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 believe are worth defending."

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This Month in the Postal World:

February 28, 2014 

Milwaukee Business Journal: A bill seeking to increase bulk mailing postal rates isn't setting well with commercial and specialty printer Quad/Graphics Inc., especially at a time when the printing industry is at a tipping point, said CEO Joel Quadracci.

Columbia Tribune: As the financially beleaguered U.S. Postal Service has tallied smaller losses in recent months, the organization has furthered delayed the decision of whether the Columbia mail-processing facility will be closed down. The Postal Service announced last month it would delay a second round of processing plant closures, which had been scheduled for Feb. 1. It has not announced a new date for closures and will issue a public notice 90 days before a new implementation date.

Office of Inspector General: White Paper: Revenue Performance to Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013.

Industry Alert: Intelligent Mail package barcodes (IMpb) Webinar Series. The USPS is hosting a series of informational webinars to assist mailers with their transition to the use of Intelligent Mail package barcodes (IMpb). The webinars will be held the second Tuesday of each month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. (EDT). Please visit us on the USPS Industry Outreach website to view the upcoming webinar schedule and webinar archive presentations.  A link to the recordings for archived presentations can be found on the title page of the presentation. Prior to each webinar, you will receive an Industry Alert outlining the webinar topic and attendee information. We look forward to your participation during the following scheduled webinars:

The Street: The way the president of the American Postal Workers Union sees it, the post office has two ways to go. One is downscale, letting Staples workers sell its products as its business diminishes. The alternatives, Mark Dimondstein said, are to have post office work done by post office employees, who receive middle-class salaries, and also for the post office to offer financial services to the 68 million Americans who are generally unbanked and utilize payday lenders and other less desirable financial services. 

Yahoo Finance: India's first postal saving bank ATM has been launched in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on a trial basis for six months. The ATM was inaugurated by finance minister P Chidambaram at the Head Post Office in Thyagaraya Nagar in Chennai as part of the Information Technology (IT) modernization project initiated by the Department of Posts, reported The Hindu.

TMC Net:  The National Association for Printing Leadership issued the following news release: The consolidated Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP), National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), and National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP) is developing and hosting the inaugural Solutions Theater during the 2014 National Postal Forum (NPF), March 16-19 at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. The new Solutions Theater will feature more than a dozen experts from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), as well as a number of mail-related fields. "The National Postal Forum is the premier gathering for anyone involved in a mailing-related business and offers an unparalleled program of educational sessions on issues touching those providing printing, mailing, fulfillment, or marketing services," says Ken Garner, Chief Operating Officer of the association, which was formed by the merger of AMSP and NAPL in January.

BBC: The price of a first-class stamp is to increase by 2p to 62p while a second-class stamp will go up 3p to 53p, Royal Mail has announced. Also from 31 March, a large letter first-class stamp up to 100g will rise by 3p to 93p and a large letter second-class stamp will increase by 4p to 73p. Despite the increases, Royal Mail insisted its prices were "amongst the best value for money in Europe". Two years ago the cost of a first-class stamp jumped from 46p to 60p. Royal Mail said that under the current regulatory framework, it could have increased second-class stamps by 7p, instead of the 3p it chose to. [EdNote: Wow. Just like giving the USPS Governors the right to raise rates whenever they want to whatever they want.]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Amazon is working with the local district of the U.S. Postal Service to roll out Sunday delivery in the St. Louis region by mid-March, a move that’s expected to put additional pressure on local retailers. The online retailer, which has been breathing down the necks of brick-and-mortar stores for years, made a big splash in November when it first announced that it had partnered with the Postal Service to make Sunday delivery of packages a reality. It launched the service in the New York and Los Angeles metro areas. Amazon said at the time that it would expand Sunday delivery to “a large portion of the U.S. population in 2014” and said some of those new markets would include Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix. St. Louis was not specifically mentioned. But leaders of the local postal unions said they had been told that the target date for Sunday delivery in this region was March 16.

Belarusian Telegraph Agency: In 2013 Belarus’ main post service Belpochta delivered over 2 million of international parcels to Belarusian residents, up almost 3 times from 2012, BelTA learnt from the press service of the Ministry of Communications and Information. The development of internet trading contributed to the increase of incoming mail. In 2013 an estimated 772 tonnes of letters and small parcels were received, up 70% from 2012. Thus, the export of postal services soared more than $1.4 million.

Office of the Inspector General: Inbound China ePacket Costing Methodology Audit Report. WHAT THE OIG FOUND: The Postal Service did not isolate the cost of China ePackets, which limits its ability to establish effective pricing strategies. Although China Post sorts and dispatches ePackets separately from other mailpieces, the Postal Service did not calculate ePacket cost data separately from other letter post mailpieces or report it separately in the annual performance report to the Postal Regulatory Commission. ePacket volume and revenue have increased, but the Postal Service still lost at least $39 million during FYs 2011 and 2012. Until accurate costs for ePackets can be identified and used as a basis for pricing, the risk of revenue loss for ePackets remains high. The Postal Service could also pursue a product classification change for inbound letter post packets, which could increase revenue from China Post and other business partners in emerging global markets.

 
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February 27, 2014 

American Postal Workers Union: Many APWU members have asked, “What makes the Staples program so important? How is it different from the other programs that outsource postal retail functions – the grocery stores that sell stamps and the Village Post Offices in hardware stores and gas stations in small towns?” “The difference is the scale,” said Clerk Craft Director Clint Burleson. “We’re not happy about Village Post Offices or grocery stores selling stamps, either,” he said. “But Staples is a national chain with 1,600 stores. And the Staples postal units are performing many of the functions our retail clerks perform. The USPS Five-Year Business Plan dated April 2013 reports that 40 percent of retail operations are provided through “alternative access,” including personal computers, stamps-only sales at grocery stores and other outlets, Burelson pointed out. “Contract Postal Units account for less than 2 percent of retail revenue,” he noted. “But if the Staples plan takes hold, it would be another major step toward full-scale privatization of retail operations.”

Staten Island Advance: A female worker at the Manor Road Post Office in Castleton Corners beat a supervisor, cursing and threatening to kill the woman during a heated dispute Monday, police allege.

If your have not yet registered for one or more of these events please do so as soon as possible. CRRI will hold another Workshop on the Future of Postal Service at the Offices of K&L Gates in Washington DC at the offices of K&L Gates. The program may be viewed at http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/WS14A.pdf

Discussant and Chair openings are available in the Eastern Conference. Please let me know if you are interested in being a chair/discussant. http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/EC14.pdf

CNET: Almost 90 percent of American adults surveyed use the Internet, and almost all say that the Internet has been a good thing for them personally. Among the 1,000 American adults surveyed by Pew Research in January, 87 percent now use the Internet. That number is even higher for certain groups. Internet use was claimed by 99 percent of people in households that earn $75,000 or more, 97 percent of adults ages 18-29, and 97 percent of those with college degrees. A full 68 percent of those polled connect to the Internet via mobile devices. On a related note, ownership of cell phones jumped to 90 percent in the new poll from 53 percent in Pew's first survey back in 2000. Smartphone ownership surged to 58 percent this year from 35 percent in 2011.

 30
 
World Mail & Express Europe
Berlin, Germany
17-19 June, 2014
wmxEurope_emblem_final_small

St. Petersburg Times: The government will end an $85 million annual subsidy to the postal service for newspaper and magazine deliveries, heralding sharp increases in the price of subscriptions and major problems for independent print media — likely reducing their access to Russia's regions. Russian Post has been receiving 3 billion rubles ($85 million) annually to offset delivery costs, but in the planned federal budget for 2015 — which enters into force in July 2014 — that line item has disappeared. Costs will be transferred onto the shoulders of readers, and the price of subscriptions is likely to rise by 30 to 50 percent.

The Postal Service would like you to believe its postal monopolies don't exist. Think again.
Wanna deliver mail on your own? Better have one of these in your pocket.
Check here for important information about
S. 1486 and the monopoly-protected U.S. Postal Service

Now why does the USPS want to hornswoggle Congress with such disinformation?
The monopolies plainly exist in USC Titles 39 and 18.

Osoyoos Times: If you want to drop off or pick up a parcel on a Saturday afternoon in Osoyoos, you will now have the opportunity. That’s because Canada Post has signed an official partnership agreement with Pam Davis and Jolly Gill, the pharmacists/owners of the Pharmasave, located on 78 Street in downtown Osoyoos as the most recent addition to its retail network. The new postal outlet officially opened for service last week and will offer all standard Canada Post products and services in addition to extended business hours.

The Times of India: This Mahashivatri if you are unable to go for Bholenath's darshan then too there is no need to worry as you can easily get the prasad at your doorstep through postal services. Director postal services, Allahabad region Krishna Kumar Yadav said as per an agreement between the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Trust of Varanasi and Department of Posts, prasad of Kashi Vishwanath Mandir will be made available at the home of devotees through post. Under this scheme devotees will have to send a money order of Rs 60 to senior superintendent of post offices, Varanasi (East) and in return the devotee will get 'Bhabhuti' of the temple, 'Rudraksh' , a laminated photo of Lord Shiva and Shiva Chalisha as prasad from Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Trust.

Office of the Inspector General: Transportation Management Service Provider Shipping Process Audit Report

"The postal devil you know is better than the devil you don't."
So you actually know the postal devil? 
Good! 'Cause with the Carper-Coburn substitute
You're well on your way to postal hell!

Warsaw Business Journal: Polish postal operator has started negotiations with postal companies in Asia to install 170 of its parcel lockers (paczkomaty) in various countries. The company made a presentations recently in Hong Kong showcasing their products to various potential partners and according to the firm representatives it was a “great success.”

From the Federal Register:  Postal Service RULES Requirements for Authority to Manufacture and Distribute Postage Evidencing Systems , 10994–10995 [2014–03539] [TEXT] [PDF]

Business Standard: Soon car manufacturers, e-commerce can use postal service With traditional business dwindling, Postal Department looking for new avenues.

Federal News Radio: Is it time for federal and postal unions to rethink their long-time BFF relationship with Democrats in Congress and the White House? Over the past four decades, federal unions — at least at the leadership level — have become totally predictable when it come to picking sides. Democrats now take their support for granted. Federal unions staunchly supported the nomination and reelection of the President. He publicly and repeatedly pledged to make federal service "cool again." And it worked. For a while.

February 26, 2014 

The Load Star: The Canadian all-cargo carrier, which makes the lion's share of its money from providing overnight linehaul on trunk routes across Canada to the major integrators, is going to add six 767-300 freighters as well as three more B757-200Fs to its line-up. The expansion, a rare phenomenon for a freighter operator these days, is driven by Cargojet's successful bid for a seven-year contract with Canada Post worth an estimated C$1bn in revenue. The deal calls for Cargojet to provide nationwide lift for the postal agency's traffic, including volumes of Canada Post subsidiary Purolator, the largest express parcel operator in the country.

S. 1486 -- Forcing American mailers to stuff the monopoly postal piggy.
S. 1486's cure for the postal fiscal headache is to make the USPS
a totally deregulated monopoly. The USPS' Rx?

"Take two exigencies and call me in the morning."

Ahram: Savings with Egypt's Postal Authority, mostly used by low income individuals in rural areas, sees a 19.7 percent boost in 2012/13 compared to a year earlier. Deposits in Egypt's Postal Authority savings fund are mostly made by low income individuals, mainly in rural areas where no commercial banks are available.

National Post: In less than a decade, digital communication has eaten away at the core business of Canada Post, putting at risk a corporation that had survived 250 years of dramatic change. By 2012, we delivered one billion fewer pieces of mail than we did just six years earlier. Cost reductions across our operations in recent years have helped, but fundamental changes were required to avoid large financial losses. With that, and the changing postal needs of Canadians, we announced what is viewed as one of the boldest postal initiatives ever undertaken: Canada Post would be the first post office in the world to phase out door-to-door mail delivery. Even with compelling reasons supporting the move, it was not a decision taken lightly. Our challenges are unique. Canada Post cannot simply import a solution and expect it to work for us. That would be a huge mistake.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Sen. John Hoeven says the U.S. Postal Service will grant pay increases and bonuses to recruit and retain mail carriers in western North Dakota's oil patch. Officials in North Dakota have been pushing the Postal Service to improve service in the western part of the state, which is bustling with oil activity Hoeven says the Postal Service and its union agreed on pay increases of up to 20 percent for rural carriers. Newly hired carriers also will receive hiring bonuses that total $1,000 after one year. Current carriers also get the same sum within a year.

A Postal "Monopoly" in the 21st Century? The great Trust Buster would not approve.

Check here for important information about
S. 1486 and the monopoly-protected U.S. Postal Service

(Yes, Virginia, there really was a time when Republicans thought a monopoly--let alone an unregulated government monopoly--was a bad thing.)

Stuff: The loss of more than 100 jobs at New Zealand Post in Wellington is just a "pre-cursor", a union official warns. The state-owned enterprise yesterday made the first major job cuts since it warned in November that up to 2000 positions would be axed in the next few years as it reshaped the business to cope with lower mail volumes. The closure of its call centre at Te Puni, in Petone, will see 44 jobs cut, while up to 70 "mainly in Wellington" will go in the finance team. Consolidation of call centres will see 30 new positions created by expanding call centres in Auckland and Christchurch. A spokeswoman for NZ Post said affected staff in Wellington would be offered relocation. But Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) spokesman Joe Gallagher said the option was "unrealistic for ordinary working people" and that news of the job cuts had left affected staff in Petone "devastated". "They're destroyed. They're in tears," Mr Gallagher said. Last year NZ Post revealed that 120 mail processing jobs would go at Te Puni as it cut its mail processing centres from six to three.

Tri States Public Radio: In an effort to protect good jobs and community service against privatization schemes on Capitol Hill and the marketplace, Postal Workers this month called for a boycott of Staples office-supply stores. Specifically accusing Republicans of trying to privatize mail processing and delivery to enhance profits for their campaign contributors by destabilizing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is demanding that Staples stop operating postal retail units staffed by non-postal employees.

USPS Reports:

The Postal Service would like you to believe its postal monopolies don't exist.
Think again....Or....Enjoy the trip.

Check here for important information about
S. 1486 and the monopoly-protected U.S. Postal Service

(Now why doesn't the USPS just fess up and admit it has TWO statutory monopolies - under USC Titles 39 and 18 - and that it wants to keep them?)

Common Dreams: Right-wing ideologues in Congress, along with the corporate executives now sitting atop the U.S. Postal Service, claim that in order to "save" this icon of Americana, they must decimate it. These geniuses are privatizing the workforce, selling off the invaluable community facilities and shrinking services. Hello — the workers, facilities and services are what make the post office iconic and give it such potential for even greater public use. The latest privatization maneuver comes disguised as a "partnership" with Staples, the big-box office supply chain. In a pilot program, 82 Staples outlets have opened "postal units" to sell the most popular (and most profitable) mail products. Rather than being staffed by well-trained and knowledgeable postal workers, however, the mini-PO's will have an ever-changing crew of Staples' low-wage, temporary sales clerks with weak performance standards and no public accountability.

Wall Street Journal: Japan's postal system, which runs one of the world's biggest banks as well as Japan's largest insurer, unveiled a nearly $13 billion investment plan Wednesday that it said would pave the way for a public offering next year. The share offering of Japan Post Group, which government officials have said could raise some $40 billion, would be one of the largest ever. But much remains uncertain, including whether the publicly traded company could engage in bread-and-butter financial businesses such as corporate and mortgage lending.

Wall Street Journal: Japan's giant postal service operator is launching a $13 billion spending program that could function as a mini-stimulus measure for the nation as Tokyo looks to keep a hard-won economic recovery on track. While the spending of about ¥400 billion a year is less than 10% of the government's most recent stimulus package of ¥5.5 trillion, it will still offer a useful nudge forward for an economy that is expected to hit a speed bump in April. That's when a sales tax increase is expected to start sapping consumption, a key driver of Japan's expansion under the pro-growth "Abenomics" policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The spending plan is aimed at better connecting Japan Post's vast network of 24,000 bank and postal offices nationwide and is likely to distribute money to every corner of the nation. [EdNote: Imagine that. A post that acts as a stimulus for its economy. Lately, the USPS has been acting more as a drag on the economy.]

PoliticsUSA: today I'm here to present some other distasteful facts as they directly relate to USPS. Let's start with a bill in the Senate hopper, S 1486, named (pause for laughter) the "Postal Reform Act." It hasn't been called up for a vote as yet, though introduced way back in August of 2013. S 1486 has already been marked up by its committee daddy. It probably won't hit the full Senate floor for a vote until sometime after the March 17-22 recess. That gives you time to contact the six DINO's (on this issue at least) and persuade them to get do-right minds! Why would a ‘no' vote be almost an imperative? There's no question in my mind that the sole purpose of S 1486 is to kill the Postal Service and leave its core business to complete privatization.

Houston Forward Times: After reporting in January that thousands of written letters were hand delivered to the Post Master General at their U.S. Postal Service headquarters in Washington D.C., the HFT has now learned that the U.S. Postal Service has once again placed signage at the Post Office announcing its plans to proceed with the relocation of the station. The Southmore Station Post Office, which has been designated a historic site in Third Ward, is the place where students marched from Texas Southern University's campus to perform the first sit- in demonstration in Houston. Those Black students challenged the segregated lunch counters at Weingarten Supermarket in 1960 and now there is a Texas Historical Commission marker at the site that commemorates the non-violent protests that helped integrate public facilities.

Salon: Ever since the inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service authored a white paper endorsing the concept of postal banking, more advocates and policymakers have become intrigued. Postal banking is actually an old idea: Dozens of countries offer simple financial services through their posts, and here in America, Postal Savings Accounts served millions of customers from 1911-1967 (the post office still sells money orders today). But it could also fix a number of our current problems simultaneously, even ones you haven't thought about. Here are 10 different applications of postal banking, in order from most to least obvious.

Washington Post: The service issues this month were an anomaly brought about by the storm and a federal holiday. We apologize for any inconvenience they caused our customers. The U.S. Postal Service handled more than 158 billion pieces of mail last year, and the vast majority was delivered on time. Our goal is to always provide timely and accurate delivery for our customers.

Office of the Inspector General: Fiscal Year 2013 Postal Service Financial Statements Audit – Eagan Accounting Services. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

WSOC: United States Post Office officials are refusing to answer questions about two more employees with criminal convictions in their pasts. Eyewitness News first began questioning hiring practices at USPS in December 2013 after Channel 9 uncovered that a woman convicted of multiple criminal charges, including fraud, had been hired as the postmaster relief in Anson County. Tuesday, Channel 9 learned two more USPS employees who work at postal facilities in Charlotte also have criminal convictions.

KWCH: How safe is the mail you drop in postal boxes?White's mom thought she was paying her rent with a money order. She dropped the envelope in one of two big blue mail boxes along Lewis Street near downtown. But the landlord never got the money. They later found out the money order had been stolen. Turns out the name on it was altered and someone had cashed it at a local Walmart. White called police who she says told her that this kind of thing has been happening a lot. "The woman who took the police report said they take a stick and a glue board that you catch mice and bugs with," White says. She says the crooks push it down into the opening of the box and pull up whatever sticks.

KHOU: With Election Day a week away, some Dallas County voters might have a tough time voting in the primary. "It is my understanding that we had 90,000 that the post office returned," said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price about voter registration cards returned by the the U.S. Postal Service. While some of the cards were returned to senders because people moved and didn't leave a forwarding address, others were stamped incorrectly by a Postal Service employee who was fired. Those voters were placed on a "suspended voter" list.

February 25, 2014 

Welcome to another PostCom Podcast
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito and Michael Ravnitzky, chief counsel to the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission in a discussion about the whys and wherefores of "analytical principles rulemaking." Among the items discussed: (1) what is an analytical principle rulemaking, (2) how are they conducted, (3) how can they be initiated, and (4) why mailers should be interested in them as a regulatory option.

Bloomberg Businessweek: When politicians talk about fixing the financially imperiled U.S. Postal Service, they often claim their constituents would be devastated by the slightest changes in service. But what does the public think about postal reform? USPS Inspector General David Williams recently conducted a series of focus groups and found that the participants were surprisingly amenable to proposals that many of their elected officials have described as harebrained and dangerously radical.

Fierce Government: The Postal Service rebuked a USPS inspector general white paper on locality pay, saying there's no evidence that that Postal Service has retention problems in markets where cost of living is higher. Read more: Spotlight: USPS rebukes IG claim that flat wage hampers retention -

Reason: "3 Ways to Get More Americans Into Banking (That Don't Involve the U.S. Postal Service)"  Policymakers should get out of the way and let entrepreneurs offer financial services that fit the needs of low-income Americans.

Brand Republic: AstraZeneca's vice-president of global communications Neil McCrae is to join Royal Mail as deputy director of communications after nearly 20 years in the pharmaceutical sector.

Daily Mail: Banks told ministers that Royal Mail could be worth as much as £8.67billion, before they sold it off for just £3.3billion, it emerged today. A total of 21 banks drew up valuations as part of a bid to become members of the team which floated the firm on the stock exchange last year. All but four of even the lowest estimates were higher than the price Business Secretary Vince Cable sold the firm, which has since seen shares soar by 80 per cent.

Athens Banner-Herald: Residents of an Atlanta-area retirement home want to know why care packages they tried to send to U.S. troops overseas were left sitting in a nearby post office for months. WSB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1ht9fjp) that residents of the King's Bridge Retirement Community on Briarcliff Drive packed and sent more than 100 care packages. They were intended for troops serving in Afghanistan for Veterans Day, more than three months ago. But the packages only made it about a mile to a post office in DeKalb County. The U.S. Postal Service said in a statement that a paperwork error resulted in the mailing not being processed.

Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Postal Service is in a bind. All this may help to explain why the Postal Service issued a white paper in January proposing a new line of business: providing nonbank financial services to the "underserved" by handling bill payments, making small loans, offering international money transfers and so on. Many countries currently provide financial services through post offices. The U.S. Postal Service has a strong brand, a large footprint and even some experience with financial services: It sells money orders and, for about 50 years until 1967, it let people make savings deposits. The idea that the Postal Service can improve its finances while giving more people access to financial services is compelling. But my research into businesses that already provide such services makes me wonder about the wisdom of the Postal Service's proposal.

PRNewswire: By a margin of almost 4-to-1, Americans say they are more likely this year to use technology rather than paper and the U.S. mail to personally complete and file their state and federal tax returns. According to a new survey, 40% of taxpayers said they are most likely to use computers, tablets or smartphones. Only 11% said they would file their taxes using paper and send the forms in by mail. The survey was commissioned by Taxsoftware.com, which launched the first iPad app for federal tax returns in 2011. Percentages have been rounded up or down. "The survey is a more bad news for the U.S. Postal Service, and a reality check of how much we depend on technology to complete and file tax returns. It is ironic that our embrace of technology is helping one arm of the federal government (the Internal Revenue Service) to do their job, while making it more challenging for another part (the Postal Service) to do theirs," said Taxsoftware.com spokesperson Mickey Macedo. The survey was conducted January 20-29, 2014 by Google Surveys and has a margin of error of three percent. The survey consisted of a national sample of 5,426 adults 18 years of age or older from an online panel. The sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to U.S. Census data.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Pakistan Post has launched computerized financial services in all General Post Offices (GPOs) across the country. Senior officials of Pakistan Post informed the recently held National Assembly Standing Committee on Communications. The officials briefed the committee and informed that Pakistan Post has established Post Office at each union council.

Post & Parcel: Unions in Brazil have refused to end strike action affecting postal services in 13 states, after a request by the government's Deputy Attorney General of Labour to suspend action until a labour court can resolve the current dispute. Yesterday saw the National Federation of Postal Workers (Fentect) appearing at a conciliation hearing at the Superior Labour Court (TST) in Brasilia, to discuss proposals for striking postal staff to go back to work and allow the courts to decide on the dispute over healthcare funding. Fentect rejected the proposed offer, which could have seen striking workers required to make up only half their strike days when the dispute is over.

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Changes in Postal Rates for Certain Mail in Alaska , 10577–10578 [2014–03977] [TEXT] [PDF]

Office of the Inspector General: Serving up Self Service. Postal customers took fewer trips to the Post Office this past holiday season but that doesn't mean they spent less on postal products. They just conducted more business through alternative channels, such as online at USPS.com and self-service kiosks. Over the 2013 holiday season, transactions at brick-and-mortar post offices were down 8 percent compared to last year, but transactions through alternative access were up 17 percent, postal officials reported.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Dutch mail service PostNL NV's stock fell the most since United Parcel Service Inc. dropped a bid for the company's holding in TNT Express NV as it struggles to switch from letter deliveries to fast-expanding parcel handling. The shares declined as much as 22 percent after Post NL posted a net loss of 170 million euros ($234 million) for last year and cut its 2015 operating profit forecast by 40 million euros, citing pricing pressure in package-delivery operations.

CBS New York: Some Long Island residents think the U.S. Postal Service's motto needs to be revised. Debbie Resnick finally had mail delivered on Monday, for the first time since Wednesday. She said she's been stood up by the postman five days this month. "I think this is horrendous. I pay my taxes. I'm entitled to my mail," said Resnick, of Manhasset Hills. Resnick and her neighbors were incredulous that the Postal Service has been skipping days — and not just snow days. "The sun was shining and we didn't get any mail Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Resnick said. "My neighbors are all complaining and it's unheard of. I keep looking thinking it's even coming at 9 o'clock at night, but it doesn't come at all," Vera Zarenva of Manhasset Hills.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

February 24, 2014 

Canton Daily Ledger: Trying to protect good jobs and community service against privatization schemes on Capitol Hill and the market, Postal Workers this month called for a boycott of Staples office-supply stores.

"Those who actively pursue security, lose it."  -- Civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin (1968)

Live-PR: Globally, postal services play a key role in providing access to basic communication and transaction services. The worldwide postal infrastructure has been shrinking for over two decades, in terms of both outlets and numbers of full-time staff. Capitalizing on its large network, easy accessibility and trust among customers, postal operators across the globe are targeting unbanked and rural populations, SMEs, self-employed professionals, young consumers and senior citizens with financial products such as savings accounts, insurance, pension payment services, remittances services, loans and wealth management products. The financial services sector represents a significant opportunity for much-needed additional revenue for postal operators, either directly or through alliances with financial institutions. Many postal operators are also being urged to offer basic financial services such as payments, savings and microfinance to combat social and financial exclusion, particularly in poorer countries, or to better serve more remote geographical areas and isolated social groups. There is a significant potential for partnerships between postal operators and financial institutions, even in markets where postal operators and postal banks already offer a range of financial services. Alliances such as these could produce major financial rewards and deliver social dividends. For instance major banks in the UK such as Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds have formed partnerships with the UK Post Office to offer financial services.

Radio New Zealand: New Zealand Post says claims that it deliberately holds back standard mail to give its FastPost service a head start are incorrect. Woman reading public notice board, Matakana, Rodney. New Zealand post is denying claims that it is deliberately holding back post. The Postal Workers Union says there is a deliberate policy to hold back mail that has been processed and is ready for delivery but New Zealand Post says it has no such policy. Its general manager for postal deliveries, Matthew Riordan, told Morning Report standard mail must arrive within three days of being sent, and when it is ready it goes. Mail goes through multiple sorts, he says: "It's not just doing one sort and sitting there." He says a lot of standard mail is received a day earlier than intended and in January, 96.2 percent of all mail arrived on time.

Business World Online: Seeking to raise profits and become more relevant, state-owned Philippine Postal Corp. (PhlPost) yesterday launched three new services under the "Juan Click" monicker. Unveiled at the Manila Central Post Office were the Personalized Stamps, Pinoy e-Mall and PhlPost Mobile App for Social Pension Pay-out programs, which the firm said are "expected to generate revenues without compromising its mandate of providing the lowest possible costs for postal services."

Boston Business Journal: CB Richard Ellis is fighting back against a report from the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General criticizing the post office for putting itself at financial risk by allowing the commercial real estate firm to negotiate sales and leases of postal property on behalf of the agency while at the same time representing prospective buyers and renters. In an email response to the report, whose release was covered by the Business Journal last week, CBRE spokesman Robert McGrath defended the practice, known as "dual agency representation," that the inspector general said has the potential to create conflicts. McGrath said it is common industry practice for the selling broker, in this instance CBRE, to bring buyers to the table. Indeed, McGrath said, sellers expect it.

National Review: While Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) may proudly brand herself a populist, in her latest crusade she is casting her lot with the fat cats. Warren wants to bestow banking privileges upon the United States Postal Service (USPS), an organization with executives living high on the hog even as, by Warren's own admission, its "financial footing" is in doubt.

Sure....Mailers can sustain larger than inflation postal rate increases.
When pigs fly!

Vancouver 24 Hours: The City of Vancouver is going to have to shell out up to $140,000 more per year for its postage costs as a hefty Canada Post rate increase takes effect. The increase of up to 20% would bring the city's spending on snail mail close to $1 million based on its 2013 postage bill for $850,000. But as postage rates go up so does the amount of people using the Internet to deal with city businesses. Figures provided by the City of Vancouver show almost 75% of people renewing and registering for dog licences are using the online service rather than traditional mail. Meanwhile, business licence renewals done online are at 48% and residential parking permits are at 52%. Postage rates will go up to 75 cents from 63 cents for a regular letter starting March 31.

USA Today: So many startup founders seem to pride themselves on breaking all the rules. Not Tomar Alpert. Instead, it was a dutiful exercise in etiquette that prompted the Telluride-based entrepreneur to create Felt last year, an iPad app for mailing handwritten cards to recipients by way of the trusty ol' U.S. Postal Service. And, like a lot of risky-guy behaviors before it, it also had a little something to do with trying to impress a girl.

Watertown Daily Times: Cary R. Brick is a periodic contributor to Sunday Weekly. He is a native Northern New Yorker and resident of Clayton, where he is active in community affairs. He retired in 2000 from the staff of the U.S. Congress after a 30-plus career as senior aide to three successive Northern New York congressmen and retired again in January after 12 years of service as a member of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service. The committee selects subjects and designs for U.S. postage stamps and presents them to the postmaster general for his final consideration. At the time of his retirement he was chairman of CSAC's Subject Subcommittee.

Financial Times: The newly privatised Portuguese post office, CTT – Correios de Portugal – should post steady dividend growth from free cash flow in the next few years. The bad news is in fact good. CTT already has attractive profit margins. Its margin of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation against sales (18 per cent as of September) ranks highly among the privatised European postal services. Yet its tariff for a standard letter at 50c still sits a fifth below the European average, so there remains headroom for another few years of increases.

Post & Parcel: Britain's postal regulator, Ofcom, is to investigate proposed changes to Royal Mail's downstream access pricing, following a complaint from rivals TNT Post UK. Royal Mail revealed on Friday that it was suspending price changes subject to the investigation, which had been due to come into force on 31 March 2014.

Post & Parcel: Dutch postal operator PostNL achieved "significant steps" for its future, boss Herna Verhagen said today despite a big drop in profits in the fourth quarter after selling TNT Express shares. The company recorded a 9% improvement in underlying cash operating income in 2013 as a whole, up to EUR 141m, on a revenue of just under EUR 2.2bn, which was virtually the same as in 2012 despite a sharp 11.9% year-on-year drop in domestic mail volumes.

DirectionsMag: GIS Engineer Posted: February 23, updated February 23 Type: Full-Time Company: FedEx Ground  https://jobs-groundushd.icims.com/jobs/31954/engineer-i---v-(operations-technology)/job?mode=view Location: Pittsburgh, PA

eCommerceBytes: A man who ordered tractor parts online for over one thousand dollars has sued the United States of America and the U.S. Postal Service, claiming the USPS lost his package but refused to honor his insurance claim. Submitted in evidence was Form PS 3760 in which the USPS told the customer on March 1, 2013, "An empty wrapper with your address was found in the mail and is believed to have been separated from a parcel during handling." It asked him to complete the form and return it to the Dead Parcel Branch if he wished them to look for his items.

Scoop: New Zealand Post has been called on by the Postal Workers Union to immediately reverse its policy of deliberately holding back standard mail which has been processed and ready for delivery. As it releases its six monthly report and explains that the company is reducing expenditure, New Zealand Post's mail "hold over" policy is not saving money but is providing further incentives for mail senders to switch to alternative means of communication including a private mail delivery company.

February 23, 2014 

Save the Post Office: Earlier this week, there were reports that letter carriers in Washington, D.C. were told by management to end their routes before completing their deliveries in order to keep down overtime costs. Apparently this caused massive pileups of undelivered mail and delivery delays. The Postal Service has denied the claim, saying carriers were told to return at 6 p.m. for safety reasons because of a snowstorm. There may be another explanation for why carriers have been told to return by 6. The Capital area is one of the places where the Postal Service has been testing Load Leveling, the plan to slow down delivery of some Standard Mail in order to spread the volume out more evenly during the week and get carriers back in the office sooner. It's possible that the Postal Service told carriers to return before 6 in order to show that the Load Leveling plan will work as advertised.

Transitions Online: Poland's decision to privatize the delivery of court documents is either a blow for public services or a boon for competition. If by chance you are waiting for a parcel from a Polish court or the prosecutor's office (and you live in Poland), take note. From the beginning of this year, it won't be a postman – namely an employee of Poczta Polska, a public company – delivering your letter or package but a staff member of PGP, a private postal operator, or one of its subcontractors. To everyone's surprise, PGP won the tender issued by the judicial system last year. Confronted by an open market, the traditional supplier, the national post office, lost. PGP had bid 80 million zlotys ($26 million) less than the post office for the annual delivery of about 50 million subpoenas and citations from the courts and public prosecutor After more than a month of operation, the jury is still out on the quality of the new service. So forced by European regulations, Poland is demonstrating what one can do even with a well-established public service: save the state some money. That, however, comes at the cost of a certain level of convenience for customers accustomed to that slow and cumbersome, but still deep-rooted service.

Sun Sentinel: It's disappointing to hear the U.S. Postal Service is demanding that new South Florida housing developments install cluster mailboxes at centralized locations. Recently, two high-end developments in Parkland and Boynton Beach were told to forget individual home delivery. Rather, they must build a centralized mailbox area, such as those found at condominium and apartment complexes. Is the American postal service trying to race itself to irrelevancy?

The Star-Ledger: Neither rain nor snow should keep mail carriers from completing their appointed rounds except, it seems, in Maplewood. Township residents say mail delivery has been erratic for weeks — they've been waiting for important tax documents, time-sensitive paperwork for college applications and packages — and their patience is on thin ice. Several residents say the delayed deliveries began in January, the same month that the Maplewood Post Office got an acting postmaster to fill the vacated postmaster position, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service confirmed. Rachel Venckus said delayed mail is more than an inconvenience — it's already cost her a potential job opportunity.

February 22, 2014 

Dead Tree EditionThe U.S. Postal Service doesn't know whether the Flats Sequencing System is reducing its costs and doesn't seem to be trying to find out. As a result, one major mailer is calling for hefty price increases on "Standard flats" (such as catalogs) that would presumably spill over to the Periodicals class (magazines and newspapers) as well. Both postal officials and mailers have been hoping for several years that FSS would yield substantial decreases in the cost of handling and delivering flat mail. But only about 30% of flat mail is being processed on the football-field-sized machines, which are failing to live up to expectations and have led to a legal dispute between USPS and the company that built the machines. FSS productivity declined by 2% during FY2013, according to a recent USPS filing with the PRC.

Financial Times: Royal Bank of Scotland has said it will increase its high street presence tenfold by piggybacking on the UK's vast network of Post Office branches

Examiner: Hallmark Channel's upcoming series "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" is scheduled to premiere on Sunday, April 20, 2014. The series revolves around the employees of a post office dead letter office who become detectives to track down the intended recipients of undeliverable mail. The series combines romance, comedy and drama as the postal detectives work to right wrongs, solve crimes, reunite old loves and change futures with letters that may arrive late, but somehow just on time.

Voice of Baltimore: Don't assume that the U.S. postal system lost the battle to cut service back. While its cost-cutting proposal to eliminate Saturday delivery was rejected by Congress, the Post Office may be having the final word. Through much of this snow-dominated winter, many residents of Baltimore have been fortunate to get mail delivered just three or four times a week.

Seeking Alpha: United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) serves as the world's largest package delivery company. Although the company generates a majority of its revenue from the U.S. the company is putting efforts into expanding its operations internationally. The company's international package operations generated 22% of the company's total revenue in FY 2013. This contribution reflects a decline from the 23% contribution made by the segment in FY 2011. The segment recorded a 1% decline in its revenue in FY 2012 but recovered by logging a 3% rise in FY 2013. Europe will turn into a growth driver for United Parcel Service

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
International Mail Contracts ,
10204–10205 [2014–03827] [TEXT]  [PDF]
New Postal Products ,
10205–10206 [2014–03889] [TEXT]  [PDF]
10207–10208 [2014–03890] [TEXT]  [PDF]
10206–10207 [2014–03891] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Office of the Inspector General: Postal Service Financial Statements Audit − Washington, D.C. Headquarters for Fiscal Year 2013 Report | Highlights

WTAE: The ashes of a loved one of a North Fayette woman are lost in the mail. They were sent one month ago on Jan. 21 from the post office in Imperial, along with some other personal items. The ashes are contained within two tiny pendants. Jennifer Buhite wears an identical silver teardrop-shaped pendant, which also contains ashes of her brother, Rusty Barton, who died last fall. Pittsburgh area USPS spokesman Tad Kelley told Channel 4 Action News the Postal Service tells us it is still looking for the missing pendant and giving the case "top priority." "We dropped the ball," acknowledge Kelley, who said he and other Postal Service employees at locations across are now involved in the effort. Kelley said the single pendant was found in the bottom of a container used to transport mail at a USPS facility in Massachusetts.

Baltimore Sun: Members of Maryland's congressional delegation, saying constituents have complained of lengthy mail delays, pressed the U.S. Postal Service Friday to resume regular delivery — even as the agency reported it was not aware of any significant problems. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski wrote to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe that her office has received complaints from residents in Pasadena, Windsor Mill and Perry Hall who say they have not received a delivery in more than a week and have faced extraordinarily long lines at post offices. Related Snowstorm disrupts USPS mail delivery into this week Snowstorm disrupts USPS mail delivery into this week Amazon's Sunday delivery to spread next year Amazon's Sunday delivery to spread next year USPS wants to keep Columbia lakefront location USPS wants to keep Columbia lakefront location "This is a very serious issue," Mikulski wrote in her letter. "Constituents report that they are waiting for prescription medications which are a week overdue." Hours later, other Maryland lawmakers, including Sen. Ben Cardin, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Delaney and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, signed a similar letter to Donahoe. Congressional aides said the lawmakers have received many calls from constituents about delays.

February 21, 2014 

Reuters: Britain's Office of Communications (Ofcom) is investigating a complaint by the country's second-largest postal firm, TNT Post UK, against price increases planned by Royal Mail Plc (RMG.L) for its wholesale mail contracts. Royal Mail said in January that it would increase tariffs on the contracts, used by 31 of its biggest wholesale customers, because of a decline in letter volumes. (link.reuters.com/zuw96v) TNT Post, a unit of Dutch mail group PostNL (PTNL.AS), collects and sorts mail in certain parts of Britain before handing it over to Royal Mail for delivery through an agreement known as an Access contract.

Government Executive: Letter carriers in the Washington, D.C. area told a local news station they have been forced to end their routes before completing their deliveries so they don't earn overtime, though U.S. Postal Service officials have disputed the claims. Anonymous USPS employees this week told WJLA -- an ABC affiliate – that their supervisors have told them to end their days early, causing massive pileups and delays of customers' mail. The employees said the new rule is being strictly enforced by management and is forcing them off the streets as early as 4:30 p.m. Dave Partenheimer, a USPS spokesman, denied any such cost-cutting initiative to Government Executive, saying letter carriers are "expected to return in accordance with schedule and daily assigned work load." Regarding D.C. specifically, Partenheimer said supervisors instructed their letter carriers to return by 6 p.m. due to a snowstorm "regardless of deliveries made" for safety reasons.

WTOP: Snowstorms have a tendency to bring the metro area to a halt, but Bethesda homeowners are frustrated after they haven't had mail delivery for a week. Friday afternoon, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.)called for U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to restore mail delivery right away. "I am requesting that mail service resume immediately without delay," Senator Mikulski wrote in a news release. Laurie Gross is one of many homeowners frustrated with the U.S. Postal Service. Hers is one of a number of Bethesda neighborhoods in a mail-delivery delay, and residents aren't getting answers. Comments are filling neighborhood listservs and the voicemails of local representatives. "I am very frustrated. One, you get in the habit of getting mail. But, I'm (also) waiting for medications," Gross says. Gross says she understood when mail didn't arrive last Friday, as snow made the roads difficult to navigate. Then, there was no delivery Monday because it was a holiday. But when she was promised the mail would arrive Wednesday and it didn't, she lost her patience. "I think it's beyond what's reasonable for a snowstorm," Gross says.

MapMyID: Ship2MyID is the flagship operation of MapMyID, which wants to bring together your online and identities. The MapMyID system lets you link identifications together, allowing for a range of real-world applications – Ship2MyID is just the tip of the iceberg. Ship2MyID works by linking your email address (or other online identity) to your physical address, letting you accept shipments without fear of having your address discovered by the wrong people. It's the perfect solution for businesses, dating, friends, and families, allowing you convenience and security without any need to worry.

Post & Parcel: Postal operator La Poste Group saw its profits slump last year, but was bailed out by a major tax credit from the French government. The latest financial figures from the French national postal service reveal that revenue remained stable — up 2% to EUR 22bn, or up 1% at constant exchange rates. Revenue growth came thanks to price increases and the performances of parcel services and La Banque Postale, which countered the impact of declining mail volumes.

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

  • PostCom invites you to attend a free webinar Presented by Rose Flanagan, Manager Postal Strategies and Logistics, Data-Mail, Newington, CT on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 from 1-2pm ET. Ms. Flanagan will highlight areas of interest and "hot topic" sessions that should be part of your agenda. Spend an hour gaining a better understanding of sessions and networking events so you can plan your days to get the most from your NPF experience. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/756241184.
  • According to PostCom, "[i]n an Advisory Opinion proceeding, the essential question is whether the proposed action comports with the requirements of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. An essential element of that analysis must be the practical impact of the proposed action on the mailing industry. PostCom submits that the Postal Service has not accounted for features of the mailing industry which may present obstacles to the successful implementation of its load leveling plan and which may result in unintended consequences to both mailers and the Postal Service. Additionally, this brief highlights deficiencies in the process the Postal Service followed in announcing its load leveling plan to both industry and the Postal Regulatory Commission."
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on February 12, 2014, at its monthly meeting provided information on rate and service inquiries for the month of January 2014. PRC Director, Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations Ann Fisher reported that the PRC received 1,055 customer comments and inquiries compared to 301 during the same period last year. Fisher noted that the number of inquires, which over tripled that of the same period the previous year, was quite a "jump."
  • The USPS Office of Inspector General has released a new white paper. The research contained in the paper sheds light on a sample of Americans' views of the products and services the Postal Service offers now and could provide in the future.
  • Senator Warren sees promise in USPS as lender. USPS tests same-day delivery. Postal bill takes another stab at real property reform. Postal bill establishes position of Chief Innovation Officer. WI's Johnson in political dog house. Postal banking remains polarizing. Sunday deliveries for Amazon sign of major changes for USPS. Paper lobbyists struggle to slow down ‘rush to go paperless.' eBay and USPS cast doubts on same day delivery model. Mail customers would accept service cuts to aid USPS. USPS is delivering stability despite prefunding mandate. Looking past the exigent price increase - part 2. Senators discuss tribe and post office. Senator Baldwin critical of USPS practices & national forest management. USPS tells its post offices: hold local newspaper mail at POs or send to hubs. USPS workers say they are being forced to end shifts early. Postal workers protest Rep. Issa at NH GOP fundraiser.
  • Announcements of postal related filing in the Federal Register.
  • Announcements from the USPS to the Mailing Industry.
  • Announcements on recent reports, projects, and blog entries of the USPS OIG.
  • International postal news
  • Postal previews.
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

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The Ledger: Payday lenders have been called legal loans sharks, preying on poor people with high-interest loans that trap them in debt. While states have cracked down on these predatory practices, those efforts haven't provided an alternative to people left out of the banking system. Fifteen states have banned payday loans. Florida and nine other states have instituted restrictions such as limiting the size and number of loans. Alabama is the latest state to consider consumer protections. A solution is available at an institution with branches already in many of those neighborhoods. The U.S. Postal Service's inspector general recently released a report proposing that post offices offer financial services such as prepaid debit cards, money transfers and small loans.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers: The Canadian Union of Postal Workers notes that the cuts to door-to-door delivery announced today by Canada Post are unnecessary and will hurt people in the 11 affected communities. "This is a terrible plan and we will fight it every step of the way," said Denis Lemelin, National President of CUPW. "Canada Post executives and the Harper government are dismantling public postal service and refusing to listen to us when we point out there are better options for Canadians such as postal banking. Shame on them." Conservatives clapped gleefully in the House of Commons last month as they voted down the NDP motion to stop Canada Post from cancelling door-to-door delivery. To date, around 17 municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the cuts. Canada Post conducted a secret study from 2009-2013 that suggests postal banking might be a lucrative venture that could save the public post office. It is currently hiding the study from the public.

Washington Post: Managers at some U.S Postal Service branches are reportedly asking mail carriers to return from their routes without always completing their deliveries because of concerns about overtime costs and safety. Several Northwest D.C. residents also complained about customer service in the report, saying they could no longer rely on the Postal Service for timely and accurate mail delivery.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  

  • PostalOne!® Release 37.1 Deployment — This release repairs known issues in PostalOne!® and also includes database maintenance activities. The deployment will occur during the scheduled maintenance window of 4:00AM CT through 8:00AM CT on Sunday, February 23, 2014. There will be an outage during the maintenance release i.e. the application will be unavailable. There will not be a new Mail.dat client associated with this release.
  • PostalOne! Release 37.1 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) — will occur also on Sunday, February 23, 2014, within the same release window as PostalOne!® Prod release 4:00AM CT thru 8:00AM CT

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

February 20, 2014 

Fierce Government: "Q&A: Postal Service CFO Joe Corbett"

MyPrintResource: The Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP), the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), and the National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP) invite printers and mailers to attend a Postal Boot Camp in New York City on Thursday, March 20. AMSP, NAPL, and NAQP merged earlier this year to create a new association to serve the full-spectrum needs of the evolving graphic communications industry.

Communications Workers Union: The CWU today (Thursday) called on Ofcom to apply the universal service obligation met by Royal Mail, across the board to all postal companies operating in the UK. The CWU also challenged Ofcom to introduce a statutory universal obligation for broadband. Currently, the independent communications regulator only monitors Royal Mail but the union wants to see all end-to-end mail delivery companies having to operate under the same terms as the newly-privatised Royal Mail. The call comes as CWU makes its submission to Ofcom's Draft Annual Plan 2014/15.

Yahoo! News: On February 20, 1792, President George Washington officially created the United States Postal Service by signing a sweeping act that promoted a free press and put privacy safeguards in place. Mail delivery and an earlier version of the Service had been in place since 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was named as the first postmaster and the Continental Congress paid him a salary of $1,000 a year. The Articles of Confederation, which preceded the Constitution, also made it clear that the government "shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of … establishing or regulating post offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office." And the Constitution made sure that these crucial services were preserved. In Article I, Section 8, the Constitution gave Congress the ability "To establish Post Offices and post Roads." That means it not only does Congress have the power to create a postal system, it had the ability to acquire and control the land for the "post roads" to carry the mail and the buildings needed to maintain the system. In 1789, that meant 75 Post Offices and about 2,400 miles of post roads. But it was the Postal Act of 1792 that established the foundation of a modern Postal Service. Congress granted the Postmaster General broader powers. And the act addressed issues related to commerce and privacy. The act ensured newspapers could be sent at low mail rates, which facilitated a free press across the new states. The law also protected privacy by making it illegal for postal officials to open mail unless it was undeliverable. Offenders faced up to six months in jail and a $300 fine. And to make sure people knew Congress was serious, section 17 of the act included death as one of the possible punishments for robbing a mail delivery person, or for stealing mail from a post office. (In 1872, Congress reduced the penalty to five years in prison.) Congress also called for more mail routes to service an expanding nation. The newly expanded service kept its headquarters in Philadelphia, but moved to Washington, D.C. in 1800.

Toronto Star: With Canadians mailing less and less each year, Canada Post has to make difficult decisions to secure the postal service for everyone. These decisions do not only involve reducing costs, but must also include finding new ways to generate revenue to replace the loss of revenue due to the historic decline of transaction mail. In past years, Canada Post carefully considered many opportunities to grow revenue. They included finding new business lines that were outside of our core competencies and expertise, such as banking. We concluded that Canada Post's growth strategy must be anchored in our core competency as a transportation and logistics company. We have decided we should focus on the delivery business we know, rather than venture into businesses where we would be starting from scratch and ill-equipped to succeed.

Daily Post: The Royal Mail plans are to combat continual problems with rural access to postal services as village post offices shut or services move to larger shops. Postal workers will pick up mail as well as deliver it to people in remote areas. Royal Mail says the option combats problems with access to postal services.

Ottawa Citizen: Transition from door-to-door mail delivery to community mailboxes will begin in the fall in 11 cities across Canada, including Ottawa. Canada Post announced on Thursday the transition in Ottawa includes Kanata postal codes starting with K2K, K2L, K2M. Canada Post said they chose those postal codes since they are near areas that already have community mailboxes. There will be no change in delivery for apartment buildings, seniors buildings, condos, rural delivery and businesses. The transition to community mailboxes has been met with much resistance. Hundreds of postal workers, labour union members and supporters have protested the changes.

Engadget: Buying clothes online while you're lazing around in your underwear is a wonderful thing, but the tricky part is figuring out if that ironic t-shirt really flatters your figure. That's why eBay just bought a company called PhiSix -- the team's tech turns patterns and pictures of clothing into 3D models you can virtually try on.

Boston.com: Last month, the Office of the Inspector General of the US Postal Service issued a white paper arguing that the agency "is well positioned to provide non-bank financial services to those whose needs are not being met by the traditional financial sector." The Postal Service wants to bolster its faltering finances, but the proposal's most prominent supporters, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, care more about improving financial access for the less fortunate. I've read this script before. It's the story of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle, in which progressive legislators team up with financially ambitious government-created entities to start a supposedly win-win business that earns profits and helps the poor. That story ended in a multibillion-dollar bailout, and it's hard to be optimistic about a radical mission expansion for the Postal Service. Like many 20th-century corporate behemoths, the post office's future business model is uncertain, and its legacy obligations are vast. For the post office to enter an entirely different business — such as banking for the poor — is more likely to bring congressional allies than economic success. We must not simply ignore the past. The lesson of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that when public entities do too much, they may gain congressional allies, but they also lose discipline and the ability to link costs and benefits.

Washington Post: The U.S. Postal Service is putting itself at financial risk by allowing an outside real estate firm to negotiate sales and leases of postal property on behalf of the mail agency and prospective buyers and renters at the same time, a watchdog warned Wednesday. The practice, called "dual agency representation," has the potential to create conflicts of interest for CB Richard Ellis, with the result that the real estate company might not maximize revenue for the financially ailing Postal Service. "CBRE conflicts of interest could lead to financial loss to the Postal Service and decrease public trust in the Postal Service's brand," the Postal Service Inspector General's office said Wednesday in a "management alert" that strongly recommends that the arrangement be scrapped.

  PostCom will be holding a Pre National Postal Forum Executive Overview on March 4 from 1-2 p.m. Pre NPF - Executive Overview Join us for a Webinar on March 4 Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/756241184. The National Postal Forum at National Harbor, MD, March 16 - 19, 2014 has much to offer! With over 130 workshops and Executive USPS led sessions tailored to the business and career needs of mailing industry professionals, there is no other industry event that can provide you as many opportunities to learn, grow your business and advance your career. Attendees may feel overwhelmed and confused when attempting to plan their days. PostCom invites you to attend a free webinar Presented by Rose Flanagan, Manager Postal Strategies and Logistics, Data-Mail, Newington, CT on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Ms. Flanagan will highlight areas of interest and "hot topic" sessions that should be part of your agenda. Spend an hour gaining a better understanding of sessions and networking events so you can plan your days to get the most from your NPF experience. 

From the Federal Register:  Postal Service NOTICES Change in Rates and Classes of General Applicability for Competitive Products , 9771–9781 [2014–03664] [TEXT] [PDF]

WJLA: Some Washington, D.C. postal workers say post office management is forcing them off the street early, even when their routes are far from complete. Although a USPS spokeswoman denied any such allegations, carriers tell ABC7 that the newly established rule is being strictly enforced. "They're [management] constantly telling us to leave first-class mail, leave packages, everything, and it's getting ridiculous," a veteran mail carrier, speaking on a condition of anonymity, told ABC7. The newly established definition of "snail mail" has already hit the 3500 block of Albemarle Street NW, near American University. Homeowner Lauren McKillop hasn't seen her postman in six days. "There are two problems. There are problems with mail not getting delivered, and mail getting delivered incorrectly. I can't count how many times I get mail that's not mine," McKillop remarked. "I just don't rely on the U.S. mail service anymore." It's the same story a few blocks south along the 3300 block of Porter Street NW, in Cleveland Park. "Here it's been difficult," homeowner Elizabeth Edminster, who recently filed a poor delivery complaint with USPS said. "When we didn't get any mail last night [Tuesday], I said, 'that's enough.'" A second veteran mail carrier, also speaking anonymously for fear of losing her job, provided ABC7 with time-stamped group text messages sent by management to carriers on their routes. "Stop delivering all mail carrier r to be back by 4:30....no exceptions call if a problem...," one text, sent on Friday at 2:23 p.m., read. "All carriers are to be back 17:30 finished or not," another text, sent on Tuesday at 5:01 p.m., stated.

American Postal Workers Union: More than 150 union members braved sub-zero degree winds on Feb. 17 to deliver an icy greeting to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, the author of legislation (H.R. 2748) that would lead to the demise of the Postal Service. Issa (R-CA) was in New Hampshire to deliver the keynote speech to Republican donors at the New Hampshire GOP's President's Day fundraiser.

Aledo Times Record: A new directive from the U.S. Postal Service headquarters to mail processing plants and local post offices is expected to improve newspaper delivery, the National Newspaper Association said Feb. 12. USPS released to NNA today an internal operating policy intended to stop local post offices from unnecessarily sending 5-digit containers of newspaper mail to mail processing plants. The directive tells local postmasters that newspapers already prepared for local delivery should be held at the local post offices or sent to other area post offices through operating "hubs," many of them former SCFs, rather than slowing delivery by sending them along for processing at distant, merged plants.

Toronto Star: When it comes to Canada Post would you rather pay more for fewer services, or pay less for more services? Sound like a stupid question? Well, just wait until you hear how our federal government answered it. In an exclusive report, parliamentary news site Blacklock's Reporter disclosed last week that Canada Post spent the better part of four years conducting research, polling and focus group studies, all of which concluded that the Crown corporation "could profitably launch the largest banking network in the country." One management report, entitled Banking: A Proven Diversification Strategy, concluded that offering public banking services through post offices would be a "win-win strategy." Of 811 pages of material released under access to information legislation, 701 were redacted so there's still much that is being kept from us. But what we do know is damning. Despite four years of intensive research and study which saw Canada Post conclude that postal banking was a "proven money-maker," the government chose to hike fees and eliminate door-to-door delivery instead.

Forbes: Billions of dollars in the red, the U.S. Postal Service is looking to the package business to make up for a steep decline in revenues from First-Class Mail. The Postal Service lost $5 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, its seventh straight year of losses. First-Class Mail volume, its most profitable product, plummeted by 2.8 billion pieces. Now the Postal Service is hoping to reverse the trend, in part by stepping up the battle with parcel giants UPS and FedEx. The internet might be killing First-Class letters, but it has been a boon to parcels. Two years ago, the Postal Service made a conscious decision to ramp up efforts in that area. Debate continues to rage over a proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery (although package service apparently would not be affected). Supporters say the move is essential to reining in costs, while critics argue that it would result in the loss of far more revenue than it would save in overhead. Perhaps the agency's biggest immediate challenge is the Postal Reform Act of 2013. Introduced as S. 1486 and H.R. 2478, the proposed legislation would permit the phase-out of Saturday mail delivery, raise workers' health and life insurance premiums, and possibly eliminate "to-the-door" service in certain rural areas. It would also require the Postmaster General to submit to the Board of Governors a plan for "long-term solvency." Union leaders are adamantly opposed to the measure. Meanwhile, the Postal Service continues to vie with private-sector rivals, especially for commercial business.

February 19, 2014 

Intelligent Mail Parcel Barcode (IMpb) Requirements.  Effective January 2014, the Intelligent Mail® package barcode (IMpb) requirements changed for parcels entered through commercial channels including, but not limited to: · Priority Mail Express™ · Priority Mail® · First-Class Package Services® · Parcel Select® · Parcel Select Lightweight® To receive commercial prices beginning January 26, 2014, mailers must use a unique Intelligent Mail parcel barcode (IMpb) on their packages. The IMpb contains delivery information such as the destination address, ZIP Code routing and payment information. Mailers are also required to submit an electronic Shipping Services File (SSF), version 1.6 or higher. The Shipping Services File is an electronically submitted document that contains mailing information about each package being sent. The Shipping Services File must contain delivery information which is the correct destination delivery address or ZIP+4® Code. The Shipping Services File Transaction ID must be provided either in the mailer's electronic documentation (eDoc) or on the postage statement when presenting mailings with a hard copy postage statement. Effective February 28, 2014, mailers presenting IMpb mailings that are not in compliance will be charged the non-compliance per piece fee. Mailers who are not able to make these changes should contact their Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) for guidance. Mailers can locate their District Business Mail Entry Unit using the locator tool on RIBBS at https://ribbs.usps.gov/locators/find-bme.cfm. Mailers may also contact the PostalOne! Help Desk at 800-522-9085 with any questions.

Huffington Post: "National Post Jerry Seinfeld Sticks It To The Postal Service On 'The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon'"

Office of the Inspector General:

  • This management alert presents potential financial risks associated with the U.S. Postal Service's real estate management services contract with CB Richard Ellis, Inc. (Project Number 12YG018DA001).

  • The Postal Service and the Vox Populi. There's no lack of opinions in Washington about what the U.S. Postal Service should do to get out of its precarious financial situation. Cut this, add that, restructure these, and so on. But what about the public? What do Americans want - expect - from the Postal Service?

  • "What America Wants and Needs from the Postal Service" Full Report | Summary

WTAQ: U.S Senator Tammy Baldwin wants the federal government to make some changes affecting the paper industry and the postal service. One of the things she questions is why only the U.S. Postal Service can place letters and packages in a mailbox. "Part of the postal service business is a competitive business with UPS and Federal Express in regard to boxes and parcels, but in regard to the mailbox and letters being delivered to the mailbox, they have a monopoly." Baldwin says USPS needs more oversight and attention owing to the nature of their work. The Senator says it's important for her office to keep an eye on the mail service, and support changes that help keep a traditional mail service viable because it affects several parts of the economy. "Wisconsin's economy, especially because of its timber resources and paper making and mailing industries, really has its fortunes very much intertwined with the health of the Postal Service." The Senator is critical of the U.S. Postal Service with their rate increases and certain business practices. Baldwin says the government needs to do more to keep a watch on what the Postal Service is doing in regards to letters and mail delivered to your home.

When it comes to creative postal thinking
you can lead, follow, or get out of the way.
But...if you're not the lead dog,
your view never changes.

Great Falls Tribune: Jon Tester on Tuesday made his first stop in Great Falls since assuming the mantle as Montana's senior U.S. senator, while John Walsh also made his first visit to the Electric City since his inauguration to replace retiring Sen. Max Baucus. While the two men's political roles may have changed recently, they came to confer on topics that have been primary political concerns in Montana for several years. The first item on Tester's and Walsh's agenda Tuesday was to visit with U.S. Postal Workers Union leaders and discuss efforts to reform the nation's mail carrier and halt the closure or reduction of services at additional rural post offices.

"A monopoly may be defined as one entity being the sole supplier of a particular product or service, thus leaving no room for others to partake in such business enterprises."  -- Laws.com

Great Falls Tribune: The U.S. Postal Service has a big job ahead of it, and its future is cloudy. Many Americans pay bills online, and some are receiving electronic bills, too. Fewer sent out Christmas cards. Mass marketers are altering the way they send out mailings. Private haulers including FedEx and United Parcel Service give the Postal Service stiff competition in package delivery. It's a trying time for the former U.S. Post Office Department, which once dominated mail and package delivery. Congress should repeal the requirement that the Postal Service pay all these upfront dollars, which puts the Postal Service at a competitive disadvantage with private companies. Earlier this month, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved legislation that, in part, would restructure the annual retiree health payments.

The Sun-Sentinel: Article by Frederic Rolando, Pres., NALC -- "Homeowners are described as "very unhappy," even "incensed" about losing their home delivery, but the impression left is that this may be necessary because the U.S. Postal Service is losing money. This feeds into the conventional wisdom that the Postal Service is a victim of technological change – losing billions of dollars a year delivering a dwindling volume of mail because of the Internet. The problem with this narrative is that it's utterly false – and it's not what's driving the changes upsetting those in your story.

Linex: Federal Express Corporation was the U.S. Postal Service's largest contractor in fiscal year 2013. The next largest USPS supplier was EnergyUnited, which provides consolidated telecommunication and energy billing services. Military air mail transportation provider Kalitta Air was third. Six of the Postal Service's top 10 suppliers served the agency's transportation needs. The Top 150 USPS supplier list is compiled annually by David P. Hendel, a partner in Husch Blackwell LLP's Government Contracts practice group who focuses on Postal Service contracting matters.

CEP News: Correos de Mexico plans to co-operate with domestic CEP services to offer more and better services in the future. The goal was to improve the country's existing logistics networks. The country's eight biggest CEP companies - Aeroflash, DHL, Estafeta, Estrella Roja, FedEx, Redpack, Senda and UPS - have already confirmed their willingness to work with the post.

Warsaw Business Journal: Grupa Integer, a Polish postal company, is to install 400 InPost parcel lockers in Italy by the end of June 2014, the company announced in statement, Tuesday. The investment is worth over €30 million, and will encompass northern cities in Italy, such as Milan and Turin, as well as the capital, Rome. The company has teamed up with Banzai, an Italian internet sales holding, to develop its parcel locker network in the country.

  At the World Mail & Express conference earlier this month, PostCom President Gene Del Polito gave a presentation on a mailer's view of the American postal market. The slides used as part of this presentation have been posted on this site.

Quad Graphics Leading Change: According to Quad/Graphics' Director of Postal Affairs: "The Postal Service's problems are the result of a cost structure that doesn't reflect the realities of today's challenging marketplace. This has created a number of misperceptions that we need to combat. The USPS boasted that the exigent price increase of 4.3 percent was "moderate." However, we know that in our industry and most others, the paradigm for price increases is below CPI. The Postmaster General touts the need for pricing flexibility in order to utilize "market-based pricing." What he doesn't seem to realize is that CPI or below is market-based pricing. The USPS claims it offers "free" products and services in some areas to smaller customers. In reality, those "free" services are paid for by customers and the mailing industry. The USPS equates service to delivery. As a monopoly, it doesn't understand that in the real business world service includes whatever it takes to satisfy and keep customers. When its total factor productivity scores rose by .5-1.0 percent, the USPS expected kudos. However, the industry's productivity gains have been in the 3-5 percent range for the last decade. The USPS brags about its Black Belts being the best at leaning processes. Those of us who have similar programs know the difference between industry lean experts and the USPS' staff. The claim has been made that if the USPS had had the same increases that either FedEx or UPS has had, it wouldn't have had a problem. This is an argument founded in flaws. For example, the numbers USPS offered up are for published tariffed rates and are not the effective net rates actually paid after applying customer specific discounts. It's been said that over the years direct mailers have faced relatively small increases of only a few cents. However, we know that those "small increases" are hugely offset by the 22.9 percent standard flat rate increase in 2007. Some in Congress claim that the Post Office is not a true monopoly. But with no other way to get direct mail and other collateral into mailboxes instead of on doorsteps or curbs, there is no perfect substitute for the Postal Service today.

The Guardian: Postal group TNT is to create hundreds of new jobs under plans to double its workforce in London. The announcement, ahead of the latest unemployment figures, will lead to 400 new posts in parts of the capital under expansion plans, which will see four new delivery units being opened. TNT Post said it was focusing on creating opportunities for young and long-term unemployed, adding that the flexibility of its jobs were particularly appealing for local residents, women returning to work and school-leavers. TNT's chief executive, Nick Wells, said: "We are passionate about creating jobs. These jobs have been filled by people who may have found it difficult to get back into, or even join, the workforce. [EdNote: Ahhhh, the job creation benefits from competition.]

The Metrowest Daily News: If it truly wants the Postal Service to be a successful business, one that responds to the needs of the market, Congress should free the USPS to add banking to its services.

Fierce Government: The growing crowdshipping business could eat into Postal Service package delivery profits if the companies offer same day delivery, a Feb. 12 USPS inspector general report says. Upstarts are rolling out plans to use amateurs to deliver packages and merchandise more quickly and cheaply than the Postal Service and deeming the movement crowdshipping. "The more market share crowdshippers gain, the worse it would likely be for the existing package business, one of the biggest areas of growth for the Postal Service in recent years," the report says. Read more: Crowdshipping business could eat into USPS profits, IG says.

Government Executive: Letter carriers at the U.S. Postal Service have a lot to worry about these days: a dramatically diminished workforce, potentially dangerous after-dark deliveries and, of course, dogs. Now you can add girl problems to the list. According to a poll from Insure.com, women ranked "mail trucks" dead last when asked to evaluate the kind of vehicle attractive men drive. Pickup trucks, sports cars and SUVs were the most popular options among the ladies, collectively accounting for three-quarters of the response. Mail trucks came in at just 1 percent.

Washington Post: Lettter from President of the NALC --  "An improving economy has helped stabilize mail revenue, down last year by just half a percent. This year, the Postal Service forecasts the first rise in years. Meanwhile, as online shopping expands, package delivery revenue is skyrocketing: up 8 percent last year and 14 percent in 2014's first quarter. This makes the Internet a net positive. The unnecessary service reductions The Post advocated would hurt millions of Americans and small businesses and stop the postal turnaround in its tracks by driving mail — and revenue — away. Instead, lawmakers should strengthen the now-profitable networks while fixing the prefunding fiasco."

BlackNews: Greyhound Package Express (GPX), Greyhound's expedited shipping service, today announced its new partnership with United We Ship LLC, a Los Angeles-based, single- source shipping and logistics provider. Through this partnership, customers can schedule and track shipments directly from the company's website and receive same-day courier service in numerous locations throughout Southern California, all while saving an average of 70 percent over other major shippers. The timing of GPX's partnership with the Black-owned company, United We Ship, is even more meaningful as it comes during Black History Month, a time Greyhound reveres as an opportunity to honor African-Americans who have helped shape the country into what it is today. Greyhound has been America's bus company for a century, and during that time it has been a primary influence in Black history. Most notably, the company helped transport a group of civil rights leaders, known as the "Freedom Riders," to the Deep South to protest state-sponsored segregation in intercity bus terminals. "We're pleased to work with United We Ship to offer customers a convenient, hassle-free option to ship packages at affordable rates," said Dave Phillips, vice president, GPX. "We applaud the company for providing an excellent shipping solution with overnight delivery and same day door-to-door courier service for Southern California customers."

CBC News: Canada Post has struck a deal with online retailer Etsy to create seamless shipping for Etsy members in Canada without a trip to the post office. Etsy is a global website for sellers of handmade goods, often small one-person operations that rely on postal services to ship goods. Canada Post has integrated its services with the Etsy online platform so sellers can print out mailing labels, weigh their shipping package and remit payment to the post office, without leaving their office. It's part of a move by the postal service to integrate its services with e-commerce platforms, building its profitable package shipping business by offering easier access for shippers of goods. Canada Post has created similar integrated selling and shipping platforms for other e-commerce retailers, among them Miva Merchant, which supports 300,000 merchants who do business online, and 3dcart, with more than 16,000 online merchants.

February 18, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Washington Post: Mail customers are generally willing to accept lower levels of service such as ending six-day mail delivery to keep the U.S. Postal Service operating — and especially so if they are aware that the agency does not draw on tax revenue — a study by the USPS inspector general has found. In a study involving focus groups, two-thirds of the participants did not know that the agency is self-funding, a finding that reflected results of an earlier Web-based survey. Once the funding arrangement was explained — "a revelation that was met with surprise within every group," the report, released Tuesday, says — participants "lowered their service level expectations."

Office of the Inspector General: "What America Wants and Needs from the Postal Service" Full Report | Summary

eCommerceBytes: There are signs that same-day delivery may not be as winning a model as some had hoped. The USPS suspended one of two pilot programs called Metro Post due to a lack of participation from retailers, and eBay CEO John Donahoe recently downplayed the company's same-day delivery service eBay Now during a presentation to Wall Street analysts. However, the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is concerned about a movement it calls "crowdshipping" that retailers use to deliver same-day orders to their customers. eBay's CEO was speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Wednesday when he said eBay Now had received more media attention than warranted, and he cautioned analysts about how to think about the demand for same-day delivery.

National Association of Major Mail Users: In the wake of devastating, unforeseen financial and other impairments to be imposed on the commercial users of mail by Canada Post, business users are scrambling to adjust media plans and priorities. Protests continue through appropriate channels but mailers are not leaving themselves open to more surprises. The VAM community is being pushed to accelerate media diversification capabilities; in-house resources are focused on alignment of media cost to existing budgets. As large volume users of Lettermail react to the 15 per cent increase with these tactics and more, SMEs creatively seek alternatives from a smaller menu of options. The short lead time is the second most critical issue next to the magnitude of the increase, followed closely by the uncertainty of consumer behavior with CMBs, particularly for time-sensitive material. There is some hope that concessions may be made on weight and minimum volume specs but lacking any certainty, the industry is moving forward on what has been tabled.

USPS 2014 Earned Value Promotion Webinar Wednesday, February 19, 2014 3:00 p.m. EST Pre-registration is required - lines are limited so please sign up today! The 2014 Earned Value Promotion provides mailers with earned credits based on qualifying BRM and CRM cards and letters with an Intelligent Mail barcode. Please join the USPS Mailing Services team to learn more about the program and registration requirements. Click here to register for the webinar or go to https://uspsmeetings.webex.com/uspsmeetings/j.php?ED=239683897&UID=3882148&RT=MiMxMQ== Call-in toll-free number: 1-855-8607461 Conference Code: 553 970 9242

Helsinki Times: Heikki Malinen, the CEO of postal services provider Itella, has invited newspaper publishers to mull over a new collaborative arrangement to organise newspaper deliveries. Malinen proposes that Itella and publishers establish joint ventures that assume responsibility for early-morning deliveries.

CRRI will hold another Workshop on the Future of Postal Service at the Offices of K&L Gates in Washington DC at the offices of K&L Gates. The program may be viewed at http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/WS14A.pdf

Discussant and Chair openings are available in the Eastern Conference. Please let me know if you are interested in being a chair/discussant. http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/EC14.pdf

Washington Post: Postal workers are protesting the transfer of some mail processing operations from Norfolk to a facility near Richmond. More than 50 postal workers held a rally against the move on Monday outside the Norfolk complex.


Livemint: The long-cherished dream of the Indian postal department to float a commercial bank, has hit a major hurdle, after the government stopped short of providing the necessary capital needed for the department to enter India's Rs.83 trillion banking industry. The interim budget announced by finance minister P. Chidambaram on Monday didn't earmark any funds for the postal department, nor did it mention the proposal in the budget, even as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approaches the final stages of granting licences to a third set of private banks in Asia's third-largest economy.

February 17, 2014 

Newsmax: A lobbying group backed by the paper industry is making the case that the federal government should not go paperless, The Washington Post reported. The industry says that the "rush to go paperless" is leaving many Americans — among the elderly and poor — at a disadvantage. It says that 25 percent of Americans have no Internet access and that 73 percent prefer to have at least the option of doing business with government the old fashioned way. Consumers for Paper Options, funded by the paper industry, envelope manufacturers, mill operators, and related trade groups, has been striving to slow the federal government's shift from paper to the Internet. Going paperless saves money. See also The Washington Post.

KMBZ: Hallmark spent $500,000 last year lobbying in Washington because the company wants to see Postal Service maintain their services and keep mail delivery going six days a week. Hallmark could take a huge hit if the Postal Service scales back it's operations. Americans purchased more than 6 billion greeting cards last year, with well more than half of those being mailed.

Post & Parcel: Pos Indonesia is the latest national postal operator set to consider the advantages that self-service parcel locker terminals may offer consumer parcel delivery services.

International Business Times: The newly privatised Royal Mail has commenced talks with union officials over a company charter, which will set working conditions for more than 100,000 of the postal giant's workers. The charter, which will be similar to the BBC's, will mean that the agreed employment conditions can only be overturned by a vote of the firm's shareholders.

The Montana Standard: The Butte post office is responding to criticism over delivery delays as U.S. Sen. Jon Tester continues to lambaste top brass in the U.S. Postal Service over its delivery in rural areas.

KP Insider: As means of reducing the agency's cost and returning it to the profit making ways, the CEO of USPS and postmaster general Patrick Donahoe has closed more than 500 mail processing facilities, cutting Saturday delivery service, eliminating delivery routes, slashing headcount and expanding the post office services to include the shipping of alcohol. These changes in a great deal have helped the agency to reduce its debt. In the April to June quarter its operating revenue went up 3.6 percent to $16.2 billion and its expenses fell to $16.9 billion from a year ago $20.8 billion. In the last quarter the losses dropped from $1.9 billion to $740 million.

Pocono Record: Right-wing government-haters in Congress, along with the corporate executives now sitting atop the U.S. Postal Service, claim that in order to "save" this icon of Americana, they must decimate it. These geniuses are privatizing the workforce, selling off invaluable community facilities and shrinking services.

Kansas City Star: Congress is trying to complete work on a fix for the U.S. Postal Service by the end of the year. Yet salvaging a Postal Service anything like the one you know today will be a formidable task. Finding a model that keeps mail delivery cheap and convenient has stumped lawmakers and policy analysts for years. At the same time, the status quo seems an increasingly poor option.

February 16, 2014

YLE: Yle's comparison of package delivery charges shows that it is cheaper to send a parcel from Sweden to Finland than vice versa. Despite a proliferation of new operators in the sector, the cheapest option remains Itella, the Finnish postal service.

The State Register-Journal: The scheduled March 16 start of Sunday package delivery for Amazon is a sign of major changes to come, say U.S. Postal Service executives who oversee operations in central and southern Illinois. The downstate market is among the first for the Amazon service outside of New York and Los Angeles. Nearly two years after the Postal Service began consolidation of mail processing centers nationwide — including relocation of some Quincy operations to the Cook Street postal facility in Springfield — regional and national officials say that process has been nearly completed. More closings and consolidations remain a possibility in the long term. But the focus, they say, has shifted to revenue growth.

February 15, 2014 

Post & Parcel: Finland's national postal operator Itella made a EUR 2.4m loss last year according to latest results, with 1,200 mail delivery jobs now in line to be cut. The company saw its sales decline in the fourth quarter, but while there was slight revenue growth in the 2013 as a whole, before taxes the Group made a loss, turning around a EUR 30.8m pre-tax profit achieved in 2012. Heikki Malinen, the Itella president and chief executive, said the year had been "very challenging" for the company.

Press Release: The UPS Board of Directors today declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.67 per share, up $0.05 or 8.1%, from $0.62 per share, on all outstanding Class A and Class B shares. The dividend increase is in recognition of the company's solid cash flow performance and commitment to delivering shareowner value. [EdNote: When last heard from, the Postal Service Board of Directors rewarded its faithful customers with an exigency rate increase. Can you imagine what the USPS would do as an unfettered monopoly?]

The Virginian-Pilot: Romance - and tourism - could be fading from tiny Valentines, Va. People flock to the Brunswick County community's post office this week each year to get the town's heart-shaped postmark on their cards and letters. The site has hosted weddings, and it's stamped valentines from several states, China, Australia and Great Britain. A U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman told me the office, about 100 miles southwest of Norfolk, might cut hours in half to help stem overall deficits. A survey of local customers and a public meeting would take place first. Bobby Conner, project manager of the tourism group there, fears this could lead to the eventual closing of the office.

Business Standard: A postal inspector was nabbed by CBI for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from the head post office here.

From the Federal Register:  Postal Service PROPOSED RULES Rules of Practice in Proceedings Under the Debt Collection Act , 9120–9123 [2014–03368] [TEXT] [PDF]

Milwaukee Business Journal: FedEx SmartPost HQ office in Brookfield sold for $16.7 million.

NewsLink: Legislation designed to help USPS restore financial stability and make basic improvements in its business model has passed a key congressional committee and is headed to the full U.S. Senate for further consideration. The Postal Service supported the action in a statement released following the committee's vote. [EdNote: It's stiff postal customers -- if any are left -- but the USPS believes it will be "good" for the Postal Service. Amazing...The USPS must have a Fairy Godmother who'll come up with the cash it'll need.]

Wall Street Journal: State officials and unions announced a tentative agreement Friday to water down a sweeping 2011 pension overhaul law that shored up one of the nation's most underfunded public retirement systems. The wrangling shows it is often "extraordinarily hard" to change future benefits for current employees.

American Banker: BankThink Deputy Editor Jeanine Skowronski incurred some populist wrath when she suggested the U.S. Postal Service's terrible customer service was a reason it should stay out of banking. "As if private banks are any better," one reader commented. Another added: "If there were a centralized place for consumer complaints about banking practices, it would be far longer than that for U.S. Postal Service per person." But new BankThink contributor Carl Packman equally incited bankers when he suggested a full-fledged postal bank would benefit the economy. "Redirecting the $7.4 billion spent annually by the 12 million Americans who take out payday loans would certainly help the nation's gross domestic product," Packman wrote. But many readers thought revamping the short-term credit space was far from simple. "A few credit unions tried to enter this market and found they had to charge rates close to the payday lenders to break even," one reader commented. "This idea should go no further until the Post Office can produce credible pro formas showing what it would have to charge to break even on these loans. I suspect Sen. Warren would not be happy about the results of that analysis." Another reader added: "Just because [the U.S. Postal Service] has a large geographic footprint does not make the economics of lending any different."

American Postal Workers Union: Playing a protracted game of hide-and-seek, the USPS and Staples are refusing to come clean about the pilot program that outsources postal retail work to the office-supply chain.

Portage Daily Register: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wi., is in the political dog house of Wisconsin's largest industry. At issue are Johnson's Tea Party rhetoric and committee votes on postal-reform legislation. Postal votes are a vital issue for the multi-faceted mailing industry which accounts for over $26 billion in annual economic activity and employs more than 180,000 Wisconsin residents. The industry warns that ever-increasing mail rates will become a disincentive that will lead to companies finding other ways to communicate with their customers. The industry had supported an amendment advanced by Democrat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin that would have retained the existing power of the Postal Regulatory Commission and kept the latest increase as a "temporary" measure. Johnson criticized the Baldwin amendment at a session of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee saying higher rates "could put jobs at risk," but added, "My job is to protect the American taxpayer." Wisconsin's mailing and publishing industry quickly issued a sharp rebuke to Johnson. It issued a public letter signed by top paper and mailing industry executives and officials at 52 newspapers. It noted the mailing industry provides about 90 percent of Postal Service revenue.

The Courant: Untimely mail delivery and the Universal Service Fund are today's entries in this edition of "Is It Just Me?" – where no question is too small for The Bottom Line. "I asked my carrier about it and she told me that . . . when a carrier quits or leaves, the person is not replaced, so the rest of them work double shifts." "Apparently it is the U.S. Postmaster General who has instituted this "no replacement" policy. With postage rates going up again, this is unacceptable."

The Chief: A U.S. Senate committee Feb. 9 passed a postal-reform bill condemned by unions that would cut Worker's Compensation benefits across the entire Federal workforce and impose a new pre-funding mandate on the struggling organization.

Lake Expo: The U.S. Postal Service announced last February a plan to transition away from a six-day delivery schedule by late summer. That new schedule never took root, and some members of Congress believe fiscal reforms will keep mail moving to households and businesses every day but Sunday. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says that doing away with Saturday deliveries as a cost-cutting measure could in the long run increase the financial damage to the system. "I believe a five-day delivery could be a death spiral for the postal service," the Democratic lawmaker said. In the approved bill, an amendment by Ms. McCaskill prohibits the postal service from closing a post office except under specific conditions. Among the conditions for a closure is local access to broadband Internet service and proximity to another post office within 10 miles of driving distance.

Vancouver Sun: From 1969 to 1975, Canada Post's volume of mail grew by a billion pieces. From 2006 to 2012, it dropped by a billion pieces. "The system was set up on the premise that we would provide universal service," he said, noting that Canada Post is required to add delivery to 200,000 new homes every year, even as mail volumes continue to plummet. "The quid pro quo was that we'd be the only carrier allowed to carry mail. Now every customer delivers mail, which happens to be digital. So the value of exclusive privilege has evaporated. "It's unsustainable." But Chopra doesn't sound ready to throw in the towel. In December — a great month for cheering up a post office CEO, with a 20-per-cent increase over the year before in Christmas parcel volume, and a 29-per-cent increase in Vancouver — he announced a five-point plan to restore profitability by 2019. It includes: (1) Raising the price of a stamp to as much as 85 cents. (2) Reducing the postal workforce by about 10 per cent through attrition to just under 50,000, and generally trimming labour costs including pensions. (3) Establishing more postal franchises. (4) Using more and better technology. (5) Replacing home delivery for the one-third of Canadians who still get mail in group mailboxes.But one area — parcels — is showing great growth, driven in large part by evermore online shopping.

  • PostalOne!® Release 37.1 Deployment — This release repairs known issues in PostalOne!® and also includes database maintenance activities. The deployment will occur during the scheduled maintenance window of 4:00AM CT through 8:00AM CT on Sunday, February 23, 2014. There will be an outage during the maintenance release i.e. the application will be unavailable.

  • PostalOne! Release 37.1 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) — will occur also on Sunday, February 23, 2014, within the same release window as PostalOne!® Prod release 4:00AM CT thru 8:00AM CT.

February 14, 2014 

Fedweek:

  • Included in the postal reform bill is the Federal Real Property Asset Management Reform Act of 2013, which would require agencies to maintain accurate inventories of real property and develop workforce projections in regard to real property usage. The bill would also require agencies to continuously assess properties they control to identify excess or underused spaces suitable for colocation or consolidation with other agencies; establish goals to reduce excess or underutilized property; assess leased space to identify space that is not fully used or occupied; and conduct an inventory and make an assessment of real property under the control of the agency on an annual basis. The bill would further establish a Federal Real Property Council to develop guidance and ensure implementation of an efficient and effective real property management strategy, identify opportunities to better manage real property assets, and reduce the costs of managing real property. OMB would be required under the bill to pilot a program to dispose of any surplus property by sale, transfer, or other means of disposal. The language is one of numerous legislative proposals and executive initiatives on the same topic attempted in recent years.

  • In addition to removing the postmaster general and deputypostmaster general from the Postal Board of Governors, the bill would establish a Strategic Advisory Commission on Postal Service Solvency and Innovation as an independent commission to provide input on enhancing the long-term solvency of USPS and to foster innovative thinking to address the challenges facing USPS. As part of this innovation push, the bill would establish in the USPS the position of Chief Innovation Officer, appointed by the postmaster general based on expertise and accomplishment in innovative produce research and development, the postal and shipping industry, branding, and communications IT or business process management. It further requires the USPS to submit to Congress a strategic plan for a consolidated, efficient and cost effective area office and district office structure. The American Postal Workers Union called the bill "disastrous, claiming the bill would threaten 100,000 full and part-time jobs, lead to pension cuts and weaken the labor bargaining position ahead of upcoming contract negotiations. The APWU also balked at provisions that would allow USPS to further reduce service and delivery standards, and reduce workers compensation payments when beneficiaries hit age 66. The unionalso argues the bill opens the door to privatization of core functions of the Postal Service.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Bloomberg Businessweek: Launched in December, New York Metro Post is still a test-tube-size experiment. There are just five letter carriers making same-day deliveries in the city. The USPS is cagey about details—it won't say how many businesses have signed up or how much it charges customers for each package. It may be wary of calling too much attention to the service. New York is its second try at same-day delivery. The first pilot program, in San Francisco in 2013, was a flop, and postal officials said it will be suspended in March. Despite Metro Post's rocky start, the Postal Service considers it an important test of its ability to adapt and survive. Metro Post is all about shifting the agency's focus from dying first-class mail to package delivery of all kinds.

Jamaica Plain Gazette: The spate of mail delivery problems that hit Jamaica Plain last month has resulted in managerial changes, according to United States Postal Service spokesperson Melissa Lohnes.

Boston Globe: Senator Elizabeth Warren, as a financial industry watchdog, wants to crack down on sky-high interest rates and other potentially unfair practices of the payday loan industry. But as a self-described champion of lower-income families, she also sees a need for small, short-term loans for people who otherwise can't get credit. So Warren has seized on a novel idea: Transform the US Postal Service into a lender. The Massachusetts Democrat is calling for post offices to go into competition with private enterprise and offer simple financial services — like bill-paying, check-cashing and small loans — as an alternative to payday lending. "There are still people who need cash on a short-term basis," Warren said in an interview. "The question is: Is it possible to design something and give people access to small-dollar loans without getting them ensnared in the trap of payday lending?"

From the Federal Register:  Postal Service NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act , 9013 [2014–03509] [TEXT] [PDF]

PRC Docket ACR2013: The Association for Postal Commerce ("PostCom") hereby submits these reply comments in response to the comments filed by United Parcel Service ("UPS") on the Postal Service's Annual Compliance Report for Fiscal Year 2013 ("FY 2013 ACR"). PostCom submits these comments to second UPS's contention that the Postal Service must do more to properly track the attributable costs of its products, both market dominant and competitive. Specifically, the Postal Service should use Intelligent Mail barcode information and employ a bottom-up costing methodology to better understand cost drivers and allocate costs.

American Banker: The suggestion that the U.S. Postal Service might start offering banking services to Americans who currently rely on check cashers and payday lenders caught almost everyone off guard. Even the post office itself. The concept was floated in a report from an obscure agency, the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General, which normally plays no role at all in financial policy. Banking trade groups quickly ridiculed the idea. But some progressives, including influential Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, embraced it. The debate is not likely to end anytime soon. What follows is a guide to frequently asked questions about the road ahead for postal banking....

NetIndian: India Post has launched the electronic Indian Postal Order (e-IPO) facility, which can be used for paying online fees for filing applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, for Indian citizens living in India.

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

  • The Association for Postal Commerce will submit reply comments later today at the Postal Regulatory Commission in the Annual Compliance Report docket that second UPS's contention that the Postal Service must do more to properly track the attributable costs of its products, both market dominant and competitive. Specifically, the Postal Service should use Intelligent Mail barcode information and employ a bottom-up costing methodology to better understand cost drivers and allocate costs.
  • The National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, and Senator all have responded to the Postal Service's announcement last week that is lost $354 million for its first quarter of FY2014.
  • Postal Service: No plans for bitcoin. USPS responds to MPA's Hill article. Issa seeks to stamp out USPS' move into finance. Rahall announces USPS will not change hours at Bluefield Post Office. Magazine gain in digital sales but newsstand revenue continues to fall. The secret weapon at Christmas for the Post Office. UPU loses objections to .mail top level domain name. The Senate can't part with Saturday mail delivery. FedEx Express launches SenseAware in Europe. Two-thirds of Americans now have smartphones. Most digital ads aren't cutting it. Impact would extend beyond USPS. PMG shares with employees his vision for the future. Premature motion: PRC dismisses bid to view non-public Amazon docs. Obama's idea of fixing the Post Office: appoint a Kennedy. Elizabeth Warren's postal banking idea has big public support, new poll finds.
  • Announcements from the USPS to the Mailing Industry.
  • Announcements on recent reports, projects, and blog entries of the USPS OIG.
  • International postal news
  • Postal previews.
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February 13, 2014 

Save the Post Office: With the advent of competitive products and NSAs, much of the Postal Service's business is done out of the public view. Even though the Postal Service remains ostensibly a public service and a public institution, its course over the last four decades — particularly after the passage of PAEA in 2006 — has been towards a more corporate business model. Information about the basic workings of the Postal Service is increasingly treated as proprietary and private. The PRC is supposed to watch out for the public interest. There is clearly a role for a regulator in overseeing the nation's postal infrastructure. Even the big stakeholders have complained about the secrecy surrounding NSAs and competitive products dockets. In its recent comments in the Annual Compliance Review, for example, UPS took note of my attempt to review sealed material and discussed the issues of secrecy and oversight in these dockets. The Postal Service has a predilection towards secrecy and opacity. Postal reform has not shown us Congress at its finest hour. Many of our elected representatives — and not just Republicans like Darrell Issa — have seemed quite content to approve provisions that will inevitably lead to more piecemeal privatization of the postal network and ultimately to total privatization of the Postal Service itself. Diminishing the role of the PRC will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.

Bloomberg Businessweek: President Obama on Wednesday nominated Vicki Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, to the U.S. Postal Service's board of governors. Obama has had a close relationship with the Kennedys since Ted and his family members chose him over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. You could argue that the nomination is nothing short of political payoff, but good luck with that. Ambassador to France—now that's a payoff. But the postal board? You could just as easily argue it's more like a punishment. It's unclear what special insights Obama thinks Vicki Kennedy will bring to help solving the Postal Service's many problems. But her nomination does tell us something about the president: He doesn't seem to care all that much about mail.

Huffington Post: According to the new poll, 44 percent of Americans said they would favor the Postal Service offering basic financial services like bill-paying, check-cashing and small loans. Thirty-seven percent said they were opposed, and 19 percent said they weren't sure.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  Recording from the PRC's monthly meeting.

Hispanic Business: The Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) net income for the quarter ending December last year increased to 606m/-, up from 579m/- registered in similar period a year before. Cumulatively, the Bank profit increased to 4.23bn/- in the year ended December compared to 4.07bn/- recorded in the previous period. According to the TPB statement of financial position, the increase of net income was largely contributed by net interest income that jumped to 6.65bn/- in the quarter under review compared to 5.19bn/- registered in the corresponding period 2012.

iAfrica: Striking casual workers have returned to work, the South African Post Office confirmed on Wednesday. Around 6000 employees went on strike around two weeks ago demanding permanent contracts with benefits. Workers are busy trying to clear the backlog and many are working overtime, the service said. Post Office spokesperson Lungile Lose says more talks will be held.

SitNews: The simple fact here, is that our mail delivery has gone from great, to good, to bad (and even horrific) since LOCAL mail sorting was stopped in Ketchikan. You can talk about it all day long, BUT, the 1st Class Mail service has slowed by an ADDITIONAL minimum of 2-3 business days (A letter-sized package mailed from Ketchikan's main Post Office, sent to Bend, Oregon, for instance, now takes a solid 7 business days). Their "Priority Mail 3-Day" product, has also added an average of an additional 2 business days (3-5 business days). "Priority 2 Day Express" has been doing "okay" from my experience, with a 3-4 business day average time (west of the Mississippi). It is quite pricey, though. The old option of overnight U.S.P.S. "Express Mail", has vanished as an option, no longer offered by the Postal Service in our southern Alaska panhandle city of significant size (and growing).

Gulf Daily News: Bahrain Post increased postage rates by up to 300 per cent last December, which has affected businesses, especially publishing houses that heavily rely on the postal services, even forcing some to relocate abroad. However, migrant workers' rights activists say the worst affected are low-income labourers, who rely on inexpensive postal service to send letters and parcels home.

The Washington Post: The Carper-Coburn bill is a far cry from the transformation that the U.S. Postal Service truly needs. A more ambitious House bill, authored last year by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), called for an immediate end to Saturday delivery and the creation of a commission that would close unneeded facilities; the Carper-Coburn bill would protect postal infrastructure for two years. Still, the benefit-to-bailout ratio in Carper-Coburn is better than that in previous Senate postal legislation. That alone makes it a step in the right direction.

The Hill: President Obama has nominated the widow of former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to serve on the U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors. The White House announced Obama's intention to nominate Vicki Kennedy in a statement Wednesday night. The former Massachusetts senator endorsed Obama in the 2008 presidential primary over Hillary Clinton. Learn more by checking her Wikipedia bio.

The Press-Enterprise: As parts of the Inland Empire experience a rash of thefts from community mailboxes, U.S. postal authorities caution customers to empty the receptacles every day. The mailboxes, also known as cluster boxes, are cemented into the ground in many shopping centers and newer housing developments to allow letter carries to deposit mail for a dozen or more customers in only one location. The boxes, however, are also convenient for criminals who are hunting for credit cards, checks and personal information that can be sold. Stacia Crane, a spokeswoman for the Postal Inspection Service, said thieves often trade their bounty for drugs. [EdNote: Hey, wait a minute. I thought the Postal Service was trying to convince Congress that cluster boxes were more secure as mail receptacles.]

American Banker: Postal bank sites from around the world.

NewsLink: PMG Pat Donahoe has detailed an outline for building on the Postal Service's recent successes by expanding delivery options and expanding consumer access to USPS products. Donahoe begins his latest State of the Business video by thanking employees for their continuing effort through the holiday season and during severe winter weather. "We had a big challenge with the weather," Donahoe says. "We really came through this holiday season. You did a tremendous job across the board. We had about a 15 percent increase in packages," including many delivered on Sundays.

February 12, 2014 

Fedweek: Removing postal employees and retirees from the FEHB risk and premium pool would have unknown effects on the remainder of the FEHB-eligible population. If the premise underlying the bill is correct that the postal portion overall is a more favorable risk, the effect could be to force up premiums for those remaining in FEHB by removing the postal contingent from the broader pool used now. It also carries a government-wide provision—again, with some exceptions—that would reduce FECA program injury compensation benefits for those totally disabled to 50 percent of the salary rate upon hitting Social Security full retirement age, currently 66. For those partially disabled, the benefit would be reduced to 50 percent of the difference between that salary rate and the person's earning capacity. In addition, a special allowance for dependents generally would be ended after three years. The bill now moves to a Senate vote. In the last Congress, the Senate passed a somewhat similar bill that died when the House did not take up its own bill. The House version in this Congress similarly has cleared committee but has been hung up for a variety of reasons, including disputes over six-day mail delivery, potential closings of post offices and processing facilities and relief from an existing requirement to pre-fund retiree health insurance costs.

American Banker: The U.S. Postal Service should add financial services to its repertoire. Doing so would challenge existing political philosophies and bolster economic growth.

Post & Parcel: The Postal Corporation of Kenya is now charging Value Added Tax on its services under new government legislation. Kenya's national postal service began adding VAT to its fees as of 3rd February to comply with legislation implemented back in November. In a statement, the Post confirmed that the government's National Treasury will collect VAT amounting to 16% of service charges, from all postal services, with tax revenue going to the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Mobilestorm: According to the preliminary findings of a new industry report, most digital ads just aren't cutting it. And, as a result, they are being overlooked by the vast majority of connected Americans. The latest survey from Goo Technologies shows that more than 80% of Americans flat-out ignore the digital ads to which they are exposed.

Mobilestorm: If you're in the United Kingdom, there is an excellent possibility that the next person you spot using their smartphone to scan a QR code will be a man. According to the most recent data from comScore, among mobile phone users in Great Britain, 63% scanning QR codes were male. While some across the mobile community were surprised to learn that only 37% of QR code scanners in the U.K. are women, there is little surprise that the most ardent QR code scanners are younger folks.

Gulf News: As the country's (India) financial system limped back to normalcy as banks resumed work after a two-day strike, the postal services are being hit for two days starting Wednesday, for various demands, including revision of wages.

Engadget: The US has officially become a smartphone nation -- at least, if you ask Nielsen. The research group's latest Digital Consumer Report estimates that 65 percent of all Americans owned one of the devices in 2013. That's a big step up from 44 percent in 2011, and smartphones are now more common than game consoles (46 percent) and digital cable (54 percent). Americans are also increasingly tech-laden, with an average of four devices per person; 29 percent of them have a tablet versus just 5 percent two years ago. That shift toward mobile is affecting how many spend their free time. Americans spent an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsers in 2013; that's more time than they spent online with their PCs, which chewed up 27 hours. Social networking use is declining on the desktop, too, while it's surging in mobile. Smartphones aren't as ubiquitous as TVs at this stage, but they've clearly taken hold of the public consciousness.

CEP News: Swiss Post is considering cutting its delivery frequency to five days a week.

Wall Street Journal: Rising interest rates and surging stocks propelled corporate pension plans to their highest year-end funding levels since 2007, giving companies the financial freedom to open their purse strings. While the final numbers are still coming in, total pension funding levels of companies in the S&P 500 index are projected to have improved by $303 billion last year. That means the average pension is 93% funded in terms of its assets and liabilities, up from 78% a year earlier, according to research firm ISI Group. As pensions approach full funding, companies generally need to contribute less each year to bolster their plans. With significantly lower pension expenses, more companies now have the flexibility to invest in their businesses or pay down debt. [EdNote: Who...? What...? Where...? Not postal, right?]

Financial Times: On a tour of Poste Italiane's headquarters in Rome, chief executive Massimo Sarmi proudly shows off banks of computer screens and busy technicians monitoring everything from suspected cyber attacks on its systems and banking clients, to the flow of electronically scanned letters and customers queueing at branches around the country. There is even a room – behind closed doors – hosting a cyber security research project with US intelligence agencies. In common with Europe's other recently privatised postal operators, such as Royal Mail in the UK, the mail business – apart from e-commerce driven parcel delivery – is in decline. The group now makes about 80 per cent of its revenue from financial and insurance products, and expects results for 2013 to be in line with a net profit of €1bn in 2012 on revenues of €24bn. Poste Italiane was a pioneer in Europe of pre-paid cards and launched its BancoPoste financial arm in 1998. With 6m current account holders and €400bn in deposits, it is Italy's sixth largest bank, though without a banking licence, and with PosteVita its third-largest insurer. Its PosteMobile division has issued 3m SIM-cards. Mr Sarmi sees Poste Italiane as "more like Amazon and Google than Deutsche Post."

USA Today: "Postal salaries go up as workforce shrinks"

If you missed the February 11th PostCom webinar on "Full-Service Intelligent Mail Outreach Program," you can still listen to the webinar and follow along with the slides, both of which have been posted on this site.  Webinar | Slides

Office of the Inspector General:

  • U.S. Postal Service Creative Service and Advertising Contracts. The Postal Service, as America's oldest and most trusted delivery service, has to maintain a distinction between other delivery services in the marketplace to remain competitive. The Postal Services' competitive advantage is dependent on the American people's perception and trust in its brand. In fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service committed approximately $227,220,071 in purchases for advertising and creative services to help promote its brand.

  • U.S. Postal Service Professional Consulting Services Contracts. The OIG is currently conducting a review of the Postal Service's professional consulting contracts. Our objectives are to assess the evaluation of suppliers for professional consulting contracts and compare the suppliers' executive compensation rates with federal government rates for comparable services.

Mondaq: A NERA team, led by Associate Director Stuart Holder and working in conjunction with Consult Sirius, was commissioned by Ofcom to review approaches to measuring the efficiency of postal operators. In 2012, Ofcom introduced a new seven-year regulatory framework for the UK postal industry, which gave Royal Mail greater flexibility and commercial freedom to return the universal service to financial sustainability. Alongside measures to ensure the affordability of universal postal services and, where appropriate, to promote effective competition, Ofcom is also monitoring Royal Mail's performance, including its rate of efficiency improvement, to ensure its regulatory objectives are met. While Ofcom is not intending to set specific efficiency targets, its monitoring of Royal Mail will need to be informed by a view of what might represent a reasonable rate of improvement. If the monitoring regime identifies potential concerns about the rate of efficiency improvement, or in the event of a review of the impact of end-to-end competition on the universal service, Ofcom may also need to carry out more detailed analysis. And further in-depth analysis would be required if Ofcom were to decide to re-introduce a more comprehensive price control, or needed to establish a universal service compensation fund.

The Moscow Times: The Communications and Press Ministry has submitted a draft bill to the government that would reorganize Russian Post and pave the way for the flotation of the company's shares, Interfax reported Tuesday. The move is part of an overall strategy that would not only make Russian Post financially independent by 2018, but would also propel it into the top five of the world's most profitable postal services. Under the bill, all infrastructure belonging to Russian Post, which is currently a federal state unitary enterprise, would be registered to a newly-created joint stock company whose shares would be owned by the state.

Fierce Government: The Postal Service should consider paying its employees based on the local cost-of-living rather than through a flat wage calculated regardless of location, a Feb. 7 USPS inspector general white paper says.

Fierce Government: A legislative attempt to create a Postal Service innovation officer and allow the agency to offer non-postal services such as check cashing failed during a Feb. 11 House Oversight and Governmental Affairs committee markup. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) offered an amendment to a bill (H.R 4011) going through committee that would ease restrictions on private carriers bidding to carry postal service deliveries to certain parts of Alaska. Cummings withdrew his proposal for lack of support. Both provisions included in his amendment were part of last year's postal reform bill (H.R. 2748) approved by the committee in July 2013. The provisions were also included in a separate bill (H.R. 2690) last year that addressed innovation at the Postal Service. That bill was referred to the committee on July 16, but never voted on.

Daily Record: The payroll for postmasters and other salaried employees of the U.S. Postal Service rose $113.2 million in the last year even as the struggling mail system trimmed its staff by 3,100 positions, a NJ Press Media examination of pay records found. The base pay for 388,823 salaried employees was $22.5 billion as of January, up from $22.4 billion in April 2013. The number of full-time employees dropped by 3,175 during the same time, according to the review of postal service payrolls.

February 11, 2014 

Autoblog: Paris-based Symbio is proposing something akin to mixing chocolate with peanut butter (never a bad thing, in our book) with the idea of adding a hydrogen fuel-cell range extender to a Renault electric vehicle. Enter the HyKangoo. Symbio is working with La Poste, France's postal service, and the vehicles in question are Renault Kangoo ZE vans. Those vehicles can go about 100 miles on a single charge in the best of situations, but between bad weather and hilly terrain, the realistic range is quite a bit less. Since most French postal vans travel more than 60 miles a day, going the pure EV route is a close call. Enter the HyKangoo (yep, that's what they're called). Symbio is adding a fuel-cell range-extender to the ZE, which expands the van's range to about 200 miles, all while keeping them emissions free.

The Product Category Rules (PCR) for Postal services have been published in the International EPD® System. The PCR is now available to use to certify and register Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) or Climate Declarations for this product category. By defining the the calculation rules for the underlying environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) and format for reporting, the PCR document ensures comparability and transparency of EPDs. The PCR was developed by a working group led by the International Post Corporation. The other participants were CTT Correios de Portugal, Correos y Telégrafos, PostNord and the United States Postal Service. During its development, the PCR was subject to two months open consultation on www.environdec.com, as well as review and approval by the Technical Committee of the International EPD® System.

speaker Now hear this: "This Week In Postal".........the latest podcast posted now!  Topics: Load leveling, S.1486, Phase 2 postal consolidations, R2013 appeals.

Press Release: FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. and the world's largest express transportation company, has today announced the expansion of its award-winning service, SenseAware®, into 14 new countries across Europe*. FedEx customers in Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany can now stay one step closer to their most critical, high-value and time-sensitive shipments in near real-time with SenseAware. Customers in Canada will now also benefit from expanded capabilities and availability in that country. The expansion of the SenseAware service in Europe and Canada means a matching rollout in those countries for the FedEx ShipmentWatch service. FedEx ShipmentWatch, a service of FedEx Custom Critical, leverages SenseAware for a range of sensitive shipments, including one-time and non-FedEx shipments.

Breitbart.com: First, there are no economies of scale in banking and consumer credit, period. Anyone who actually works in banking knows this. Second, the idea of the U.S.P.S. getting into financial services belongs in the same silly bucket as Ellen Brown's Public Banking Institute, where states sponsor public banks using taxpayer funds as capital. We discussed this popular idiocy in an earlier comment, "Washington & Wall Street: Income Inequality Starts with Inflation and Public Debt." The logic of liberals such as Senator Warren and Ellen Brown goes something like this: First, completely cripple the private banking system with oppressive regulations. Second, bring in the government to solve the problem created by step one. This approach to regulating private sector industries is not really about helping people, as Warren and her ilk like to pretend, but rather is a way of entrenching government (and the liberals who derive economic sustenance thereby) in all aspects of our lives. The truth of the matter is that providing retail banking services to the "underserved" is a loss leader for most banks and non-banks. The reason why such a large portion of the U.S. population is not served by traditional financial institutions is that retail banking in general is not really profitable.

Dallas News: The public argument regarding payday lending is gradually shifting from a focus on the problem to focus on solutions. The best answer is for more banks to populate underserved communities and offer more affordable products. But that's not happening. In fact, 93 percent of the 2,300 bank closures in 2012 were in communities below the national median income. So what if we had an institution — one already in these neighborhoods — that could offer short-term loan products that didn't send working-class and poor people into bankruptcy? Something like the U.S. Postal Service. Nationally, payday loan patrons spend $89 billion in fees and interest every year. So if the USPS, as it projects, could capture 10 percent of that market, as well as 10 percent of the 68 million currently underserved, through the use of a postal banking card, that would help its own cash-strapped operation.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Something puzzling happened last week, when the U.S. Senate passed a postal reform bill allowing the U.S. Postal Service to move to five-day delivery if mail volume falls below 140 billion pieces a year, which would amount to a 10 percent decline over 2012. The bill that emerged on Thursday, however, has an amendment forbidding the USPS from moving to five-day delivery until the fourth quarter of 2017. Rather than scaling back service in response to lower mail volume, Congress may very well preserve an outmoded service for three additional years. In an election year, few lawmakers want to lose votes by curtailing mail delivery.

Chicago Tribune: Reports of delayed mail, vanished packages and poor customer service prompted apologies and promises of improvement from a regional Postal Service official during a Monday meeting in Oak Park. "There has been consistent non-delivery," Peter Allen, the agency's district manager for Chicago's south suburbs, told a crowd of about 100 people at the Oak Park Public Library. Allen acknowledged problems are too widespread in some parts of the western suburbs to be explained by recent bouts of cold and snow. Rick Nosek, a 58-year-old Oak Park resident, said his experiences trying to reach local post officials when his mail was delayed show the organization's problems run deeper than understaffing. When he finally got a local official on the phone, the person hung up on him, Nosek said. "It's apathy," he said. [EdNote: No. It's bureaucratic narcissism. I count. You don't.]

Office of the Inspector General: Network Consolidation on Hold.  Hold everything, folks. That's the recent message from the U.S. Postal Service on phase two of its network consolidation plan and associated changes to service standards. The Postal Service has delayed the second phase, which was set to take effect this month.

Minyanville: In a typical December, United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS) and FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX) see their volumes peak mid-month as folks wrap up their Christmas buying. Last year, however, the packages just kept coming. "More consumers shopped last-minute," said an analyst from NPD Group, as events unfolded. "E-commerce shipments far exceeded peak projections," noted UPS during its quarterly earnings call. "Last-minute promotions by online retailers drove extraordinary volume growth leading up to Christmas." Could it be that free two-day shipping encourages people to procrastinate, creating bottlenecks like the one we saw late last year?

Air Cargo World: DHL Global Forwarding announced Monday the launch of a new temperature-controlled airfreight service between Brussels and Cincinnati. The DHL Aviation Boeing 747-400 freighter will operate the 8.3-hour flight six times per week in each direction and offers reserved space for life sciences products. Real-time tracking and temperature measurement data is available on each flight.

Financial Times: The United Arab Emirates is hoping to become the first government to deliver basic services via unmanned aerial vehicles as it seeks to maintain its competitive edge in the bureaucracy-laden Middle East.  The lack of a regular postal service has left the inhabitants of congested Dubai and Abu Dhabi reliant on courier services. The UAE will over the next year establish what services the unmanned vehicles could be used for, officials said.

February 10, 2014 

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  This is a reminder that the February 2014 OS patching will be applied to all PostalOne! and MDX PROD Web-Sphere/Batch/MQ servers scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday 2/11/14 4:00 am CST. Users may experience intermittent log off for the web applications and a 1 hour outage for xml web services (as a result of the MQ server reboot and application servers reboot to re-establish connection to MQ) Please report any issues caused by this patching.

New Republic: A recent recommendation by the U.S. Postal Service inspector general that the agency offer basic banking services to customers has generated lots of discussion. In fact, seemingly everyone is taking it seriously except for the leadership of the Postal Service. Here's where Obama deserves criticism: There are five vacancies on the nine-member board. He has not successfully placed a single appointee on it during his entire tenure in office. The four existing members were all appointed by George W. Bush. Obama could fill the vacancies and restore a Democratic majority (by law, no more than five members of the board must come from one party, but with five vacancies to work with, he can certainly establish a majority). The Board of Governors does not have unchecked power on postal policy. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Here, too, the Obama Administration has been asleep at the switch. The PRC has two vacancies, and currently the panel includes two Republicans (a longtime Republican National Committee official and a former Congressional chief of staff) and one Democrat. Once again, actually appointing nominees would lead to a Democratic majority on the commission.

HousingWire: So the Postal Service is thinking of becoming a (non)bank? Camden Fine, president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, argued against the idea in his blog saying, "Sometimes an idea comes along that is so bad — so half-baked and ill-considered — that it should be politely heard…and then squashed outright before it has a chance to gain any traction." "The truth is that this proposal is a dead letter," Fine added.

Canada NewsWire: Canada Post Corporation (CPC) conducted a secret four-year study on postal banking, which seems to indicate that getting into financial services would be "a win-win strategy" and a "proven money-maker" for the corporation. CPC's research study was stopped cold in the fall of 2013, just before the post office announced a five-point plan of massive cuts and steep rate hikes. Blacklock's Reporter obtained the internal report, including a management report entitled Banking: A Proven Diversification Strategy, through an Access to Information request. 701 of its 811 pages were redacted. "Based on what we have learned so far," says Gayle Bossenberry, 1st National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), "it seems the report was on track to confirm the recommendations of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), and vindicate what postal workers have been saying: there's a great potential here to keep the public postal service self-sufficient. But instead they killed the research and buried the report."

Domain Name Wire: The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has lost community objections against five applications for the .mail top level domain name. UPU filed objections against all five active applicants for .mail, including Amazon.com, Google, Donuts, WhitePages TLD and GMO Registry. The objections on community grounds seemed like quite a stretch, although not as ridiculous as the United States Postal Service's objection to .mail on trademark grounds. Where UPU ultimately failed in its objection was showing that there was significant objection to .mail from within the postal community. Although UPU had USPS' backing, ultimately few of UPU's members expressed opposition. The USPS' objection was also somewhat undermined by the U.S. Department of Commerce. UPU runs the sponsored top level domain name .post. As of October, .post has only 17 domain name registrations.

The Postal Service's "secret weapon".........Persuasive disingenuity.

Post & Parcel: The US Postal Service made a $354m net loss in the year's peak season, according to its latest financial figures. The performance was an improvement on last year's $1.3bn first quarter loss, but represented the 19th loss-making quarter in the last 21 quarters at USPS. Expenses were partly cut thanks to 22,800 employees taking voluntary early retirement last year. [EdNote: Yeah, sure. With pay-out incentives that came straight from the rate-paying pockets of mailing customers. A real manifestation of postal socialism gone wild. Doing things with other people's money.]

South China Morning Post: Consumers can expect more frequent increases in postal rates as loss-making Hongkong Post mulls further fee adjustments to keep itself afloat. Staff costs and rents were two areas keeping the self-funded government department from being financially sustainable, a union leader said. The post office last raised charges for local and air mail just four months ago, in October. Fees rose by up to 25 per cent in the city's first revision of postal charges in more than a decade. The move was estimated to bring in an extra HK$340 million a year, but would not be sufficient to return Hongkong Post to the black in the longer term, the post office said. "To secure longer-term financial sustainability, we will continue our strategy on cost management," a Hongkong Post spokeswoman said. "Also, we will keep postage rates under regular review and adjust them periodically with regard to relevant factors, such as cumulative inflation, our financial position, the economic environment and the affordability of rates for the public." It is understood Hongkong Post wants to increase fees every one or two years.

February 9, 2014 

New York Post: My, oh, my, how times have changed. America now has a government that views work as a trap and celebrates those who escape it. This anti-job, pro-dependency tilt is the crux of the nation's polarization. In essence, it pits those who believe in the sanctity of work against those who believe in penalizing wealth and redistributing its fruits. Not all Democrats agree with that approach, but the party is now controlled by those who do.

National Journal: Theoretically, the USPS could partner with banks, who would help it offer branded, reloadable prepaid cards; set up and manage Web and mobile access to financial services; service accounts and loans; and maybe even fund and hold the loans on their own balance sheets. In return for the banks' participation, the USPS would offer its massive network of post offices, 38 percent of which are in ZIP codes that don't have a bank, and its trustworthy name. The banks could reap "substantial revenue" through the arrangement, the white paper predicts. A marriage made in heaven? Hardly. The banks are not quite on board with the idea of allowing the Postal Service to expand into their realm.

The Washington Times: Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of … your banking needs. Since the U.S. Postal Service can't compete head-to-head with the private delivery firms FedEx, UPS and email — the postal service lost $5 billion last year — the mailman thinks he can be a better banker than the likes of Citibank, Chase, Bank of America and Capital One. Good luck with that.

Structured Release Schedule for 2014. February 19, 2014 11:00 AM EST The USPS and industry members have been discussing issues relative to the manner in which changes to labeling lists, mail direction files, zone charts, and service standards are made, as well as the timing of those changes which often pose a problem in the mailing supply chain and to the USPS. Per the request of the mailing industry, MTAC Task Team # 11 was tasked to re-open and re-evaluate the structured release cycle that was implemented in 2013. This webinar will provide an update of the MTAC Task Team #11 discussions. Instructions for participating in the webinar appear below: Attendee Information: U.S./Canada Attendee Dial-in: (888) 890-1547 Conference ID: 43108255 Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=990240314 If you cannot join using the direct link above, please use the alternate login below: Alternate URL: https://usps.webex.com Event Number: 990 240 314

USPS records $354 million loss in first quarter Reduced costs, package growth can't offset First-Class Mail decline. The U.S. Postal Service ended the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2013 – Dec. 31, 2013) with a net loss of $354 million. This marks the 19th of the last 21 quarters that it has sustained a loss. Though the Postal Service has been able to grow revenue by capitalizing on opportunities in Shipping and Package Services and has aggressively reduced operating costs, losses continue to mount due to the persistent decline of higher-margin First-Class Mail, stifling legal mandates, and its inflexible business and governance models.

PCWorld: Networking experts are running out of superlatives to describe the coming tidal wave/explosion/cataclysm of mobile data traffic. Cisco last week said mobile data is expected to grow by 11 times in the next four years, reaching 18 exabytes per month by 2018. An exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes. Mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 61 percent annually into 2018, with the extra traffic from just one year—2017—expected to be triple the entire mobile Internet in 2013. Cisco anticipates the number of mobile users to reach nearly 5 billion by 2018 (up from 4.1 billion in 2013) and more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices, including machine-to-machine connections by then (up from 7 billion in 2013). Using sophisticated research tools and surveys of a broad array of wireless service providers globally, Cisco also discovered that average global network speeds will almost double from 1.4Mbps in 2013 to 2.5Mbps by 2018. Speeds will be higher in the U.S. where LTE often gives users more than 1Mbps for downloads.

The Hindu: Postal employees in the city plan to go on a two-day strike, starting Wednesday, for various demands, including absorption of gramin dak sevaks as regular employees and reversal of the ban on recruitment. Postal operations are likely to be affected on these days with various unions, including the National Federation of Postal Employees and Postal Employees Progressive Union, functioning in the State joining the nationwide strike.

American Postal Workers Union: The Postal Service's financial report for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 shows the agency enjoyed an operating surplus of $765 million. But the agency's good news was buried in most media accounts, which said the USPS suffered a loss of $354 million loss. "The USPS reported losses for the first quarter of 2014 for one reason — the congressional mandate that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees." said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. No other government agency or private company faces such a requirement. "The USPS is suffering from a manufactured crisis," Dimondstein said. "Privatizers have used the ginned-up crisis to undermine a great national treasure. They've been closing mail processing plants, outsourcing retail operations, threatening to eliminate six-day delivery and generally harming service."

Save the Post Office: Section 301 transfers much of the responsibility for setting postal rates in the future from the PRC to the Postal Board of Governors. The PRC's role would be reduced to reviewing the BOG's decision after the fact, rather than approving increases before they're implemented. Finally, Section 301 gives the BOG the primary role in a 2017 rewrite of the ratemaking system. The PRC will be able to veto the rewrite, but that's the extent of its role.

The International News: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has detected that Pakistan Post Office illegally retained around Rs10 million, while deducting taxes on delivery of parcels, official sources said on Saturday. According to an audit report, the postal authorities deducted the amount of Rs9.84 million as duties, sales tax, federal excise duty, withholding tax and special excise duty, while delivering the parcels during the fiscal year 2012-13 but the same amount was not remitted to the FBR account.

GMA: The postal services of at least three countries have extended assistance to the Philippine Postal Corp. (PhlPost)'s employees and offices affected by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). PhlPost said the Singapore Post donated SGD50,000 (P1.7 million), which was given to Yolanda-affected PhlPost employees in Central, Western, and Eastern Visayas. Meanwhile, the Malaysian Post, donated 15 ergonomic sorting frames, 10 computers and 10 printers to be turned over to affected postal offices. For its part, the United States Postal Service donated four satellite phones that were given to the area office in Cebu, and to post offices in Tacloban, Ormoc, and Catbalogan Cities.

ABS-CBN News: With the continuing decline of "snail mail," government-owned Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost) is looking at new ways to deliver postal services in a more efficient manner. Dela Cruz said Philpost has ventured into logistics and financial services while trying to keep rates lower than its private counterparts. Dela Cruz believes that Philpost has an advantage over private couriers because of its large network of 1,500 post offices in the country. Dela Cruz said Philpost is in talks with the Bureau of Customs to facilitate the entry of goods into the country. Instant money remittance and electronic money order services are also being offered at the government website. Philpost said its door-to-door cash delivery service is now being supported by an "electronic proof of delivery."

Wall Street Journal: Both United Parcel Service Inc. and rival FedEx Corp. struggled with a flood of last-minute deliveries over the holidays, with varying degrees of success. But public-sector rival U.S. Postal Service said Friday it thinks it did just fine. The secret to success? Sunday delivery. "The key for us is the seven-day a week delivery," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe during the Postal Service's quarterly earnings call with journalists. "If we hadn't delivered on Sunday, we would have carried heavy volumes into Monday and that would have been problematic." [EdNote: Huh? Whatever happened to going to five days delivery being essential? Okay, where's the "truthiness" here? "Five days are essential" or "seven-day delivery is the key?"]

February 8, 2014 

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 for a session now by clicking a date below: Tue, Feb 11, 2014 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EST 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.

Waterbury Republican-American: A local man who worked as an upper-level supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service pleaded guilty Friday to bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges for using a Windsor postal facility to funnel money to his private company.

Appalachian News-Express: A Pikeville-based employee of the U.S. Postal Service is facing federal charges including selling morphine and oxycodone, misappropriation of postal funds and theft of money orders.

Utica Observer Dispatch: It can be frustrating when your bills don't show up on time or when letters to family members get lost. For the past several months, mail delivery along Cleveland Avenue and other parts of West Utica has been spotty at best. Residents have complained about the issues, including mail delivered to the wrong address or days where the mail never comes, but the problem won't go away. The first time residents went to the post office about the issue, it was resolved, but soon delivery faulted again, said Councilman David Testa, D-2.The U.S. Postal Service is aware of the issue, and the biggest problem is a lack of staff for Utica, said spokeswoman Maureen Marion.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph: U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., announced Friday that the hours of operation will not be changing at the Bluefield Federal Street Post Office. "I appreciate the Postal Service fixing this problem but it should have never happened, and there is no guarantee the Postal Service will not try again to shorten hours," Rahall said. "I think that such moves are incredibly misguided. Reduced window hours can have a terrible effect on our local economy, hurting our small businesses and inconveniencing our residents. We must stay vigilant in protecting our postal operations and facilities." Rahall was informed by constituents about a move by the U.S. Postal Service to reduce the window hours at both the Bluefield Federal Street and East Beckley post offices. After contacting postal officials, he was informed that the Postal Service's full analysis and approval process had not been followed and some important steps were missed when analyzing adjustments to window hours.

New York Times: Magazine circulation declined slightly in the last six months of 2013, according to new figures released Thursday by the Alliance for Audited Media, as big declines in single-copy newsstand sales offset gains in digital editions. Total average circulation was down nearly 2 percent, according to the report, which covered the six-month period that ended Dec. 31. Paid subscriptions were down just over 1 percent, but single-copy sales declined by more than 11 percent. Digital editions, a growing segment on which many magazines have made heavy bets, were up nearly 37 percent over the same period in 2012. More than 300 magazines reported a total of nearly 11 million digital edition sales.

February 7, 2014 

Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Postal Service posted a sharply narrower first-quarter loss as it continued to cut costs and posted revenue growth in its shipping and packagingsegment. Its loss narrowed to $354 million, from the year-earlier's loss of $1.3 billion. But Chief Executive Patrick Donahoe said the agency won't return to long-term financial stability without an overhaul of postal legislation. Without action, the Postal Service will have insufficient cash and no ability to borrow funds, forcing it to default on another required $5.7 billion retiree health benefits prefunding payment due Sept. 30. The Postal Service said it will continue to have a low level of liquidity through October. If the agency has insufficient cash, it said it may have to prioritize payments to employees and suppliers before the federal government to continue to deliver mail.

Fox News: Allowing the U.S. Postal Service to expand into the financial service industry would be "unacceptable" and a "massive expansion" of the government power, a key lawmaker said Friday. As an executive branch agency, Rep. Darryl Issa, R-Calif., said any expansion of the Postal Service's ability to generate revenue from non-postal methods poses "serious fair competition" concerns. "Currently, the Postal Service pays no federal, state, or local taxes, is exempt from most state and local laws, and is implicitly backed by the taxpayer in the event of bankruptcy," Issa said in a statement. "With these inherent advantages over the private sector, allowing USPS to expand into broad new arenas, such as the financial service industry, would be unacceptable and represent a massive expansion of the power of government." "Rather than trying to find a new mission for an oversized agency, the goal should be to rightsize the agency to adjust to diminishing demand," Issa's statement continued. "There is no guarantee USPS will make a profit in any nonpostal endeavor and gambling on a massive expansion of USPS's mission to support unnecessary infrastructure is irresponsible."

The Hill: Toni DeLancey, senior manager of public relations and corporate communications for the U.S. Postal Service -- Mary Berner, CEO of the Association of Magazine Media, recently asserted in Roll Call ("Don't Give the USPS a Blank Check to Exploit Its Monopoly Powers: Return This Bill to Sender,"Jan. 29) that legislation pending in the Senate would provide the Postal Service with "unchecked, unprecedented power to charge Americans whatever it wants for its services." Leaving aside the hyperbole, the underlying sentiment is simply untrue. Indeed, from even the most modest understanding of our public policy challenges, the idea that the Postal Service would emerge "unchecked" from any legislative outcome is laughable. The bill provides reasonable authority and greater flexibility to develop and price products and services. This is a basic need for an organization that derives all of its income from the sale of postage. Additionally, the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission are bound by law to determine "just and reasonable" postage rates. This requirement will not change under proposed legislation — and it will always be in our interests to preserve the affordability of mail. Your readers might be surprised to know that magazine publishers pay only about 27 cents for delivery on average, which is far below the rate at which the Postal Service can recover the cost to deliver. One might reasonably assume that such a steep pricing discount is the result of a long history of unchecked and unprecedented power — not of the Postal Service, but at its expense.

National Association of Letter Carriers: Today's Postal Service figures for the first quarter of 2014 are highly encouraging and show why the postal network must be maintained and strengthened, not degraded. The announced operating profit of $765 million for the first quarter is dramatic in itself—and it continues the operating profitability that began last year.

The Hill: Top postal officials said Friday they had no plans to start dabbling in the bitcoin market. Joseph Corbett, the struggling agency's top financial officer, told reporters that the virtual currency market was still too volatile, and not transparent enough for the U.S. Postal Service to take part. "At the moment, we have no current plans to be involved in that market," Corbett said, though he also noted the agency would "continue to look at it." Putting bitcoin ATMs in local post offices is one of the ideas being kicked around for getting the USPS into the virtual currency market. The agency's inspector general recently hosted a discussion on the Postal Service's potential role in the bitcoin market.

Talking New Media: When it comes to a power play between magazine publishers and gun owners in Washington DC, publishers don't stand a chance. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, by a vote of 9 to 1 approved moving the 2014 Postal Reform Act to the Senate floor. The bill, crafted by Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is intended to reform the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service through a number of measures including creating a health-insurance option within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Two amendments were debated before the measure was moved by the committee. The first, proposed by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), was backed by business mailers including the MPA – The Association of Magazine Media. The amendment would have struck a section of the new legislation and kept the existing CPI price cap, as well as the Postal Regulatory Commission rate review authority. The amendment was voted down.

Sen. Thomas Carper: "Today we are reminded that the U.S. Postal Service continues to suffer unsustainable losses that threaten its long-term viability. While these losses are an improvement compared to the $1.3 billion loss in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, it certainly makes it clear that the Postal Service continues to face financial challenges that can only be alleviated by comprehensive postal reform legislation. Fortunately, our Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs passed bipartisan legislation yesterday that will help make the necessary changes to right size the Postal Service, provide it the tools and flexibility to generate new revenue and relieve it of onerous requirements to prefund employee benefits. I hope this legislation, and the House's counterpart, make it onto both the Senate floor and House floor as soon as possible. It's time that Congress and the Administration work together to save the Postal Service for the long haul."

Bloomberg Businessweek: The U.S. Postal Service will end a same-day delivery experiment in San Francisco by March 1 after it couldn't find enough retailers to participate and got only $760 in revenue, the agency's inspector general said. Only 95 packages were sent by six participating retailers over a five-month period, far fewer than the 200-a-day target, the Office of Inspector General said in Feb. 5 report made public today. While saying the agency didn't implement the program properly, the report faulted the inability to get large retailers to take part in the program.

Office of the Inspector General: Metro Post Same Day Delivery Pilot – San Francisco District Management Advisory Report

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

  • USPS Full-Service Intelligent Mail Outreach Program Register now for the February 11, 2:00-3:30pm webinar:https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/588330232 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.\
  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has passed out of committee the Postal Reform Act (S.1486) with a vote of 9-1. Senator Baldwin's amendment to Section 301 was modified by Senators Carper and Coburn and passed by the committee. Here is an analysis of Section 301 as modified.
  • According to the National Letter Carriers Association, "the official vote was 9 to 1 to move S. 1486 out of committee. Proxy votes (4-2 against the measure) are "for the record" and do not count toward the official vote total."
  • According to Senator Carper, "It's no secret that the U.S. Postal Service faces dire financial difficulties that threaten its survival. While things have improved modestly in recent months, this American Institution needs long-term, comprehensive reform to address its fiscal challenges and that reform can only come from Congress. The measure reported out of Committee today offers a bipartisan, balanced approach and requires shared sacrifice in order to help the Postal Service survive and thrive for decades to come."
  • The U.S. Postal Service ended the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2013 – Dec. 31, 2013) with a net loss of $354 million. The USPS has an operating income of $700 million for the first quarter if it did not have the prefunding requirement. This quarter marks the 19th of the last 21 quarters that it has sustained a loss. The Postal Service said, "Without structural change to the Postal Service's business model, it will continue to be negatively impacted by these factors and, absent legislative change, it anticipates continuing quarterly losses for the remainder of 2014."
  • Democrats skirmish with Paul over guns on postal property. Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service: expressed its great disappointment in the Postal Reform Act. Two-thirds of marketing emails now opened on mobile devices. Bankers balk as USPS floats plan for payday loans, digital currency. Senate committee reports out S. 1486, 9 to 1. MPA reacts to rejection of Baldwin amendment to postal reform bill. Postage increase imperils Wisconsin's printing and paper industries. Obamacare comes to banking. FedEx Office & Print Services to build corporate campus on Penney land. Begich secures major fixes to USPS problems in Alaska. More bad news for mailing industry: Senate Committee advances postal reform act. Senate panel approves ‘disastrous' postal bill. Tester says postal bill ‘moves the USPS closer to privatization.' Senators decide to move postal reform bill to the Senate floor.
  • Announcements on recent reports, projects, and blog entries of the USPS OIG.
  • Postal previews.
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Wall Street Journal: December job growth was revised up only slightly, to 75,000 from an initially reported 74,000. That marked the weakest month of job creation in 2013. Many analysts have suggested December's weak reading reflected a temporary blip due to unusually cold weather or flaws in the government's seasonal adjustments of the data. The latest revision could heighten fears the labor market and economy abruptly weakened at the end of last year after robust growth in the fall. December's figure will be revised further in next month's report.

  At thePostal RegulatoryCommission:

AllAfrica.com: The State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Yinager Dessie and the General Manager of the Ethiopian Postal Service Enterprise (EPSE), Mr. Gideyi Gebre-Yohannis, signed on Thursday (February,6,2013) a postal service agreement covering both the domestic and international postal services. The service agreement is mainly for courier s and money transferervices.

Reuters: The U.S. Postal Service narrowed its losses in its first quarter that ended December as a surge in online shopping and package delivery boosted its revenues. The agency, which has lost money for 19 of the last 21 quarters, lost $354 million in October to December of 2013, compared to the same quarter the previous year when it posted a net loss of $1.3 billion.

Associated Press: The Postal Service says it lost $334 million over the last three months and that mounting losses could lead to cash flow problems for the rest of the year. The report for the financial quarter ending December 31 comes as lawmakers in Congress work toward fixing the agency's troubled finances.

PostCom Members! The latest postal issues brief (this one is on the Senate committee's action on S. 1486) is now available online.
 

Direct Marketing News: Pro-reform Senators ran with the figures and rallied the committee to move the bill, with Section 301 intact but amended, to the Senate floor. These Senators argued that by freeing the USPS from the regulatory power of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the committee would effectively be saving the USPS. Baldwin, again, expressed deep concern for the monopolistic ramifications of such a separation. However, she not only met opposition from bill sponsors Coburn and Carper, but also from her Republican counterpart Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who went beyond supporting the intact bill and also suggested the privatization of the USPS. "While I share an interest and opinion with Baldwin, this is not my solution. The best thing for the Post Office is to be set free," he said during the markup. The private sector provides the best chance for the Post Office to survive long term." Johnson also leveled criticism toward the direct mailing industry in general saying, "It's always risky as a business to base your business on a, basically, bankrupt supplier." But direct mailers have no true alternative to the USPS, no other way to get their collateral in mailboxes instead of on curbs or doorsteps. Baldwin expressed deep concern over the increase in monopolistic power the USPS gains under this bill, but it appears her words fell on deaf ears. "If [the Post Office] was a true monopoly [it'd] be making all types of money," Johnson said at the meeting. "I don't believe [it's] going to overprice [itself] totally out of business."

Montsame: A first ever smart postal boxes have been set up in the UB city. Smart postal boxes are available at 18 places in the capital city and in Erdenet and Darkhan cities. Afterwards, all provinces' centers will receive these boxes. Users can simply leave their parcels or mail, properly labeled with the intended receiver's name, home or work address and phone number, at the closest Mongol Post branch in the area, the Mongol Post will deliver their packages to the smart box closest to the recipient's location. The recipient will receive a text message with a password and location of the smart postal box containing their mail.

This Is Money: The sale of Royal Mail at a knock down price cost the taxpayer £1billion, worth £55 for every family in Britain, it emerged last night. Amid growing concerns shares were sold too cheaply, Freedom of Information requests revealed that 21 banks pitching to work on the floatation had valued the Royal Mail from £4bn to £4.8bn - well above the eventual sale price of £3.3bilion. It meant the 60 per cent stake sold by Vince Cable raised £2billion, instead of the £2.9billion he was told he could have secured for the taxpayer. See also Financial Times.

American Postal Workers Union: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved an amended version of a postal bill (S. 1486) that faces vehement opposition from the four postal unions. The committee with oversight responsibility for the Postal Service passed the measure by a vote of 9-1 on Feb. 6. "This was a bad bill that was made worse by the ‘substitute' version that was introduced last week," said APWU Legislative and Political Director John Marcotte. "Today the committee amended the bill around the edges but gave no relief to workers and no long-term assurances to the American people about their mail service." "This disastrous bill would severely damage service to the people; weaken the USPS and make it ripe for privatization, and destroy good jobs throughout the country," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "The APWU urges senators to vote against the bill if and when it is brought to the Senate floor for consideration."

Sen. Jon Tester: Senator Jon Tester today voted against a bill to restructure the Postal Service, saying the measure "moves the Postal Service closer to privatization and could hurt rural mail delivery." Tester voted against the bill as a member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees the Postal Service. Tester has worked for years to reach a fair compromise that puts the Postal Service on sound financial footing while keeping mail delivery service standards strong. "Half measures won't balance the Postal Service's books or preserve needed mail service in rural America," Tester said. "This bill shirks our responsibility to fix the Postal Service and further leads the organization down the path to privatization, which will further cut mail service in rural America. Better solutions exist, and I will keep working with my colleagues to include them in the bill." Tester says the bill would do nothing to reverse the closing of mail processing facilities nationwide, which has resulted in delayed mail delivery throughout rural America. The bill also fails to fully address the requirement that the Postal Service prepay retirement benefits of postal employees at a rate higher than necessary, but includes sweeping changes to the federal workers compensation program, even though the committee has yet to hold a single hearing on the issue.

NPR: As the U.S. Postal Service continues to lose money each year, a new report suggests a way to add to its bottom line: offer bank-like services, such as a check cashing card that would allow holders to make purchases and pay bills online or even take out small loans. The idea is to provide services that are now unavailable in many communities. More than a quarter of all Americans, some 68 million, are now underserved by banks — "underbanked" as the white paper from the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service calls them. They live in places where there are no bank branches, or just one. Many have to rely on check cashing outlets and payday loans, which often charge exorbitant fees. Betsy Cavendish, president of Appleseed Network, says being able to go to the post office for simple financial transactions would be "win-win. Many people are spending $2,500 a year or so in extra fees," she says. "They have a lack of options for small dollar loans and too few savings vehicles. Meanwhile, the Postal Service is in every zip code in the country and could potentially offer needed financial services."

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Postage increases could render Wisconsin's print-on-paper economy even more precarious by making it more expensive for publishers and advertisers to distribute printed material. The Senate committee approved a price shock that adds another twist in a downward spiral, said Joel Quadracci, chief executive of Quad/Graphics Inc., Wisconsin's biggest commercial printer. "We are disappointed in the outcome of today's vote, which will result in reduced mail volumes and further exacerbate the USPS' financial troubles," Quadracci said. Thursday's draft legislation also weakened the role of the Postal Regulatory Commission, whose rate-setting role will be reduced to approving or denying rate changes suggested by the Postal Service. While that change appears small, it denies regulators the chance to modify rate changes or have a say on setting rates. Given the enormity of Postal Service losses — at one point last year, it was losing $25 million per day — Wisconsin's paper and print activists fear the mail system will hike rates in the future at every chance it gets. The proposed legislation bodes ill for some of Wisconsin's oldest and biggest businesses, said Steve Brocker, a senior executive with Western States Envelope and Label Co., a major manufacturer of envelopes. It employs 400 people in its flagship facility in metro Milwaukee, with additional envelope factories in Ohio, Kentucky and Minnesota. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which made Thursday's vote, includes both senators from Wisconsin: Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin. In a separate vote, Johnson voted to send the entire draft bill to the full Senate for an eventual vote, while Baldwin voted against sending it out of committee. Baldwin argued that she wants to help Wisconsin industry while keeping other elements of postal reform intact. Johnson said he wants to protect taxpayers.

Citizen: South Africans who still visit Post Offices will know that many of these venues have become shabby, desolate places, where sullen staff deal with equally unhappy customers. In its current form, the postal service is on the way out, overtaken by e-mail and other electronic forms of communication. When people do need letters or parcels delivered they often choose a rival, private sector operator.Strikes have contributed to the decline of the South African Post Office. We estimate this dysfunctional organisation has not offered a reliable service for the past two years, if not more. With each new strike, more customers are driven away to seek alternatives.

Adweek: The bad news for the mailing industry keeps on coming, dimming the prospects that the two-year-old postal rate hike that went into effect days ago will end. On Thursday, the Senate committee on homeland security and government affairs voted 9-1 to advance to the Senate floor the Postal Reform Act, a bill sponsored by chairman and ranking member Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). In its current form, the bill would make permanent the emergency rate increase and give the U.S. Postal Service carte blanche the authority to set future rates.

Alaska Public Media: The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to rollback its parcel post rate hike for shipments to rural Alaska, according to Senator Mark Begich. In a Senate committee hearing today he added an amendment to a postal reform bill to undo the increase imposed last week for in-state mail to communities not linked by road. But he said he secured a separate commitment from the postmaster general to lower rates immediately, or as soon as the post office can change its machines. See also Alaska Dispatch.

SitNews: After a face-to-face meeting today with the U.S. Postmaster General and committee passage earlier in the day of a major postal reform bill, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) announced a rate-hike reversal and significant progress on a multitude of other Postal Service problems in Alaska. "I've been hearing about problems with mail from communities across Alaska and today I made it very clear that I want fixes—and fast," Begich said. "Alaskans were blindsided by the recent decision by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to increase rates on parcel post packages. Today I convinced the Postmaster General to roll back rate increases for Alaskans who are off the road system and shipping or receiving large packages. Alaskans should see relief from soaring postal costs by next week." In addition to the meeting with U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Begich used his seat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to push through legislation fixing many postal problems reported by Alaskans. These fixes are a direct response to dozens of complaints about the Postal Service's failures Begich's office received in recent weeks, including the unreasonable rate increases for parcel posts, mail delays, understaffing at post offices and uncertainty surrounding post office closures. The senator outlined those issues in a letter to Donahoe last week. During his meeting with the Postmaster General and in the Postal Reform Act that passed out of committee today, Begich secured fixes on a number of key issues.

Dallas Business Journal: FedEx Office & Print Services Inc. plans to consolidate its North Texas headquarters by building a new corporate campus in Legacy Business Park in Plano at the soon-to-be developed $2 billion mixed-use development called Legacy West on 19 acres of land owned by J.C. Penney.

Mankato Free Press: FedEx is to build a 91,000-square-foot distribution center in the Eastwood Energy Center on Mankato's northeast edge.

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

  • MORE TO COME . . . Look for an early edition of the PostCom Bulletin next week for more coverage on S. 1486 and the USPS' 2nd Quarter financial earnings.
  • Here is a summary of the second Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs markup of the Carper/Coburn Postal Reform Act of 2013, S. 1486.
  • Here is the memo from Senator Levin to Senator Carper, Senator Coburn, and the Members of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the Letter from Postal Regulatory Commission on Baldwin Amendment. Immediately following the memo is the actual Postal Regulatory Commission letter.
  • The Association of Postal Commerce (PostCom) is responding to the Postal Service's proposed rulemaking for changes to the service standards for Destination Sectional Center Facility Rate Standard Mail published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2014. PostCom is greatly disheartened by the process with which the Postal Service followed regarding the announcement of its load leveling plan to both industry and the Postal Regulatory Commission. Although PostCom neither supports nor opposes the proposed plan; it does question the Postal Service's motives as well as its understanding of the mailing industry. Predictability, reliability, transparency, and competitive rates are key elements the mailing industry needs from its national postal infrastructure. Anything else calls into question the Postal Service's ability to meet the needs of the postal marketplace.
  • There is only one commercial American enterprise that includes every citizen and resident as its customer. It's the U.S. Postal Service. Yet given a declining need for letter delivery on the one hand and an increasing need for e-commerce driven parcel delivery on the other, the nation's residential delivery ecosystem is facing a critical challenge to serve growing consumer expectations for greater speed, privacy, security and trust. -- The nation's postal delivery ecosystem needs to be re-envisioned and new systems put into place to accommodate changing 21st century societal demands. That's the focus of the fourth annual PostalVision 2020 Conference that will host experts from around the U.S. and the world April 10-11, at the Westin City Center in Washington, D.C.
  • Price cap rules comments due March 17 to PRC. An employment ladder into the middle class: an entrepreneurial USPS. Close to home: Restoring price in the USPS fleet. MTAC presentations available. Rand Paul faces resistance to allowing guns at the post office. Could USPS fleet cut fuel use with ESPCs? PMG's scandalous (?) salary. APWU ramps up ‘Stop Staples' campaign. USPS unable to provide mailboxes for spate of new Houston-area housing. Time Inc. To cut 500 jobs ahead of spinoff. Backlog in cluster mailboxes must end. USPS considers offering bitcoin exchange. Are US postal kiosks facing a usage crisis? Mail shouldn't be run like a business.
  • Announcement of postal related Federal Register Notices.
  • Announcement of Domestic Mail Manual changes.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • International postal news
  • Postal previews
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NBCNews: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., lost a vote Thursday on his effort to allow people to have a gun on their persons or in their vehicles while on Postal Service property as long they conform to state and local gun laws. "What we don't want is people to be caught up inadvertently who are trying to obey the law, and then all of a sudden are going to jail for something they never intended to do wrong and which is perfectly legal by their state law," Paul said at Thursday's meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. His effort came in response to a federal court decision last summer that struck down a rule that bars firearms on Postal Service property. The Postal Service is appealing that court decision. Some Democrats on the committee accused Paul of playing election-year politics.

Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service: Citing damage to jobs, business and the Postal Service itself, the nation's mailing, paper and printing industry expressed its great disappointment in the Postal Reform Act, approved today by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and announced it will oppose the bill in its current form. The Committee rejected an amendment by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), which would have cured the problems stemming from the bill's revision of postal rates and constriction of oversight by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The legislation would make a short-term, emergency postage rate hike permanent, preempt judicial challenges to that rate hike, and reduce the ability of the independent Postal Regulatory Commission to ensure the rates process is open and fair, while being an effective check on the postal monopoly. The industry is committed to working with Senators and other stakeholders to improve the bill for consideration by the full Senate.

February 6, 2014 

Mobile Storm: If there were any doubts before, the time to dispatch them is now. Consumers the world over are using their mobile devices to check and respond to email in numbers previously unimaginable. Today, nearly two-thirds (65%) of marketing emails are opened on mobile devices. Citing the latest industry data showcasing the muscle of mobile in email marketing, Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal says a mobile marketing strategy "is not just something that's nice to have, it's a necessity."

Fox News: The perpetually-struggling U.S. Postal Service has bankers in a tizzy after floating a plan to branch into what it called "non-bank financial services" that somehow sound a lot like what lenders do. In a white paper distributed late last month, the Postal Service's inspector general discussed getting into an array of financial services as a means of keeping the money-losing mail operation afloat. Payday loans, check cashing and digital currency exchanges were among the possibilities outlined in the Jan. 27 report. Banking industry officials told FoxNews.com that the agency that suffered a net loss of $5 billion in fiscal year 2013 — the 7th consecutive year in the red — should instead stick to delivering envelopes and parcels and stay out of financial services.

National Association of Letter Carriers: The Senate committee with Postal Service oversight, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, finished on Feb. 6 its mark-up of the modified Carper-Coburn postal bill, S. 1486, and passed the measure by a vote of 9 to 1. As written, S. 1486 would facilitate the end of door delivery and the elimination of Saturday delivery, therefore destroying tens of thousands of letter carrier jobs. It also would endanger all postal jobs by slowing service and driving business away from the Postal Service.

The Association of Magazine Media: Mary G. Berner, President and CEO, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media – today issued the following statement after the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs rejected Senator Tammy Baldwin's amendment that would have remedied the serious flaws in the Carper-Coburn postal reform bill: "In rejecting this amendment, the Committee has rubber-stamped ongoing postage rate hikes and greatly weakened the independent Postal Regulatory Commission, leaving USPS as an essentially unregulated, government-sanctioned monopoly. "Today's action could also preempt judicial review of last month's rate hike, which was three times the rate of inflation, and make permanent the exigent increase. These rate hikes will hurt businesses, cost thousands of people their jobs, and do nothing to right-size the USPS's bloated infrastructure. This isn't the postal reform we need. Instead, the Committee wants to pass the buck to the private sector, whose interests have been ignored.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Wisconsin's papermaking and printing industries, collectively the single biggest economic sector in the state, suffered a setback Thursday when a Senate committee advanced legislation that approves a permanent 4.3% increase in postal rates. That increase, which went into effect Jan. 26, originally was meant as a temporary two-year emergency reprieve to staunch losses at the U.S. Postal Service, which has been bleeding tens of billions of dollar in losses over the past seven years. Thursday's vote on draft postal reform legislation makes the increase permanent, assuming that the full Senate and House eventually approve Thursday's draft legislation. In the run-up to the Senate committee hearing, state industries vigorously had opposed the provision in the legislation, arguing that Wisconsin's paper mills and printing presses already face daunting challenges from digital technologies like email, e-commerce, Wi-Fi and the iPad. Postage increases mean more mail volume will be lost, meaning publishers and advertisers have less incentive to use print, making Wisconsin's print-on-paper economy even more precarious. Thursday's draft legislation also weakened the role of the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent agency that controls the U.S. Postal system, lending oversight and accountability to a postal organization that technically acts as a monopoly. Under Thursday's proposed legislation, the rate-setting role of the regulatory commission will be reduced to approving or denying rate changes suggested by the Post Office. While the change appears small, it denies regulators the chance to modify rate changes or have a say on setting rates. The version approved Thursday, for instance, retains a cap on annual postal rate hikes, limiting them to the inflation rate and keeping some sense of long-term predictability for mail users. The new version also stripped out language that would have all but eliminated regulatory oversight. Previous versions of the bill would have allowed the U.S. Postal Service to completely override the regulatory commission on rates, routes and service.

Washington Post: Congress moved a step closer Thursday to rescuing the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service with passage by a Senate committee of legislation that would restructure some debts, drop Saturday service in the future and allow a just-enacted rate hike to be permanent. The bill, approved 9-1 by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, follows last year's passage of postal legislation by a House committee. Once each bill reaches the House and Senate floors, key provisions will likely change in a conference committee. Thursday's action, the product of two years of deliberation by the committee's top Democrat and Republican, left two key stakeholders unhappy in the challenging effort to help stanch the Postal Service's multi-billion-dollar losses. Postal unions said an eventual move to five-day delivery, while postponed for now, would eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. Commercial mailers said a provision allowing higher postal rates, designed to bring the mail agency billions of dollars in new revenue, would drive away business, forcing mail volume to plummet.

The Hill: The United States Postal Service—the federal agency known for lost mail, long lines, and disgruntled employees—could soon bring its special brand of incompetence into the banking sector. After all, what could possibly go wrong with giving the postal service direct access to your paycheck? The USPS is losing billions of dollars every year and lost $5 billion in the last fiscal year alone. While the agency keeps raising the price of stamps (the price just rose to 49 cents last week), the increases barely put a dent in the agency's mounting financial problems. As Ronald Reagan put it, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Offering government-approved banking services that directly compete with the private sector is a terrible idea.

Entrepreneur: "Why the Postal Service Getting Into Banking Is the Worst Idea Ever" The Postal Service is controlled by the government, even though everyone pretends it is independent and private. Congress manages its budget, which is why it has failed. It cannot close underperforming post offices. It has to pay $5.5 billion on benefits its own workers don't use. And any innovation, like ending weekend delivery, is met with opposition from lawmakers. That kind of government control is perfect for a bank for the poor, in the proponents' eyes. The Postal Service won't be able to charge appropriately high interest on loans, or have high fees on check cashings, because lawmakers won't let it. That means the post office will be taking risk, but not hedging against it with fees or interest. Checks bounce. People default. The Postal Service will just have to swallow that.

Fox Small Business: The U.S. Postal Service is making it easier for small businesses to attract new customers. This week, the USPS launched a new online tool for its Every Door Direct Mail feature to help small businesses find demographic data for specific delivery routes; review and inspect the size of mailings, to be sure they meet standards; and view larger ZIP code area maps. Gary Reblin, vice president of new products and innovation for the USPS, said the new tools reiterate the Postal Service's goal to create simple and easy-to-use mailing and shipping products that allow business customers to focus their attention on building up their business.

Post & Parcel: Brazil Post has asked the nation's top labour court to investigate the legality of strike action currently causing delays in 13 states. The state-owned postal operator has requested the Superior Labour Court (TST) to step in and force a suspension of the industrial action that began last week.

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Reform: Business meeting. Markup of S. 1486. Carper-Coburn Substitute | Carper-Coburn Section-By-Section. An extemporaneous, non-verbatim, summary is being posted on this site. The markup of S. 1486 as amended by the committee has been approved and will be reported out for full Senate floor consideration.

Federal Daily: The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association is urging lawmakers to purge a Federal Employees' Compensation Act reform measure from postal legislation slated for mark-up Feb. 6 by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Intelisent: "USPS FAQs for Service Standard Changes due to Load Leveling"

Postalnews Blog: Households may be increasingly using email, social media and other Internet-based communications for personal correspondence instead of letters. But the Postal Service's Household Diary Study found traditional letters and greeting cards remain popular forms of communication, especially for higher income households. Households received an average 0.7 pieces of personal correspondence mail (letters and greeting cards) per week in 2012, unchanged from 2011, but down from eight pieces per week in 2010. While personal mail has declined 13.2 percent since 2010, the study found household income influenced the amount of letters and particularly greeting cards sent and received. Households with incomes greater than $100,000 sent an average of 22 holiday greeting cards in 2012, compared to six cards sent by households with incomes less than $35,000, the study noted. Older heads of households (age 35 and up) sent 15-20 holiday greeting cards in 2012, compared to 13 cards sent by younger heads of households (age 35 and under).

SME Times: The financial services of the postal department , including Post Office Savings Bank and Postal Life Insurance, will henceforth be available online, P. Gopinath, secretary, Posts, said Wednesday. Gopinath informed about the ambitious IT modernisation project, wherein all the services provided by post office will be available on an IT-based platform. "The Core Banking Solution (CBS) implementation is already under progress and day by day, post offices are being migrated to the new CBS platform," she said.

AllGov: "How to Help the Struggling Post Office and the Poor: Turn USPS into a Bank…Again"

RT: Amid a rise in popularity of cryptocurrency, the financially floundering US Postal Service is considering the possibility of adding a bitcoin exchange to its current roster of non-bank financial services. The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) led a webinar last week on bitcoin and other digital currencies to "explore the possibilities" of setting up bitcoin and other digital-currency exchanges at post offices as a means of boosting revenue. The event included representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the World Bank, among others, MainStreet reported. The OIG also discussed the possibility of creating a "postcoin" as a USPS-specific digital currency.

Wall Street Journal: United Parcel Service Inc. and a union representing about 2,600 pilots who fly for the shipping company said they have moved their contract talks into mediation. In a joint statement by UPS and the Independent Pilots Association, the two parties said they have requested mediation by the National Mediation Board for their continuing negotiations. The two groups said they have been negotiating for 21/2 years but haven't yet reached an agreement on scheduling, compensation, pension, scope and benefits. Corporate shippers are often spooked by labor negotiations because they think it could result in possible slowdowns or interruptions that might delay their packages. But as last year showed, even when labor talks have gone smoothly, UPS customers hedge their bets. The company's volume growth in the second quarter was a little less than UPS expected, and the company said labor negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters hindered growth.

Memphis Business Journal: Robert B. Carter, executive vice president of FedEx Information Services and chief information officer, has been named to Fast Company Magazine's list of the "Most Creative People in Business 1000."

PR Newswire: USPS First Quarter Financial Briefing Feb 7 with the Postmaster General and Chief Financial Officer.

MSN: The financial services of the postal department, including Post Office Savings Bank and Postal Life Insurance, will henceforth be available online, P Gopinath, secretary, Posts, has said. Gopinath was here to inaugurate the new building of DLF Qutub Enclave Phase-I Post Office. Gopinath informed about the ambitious IT modernisation project, wherein all the services provided by post office will be available on an IT-based platform. "The Core Banking Solution (CBS) implementation is already under progress and day by day, post offices are being migrated to the new CBS platform," she said. "CBS has already been rolled out in 27 post offices of six states -- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Further, the department is setting up 3,000 ATMs, of which 1,000 are projected to be installed by the end of 2014," she added.

Post Bulletin: Anyone who pays bills online or sends electronic Christmas cards understands why the U.S. Postal Service is struggling. The volume of mail has decreased steadily as more people prefer to stay in touch by email, Facebook and other online media. Mail volume has dropped to 160 billion pieces in 2012 from its record high 213 billion in 2006. For the second consecutive year, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe requested ending Saturday home delivery, a measure that could save the Postal Service $2 billion a year. For the second straight year, Congress ignored him and mandated six-day delivery when it passed the omnibus spending bill two weeks ago. In the Internet era, Saturday delivery has become one of those nice-to-have amenities we can live without. We won't be deprived if we have to wait until Monday to receive a Land's End catalog or yet another credit card offer.

WND: The U.S. Postal Service is currently seeking companies that can provide "assorted small arms ammunition" in the near future. On Jan. 31, the USPS Supplies and Services Purchasing Office posted a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website asking contractors to register with USPS as potential ammunition suppliers for a variety of cartridges. Also see the Examiner.

MainStreet: Soon, your local post office could be more than just a place where they park those cool right-handed steering Grumman LLVs. It could be a high-tech bitcoin exchange. Imagine the convenience of buying a pack of Forever Stamps and making a $1,000 bitcoin wallet withdrawal, all with the help of your friendly postal clerk. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is looking to provide non-bank financial services as a means of generating additional revenue. Last week, the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) held a webinar on bitcoin and other digital currencies to "explore the possibilities" of providing bitcoin exchange services at post offices. The event was attended by representatives from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the World Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Booz Allen Hamilton and George Mason University, among others. The bitcoin webinar discussed the possibility of exchanging digital currencies for other currencies – as well as establishing a USPS digital currency of its own, a "postcoin."

Kioskmarketplace: The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General released an audit report last month that detailed problems facing the nation's fleet of more than 2,500 self-service postal kiosks. At the center of the report, the OIG found that the kiosks were not being used as anticipated, and an outreach plan was recommended to boost the kiosk's role within postal locations. The USPS kiosks are designed to process 80 percent of those transactions normally handled by a window employee at a retail postal service facility, according to the audit. As of June 2013, the performance rate of the kiosks was 26.11, below the nationwide customer adoption percentage target of 35 percent. The OIG attributes the poor performance to several factors, including inconsistent signage, the positioning of some kiosks in partially obscured locations, and lobby assistants who were not properly trained to promote kiosk usage.

Peabody Gazette-Bulletin: The only thing more certain than death and taxes is the U.S. Postal Service asking for yet another rate increase. It's high time Washington put a stamp of disapproval on our mail system's continual whining and perhaps even rethink the whole idea of making the Postal Service "run like a business." In this case, of course, the "business" would go broke in less time that it takes for a letter to get from Marion to Hillsboro. In fact, founding postmaster general Ben Franklin, not exactly a bashful type, would be red-faced with embarrassment to see how poorly his old post office has delivered on its promises and how miserably it has failed to heed one of his favorite adages: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." We have nothing but the deepest appreciation for local postal officials, who frequently go far out of their way to be of service to the people who pay their salaries. What's rotten is in Washington, where the "run it like a business" concept has led to cockeyed innovations that invariably cost more while providing less.

Wall Street Journal: Why do governments own postal services? Delivering mail can hardly be seen as a basic requirement of social justice; it is subject to network effects, but it is by no means a natural monopoly; and it is now growing obsolete, as postmen are outcompeted by smartphones. The reasons for government involvement in postal companies are somewhat mysterious. And yet this is an area where the state has only reluctantly rolled back. For once, there is little difference between the Anglo-Saxon world and the rest. In the U.K., the Royal Mailurvived the Thatcher era and several attempts at privatization until it eventually hit the market late last year. In America, the U.S. Postal Service remains under full public control. So the recent announcement of the forthcoming privatization of the Italian postal service may have shocked many. Alas, we are sorry to report that the news of the Poste Italiane's privatization has been greatly exaggerated.

February 5, 2014 

Digital Journal: There is only one commercial American enterprise that includes every citizen and resident as a customer. It's the U.S. Postal Service. Yet given a declining need for letter delivery on the one hand and an increasing need for e-commerce driven parcel delivery on the other, the nation's residential delivery ecosystem is facing a critical challenge to serve growing consumer expectations for greater speed, privacy, security and trust. The nation's postal delivery ecosystem needs to be re-envisioned and new systems put into place to accommodate changing 21st century societal demands. That's the focus of the fourth annual PostalVision 2020 Conference (www.postalvision2020.com) that will host experts from around the U.S. and the world April 10-11, at the Westin City Center in Washington, D.C. 

PostalVision 2020

ATTENTION BUSINESS CUSTOMER GATEWAY USERS: The Business Customer Gateway/eAdmin Release 8.0 will be deployed to Production during maintenance window on Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 4:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. CT. The release will be completed in rolling fashion with no planned outages. This release will include additional enhancements in the BCG application. Release Notes for the Business Customer Gateway/eAdmin will be provided prior to deployment.

MSN Money: Postal workers have voted to accept a "ground-breaking" deal on pay, pensions and job security. The Communication Workers Union said its members backed the agreement by 94%, paving the way for a 9% wage rise over three years and legal protections on their terms and conditions. The union said it was a landmark deal, negotiated following members' support for industrial action at a time when the Royal Mail was being privatised. Officials said the deal, accepted in a 57% turnout, signalled a "fresh approach" to industrial relations.

Star Democrat: Editorial:  During the 1840s, many private companies emerged to challenge the U.S. postal monopoly, which had become epitomized by high postage rates and political patronage. Henry Wells (of Wells Fargo fame), Lysander Spooner's American Letter Mail Co., and other private competitors were ultimately stamped out by the government, but they succeeded in forcing it to drastically reduce its mail prices and brought about innovations such as postage stamps, home delivery and prices based on weight. Many other nations — including Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom — have partially privatized or opened up their mail services to competition. Companies such as FedEx and UPS have shown that package and overnight deliveries are handled efficiently and effectively by the private sector. We think it is time for a new era of mail privatization in America.

Beaumont Enterprise: If there's anything worse than getting your mail from a "cluster box" at the end of the street instead of an individual mailbox by your door, it's not even having a cluster box nearby. Unfortunately, that's what thousands of people are going through in Texas and other states. In The Woodlands, new residents are waiting six to eight months to get cluster mailboxes installed near them. In the meantime, they have to go to local post offices to pick up their mail, sometimes standing in lines for up to an hour. That's inexcusable.

The American Prospect: Could Postal Banking Be the Next Big Thing? It would free the poor from the exploitation of payday lenders, shore up the Postal Service, and not cost taxpayers a dime. Post offices are already located in thousands of neighborhoods where there are no bank branches, and they've done banking before (for decades in the middle of the 20th century, the postal service offered savings accounts). In a world where cash transactions are in decline, the Postal Service could offer a range of services, like a prepaid debit card for people who don't have access to credit, small loans, online payments, and check cashing. The key is that because of the USPS's size, it would be able to charge affordable fees and interest, yet still make a substantial profit. If President Obama is looking for an issue to advance his new focus on inequality and opportunity, "Here's a perfect opening on an issue of equal access, of affordability, of saving an American institution." As an added bonus, if Republicans decide to oppose it, they'd be forced to defend payday lenders, who are about as unsympathetic a group of characters as you could imagine. And maybe Republicans could be shamed into supporting postal banking.

The Tyee: "Busted: Ten Myths about the Canada Post Cuts"

The Hill: Congressional Democrats are coalescing behind the idea of allowing local post offices to fill gaps in the banking business. They say the move would be a victory for both the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service and for low-income communities that are often underserved by the major banks.

Post & Parcel: Royal Mail has hit out at rivals TNT Post UK as expectations that its end-to-end delivery service is set to expand further in the UK. The universal service provider commissioned new research from Ipsos Mori that polled people in seven of the UK's major cities. The study found that 81% of households believe that no matter who delivers the mail, they should deliver six days per week. Two in three of those surveyed said they were "dependent to some extent" on mail being delivered every day except Sunday. Royal Mail has enjoyed a largely unchallenged monopoly on final mile postal delivery in the UK before TNT Post UK launched its first door-to-door mail delivery service in West London in April 2012. That service has now expanded within central and southwest London, launching in Manchester last year.

Sprout Wired: As banks continue being disinterested in the provision of banking services for the poor Americas, other corporations are moving to bridge the gap. And one of them which is jumping at the opportunity is the United States Postal Service. The Inspector General of the state agency has published a paper at the end of last week which indicated how it would be a valuable service to provide savings accounts and small scale loans for the so called unbanked and at the same time increase finances for the corporation. Their efforts are aimed at stepping into a role that has been left and forgotten by traditional banking institutions as they termed it "unprofitable low-income" sector. In 2012 banking institutions closed more than 2,300 branches nationally with 93% of areas they closed being from Zip Codes with a below national income median income.

CEP News: The Finnish firm, Ilves Jakelu Oy has received a ten-year license to provide mail services in the Kanta-Häme region. The license obliges the subsidiary of publishing company Hämeen Sanomat to deliver letters only once a week and to offer related services like a change of address. Itella on the other hand has still to deliver mail on five days a week within the scope of the universal service obligation.

Manchester Evening News: Postal firm My Parcel Delivery has secured more than £1m investment to develop its technology for further growth. The company, which was founded by entrepreneurs David Grime, and Paul Haydock, just three years ago in Manchester, acts as a postal price comparison website aimed at individuals as well as small retailers and eBay sellers. It works with in partnership with a host of courier companies to deliver customers' parcels including DPD, City Link, Parcelforce and Hermes. The firm, which plans to double staff numbers to 20 this year, will use the fund to develop its technology including providing new online tools to customers such as a mobile device application and enhancing its eBay shipping tool, which automates data entry and delivery bookings for eBay sellers. My Parcel Delivery's bulk shipping service, which allows customers to ship multiple parcels in one transaction, will also be developed further to improve its functionality.

Huffington Post: It seems like an idea whose time has come. With one in four American households partially or entirely excluded from the current banking system, and with the U.S. Post Office in search of additional revenue, why not use the postal system to offer banking services to lower-income households? In fact, this is an idea whose time has already come, more than once. Many nations - among them Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Israel, and Brazil - provide or have provided some form of postal banking services. So did the United States, until 1966. It's hardly a radical idea. The U.S. system was voted into law in 1910, during the presidency of William Howard Taft. In any case, a better way to describe it would be as a beginning.

New York Times: The Postal Service is moving forward with a plan to sell the historic Bronx building despite protests from many of its customers, community leaders and elected officials, who view it as a neighborhood institution, a place where people come to transact the daily business of their lives. The sprawling 1935 building, which anchors a corner of the Grand Concourse and East 149th Street, is a grand public space lined with 13 museum-worthy murals by the artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson Shahn.

Latin Business Chronicle: A recent study from the World Bank says Latin America's lower growth owes to a lack of innovation, which curbs growth and hurts competitiveness. The World Bank report sustains that the region needs to increase innovation and entrepreneurship to unveil its true potential. Among the main elements that need to be prioritized, improving logistics and infrastructure can add a competitive edge to products from the region, according to Augusto de la Torre, World Bank's Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. brings such innovation addressing specifically small businesses transport and logistics needs with a tool that aims at speeding up the shippingprocess."FedEx Ship Manager LiteTM is an online tool created for small and medium sizebusinesses shipping packages up to 68 kilos or approximately 150 pounds via FedEx Express®," said Federico Del Real, senior marketing analyst in the Interactive Marketing department.

The Phnom Penh Post: Operating revenue at the partly state-owned mail service, Cambodia Post (CP), rose more than 10 per cent last year compared to 2012, according to a senior government official. Ork Bora, CP's general director, said that revenue reached $4.56 million, an increase of 12.54 per cent from the previous year. The increase was driven by package services and money transfers.

Sen. Carl Levin: The office of Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has communicated a letter from Postal Regulatory Commission chairman Ruth Goldway regarding the S.1486 language that would place rates authority in the hands of the postal Governors. He noted that Goldway said in part: "Regardless of how well-intentioned the Board may be, under the substitute amendment the operator, not the independent regulator, would determine the pricing system applicable to market dominant products. The amendment offered by Senators Baldwin and McCaskill to section 301 preserves a process that ensures reviews by an independent, objective decisionmaker while affording all stakeholders, including the Postal Service, an opportunity to comment on possible changes to the current rate setting system."

February 4, 2014 

New York Times: Time Inc.'s chief executive, Joe Ripp, informed staff members in a memo Tuesday morning that long-expected layoffs would begin immediately as part of a company-wide restructuring. Time did not specify how many layoffs there will be, but the company has not disputed the widely reported figure of 500 employees. Time currently has roughly 7,800 employees worldwide across all its brands, including American Express publications.

Global Newswire: PostNet loves small businesses – so much so, the printing, shipping and design franchise wants to help five small businesses gain up to 5,000 new customers as part of its "We Love Small Business" sweepstakes. From February 1 to March 15, small businesses can enter for their chance to win by visiting www.PostNet.com/WeLoveSmallBiz and filling out a brief form. At the end of the entry period, PostNet will randomly select five winners to receive 5,000-piece Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM) campaigns, providing design consultation, color printing services and carrier route selection. With EDDM from the U.S. Postal Service, small businesses can efficiently reach all residences in a designated area without needing address lists or special mailing permits.

Businesswire: Industry veteran Paula Stoskopf joins the Fairrington team as its Director of Postal and Industry Affairs. "Paula brings Fairrington deep experience in mail and logistics solutions that will fill another part in our Full Impact Logistics mosaic to provide our clients full impact mailings and the ROI to show it" Stoskopf will ensure organizational readiness for new and changed rules, regulations and procedures that impact the industry and Fairrington's clients.

National Association of Letter Carriers: "Unfortunately, none of the proposed amendments to S. 1486 will fix the fundamental flaws with the bill," NALC President Fredric Rolando said, "and at least one amendment—on rate-setting—would make the bill worse." As written, S. 1486 would facilitate the end of door delivery and the elimination of Saturday delivery, therefore destroying tens of thousands of letter carrier jobs. It also would endanger all postal jobs by slowing service and driving business away from the Postal Service.

WBZ: A former postal worker has been charged with stealing more than 7,500 pieces of mail. The stolen mail contained gift cards, cell phones and Christmas presents from residents of Malden, Somerville, Medford and Melrose.

The Bismarck Tribune: Although troubles with mail delivery have eased in Minot and parts of northwestern North Dakota over the past year, the U.S. Postal Service continues to work on nagging issues that might only be resolved with more staffing.

PeoplesWorld: The latest Postal Service overhaul bill, which stalled after the relevant Senate committee started work on it on Jan. 29, would axe 100,000 jobs, weaken workers' comp and create "a two-tiered workforce," postal unions say. And that's why they oppose the revised measure, S1486, the presidents of the Letter Carriers, Mail Handlers/Laborers, Rural Letter Carriers and Postal Workers added in their letter to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

Reuters: Let's be clear: there's a very important difference between postal banking, on the one hand, and what the inspector general is proposing, on the other. And while postal banking is a good idea, the non-bank proposal from the inspector general is simply not going to fly. Indeed, it's rather worrying and disconcerting — not to mention disingenuous — that the inspector general goes out of its way to say that the Post Office should be a non-bank, rather than a bank. The charitable view of the Inspector General's report is that it's essentially pushing a Trojan horse: that it will try to set the Post Office as a "non-bank", on the grounds that doing so will help the underserved and not really compete with banks. That's the only way Congress would ever allow such a thing to happen. But once the Postal Card is up and running, nothing's going to stop the Post Office from competing directly with every bank in the country.

Office of the Inspector General: Selling the Mail – Whose Job Is it? Most postal pundits agree the U.S. Postal Service can't cut its way to prosperity. It needs to generate new revenue to succeed over the long run. But whose job is it to sell the steak as well as the sizzle? The postmaster general? The Postal Service sales staff? Postmasters, clerks, carriers? Yes, yes, and yes. It would seem everyone has a role to play in reaching out to potential new customers.

Transport Intelligence: What is going on at TNT Express? On Thursday the company stated that its attempt to sell its Brazilian business had failed, commenting that "TNT Express has judged it not possible to realise a transaction on acceptable terms". This might be construed as simply the inability to agree a price, however TNT Express embarked on the sale process because the business was losing so much money, therefore the offers must presumably have been very low to justify rejecting them.

Morningstar: UPS is the colossus among global parcel shipment companies, and we consider its economic moat to be the widest among all freight transportation firms. The company crafted its moat by assembling an integrated global shipping network that's unlikely to be matched by any but a few global players. Despite its extensive unionization and asset intensity, UPS produces returns on invested capital about double its cost of capital and margins well above its competitors'; we credit the firm's leading package density and outstanding operational efficiency, enhanced by extensive technology investment. UPS and its competitors have turned to Asia and developing nations for growth, and we think UPS has ample runway left to build speed. Even existing operations have revenue expansion potential via pricing power, because UPS operates as a rational duopoly in its largest market, U.S. high-service parcel delivery.

The Globe and Mail: Canada Post's unions want the Crown corporation replaced as administrator of its badly underfunded pension plan, citing potential conflicts of interest and a refusal to fix the plan's problems. In a letter to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the unions complain that Canada Post failed to meet its obligations to workers when it stopped making mandatory payments into the plan without warning. The granting of pension relief coincided with Canada Post's unveiling of a controversial plan to return to profitability, which includes a hefty stamp price hike and the elimination of home delivery to millions of Canadians. If Canada Post was in the private sector it would be forced to seek court protection from creditors if it couldn't keep up payments into the plan, according to the CUPW and PSAC letter, sent Jan. 29. But because Canada Post is a Crown corporation, Ottawa is on the hook for all of its financial obligations, making bankruptcy unlikely. As a result, the postal service can't make the case that its "pension funding situation was so urgent that it could not give notice to or meaningfully engage with plan beneficiaries before it sought regulatory relief from its sole shareholder, the government of Canada," according to the letter.

Businesswire: Deutsche Post DHL, the world's leading postal and logistics group, handed over a special donation of USD 250,000 to the non-profit organization TECHO for building 100 new houses for families living in poverty stricken areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. With this donation Deutsche Post DHL becomes one of the organization's main allies in reaching its 2014 goal of completing the building of 100,000 houses in the 19 countries where TECHO is active with this project. Money is only one aspect of the support provided by Deutsche Post DHL: Since 2010 the group has been a partner and the first company actively involved in the house building process of TECHO in all 19 countries. Up to today, volunteers from across the Group's entire Americas organization in 19 different countries assisted in the building of almost 400 emergency housing, with each home taking two days to set up.

February 3, 2014 

Small Business Yahoo!: The foundations of customer service are still the same: listen to the customer, the customer is always right, and always follow up. Other than that, though, everything has changed. Where your customers expect service has changed, too. And if no one's listening? You're in trouble. The best news about digital marketing is in the lead generation process. Instead of interruptive content like TV ads and cold calls, content marketing and information-as-a-service is all about letting the customer seek out your services and self-select into your lead generation funnel. Without a cold call or direct mailer, this company has created a path for someone seeking printer services to find their business, they've talked them into using a local or small business alternative, and their contact information is right there with the article.

National Catholic Reporter: The tiny office that handle's Pope Francis' mail is swamped and working overtime, according to this report from Rueters: You've got mail, Pope Francis. Pope Francis does not have an email account, according to the story. One senior aide said the pope likes to receive "old fashion letters." The pope's postal office — staffed by a monsignor, two lay women and a nun — gets about 30 sacks, or about 6,000 letters a week, which would make a yearly total of more than 300,000.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Banks have been consistently uninterested in providing financial services to poorer Americans, but others are increasingly jumping at the chance to do so. The latest is the United States Postal Service (pdf), whose inspector general published a paper last week detailing how serving the so-called unbanked with savings accounts and small-scale loans could provide a valuable public service while shoring up the finances of the vulnerable agency.

CoinDesk: "US Postal Service Explores Adding Bitcoin Exchanges"

American Postal Workers Union: The APWU is ramping up its campaign demanding that Staples and the USPS agree to place postal workers at postal units in Staples stores. Join the campaign at StopStaples.com or text POSTAL to 91990. APWU President Mark Dimondstein has sent an email message to union members and supporters urging them to sign on to the campaign and the union has been sharing our message on Facebook and Twitter. The APWU has enlisted support from the AFL-CIO and others in the labor movement, and is expanding outreach to others groups that are likely to support the campaign's goals: Staffing postal counters with highly-trained, uniformed postal employees who are accountable to the people; protecting good jobs, and defending a public Postal Service.

Daily Journal: The Postal Service is responsible for erecting the cluster boxes, which became mandatory for new developments in 2012 as a means to off-set some of the agency's $40 billion debt. A congressional committee working on postal-reform bills found that delivering to cluster mailboxes cost less than half of doorstep service — $160 per address compared to $353 an address per year, officials say. The switch is expected to save the Postal Service around $4 billion annually. The nationwide shortage started after the Postal Service, which had historically manufactured the locks, decided last year to outsource to a new supplier, said Patricia Licata, a Postal Service spokeswoman in Washington, D.C. The Postal Service declined to give the manufacturer's name or reason for the backlog, citing security concerns.

PostCom Members! The latest issue of PostCom's Postal Executive Summary in now available online.

Association for Postal Commerce: The Association of Postal Commerce (PostCom) has responded to the Postal Service's proposed rulemaking for changes to the service standards for Destination Sectional Center Facility Rate Standard Mail published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2014. PostCom is greatly disheartened by the process with which the Postal Service followed regarding the announcement of its load leveling plan to both industry and the Postal Regulatory Commission. Although PostCom neither supports nor opposes the proposed plan; it does question the Postal Service's motives as well as its understanding of the mailing industry. Predictability, reliability, transparency, and competitive rates are key elements the mailing industry needs from its national postal infrastructure. Anything else calls into question the Postal Service's ability to meet the needs of the postal marketplace.

World Mail & Express Conference:

  • According to Pablo Montané Alliende, Director General, Correos Chile, most countries around the world have eliminated their monopolies over the post.

  • According to Carlos Modesto Guzman Valerio, Director General, Instituto Postal Dominicano (INPOSDOM), it is essential that posts learn to develop closer business relationships with private sector businesses. The focus of a post should be on satisfying the needs of the customer. It is important also that there be an open, sincere discussion between public and private postal service providers.

  • According to Francisco de Lacerda, Chairman and CEO, CTT Correios de Portugal, the initiative for 2014 is to move the Portuguese postal service to privatization.

  • According to Eduardo Perez Motta, former President, Mexican Competition Authority, competition leads to lower cost, more competitive, and mail timely delivered mail.

The Virginian Pilot: Hampton Roads businesses and bulk mailers are reporting U.S. Postal Service delivery delays although a firm that's contracted to track the agency's performance found it performed mostly on time, The Virginian-Pilot reports. The reports come after the Postal Service closed its processing center on Church Street in Norfolk as part of consolidations.

Daily Kos: As I posted Saturday, on New Republic's website, I read an article about the USPS Inspector General concluding that the Postal Service has the authority to establish a postal banking system to serve communities without access to commercial banking. This would have two salutory effects: First, it would provide those services at a lower cost than are provided by the predatory companies involved in payday loans and the like; second, it would provide a source of revenue that would allow the USPS to cope with the ridiculous financial requirements imposed upon it by Congress, thereby allowing it to continue to provide postal service to us all. The New Republic article is found at: http://www.newrepublic.com/... After reading the article, it occurred to me that this would be an appropriate subject for a whitehouse.gov petition. Finding that no such petition existed, I created one.

The Globe and Mail: February marks the beginning of the end of door-to-door mail delivery in Canada. Canada Post is poised to announce the first batch of neighbourhoods to be shifted to community mailboxes as it ends delivery for the roughly five million homes that still get it. The cuts mark the first step in a five-year effort to deal with mounting losses and shrinking mail volumes at the post office. More importantly, the phase-out of home delivery heralds a much smaller Canada Post – one that will inevitably be less relevant to Canadian businesses and individuals.

Providence Journal: The U.S. Postal Service has opened for business in 84 Staples office-supply stores in four states, including Massachusetts. In time, if this pilot program proves successful, postal customers could be able to buy stamps and mail packages at some 1,500 Staples outlets. The in-store offices would be staffed by Staples employees. That has sent the postal workers union into a first-class fit, with boycott to follow. "It's a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services," says American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein. The union's concern is understandable, but the idea, according to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, is not to "privatize" the USPS (an independent federal agency since 1971) but "to grow our business [and] to provide customer convenience." He adds that he does not expect Staples to replace any of the 33,000 existing traditional post offices.

Chicago Daily Herald: United Parcel Service Inc. said it will spend more than $100 million to improve peak-period service after a late surge in online Christmas shopping caused missed deliveries that boosted costs.

February 2, 2014 

Slovak Spectator: The recently formed Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (RÚ) is to be led by Vladimír Kešjar, who until recently was the vice-chair of the Slovak Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TÚ). The office was established on January 1, 2014, by merging two regulatory offices falling under the remit of the Transport Ministry: the TÚ and the Postal Regulatory Office, the SITA newswire reported.

The Japan News: The Japan Postal Group Union plans to demand an average monthly wage hike of ¥3,000 in this year's shunto spring negotiations, according to sources. This will be the first pay hike demand in six years by the Japan Post Holdings Co. labor union. With 240,000 members, it is the largest labor union in Japan. The plan will be finalized at a central committee meeting in Tokyo on Feb. 13, sources said.

Dead Tree Edition: The U.S. Postal Service reported Friday that Postmaster General Pat Donahoe received total compensation of $436,540 last year. Some people will see that as a shocking amount for a government employee. But here's the real shocker: The CEOs of the Postal Service's two chief rivals, FedEx and United Parcel Service, at last report each earned more than 27 times what Donahoe made.

Huffington Post: "Coming to a Post Office Near You: Loans You Can Trust?"

Culpeper Star Exponent: The US Postal Service ... first it was no weekend deliveries, that was cancelled ... then it was the raising of stamp costs. Now it's no mail to be delivered up a driveway to a house ... if the mail includes a box, the household member will have to go to the post office to get it. So much for service! Everyone will be totally inconvenienced by this ... just think what the very old and/or disabled people are going to go through with this latest order for the mail carriers? Enough is enough...this has got to be reversed.

Fort Myers News-Press: Consumers need to remain vigilant. With advertisements and solicitations most of us get mail every day. So if you go a couple of days without getting mail, check to see if there is a problem. And if you have been a victim of mail theft of any kind, including a falsified change of address, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or go online to usps.com/postalinspectors and click the "Contact Us" tab. [EdNote: In short, your missing advertsing mail might be a sign that your identity is being stolen.]

The Sunday Leader: The Ministry of Postal Services has submitted a proposal to Parliament seeking an increase in the minimum postal stamp charge from Rs. 5 to Rs. 10. The Ministry of Postal Services has submitted the proposal to bring down the annual loss of the Postal Department, Secretary of the Postal Services Ministry Hemasiri Fernando told The Sunday Leader. "This year, the Postal Department has reported a loss of Rs. 2,500 million whereas last year the loss was Rs. 3,500 million," he said. He added that they managed to bring down the loss by improving the courier services and by cancelling the telegram service.

February 1, 2014 

Direct Marketing News: Direct mailers did not go gently into January 28. Throughout the final quarter of 2013, they fought hard to derail the 4.3% exigent postal rate increase that went into effect on that day. Add in the standard CPI rate adjustment and mailers now face a business-jarring 5.9% rate hike that figures to upend their mailing plans and their bottom lines for the next two years, and perhaps beyond. "Generations of customers will pay for an undeserved postage rate increase that is triple the inflation rate," carped a statement from a mailers coalition following the Christmas Eve exigency decision by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). "Worse, this rate increase does not fix what is wrong with the Postal Service, will further depress mail volume, and will worsen the Postal Service's financial woes."

KYUK: Rural Alaskans are generally skilled at finding ways to ship in goods, sometimes cheaper than they can find them at local stores. Bethel resident, Bob Carlson, has been mailing 70-pound packages from Anchorage for over 20 years. When he's in the city, he packs up groceries and goods and makes sure that the scale reads exactly 70 pounds. That way he'll get the largest savings at the post office. When he first started out, those boxes cost him less than $6. As of last week, it was $24. Now it's $41, an increase of 70%. "So we are now suffering another pretty substantial blow to living out here," Carlson says. Carlson says he just found out about the increase days before it took effect. He plans to voice his concerns through a letter to the Alaska Congressional Delegation. The increase comes from the postal service doing away with parcel post rates for zones one through four, which covers nearly all of Alaska. It's all priority mail now. [EdNote: Sooooo, Congress. You still want to turn all ratemaking authority over to the Postal Service?]

Office of the Inspector General: Postal Service Board of Governors' Travel and Miscellaneous Expenses for Fiscal Year 2013 Audit Report: "Travel and miscellaneous expenses totaling about $153,000 and external professional fees totaling about $36,000 were properly supported, reasonable, and generally in compliance with Postal Service and Board policies."

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