 billion out of pocket in the privatisation of the Royal Mail after City investors ran rings around ministers who ended up significantly underpricing the state postal network's stock market flotation. That is the verdict today of a damning National Audit Office inquiry into the Royal Mail initial public offering last autumn which concludes that ministers should never again rely so heavily on their City advisers. Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the NAO report showed that Vince Cable's Business Department was "clueless".  See also The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Scotsman.

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