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This Month in the Postal World:
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June 30, 2014 

Roll Call: The White House is throwing in the towel on a comprehensive immigration bill this year, after Speaker John A. Boehner told President Barack Obama last week that he will not allow a vote in the House, according to a White House official. [EdNote: In this environment, can postal reform have even a hair's breadth of a chance?]

Financial: A new draft law on postal service that has established the Georgian Post monopoly is not meeting either EU regulations or general conditions of a competitive business environment, said Malkhaz Papelashvili, General Manager at Georgian Express, official representative of DHL Georgia. The company sees huge opportunity in expanding its business in complex logistic and domestic transportation during 2014. Georgia’s express industry showed only 3-4% growth during 2013.

The United States Postal Service is planning to resume the rationalization of our network of mail processing facilities which began in 2012. To provide adequate time for planning and preparation, the Postal Service is providing this six-month advance notice of consolidations, for up to 82 facilities, which will begin early January 2015 and be completed by the fall mailing season. The Postal Service will provide detailed information about its network rationalization planning in the coming weeks. As with prior network rationalization efforts, the Postal Service will work closely with customers to mitigate potential issues associated with transportation and logistical requirements. In 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service consolidated 141 mail processing facilities. This rationalization was highly successful, resulted in negligible service impact, generating annualized cost savings of $865 million and required no employee layoffs. The Postal Service expects the completion of this phase of network rationalization will generate an additional $750 million in annual savings. [EdNote: Some interpret this to mean that even the Postal Service doesn't expect legislative reform to pass in this Congress. It had always talked about holding Phase II in abeyance until reform was through.]

Dead Tree Edition: Violating postal regulations, even in subtle and unintentional ways, can cost business mailers millions of dollars, two recent lawsuits reveal.

Postalnews Blog: The International Post Corporation held its annual conference in Lucerne, Switzerland last month, where the theme was "E-Commerce: the New Normal". In an interview, US Postmaster General Pat Donahoe spoke about the importance of ecommerce to the USPS. He said that the USPS needs to make its shipping services affordable and reliable. Towards that end, he claimed that the USPS will be able to provide real-time delivery notifications: "this summer we're going to be able to tell customers when a package is within 15 minutes of delivery to their house"

Financial Times: Deutsche Post DHL is planning its largest investment in Britain in 14 years as it seeks to address the dramatic rise in global e-retailing and exploit an increase in trade with China. DHL, one of the world's biggest parcel delivery groups, said it would invest £156m improving sorting and aircraft landing facilities in the East Midlands and at Heathrow. It has forecast that ecommerce as a proportion of total trading in Europe could grow from just 8 per cent today to 40 per cent by 2025.

This Day: The Nigeria Postal Service has appealed to all state governments that have enacted laws restricting the operations of commercial motorcycles in their states to granting a special waiver to NIPOST. NIPOST relies heavily on motorcycles for its operations, especially in the delivery of mails and parcels in all states of the federation and that the ban on motorcycles is inimical to its operations nationwide.

eKantipur: Lack of maintenance has turned the historical Postal Road , which hugs the southern border and spans the length of the country from Chandragadhi, Jhapa in the east to Belauri, Kanchanpur in the west, into something resembling a track for off-road driving.

June 29, 2014 

July 8, 2014: Postal Landscape Workshop for Nonprofits. Sponsored by Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, Easter Seals and RR Donnelly. Join the discussion on how nonprofits use mail to raise funds and create brand awareness. Speakers: Debbie Hunt, Easter Seals; Steve Kearney, Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers and Anita Pursley, RR Donnelley. Easter Seals Willis Tower, 24th Floor - Suite 2400, 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606. Register by July 3, 2014 by emailing steve@nonprofitmailers.org or call 202-462-5132.

JuiceFM: Parcelforce, the express parcels business of Royal Mail, will today become the first national parcels carrier in Britain to deliver on Sundays. The business said it anticipates the new service will be of particular benefit to online shoppers.

  SNP: Scottish National Party MSP Mike MacKenzie has called on the Liberal Democrats to apologise over the privatisation of Royal Mail. Royal Mail has recently made a submission to Ofcom calling for an early review of the workings of competition in postal services and the threat to the universal service. Despite strong opposition in Scotland, the Liberal Democrats voted with the Tories in favour of the privatisation of Royal Mail.

Town Hall: Darrell Issa has been waging an under-the-radar campaign to save the Postal Service for years now. The most recent iteration of his plan, the Postal Reform Act, would save $17 billion over the next ten years for the USPS. The major changes would be giving the USPS the ability to eliminate Saturday delivery and encouraging curbside rather than doorstep drop-offs. Additionally, it would eliminate what the postal workers' union has claimed is the major deficit on the USPS budget: a requirement that the USPS pre-fund retirement benefits to the tune of over $6 billion per year. In both eliminating the pre-funding requirement and giving the USPS the ability to be more flexible with their mandates, Darrell Issa's reform should hit all the right buttons. And the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget wrote up the CBO score for Issa's bill favorably.

Washington Post: Under a federal program exclusive to Alaska, the Postal Service is responsible for shipping more than 100 million pounds a year of apples, frozen meat, dog food, diapers and countless other consumer items to off-road villages in the sparsely populated outposts known as the bush. Over three decades acting as freight forwarder, the agency has lost $2.5 billion. The system cost the Postal Service $77.5 million last year, agency officials said, with ordinary stamp-buying customers covering the tab, while a long line of commercial interests here benefited, from the airline and shipping industries to rural grocery chains. Despite critics' efforts, the Alaska Bypass has been untouchable. Tinkering with it would rankle politicians from other rural states who fear this could be the first step toward scaling back mail delivery to other far-flung places. And in Washington the legislative muscle of this most remote state remains ironclad.

Dallas Morning News: Let me share a piece of advice designed to protect you from losing money — or worse, having your identity stolen. My advice: Stop dropping your outgoing mail in those blue postal collection boxes placed outside post offices and in shopping centers or office parks. Why? Because mail sometimes gets stolen. When that happens, it's difficult to find out what happened because definitive information on mail theft from blue collection boxes is not collected and tabulated. Police departments don't keep statistics, and numbers kept by postal authorities are not complete. What this means is if mail is stolen, it's hard to tell. Authorities in some parts of the country routinely send out announcements of suspected mailbox thefts, but in others they don't.

Tengri News: Late last week, the Senate adopted amendments to harmonize the Kazakh legislation regulating postal services with the rules of the Universal Postal Union. However, before approving the law, Senator Svetlana Dzhalmagambetova spoke out for rural postmen. As an example, she mentioned villages of Zharkainsk district in Akmola Oblast. There are 20 postmen working in the district but all of them taken together are paid only 244,000 tenge per month, or a mere $1330. According to the Senator, a significant part of the money earned by postmen is spent on salaries of KazPost managerial personnel. "I am far from thinking about looking into someone else's pocket, but the huge difference in wages of the general staff and managerial personnel in combination with insufficient coverage of the population with postal services should, in my opinion, concern the government," Svetlana Dzhalmagambetova concluded. The deputy added that the newly addopted document did not address the issues of postal services improvement or guarantees of availability of postal services on equal terms throughout the country.

June 28, 2014 

Reuters: German postal and logistics group Deutsche Post will consider raising the cost next year of sending a standard letter in its home market, Rheinische Post reported on Saturday, citing executive board member Juergen Gerdes. Bonn-based Deutsche Post is legally entitled to increase postage of currently 0.60 euros ($0.82) per letter by slightly less than the rate of inflation, though it needs to seek approval for price hikes from Germany's Federal Network Agency.

The Express Tribune: Minister of State for Postal Services Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri on Friday said that efforts would be made to transform Pakistan Post into a vibrant, modern, customer-friendly and self-sustainable service organisation. The minister expressed these views during a briefing on the performance of Pakistan Post and its future plans at Postal Staff College. Emphasising the importance of the postal department, the minister said that Pakistan Post has a broad and varied role to play beyond provision of communication link for individuals and businesses.

The Wall Street Journal: "A Case of Uncreative Destruction Why isn't there innovation in government? Meet two entrepreneurs who wanted to help the U.S. Postal Service digitize mail. Some local postmasters liked it. Washington didn't."

Otago Daily Times: Postal services are gearing up for one of the biggest bulk mail-outs in New Zealand this year. Oamaru postie Lorraine Adams is pictured adding voters' notices to her Oamaru run. The Electoral Commission sent out more than three million enrolment update packs this week,To be able to vote, people must be correctly enrolled.

Small Business Trends: Etailers often provide free package return for customers as an added service. In fact, free return shipping is becoming the expected norm (with 51% of consumers wanting free return shipping as identified in the graphic below), from merchants selling online. But, while the option is popular with customers, it's expensive for shippers, particularly if those shippers use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver their products. You see, placing a U.S. Postal Service return label on shipments means absorbing the cost of the return whether a customer sends back their order or not. And with only an estimated 10 percent of orders resulting in returns, this ends up being a considerable additional cost. Major USPS competitors FedEx and UPS already provide an option for return shipping that charges only if there is an actual return. The USPS does offer it's own version of this service, said Emma Johnson, director of marketing for shipping software provider Endicia.

The Times: The godfather of the Royal Mail privatisation is to join the national postal operator in its increasingly bad-tempered dispute with Ofcom over the future of competition in the industry. Richard Hooper, a former deputy chairman of Ofcom and author of the papers that encouraged the government to sell off the state postal company, has been hired as a special adviser to Royal Mail in its dispute with the regulator over how much of its business is being taken by TNT Post.

June 27, 2014 

Check this out. Your Postal Podcast. A monthly podcast highlighting USPS news, events and activities.  http://yourpostalpodcast.podbean.com/

KCRG: A United States Postal Service plan to save money by cutting hours at rural post offices is coming closer to completion. And in the first two full weeks of July, that will mean public hearings with postal officials in 70 Iowa communities to talk about service cutbacks. Postal customers in many smaller communities received mailed surveys from the USPS in recent weeks. The choices were accept a cut in hours that post offices were open in each community, close the post office itself or open a postal "substation" inside a private business in the community.

Macau Daily Times: Macao Water and Macau Post have jointly introduced the SEPBox electronic water bill delivery service, which was officially put into effect on Wednesday. The Secure Electronic Postal Box (abbreviated as SEPBox) is a free electronic postal box application offered by Macau Post. Residents can apply for their own SEPBox via different channels, such as registration at Electronic Postal Kiosks or at Post Office counters. After registration, SEPBox users will be able to receive electronic notifications from the government; postal registered electronic mail; and electronic bills and electronic subscriptions, whilst avoiding junk mail and emails corrupted with viruses. Meanwhile, users can enjoy an automatic service reminder, including the due dates for electronic bills, subscriptions, deliveries and other important activities.

Yorkshire Post: We believe that there is sufficient evidence to support an immediate review of the postal market by Ofcom. Effective interventions may take years to implement. It would be far more difficult to unwind a situation once direct delivery is established in parts of the country than to set an appropriate framework now which safeguards the universal service.

Corvus Business Newswire: Shares of Plug Power (PLUG) fuel cells producer jumped more than 5 % to $4.87 after rumors continued to circulate about FedEx (FDX) being a possible suitor the company. The rumor has roots in a January press release when Plug Power (PLUG) said that, "it will develop hydrogen fuel cell range extenders for 20 FedEx Express electric delivery trucks, allowing FedEx Express to nearly double the amount of territory the vehicles can cover with one charge."

San Jose Mercury News: A senior San Jose postal inspector has been arrested on charges of stealing mail, including rare coins, cash, prescription pills, gun parts and other items from parcels that were torn open in transit, authorities said.

Postal Technology International: InPost has announced that it will install around 2,500 parcel lockers in France over the next two years. The company has developed a strategic partnership with logistics provider Colis-Privé for the lockers. The terminals will enable customers in France to collect and dispatch parcels 24/7 and from convenient locations.

June 26, 2014 

The Fiji Times: POST Fiji says the increase in small packaged mail going in and out of Fiji is a result of the public's confidence in their services. Head of postal services Seveci Tora said their strict policies on theft and requirements from their employees played a vital role in this. "We have tightened our recruitment policies and procedures so that we employ the right people with the right attitude and who can display and demonstrate honesty and sincerity in their work," Mr Tora said. "New recruitment undergoes special training programs to equip them in their new work environment. "We have zero tolerance and any staff found stealing mail is immediately terminated and the matter reported to police. It is also stated clearly in their contract of employment that the company does not condone stealing or pilferage of mail."

Businessweek: Leading Congressional Republicans strongly support U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's plan to save $2 billion a year by eliminating Saturday letter delivery. Yet on Wednesday, party members defied their leadership and joined Democrats to pass an amendment to the House appropriations bill that would keep letters, bills, and junk mail flowing six days a week. The vote undercut claims from postal worker unions and their allies, who frequently accuse Republicans of trying to use the financial crisis at the U.S. Postal Service as an excuse to gut the government mail operation. But it essentially dooms any further efforts this year to fix the USPS, which reported a $5 billion loss in 2013.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

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

  • The Postal Service published its unaudited May results with the Postal Regulatory Commission. USPS lost $880 million in May 2014. The Postal Service's controllable operating loss for the month was $70 million. The USPS shows a year-to-date net loss of $3.4 billion, yet when you look at the controllable income for the same time frame, it shows a controllable operating income of $1.3 billion. The difference between the bottom line and the controllable income comes from the $3.8 billion line item for prefunding its retiree health benefits and $845 million of a non-cash adjustments for Workers Compensation.
  • If viewed outside the distorted mirror created by the need to prefund expenses and overfund others, the Postal Service cannot be said to be in dire financial straits. In fact, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers has made this very same point in many of the newspaper editor letters he's sent on this topic as well as the testimony he's delivered on Capitol Hill. On this one area, we and the NALC agree. The Postal Service is doing fairly well and is likely to continue to do better. So why, then, is there a call among the postal employee organizations in their comments inside and outside congressional offices for mailers to "put some skin in the game?" What they mean to say is that mailers should be required to pay more in rates because they, the unions and their members, have been made to suffer so much.
  • House Appropriations Committee says yes to six-day. PRC approves catalog NSA. Beware size-based parcel rates? Liar, liar, pants on fire! Maybe not lying, but "blowin' smoke" for sure. H.R. 2748 passes CBO laugh-test. We all get older. So does the usps delivery fleet. FedEx Smartpost takes a hit. America and retailers still love catalogs. USPS pushing EDDM.
  • An update on key docket activity at the PRC.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
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BBC: Jersey postal workers will check on the welfare of more elderly or vulnerable people in the island as a trial scheme is extended.

Global Post: Portugal approved the sale of the remaining 31.5 percent of its state-owned postal service CTT on Thursday at a council of ministers meeting. Secretary of State of Finance Manuel Rodrigues said the sale also included a batch of 1.5 percent which the state had reacquired. He said that the sale could be done through a direct sale to institutional investors, as opposed to the last sale which was carried out through shareholding.

PostCom Members!! The PostCom review of the USPS Service Performance Update for Quarter 2 June 2014 has been posted on this site.

Federal News Radio: Tom Day, Chief Sustainability Officer, U.S. Postal Service The Postal Service's financial crunch means that it is delivering mail with some very old trucks. Nearly all of its 190,000 vehicles are gas guzzlers from the 1990s. This is the type of problem that keeps Chief Sustainability Officer Tom Day up at night. He joined Tom Temin and Emily Kopp on the Federal Drive to discuss the problems with the service's delivery fleet. .mp3

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Postal Product Amendment , 36339 [2014–14985] [TEXT] [PDF] 36338–36339 [2014–14992] [TEXT] [PDF]

Leadership: As part of efforts to rid Nigeria of fraudsters and stem the negative image hanging over the country, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), through its courier arm, EMS Nigeria has intercepted fake financial instruments valued at more than N300 billion from 2011 to date.

The Motley Fool: Earnings reports from FedEx are always closely watched. The company's scale and its integral role in the economy make it an important bellwether. And its results usually have something to say about the general state of the economy. Overall, its latest report seems to corroborate a view of a slow (but steady) economic recovery in the United States.

WQOW: A Menomonie man is charged with stealing more than $50,000 from the post office, where he worked. Robert Colaizy was charged today with falsifying postal records at a Menomonie post office. The federal indictment alleges that on January 15th, he lied about the number of stamps in his inventory, bumping up the number to hide his theft of more than $50,000.

Idaho Statesman: "Drugs and fraud keep Boise-based postal inspectors on their toes."

June 25, 2014 

NASDAQ: Is Greece's Economy on the Rise? [EdNote: Hmmmm. And do recent USPS fiscal reports mean the Postal Service's economy is on the rise? And, 'splain this to me, why are postal union groups so hot on getting mailers to swallow larger than CPI rate increases?]

Wall Street Journal: The U.S. economy contracted at a faster pace than previously estimated in the first quarter, marking its sharpest pullback since the recession ended five years ago. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first three months of the year, according to the Commerce Department's third reading released Wednesday. That was the fastest rate of decline since the first quarter of 2009, when output fell 5.4%, and matches the average pace of declines during the recession. In its third GDP reading, based on newly available data, Commerce said first-quarter consumer spending and exports were even weaker than previously estimated.

The House Committee on Appropriations has APPROVED an amendment to continue to include language that would require the Postal Service to provide six-day mail service.

Security Document World: HID Global's physical access control solutions have been deployed by Norway Post to provide its employees a card solution for physical access and other applications. As the country's nationwide postal service, Norway Post deployed Genuine HID multiCLASS SE readers and multi-technology cards at its Robsrud Terminal, from where more than 60% of all the mail in Norway is handled. Norway Post was seeking a fast, secure and convenient card solution that was interoperable with different types of card readers. The organisation wanted to implement a multi-functional card for applications beyond access control. In addition, Norway Post was looking to deploy an access control system that would enable it to seamlessly migrate from existing legacy technologies to more advanced technologies.

Post  Parcel: Polish Post is planning to launch a new "comprehensive" solution for e-commerce shipping combining shipping with financial and digital services. The national postal operator said online shopping accounted for about a quarter of the entire parcel market in Poland last year, and that it handled about 31% of those e-commerce shipments. The state-owned firm now has an eye on the fast growth of the e-commerce sector, and is planning new services to take advantage of the boom. Polish Post said its plan is to provide integrated services combining package shipment with banking, insurance and digital services.

"Those who actively pursue security...lose it." -- Bayard Rustin

Roll Call: For all the money spent on the November elections, control of the Senate might not be decided until a Saturday three weeks before Christmas.

Roll Call: Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen again Monday, while Democrats on the panel reserved much of their ire for Chairman Darrell Issa. Issa, involved in a high-profile clash earlier this year with Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the panel, was criticized repeatedly during Monday's hearing by Democrats who dismissed the proceeding as election-year posturing. At one point, the California Republican warned Democrats that House rules forbid members from questioning the integrity or motives of other members — touching off a heated protest  [EdNote: Ahhhh, congressional bi-partisanship.]

June 24, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

ArsTechnica: The Federal Aviation Administration has said that online shopping powerhouse Amazon may not employ drones to deliver packages, at least not anytime soon. [Ed Note: Oh dear. No pie in the sky.]

The Washington Post: The Senate has started to advance a spending bill. The full House Appropriations Committee is set to consider that bill Wednesday. The House bill further would drop, but the Senate would keep, a long-running requirement that the U.S. Postal Service deliver mail six days a week. That provision has acted as a barrier to attempts by the Postal Service and some in Congress to switch to five-day mail delivery, while potentially continuing parcel delivery on six days.

Post & Parcel: La Poste Group has announced plans to streamline its range of courier products, and also to invest EUR 100m in its transport infrastructure. The French postal operator said both moves are designed to improve mail and parcel services for consumers and businesses.

IMpb Overview July 8 at 10 a.m.(EDT) This webinar provides a basic review of the features, benefits and requirements of the Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb), recent IMpb-related developments and a look at future enhancements. Join us as we discuss new requirements and conditions relating to the January 26, 2014,IMpb implementation. Please visit us on the USPS Industry Outreach website to view the upcoming webinar schedule and webinar archive presentations. Instructions for participating in the webinar appear below: Attendee Information: Date and Time: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 10:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time (New York) Event number: 993 190 869 Event address for attendees: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?d=993190869&t=a Teleconference information  U.S./Canada Attendee Dial-in: (888) 890-1547 Conference ID: 7016492

Interfax-Ukraine: Nova Poshta, one of the largest players on the Ukrainian market for express delivery of documents, parcels and freight, plans to launch a service of international postal delivery by autumn 2014, Director for Business Development at Nova Poshta Serhiy Kovalenko said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Monday. "Now we've received all the required permits, the operation process is underway, and I think by autumn we'll be able to launch the service," he said.

Businessweek: Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has been saying for three years that his agency is in danger of running out of money because of declining mail volume. And since bills and greeting cards continue to be delivered six days a week, it's little surprise that Congress has largely ignored his call for sweeping postal reform legislation. Now time may be running out. There are expensive projects that the USPS isn't tending to because it doesn't have the funds. The agency's inspector general predicted earlier this month that unless the USPS replaces its aging fleet of trucks, it might not be able to deliver mail throughout the country after 2017. The report didn't attract much attention; the USPS is an agency awash in bad news. But this is something that lawmakers should pay closer attention to. You would think that the possibly of curtailed mail service four years hence might inspire action on Capitol Hill. It hasn't. Republicans and Democrats are reluctant to support any of the money-saving measures that Donahoe has proposed, such as ending Saturday letter delivery. They might lose a few votes. Then again, their constituents may be angrier in 2017 if they stop getting mail because elected officials shrugged off this troubling report.

Insurance News Net: The Congressional Budget Office issued the following document: H.R. 2748 would change the laws that govern the operation of the United States Postal Service (USPS). Major provisions of the bill would: * Permit the Postal Service to reduce mail delivery from six days per week to five; * Authorize the Postal Service to phase out delivery of mail directly to some customers' doors; * Require the use of demographic data specific to Postal Service employees for the calculation of certain retirement benefits; * Reduce the contribution made by the Postal Service for employees' health and life insurance premiums; * Change the payments that the Postal Service is required to make relating to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (PSRHBF); and * Eliminate annual appropriations made to the Postal Service for free and reduced-rate mail. In addition, other provisions of H.R. 2748 would aim to help the Postal Service reduce its operating costs and increase its revenues. CBO estimates that enacting the bill would result in off-budget savings of $23.6 billion over the 2015-2024 period and on-budget costs of $6.6 billion. (USPS cash flows are recorded in the federal budget in the Postal Service Fund and are classified as off-budget, while the cash flows of the PSRHBF are on-budget.) Nearly all the off-budget savings derive from two provisions--reducing mail delivery to five days per week and phasing out delivery to customers' doors for some (but not all) addresses.

Government Executive: The House has taken a major step to allow the U.S. Postal Service to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee -- headed by Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla. -- did not include a rider in its version of the fiscal 2015 funding bill to require USPS to deliver mail six days each week. The language has been included in every postal-related appropriations bill since 1983. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has been a staunch advocate for modifying the delivery schedule, saying it would save the cash-strapped Postal Service $2 billion annually. He has encountered significant resistance in Congress, with the issue playing a large role in holding up committee-backed reform packages in both the House and Senate. More than 220 lawmakers, including 40 Republicans, have signed on to a resolution sponsored by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., to ensure six-day mail delivery. The House's postal point man, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., supports a modified delivery schedule, however, and has included a measure to cut delivery days in multiple postal overhaul bills. Issa wrote a letter to Crenshaw thanking him for not including the rider his appropriations bill. Issa said the three-decade old language has evolved into "a $2 billion per year unfunded mandated on the Postal Service -- a mandate the agency can no longer afford."

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Price Categories , 35819–35820 [2014–14445] [TEXT] [PDF]

Office of the Inspector General: Survey question: Would you be willing to pay a nominal monthly fee for an individual parcel locker at your home?

Press Release: UPS Capital® Corporation, a business unit of UPS that helps customers achieve smarter trade with financing and insurance solutions, today announced the expansion of its Jeweler's Elite Program to San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Providence. Designed specifically to help jewelers protect their high-value shipments, the service delivers time and cost savings by combining UPS shipping with insurance offered through UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc.

Direct Marketing News: A leading shipping industry expert warns that size-based rates will affect marketing and pricing decisions when the rates take effect next year. Internet retailers and catalogers whose pricing decisions are influenced by shipping rates need to reassess their shipping strategies in light of UPS's decision to follow FedEx and base U.S. ground rates on the size of packages. The shipping industry has long used a standard dimensional factor of 166 to determine how much weight could be safely stuffed inside various box volumes. For instance, the 11-pound maximum for the cubic foot box was determined by multiplying 12x12x12 and dividing by 166. The package size pricing soon to be embraced by FedEx and UPS favor shippers of small, heavy merchandise over those of large, light products. The U.S. Postal Service may serve as a better option for the latter group, since it continues to charge by weight for ground shipping in most postal zones. New rates take effect at UPS on Dec. 29 and at FedEx on Jan. 1, 2015, so shippers won't have to factor the new rate structure into their Holiday 2014 plans. But Comstock urges e-commerce companies and catalogers to immediately begin strategizing about their shipping plans for next year.

June 23, 2014 

Tampa Bay Times: RedPlum owner Valassis Communications said it planned to use the mail to deliver its insert due to a dispute over the cost of folding the insert into newspapers. "The company has made a business decision to shift availability of its RedPlum coupon booklet package from Tampa Bay area newspapers to our RedPlum mail package," Valassis said in a statement.

Postalnews Blog: What will the USPS call "Every Door Direct Mail" when they stop doing door to door delivery?

American Postal Workers Union: The Postal Service's propaganda machine has been working overtime in recent months, with workers forced to watch videos featuring Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe spewing falsehoods about "the state of the business" and the deal with Staples. APWU President Mark Dimondstein takes on the PMG's claims in a new video that every postal worker should see. But while management can require employees to view his message while they're on the clock, the union can't. So make sure your co-workers hear the truth!

DC Velocity: Has Fred Smith shown Jeff Bezos the door? Or did Bezos walk through it under his own power? FedEx Corp.'s fiscal fourth quarter and full-year 2014 results, released last Wednesday, contained this deeply buried but interesting nugget: Volumes for FedEx's "SmartPost" service, which it operates in concert with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), fell 8 percent in FedEx's fourth quarter, which ended May 31. However, volumes actually increased 15 percent if the numbers excluded the "changes in shipping patterns from one large customer," FedEx said in the statement accompanying the earnings. Moreover, overall yields for SmartPost rose 8 percent quarter-over-quarter, FedEx said. In the statement, Memphis-based FedEx declined to identify the customer. However, those who follow the business for a living said they have little doubt it is Amazon. There aren't many SmartPost users whose volumes can move the overall volume needle so sharply. Nor are there many users with the clout to beat FedEx over the head on pricing so that their absence would send the provider's yields springing sharply higher.

If you missed the PostCom webinar on Monthly Updates to Presort Software, you can still listen to a recording of the podcast and follow along with the slides that were used. Both are posted on this website. Webinar | Slides.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  Postal Regulatory Commission Request for Proposals RFP PRC-2014-4 Parcel Market Data

The Postal Service's parcel delivery products compete in a dynamic market, and the position and performance of these products in the marketplace is often a consideration in proceedings before the Commission. Monitoring market share and on-time performance data will help the Commission to make well-informed decisions in the performance of its regulatory responsibilities, including evaluating the Postal Service's market power and determining the appropriate share of institutional costs to be contributed by competitive products. The Commission is seeking these data for the most recent year available, as well as for the previous 10 years.

The Commission would like to enter into a contract with a Contractor to produce data that can be analyzed by the market segments identified in Items 1-6 below, for Postal Service parcel products in: (a) the most recent year available; (b) the most recent ten years available. To enable these data to be used in conjunction with pricing, costs, and other Postal Service reported data, a crosswalk showing the relationship between the market segments identified in Items 1-6 below and the Postal Service product(s) included in them should be provided.

(1) Speed of Delivery (e.g., same day, overnight, 2-day, or ground service) 1.1. Postal Service volumes and market share 1.2. On-time performance (Postal Service and industry average) (2) Package Weight or Size (e.g., small/light, med, large/heavy) 2.1. Postal Service volumes and market share (3) Type of sender and recipient (e.g., Business-to-Business, Business-to-Consumer) (3.1) Postal Service volumes and market share (3.2) For business senders, a breakout by small/med/large volume senders (4) Density of deliveries (e.g., deliveries to urban, suburban, or rural areas) (4.1) Postal Service volumes and market share (5) Last mile vs. end-to-end service (5.1) Postal Service volumes and market share (6). Parcels delivered Monday through Friday, and those delivered on Saturdays (6.1) Postal Service volumes and market share

The Commission would also like a proposal for a separate contract of a later date to provide the same data in each future year beyond the year for which data is most recently available, using methodology developed for presenting the data in (a) and (b) above. Proposals due July 7th.

PRNewswire: Every Door Direct Mail from the U.S. Postal Service allows restaurant owners to send a wide range of promotional materials like menus, coupons or fliers to potential customers in the surrounding area. Local restaurants can use the free service to digitally map their neighborhood and quickly find and target their ideal customers based on demographic information such as median age or household income. 'With all the information out there for how to run a business and retain customers, it can be overwhelming," said Chef Shepherd. "Direct mail is a great tactic for small businesses and a service like Every Door Direct Mail from the U.S. Postal Service makes it more accessible for local restaurant owners.

Yahoo Finance: – Bell and Howell, LLC today announced that it has spun off BCC Software (BCC), a former business unit, as an independent, stand-alone company owned by Bell and Howell's current shareholders. Versa Capital Management, LLC (Versa) now holds separate controlling majority interests in both Bell and Howell and BCC.

WMGI: The US Postal Service is looking for 600 people who would like to be a rural letter carrier in Indiana. You can only apply online at their website, http://www.usps.com/employment.

National Association of Letter Carriers: Saturday delivery is on the chopping block this week in Congress, and we need you to take action today to save it and the future of the Postal Service, which must provide service six days a week to prevent competitors from entering our business to replace us. Last week, the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee introduced its appropriations bill. For the first time since 1983, the longstanding language mandating the Postal Service to deliver six days a week is not part of the underlying bill. The ranking member on the committee, Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), is planning to offer an amendment to restore this vital provision. This coming Wednesday, June 25, at 10 am, the full Appropriations Committee will "mark up" the measure—that is, it will consider and debate amendments to the bill.

Bernama: State owned postal service company Zimpost will set up five new post offices by the end of the month, bringing total post offices in the country to 225. Zimpost managing director Douglas Zimbango said the move will enable all Zimbabweans to have access to postal products and services. Setting up more post offices is in line with the government's requirement for each post office to service a maximum of 10,000 people.

Gourmet Retailer: The whole world right now is about instant gratification. But one of the newest trends is a blast from the past. Catalogs! Yes, mail-order catalogs with their long lead times to plan and produce, increasing production costs and rising postal rates are being used by some cutting-edge catalog merchants to induce more online catalog sales. Yes, you heard me right. Blame the Internet for putting the old direct-mail print catalog back in the marketing spotlight.

June 22, 2014 

Ekathimerini: The first suitors for Hellenic Post (ELTA) have already started to appear, even though the privatization process has been postponed until a later date due to delays. Privatization authority TAIPED has not yet determined the details of the sell-off plan for the concession of the state mail service as the fund is still awaiting proposals from its consultants, while ELTA's management is trying to cut its operational costs. Sources say that CVC Capital Partners, whicht mostly manages capital from the US, is interested in a controlling stake in ELTA, having already bought into the postal companies of Denmark and Belgium. In fact the Belgian postal company (De Post/La Poste) has also expressed an interest in ELTA during talks with Greek authorities. Other suitors may be the Dutch mail company TNT Post and France's La Poste. Government sources have said that Athens's target is to find a European strategic investor, as is the case with most Greek companies that are up for privatization.

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DNA India: The next time your mail arrives late, don't fume, just do what Mumbaikar Prakash Sheth did. Based on his complaint, a consumer forum recently pulled up the postal department for failing to deliver his parcel on time and directed it to pay Sheth Rs 4,000 as compensation. The South Mumbai district consumer disputes redressal forum directed the postal department to not only refund the cost of postal charge (Rs 267), it has also ordered it to pay Sheth Rs 3,000 for mental agony caused and another Rs 1,000 for litigation costs.

The Motley Fool: It's pretty obvious why the APWU is putting so much effort into pressuring Staples to end its mini-post office pilot (known as the Retail Partner Expansion Program). Postal clerks are paid an average of $25 per hour according to the union; meanwhile, a typical Staples store employee makes less than $10 per hour. With the USPS consistently losing money and mail volumes declining, the postal service is always looking to cut costs. If the USPS were to outsource a significant amount of mail handling to lower-paying subcontractors, it could significantly cut its costs. As a result, the APWU sees low-paid Staples employees as a serious threat to its members' jobs. If boycotts are hurting Staples more than the mini-post offices are helping, the company will have to cave in and drop the pilot program.

June 21, 2014 

Mutichannel Merchant: Today's "flex consumer" is channel agnostic and willing to wait longer to receive items purchased online if it means free shipping, according to a new survey released today by UPS and comScore.

Multichannel Merchant: Generally the switch to dimensional weight pricing is in response to rising fuel costs and the increasing popularity of online shopping. As products shipped from online marketplaces like Amazon.com and eBay are often smaller items packed in larger boxes, they can take up a lot of space on delivery trucks but are priced at lower rates. Joe Bobko, principal of the Bobko Consulting Group, said regional carriers could be a good alternative to address dimensional weight pricing, but shippers needed to do deep cost analysis to determine if the numbers justified that option. He also said there's no guarantee they won't apply dimensional weight pricing themselves at some point.

Outside Online: It looks like Lance Armstrong's courtroom battles are not quite over: a federal judge has declared that the whistleblower suit filed against him by the U.S. government—which was instigated by former teammate Floyd Landis—should proceed. Last year, Armstrong's lawyers asked a judge to dismiss the $100-million civil action, which alleges that the use of performance-enhancing drugs by the U.S. Postal Service was an act of fraud that warrants massive financial restitution. Government lawyers say the Postal Service was deceived into paying $40 million to the team from 1998 to 2004, including nearly $20 million to Armstrong personally.

RTE: Rates for postal services will increase from July 21, 2014. The increase comes following a review of pricing and the approval by ComReg of a new price-cap mechanism. The standard domestic letter rate for items up to 100g will increase from 60 cents to 68 cents while the standard international letter rate will increase from 90 cents to €1.00 for items up to 100g. Despite the increase, An Post's rates will remain below the EU domestic average of 71 cents.

From the Federal Register:  Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Amendment to Postal Products , 35581 [2014–14508] [TEXT] [PDF]

June 20, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Direct Marketing News: The Postal Regulatory Commission has approved a Negotiated Service Agreement for Potpourri Group, publisher of more than a dozen catalogs selling gifts, apparel, pet products, and hobby accessories. It's the first NSA that the U.S. Postal Service has worked out with a catalog company, and it could lay the groundwork for more to follow in short order.

FoxNews: When it comes to incompetence, losing money and union muscle-flexing, the U.S. Postal Service always delivers.

The following message has been communicated widely regarding legislative reform proposals involving the CPI cap: "Please be informed that the Association for Postal Commerce opposes and does not wish to be identified as lending its support to ANY proposal for postal reform that would involve mailers agreeing to accept anything other than the current CPI class-based inflation cap provision within the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006."

 Zawya: DHL Express, an international logistics company, plans to build more air site and land site facilities in the Middle East, according to the company's top executive. DHL Express is part of postal and logistics group Deutsche Post DHL. The company, which has over 50 per cent market share in the Middle East, will invest 300-400 million euros in the region over the next three to five years, according to Ken Allen, global chief executive of DHL Express.

Post & Parcel: Lithuania Post is partnering with one of the largest courier service providers in China to bring Asian e-commerce products into Europe. The deal follows a similar partnership agreement signed last month with logistics firm CLEVY, which works with e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. The state-owned Baltic postal operator said it will cooperate on the delivery of items from China to European Union countries, Russia and Belarus. Lithuania Post's Chairman of the Board, Arijandas Šliupas, said the deal would see Lithuania becoming a gateway into Europe for one of the world's biggest e-commerce industries.

On the Wight: Our experience of Isle of Wight postal workers has always been very positive, finding them decent and hardworking, so it was unexpected to see the CP report today of a postman going before Isle of Wight magistrates, accused of stealing thousands of letters from Royal Mail. The report states the man from Wootton was last week accused of stealing a massive 2,749 addressed postal packets and 1,911 postal packets addressed to Royal Mail Group over the last five and a half years. Amongst the items stolen were a handheld steamer, memory card and a computer tablet belonging to Royal Mail. No plea was entered by the accused and he was granted unconditional bail.

PCC Members!! The latest issue of the PostCom Postal Quarterly has been posted on this site in the public area.

From the Federal Register:

  • Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 35388–35389 [2014–14469] [TEXT] [PDF]
  • Postal Service RULES Revised Postage and Fee Refund Criteria , 35288–35289 [2014–14415] [TEXT] [PDF]
    NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records , 35389–35390 [2014–14404] [TEXT] [PDF]

Reuters: British postal provider Royal Mail said it had submitted formal evidence to regulator Ofcom over the threat to the postal service posted by its competitor TNT Post. The newly privatised company said the lack of intervention from Ofcom would undermine its ability to reach a 5-10 percent EBIT margin for its reported business for the future. Royal Mail, which estimated TNT Post UK's plans would reduce its revenue by over 200 million in 2017-18, said it had requested Ofcom to commence an immediate review to determine the regulatory changes needed to safeguard the service. [EdNote: Oh, I get it. The Royal Mail has now discovered that it really isn't a private competitive corporation, in large part because it can't stand the thought of real competition. It needs a guaranteed rate of return. In other words, it wants the benefits of a monopoly even though it has none. You mean it couldn't figure all this out before putting the UK through its IPO charade?]

June 19, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Postalnews Blog: FedEx yesterday announced a jump in fourth quarter profits, but it also noted that its SmartPost product, a partnership with the USPS, had lost volume: "FedEx SmartPost average daily volume decreased 8% while net revenue per package was up 8% due to rate increases and improved customer mix, partially offset by higher postage costs." While it wasn't enough to significantly damage FedEx Ground's profitability, the news is a reversal from past reports crediting growth in SmartPost with boosting the company's overall success. Just a year ago, SmartPost daily volumes had jumped 25% thanks to increased ecommerce shipments. That may be a worrying trend for the USPS as it tries to capture "last mile" package delivery volumes to help offset letter mail losses.

Post & Parcel: Jersey Post's mail and digital print division signs agreement with Mailmate.

Bernama: Zimbabwe's postal service provider, Zimpost, plans to take its money transfer service Zipcash to the mobile platform to extend its reach and compete with existing players. Zipcash, which was launched last October, is an electronic version of the old money order service which uses post offices throughout the country to enable Zimbabweans to send cash locally and internationally. Zimpost managing director Douglas Zimbango said here Wednesday the company was working on improving the transfer service. "We are confident that as we develop Zipcash further to be accessible through cellphones, we will be able to overtake other players," he said.

National Association of Letter Carriers: Poor Joe Corbett. The Postal Service's chief financial officer probably finds it hard to get out of bed each morning, knowing that his bank account holds only a fraction of what he owes on his home mortgage, car loan and credit cards. Then he has to go to work at the Postal Service and face, what he thinks, are the same daunting financial circumstances. Of course, most Americans—geniuses or otherwise—know that comparing your total liabilities over the next several decades to a small fraction of your assets that's held in cash is probably not the right way to approach the problem. Kidding aside, Corbett, who was interviewed for a Wall Street Journal online edition blog post, knows perfectly well that he's blowing smoke. The chart that he provided The Journal, comparing the Postal Service's "total liabilities" to its current and projected cash balance, is designed to bamboozle readers into buying USPS' plan to continue to dismantle the nation's invaluable postal networks. CFOs of major companies don't compare their liabilities to their companies' cash balances. Rather they compare total liabilities to total assets.

Politico: Cutting-edge data-gathering techniques may have grabbed the spotlight lately, but it turns out the government has been playing fast and loose with a more old-school surveillance method: snail-mail snooping. The U.S. Postal Service failed to observe key safeguards on a mail surveillance program with a history of civil liberties abuses, according to a new internal watchdog report that USPS managers tried to keep secret, citing security concerns. The Office of Inspector General audit of so-called "mail covers" — orders to record addresses or copy the outside of all mail delivered to an individual or an address — found that about 20 percent of the orders implemented for outside law enforcement agencies were not properly approved, and 13 percent were either unjustified or not correctly documented. Meanwhile, some of the safeguards set up to catch these shortcomings were missing: The Postal Service wasn't regularly conducting the annual reviews required by federal rules. The OIG report warned that the failure to follow established rules for mail covers raised privacy worries and posed a threat to the Postal Service's reputation. [EdNote: What a foolish waste and misuse of the public's trust.]

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

  • The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) on June 10, 2014, issued a Management Advisory Report concerning the USPS Delivery Vehicle Fleet Replacement. The OIG said that according to its analysis, USPS delivery operations can be sustained nationwide until FY2017, which it said is the target date for purchasing the next generation of collection and delivery vehicles. It reported that the USPS lacks a fully developed long-term acquisition strategy, however, and recommended that while the USPS should continue to pursue short-term annual vehicle acquisitions, it also needs to formalize a long-term plan to replace the fleet that includes requirements and specifications for the next generation of delivery vehicles.
  • UPS has announced that, beginning December 29, 2014, in the United States, dimensional weight will be utilized to calculate the billable weight of a shipment on all UPS® Ground services and UPS® Standard to Canada packages.
  • Washington Post hands out its postal pinocchios. Stopping congress from taking the frank to the bank. Much ado about (in the world's postal scheme of things) very little. Transport-Postal ploy is dead, dead, dead. NALC decries PMG's endorsement of transportation ploy. Tallying up postal liabilities. USPS Suspends tracking services to seven countries. FedEx continues shift to ground. FedEx recognized by USPS. The internet of postal things. USPS In need of deals on wheels. Letter carrier food drive a success. More postal workers comp fraud. Staples to donate to teachers. What do USPS, Amazon and LSS have in common? USPS Aspires to own the package market.
  • An update on USPS notices to the mailing industry.
  • An update on key docket activity at the PRC.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
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Post & Parcel: The Universal Postal Union is calling on the world's policymakers to take advantage of "untapped potential" for using post office networks to improve public access to the Internet. A new report issued to a high-level meeting in Geneva has suggested all post offices around the globe need to be connected with information and communications technologies, and help improve broadband Internet access. The report of the International Telecommunication Union's World Summit on the Information Society said according to 2012 data on 81 countries and their combined 174,493 post offices (out of the global 640,000), only 31% have broadband Internet access. And, only 10% of those post offices are used to provide public Internet access.

Press Release: Triangle is delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 World Mail Awards. Listed below are the companies and individuals who have been recognised as this year's most original and brilliant innovators, driving our industry forward and keeping post and parcel services at the top of the global economic and strategic agenda. View more details on the website.

Office of the Inspector General:

  • Environmental Compliance Review Closeout Process - Audit Report -- WHAT THE OIG FOUND: The Office of Sustainability and facility management need to improve the ECR closeout process to ensure ECR observations are addressed effectively and on time. From FYs 2012 through 2013, facility management closed only 71 percent of the observations within 90 days as required. We reviewed 142 observations that were open for more than 181 days and found that management closed 26 (18 percent) during our audit and initiated corrective action on 72 (51 percent). However, facility management did not properly document completed corrective actions for 31 observations (22 percent) and did not take corrective action on 13 (9 percent). Further, the escalation process did not effectively ensure personnel addressed observations open longer than 181 days. This occurred because ECR instructions did not include controls to ensure Office of Sustainability managers regularly assist with open ECR observations and the escalation process did not continue to provide notifications until observations were closed. We identified about $2 million in assets at risk as a result of potential fines for noncompliance with environmental laws and regulations.

From the Federal Register:

  • Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 35192–35193 [2014–14279] [TEXT] [PDF]
  • Postal Service NOTICES Product Changes: Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, & First-Class Package Service Negotiated Service Agreement , 35193 [2014–14306] [TEXT] [PDF]

Bernama: Instead of pocketing a massive A$2 million (US$1.88 million) in bonus, the chief executive of Australia Post Ahmed Fahour has donated the money to the Islamic Museum here of which he is patron. Ahmed, of Lebanese heritage, told the Herald Sun newpapaer that he and his family had been able to make a "substantial contribution" to several not-for-profit organisations in recent years.

Business Standard: A postcard which is sold for 50 paise actually costs the government Rs 7, according to an RTI response from the postal department listing the costs incurred by it on such services which are proving to be loss-making propositions for it. In the year 2012-13, the per unit revenue earned from the sale of postcards was 50 paise whereas, to keep the service running, the per unit cost came to Rs 7.18, down from Rs 7.50 during 2010-11, the department said in its RTI response.

Wall Street Journal: Hundreds of thousands of consumers nationwide who bought insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act will face a choice this fall: swallow higher premiums to stay in their plan, or save money by switching. That is the picture emerging from proposed 2015 insurance rates in the 10 states that have completed their filings, which stretch from Rhode Island to Washington state. In all but one of them, the largest health plan in the state is proposing to increase premiums between 8.5% and 22.8% for next year, according to a Wall Street Journal review of the filings. That percentage represents the average rate increases for all individual health plans offered by that carrier. With dominant market share now, analysts say, carriers feel they have room to raise rates. Nine of the carriers are proposing average increases for 2015 that range from 8.5% by Anthem Inc. in Virginia to 22.8% from CareFirst for its BlueChoice plans in Maryland.

Federal News Radio: The Postal Service's Inspector General's office, for example, virtualized more than 400 servers serving both its front end infrastructure and back-end storage and computing power. By virtualizing, the USPS OIG now is moving toward a bring-your-own-device or BYOD strategy to let employees take advantage of the virtualized environment securely and efficiently. Other agencies are following suit. The Navy hopes to virtualize all their servers and applications by 2017 as both a cost cutting strategy and to improve access through mobile devices. There's no doubt federal CIOs have accepted the benefits of virtualization. A recent survey by Forrester and NetApp of private sector IT executives found they say virtualization drives down hardware costs and improve disaster recovery capabilities. Now add the quick evolution of mobile devices, whether smartphones or tablets, and the benefits of virtualization multiply. At the same time, virtualization and mobile computing creates challenges—chief among them is security of data and the device.

June 18, 2014 

Politico: Amazon just entered the smartphone wars — and may soon be taking a deeper dive into Washington. The online retail giant unveiled its own smartphone Wednesday at an event in Seattle. The Fire Phone, as it's called, has a feature called Firefly that uses the phone's camera to identify products, music and movies — which can be easily purchased on Amazon. Amazon will get new and novel streams of information about consumers, beyond its e-commerce site — something that privacy watchdogs track closely. "The holy grail of behavioral targeting is the ability to cross from one platform to another," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "This obviously is going to give them an opportunity to do that and greatly expand the amount of data that they are able to compile about consumers. From that standpoint alone, I think it would give me cause to be concerned about what the implications of this might be." Amazon has had a taste of privacy scrutiny before. Its Silk Web browser previously drew questions from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) over the way it handles user browsing data. But the Fire Phone is likely to generate new policy interests for the company in Washington.

FriedlNews:Austrian enterprises spent some EUR 3.256 billion (USD 4.42 billion) on print, radio and TV advertising in 2013, shows a survey conducted by researcher Marketmind for postal firm Post AG. A greater distribution among various advertising channels will likely take place, while classical advertising channels are facing a negative outlook.

Chicago Tribune: U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth wants to end a congressional perk: "franked" mail. The "franking" privilege lets lawmakers send mail to constituents with their signatures in the place of postage stamps, though the cost to send the mailings is paid for later out of their office budgets. Duckworth, a freshman Democrat from Hoffman Estates, said a bill she introduced Tuesday will require lawmakers to pay for postage in advance. But it would not reduce the amount of money lawmakers may spend on mail to constituents, said Duckworth's spokesman, Anton Becker

MobileMarketingWatch: A number of years ago, before smartphones and tablets were even invented, a marketing guru out of Philadelphia named Bob Gollwitzer said something that today's modern digital marketer definitely needs to hear; "We [those in marketing] need to look at our PC screens as if they were televisions, and people do not read television, they watch it." Looking back today, when approximately 50 million people in the United States use their smartphones to watch videos, it's not a stretch to say that Bob knew exactly what he was talking about, which was that for the most part that consumers don't want to use their computers (or tablets, or smartphones) to read, they want to use them to watch.

Roll Call: House leaders are setting aside a plan to finance a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund with cutbacks in U.S. Postal Service operations after a late barrage of opposition from rank-and-file members. The House is now considering other offsets for the troubled trust fund, due to run short of money this summer, including another round of pension changes and increases in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums. "The proposal to end six-day [mail delivery] was not well received by a large portion of the Republican conference and appears to be dead," said a senior House Republican aide. "Other, more viable options are now being considered."

Roll Call: Convinced that most Americans "cuss" the unsolicited fliers that arrive in their mailbox bearing an autograph from their elected official instead of a stamp, Rep. Rob Woodall wants to upend the congressional institution known as franking. He's not suggesting eliminating taxpayer-funded mailing privileges for Congress. Instead, the Georgia Republican wants to change the accounting system that, among other things, allows district congressional offices to self-report how much their accounts will be billed for postage. Sixteen years as a legislative staff member taught Woodall a lot about the day-to-day logistics of the franking system. Since being elected to Congress in 2011, he's heard an earful during town halls from the constituents who think the frank suggests that once you get to Congress the rules no longer apply — no more purchasing postage, no licking stamps. From a good government standpoint, Woodall thinks the more people understand that franking is not free mail, but a taxpayer expense, the more they will pressure their own lawmaker to stop using the privilege.

Wall Street Journal: FedEx Corp. said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose as the package-delivery giant posted revenue growth across its segments, particularly in its ground and freight operations. The company last month said it would begin charging more for light but bulky packages for items such as paper towels and shoes. Consumers have been relying more on e-commerce to shop for products they would usually buy at physical stores. While this has resulted in more shipping volume, it has led to higher costs for ground delivery, a lower-cost option. FedEx rival United Parcel Service Inc. followed suit with a similar pricing system using so-called dimensional weight. E-commerce helped drive growth in FedEx's ground segment, whose revenue increased more than 8% to $3.01 billion on an 8% jump in average daily volume during the most recent quarter.

The Weekly Standard: The U.S. Postal Service is seeking a company to help develop a program called the Internet of Postal Things. The Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC), part of the Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General (OIG), is looking for a supplier "who possesses expertise and critical knowledge of the Internet of Things, data strategy and analytics, and the Postal Service's operations, infrastructure, products and services." The OIG is exploring ways for the Postal Service to benefit from the technology that provides "virtually unlimited opportunities to collect and process data from any device, infrastructure, machine and even human beings."

Warsaw Business Journal: State-owned postal operator Poczta Polska is finalizing talks on its bourse debut with the treasury and administration ministries, the company's CEO Jerzy Jóźkowiak said on Tuesday. The IPO may take place before the end of 2016. The CEO added that the form of the stock exchange privatization was still subject to discussion. He stressed that the State Treasury would keep a majority stake in the company.

Post & Parcel: Australia Post has unveiled a $40m ($37m USD) support programme to strengthen its network of regional and rural post offices. The state-owned company has promised increased payments for post office operators and improved point-of-sale technology to allow customers access to more services. Plans also include an expansion of the new superstore concept of postal retail outlet, with 50 to be established in regional and rural areas in the next five years. The company currently has 11 superstores in its network.

Tamebay: Parcelforce Worldwide are extending their Global Priority Return service to customers in 10 new countries in Europe. Previously the service was only available to customers in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. It's now been extended to cover customers in Republic of Ireland, Spain, Finland, Malta, Estonia, Austria, Lithuania, Italy, Greece and Poland. The service makes it easier for UK online retailers to provide international shoppers with a free, trackable returns service for unwanted items, improving the overall buying experience.

AzerNews: Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Mahmoud Vaezi said Iran and Azerbaijan have agreed to expand international and regional cooperation.

Bloomberg: United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) plans to begin charging for ground-shipped packages by size, not just weight, a change designed to increase revenue and reduce costs at the world's biggest delivery company. UPS already uses so-called dimensional pricing for packages carried in its air network and larger pieces shipped by ground, the company said in a statement today. It follows rival FedEx Corp., (FDX) which said in May it would shift to charging by weight and size. UPS expects the change to discourage online retailers from shipping small, lightweight items in large boxes, taking up more space in trucks and raising costs. The change at both companies likely is the first step toward improving the profitability of business-to-consumer shipments

Wall Street Journal: When FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. both misfired during the winter—missing quarterly analyst consensus earnings forecasts by 15% and 9%, respectively—the market reaction was surprisingly muted. FedEx will be the first of the delivery giants to report its latest quarterly results on Wednesday. Shareholders' forbearance is likely to be rewarded. Analysts estimate FedEx earned $2.36 a share in its fiscal fourth quarter ended in May, up from 95 cents a year earlier, according to FactSet. Adjusting for year-ago noncash charges, that still represents an improvement of more than 10%.

Wall Street Journal: FedEx Corp. told U.S. authorities that it received allegations that its Kenya operation paid bribes to government officials, according to a statement the company issued to The Wall Street Journal. The shipping company has told the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission about the allegations it potentially violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the statement said. FedEx also said it is investigating the allegations, and has "not found anything to substantiate the allegations."

GhanaWeb: The Director of Post at the Ministry of Communications, Mr Nicolas Derry, has urged staff members of Ghana Post to enhance its relationship with its customers. He said that approach would go a long way to grow the company's revenue, adding that "the survival of the postal service depends on how well we handle our customers."

June 17, 2014 

PRNewswire: The annual food drive of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) collected almost 73 million pounds of food to help restock food banks, pantries and shelters around the country – an impressive result made all the more necessary by the slow-paced economy recovery and recent natural disasters. The effort on Saturday, May 10, gathered 72.5 million pounds of food – the 11th consecutive year the NALC drive has surpassed 70 million pounds of food collected. Several local NALC branches still are compiling their figures. This year's results bring the total to more than 1.3 billion pounds since the national drive began in 1992.

Fox Business: United Parcel Service (UPS) said Tuesday it will set rates for all U.S. ground shipments based on package size, following a similar move by rival shipper FedEx. UPS plans to expand dimensional-weight pricing, which determines cost by measuring exterior package size, beginning Dec. 29. Shipping prices are based on dimensional weight if it exceeds the actual weight. "UPS has been researching the potential expansion of dimensional-weight pricing for a number of years because it enables us to more appropriately align rates with costs which are influenced by both the size and weight of packages," UPS chief commercial officer Alan Gershenhorn said in a statement.

Wall Street Journal: A political battle has broken out between the U.S. Postal Service's union and leadership over the state of its financial condition. Both sides are amping up the rhetoric, but there are few clear answers as to how it will cover its enormous liabilities in the coming years. The Postal Service, which is self-funded and receives no taxpayer subsidies, is a massive agency. About 40% of the entire world's mail volume is handled by its 500,000 employees. With 31,100 retail offices and more than 200,000 vehicles, it delivers to about 153 million mailboxes, 6 days a week. It is also tapped out. The agency calculates it has $113 billion in total current and future liabilities – including payments to retirees and workers compensation – exceeding assets by $90 billion. Here's how the liabilities break down and compare to cash on hand, according to a Postal Service white paper . . . .

Federal News Radio: The Postal Service's mail delivery vehicles are in dire need of replacement, but the agency doesn't have enough money to buy a new fleet. In a new report, the USPS Inspector General said the agency's current fleet will only allow it to sustain delivery operations through fiscal 2017. "The Postal Service's ongoing financial constraints have limited its ability to implement delivery fleet replacement plans," the report stated.

usps logo DMM Advisory: IMb™ Services Update Program Registration Release 10.0.0.6 — will be deployed to Production on Sunday, June 22, 2014, during the scheduled maintenance window from 4 am to 8 am CDT. There will be an outage and the application will be unavailable during that time. Program Registration Release 10.0.0.6 will implement enhancements to support the new Parcel Data Exchange (PDX) application. PDX will streamline the file transfer set-up process so that USPS customers can easily send and receive electronic shipping and event files.

NewsWithViews: Anyone who has ever studied accounting knows bonus' only are to come on the back side of profit. Not so for the USPS! They reported in 2012 a loss of over $16B for the year but still made sure Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe was treated handsomely. Donahoe earned a base salary of $276,840, but even without a bonus or incentive payout, his overall compensation came to $512,093 in 2012, compared with $384,229 in 2011, according to regulatory filings. Not only the total compensation should bring up your blood pressure, but his retirement account grew by $186,536. Additionally, two other executives . . . .

Lifehacker: Think technology is taking over everywhere? Think again. Australia Post has announced a plan to modernise rural and regional post offices. One of the key upgrades? Upgrading 432 branches which are still using manual point of sale systems.

Leinster Express: The new postal charges introduced last week caught many people unawares. A post office official said that the numbers of people who had failed to stamp their letters adequately was "somewhat higher than normal". He could not give any definite figures at that stage, and pointed out that it was difficult to evaluate the situation fully as the new charges had been only operative for a short time.

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Post could be given the OK to end the everyday delivery of standard mail and introduce a two-tiered pricing system as early as year's end, under reforms being considered by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Turnbull is expected to present a rescue package for Australia Post, including three-day-a-week delivery for standard mail, to federal cabinet within months. Mr Turnbull is also actively considering allowing the company to introduce a two-tiered pricing system, similar to Britain's second-class mail service, for non-urgent letter deliveries. Customers wanting speedier letter delivery would pay more than the standard rate.

Office of the Inspector General: Making Every Mile Count....More -- Earn more or spend less. Those are the two basic ways to achieve financial fitness, whether you're talking about the household budget or a multi-billion-dollar corporate balance sheet. And that's what it comes down to for the U.S. Postal Service as it seeks to bring revenue in line with expenses (it lost $5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013). So far, the Postal Service has been looking at cost cutting ideas like moving to 5-day mail delivery to changing employee benefits to consolidating networks. It's also been trying to grow revenue, most notably in the package delivery business. But are there some unexplored opportunities to generate income, particularly by taking advantage of one of the Postal Service's greatest assets – its last mile delivery network?

BusinessInCameroon: The French company, Sofrepost, a subsidiary of the French Postal Service, has just extended its technical assistance contract with Cameroon Postal Service (Campost), according to internal sources both at the postal company and at the Ministry of Postal Services and Telecommunications. The first contract between Campost and Sofrepost was signed in 2010 for two years for 2 billion FCfa in revenue right after the departure of the Canadian firm, Tecsult International Limited, which had completed its management contract with Campost, leaving a 2.2 billion FCfa hole in its cash register.

eCommerceBytes: The U.S. Postal Service recognized FedEx recently as part of its annual Supplier Performance Awards. FedEx carries the majority of domestic air packages for the Postal Service and had been awarded a 7-year contract last year valued at approximately $10.5 billion. FedEx received the Postmaster General's Supplier Award, a newly created award. According to the USPS, the supplier awards recognize performance that "reduces costs, maintains high levels of service and provides innovative and sustainable solutions."

Trefis: FedEx is set to release its fourth quarter (fiscal year ending May) earnings on June 18. In the third quarter, its revenues were up 3% year-over-year to $11.3 billion, driven by higher volumes in the Ground segment. [1] Net profits improved 5% year-over-year from $361 million to $378 million and earnings per share increased 9% to $1.23. Despite having suffered from severe weather during the winters, FedEx managed to improve its operating income by 9% to $641 million. Operating income is the difference between the revenues and operating expenses. FedEx's operating expenses increased 3% year-over-year driven by higher purchased transportation costs, rentals and landing fees, and maintenance and repairs which were partially offset by lower fuel expenses.

National Association of Letter Carriers: The Washington Post's "Fact Checker," Glenn Kessler, has challenged on his blog the statement by NALC that the Postal Service's plan to end Saturday would eliminate 80,000 jobs. Sadly, Kessler has made a hash of it.

June 16, 2014 

PRNewswire: The U.S. Postal Service recently recognized 14 companies in the annual Supplier Performance Awards. The awards recognize performance that reduces costs, maintains high levels of service and provides innovative and sustainable solutions. Companies were recognized in the following categories: Supplier Performance, Supplier Excellence, Supplier Innovation, Supplier Diversity, Supplier Sustainability Excellence, Postal Supplier Council Excellence and for the first time, the Postmaster General's Supplier Award.

Fedweek: The National Institutes of Standards and Technology has said it is taking part in a "SmartAmerica / Global Cities Challenge" to help develop a technological framework to realize the benefits of an Internet of things. An Internet of things is much what it sounds like: networked devices. However, the ubiquity and low cost of "digitizing" and linking up hardware has reached a point where practical application on a large scale is within reach. (The Postal Service, for example, relies on a lot of equipment that linked up online could give it new, real-time visibility over its distribution network.)

eCommerceBytes: One year after announcing it was expanding Delivery Confirmation International Service beyond Canada to additional countries, the USPS suspended tracking to seven of those countries. Apparently some foreign Posts are not up to snuff when it comes to tracking packages. The USPS is suspending Delivery Confirmation International Service to Brazil, Denmark, France, Gibraltar, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal because "recent performance evaluations conducted by the Postal Service for these destinations are not satisfactory." Online sellers were happy about the availability of delivery confirmation for international orders when announced last July. Unless they used expensive services, they had been unable to confirm when a package was delivered overseas. But now, sellers are wondering about the consequences of the suspension. Wrote one EcommerceBytes reader, "eBay wonders why sellers refuse to sell internationally,... Imagine the defects eBay will pass out now that USPS has announced that Tracking has been suspended for deliveries to 7 countries."

BusinessWire: Pitney Bowes Inc. has announced Mailstream On Demand, giving small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) an outsourced solution to better manage their transactional document design, production and delivery across physical and digital channels. Mailstream On Demand leverages Pitney Bowes' expertise in mail and document creation and distribution to help clients create more effective transactional communications that drive commerce. "As customer preference for receiving transactional communications continues to evolve, small and medium-sized businesses are searching for innovative solutions to better manage their customer communications and leverage emerging digital channels" "As customer preference for receiving transactional communications continues to evolve, small and medium-sized businesses are searching for innovative solutions to better manage their customer communications and leverage emerging digital channels," said Steve Barnes, Vice President, Global Product Management, Pitney Bowes. "SMBs can now benefit from the latest technology, expertise and capabilities, previously affordable to only the highest volume mailers. Mailstream On Demand also makes it easy to migrate to digital communications channels." From document design to customer delivery and all the steps along the way, Mailstream On Demand uses the latest technology and process automation to help ensure document integrity and swift delivery. In addition, color documents are standard, enabling more effective cross-selling and lower client support costs. Mailstream On Demand is fully scalable, allowing clients to access the service as needed for certain higher value or higher volume applications, spikes in volume, business continuity or to expand their digital options for receiving bills and making payments.

Independent: Postmasters have now accused An Post of trying to drive away their business as fears grow about the future of the post office network. The controversial letter was sent to around 3,000 shop owners who operate the so-called 'post point' outlets across the country. These are outlets which offer a range of An Post services, including the payment of bills, and are located within newsagents and other retailers. Post points are different from the newly established 'Post and Pay' outlets, which are being trialled in four Tesco stores before being rolled out by other supermarket giants. The letter from An Post, seen by the Irish Independent, promotes a new service called 'PostPack' which has yet to be rolled out in post offices. PostPack is a pre-paid plastic pouch which enables customers to send items securely by post for a flat fee of €5.

Xconomy: In the pre-Internet days of the 1970s, when e-mail as we know it was invented, it may have been a decent solution to a certain problem—namely, the need for users logged into a single mainframe, server, or network to exchange short messages. But those users were scientists and engineers, and they were mostly sharing technical information. The difficulty is that e-mail evolved into a tool used in millions of workplaces around the world, without ever being updated or redesigned to suit its new users. We long ago phased out other flawed or imperfect 1970s technologies, like analog TV broadcasts and leaded gasoline. But when it comes to knowledge work and interoffice communication, we're mired in the past. E-mail's flaws as a communications platform for modern business are many, obvious, and frequently lamented.

Roll Call: There is a shell game currently underway on Capitol Hill. The House Republican Leadership are trying to use the elimination of essential postal services as a means to pay for temporarily extending the exhausted Highway Trust Fund. Unfortunately for taxpayers and postal customers, the game is rigged. The reality is that all the shells are empty.

Post & Parcel: Royal Mail's biggest rival in the mail sphere, TNT Post UK, has launched a new tracked packet and small parcel service that could increase pressure on the UK universal service provider's e-commerce growth. TNT Post said the new P&P InSight service comes as part of its Packet & Parcels service, allowing shippers to track packets or parcels through the chain until it reaches the last mile.

Washington Post: The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the shift to five-day service would initially save about $2.5 billion a year, eventually drifting to about $2 billion annually over a 10-year period. The estimated savings come not only from workforce reductions but also from reduced transportation costs. On the face of it, 80,000 jobs seems high, especially considering that more than half of the USPS workforce are letter carriers. Could the plan really eliminate one-quarter of the letter carriers? The NALC and its friends in Congress are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. On the one hand, they claim their numbers are based on USPS figures. But that's for an old plan — and they ignore or belittle the newer estimate from USPS. We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios. The NALC statement is more in the Two Pinocchio range, as it talks about jobs being "eliminated" without quite saying that many people would be out of work. But Connolly takes the unrealistic 80,000 figure and further claims that that many people "would be out of work" and would actually need financial assistance. That claim seems too untethered from reality and tips toward Three Pinocchios.

Times of Oman: The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) organised a regulatory workshop for postal service providers to discuss issues relating to the regulation of the postal services. The workshop aimed at creating awareness of international standards and rules. It was attended by officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Directorate-General of Custom Services of the Royal Oman Police. During the workshop, the TRA reviewed the Beneficiaries' Complaints Regulation, which was approved by the TRA to implement the provisions of the Postal Services Regulatory Law. The participants were informed about the report on the postal services market, which was prepared by the TRA, following field visits to the governorates and wilayats of the Sultanate. The report will serve as a database for the postal services market and may be used as a reference to safeguard the interests of beneficiaries of the postal services, and of other stakeholders from the government such as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Directorate-General of Custom Services, and the Ministry of Manpower besides the companies licensed to provide postal services.

June 15, 2014 

National Association of Letter Carriers: "Mr. Donahoe's action may be the most irresponsible thing any Postmaster General has done since the creation of the Postal Service in 1970. If allowed to succeed, this budget gimmick would have set a terrible precedent for the Postal Service. Why raise taxes or reduce spending at taxpayer-funded agencies, when you can pay for pet projects with legislated service cuts at the Postal Service? Need a new aircraft carrier? Slash post office hours. Want a new fleet of planes to fight forest fires? Raise postage rates. The PMG recklessly risked undoing all the hard work we did in the late 1980s to get the Postal Service off-budget, to shield the Postal Service and ratepayers from scheming politicians like Rep. Cantor. The PMG owes every postal employee and every postage rate-payer an apology."

PRWeb: Apps Associates today announced the launch of a new Software as a Service (SaaS) version of its popular ShipConsole solution. ShipConsole is a one stop, multi-carrier shipping solution that enables organizations to reduce shipping costs and streamline the shipping process. It is also validated for integration with Oracle Applications such as Oracle E-Business Suite. ShipConsole can be implemented in an on-premise data center or can now be deployed in the cloud as Software as a Service (SaaS).

Calgary Herald: Neighbourhoods in Calgary's east end will be among the first to lose door-to-door mail service this September as part of Canada Post's multi-year phase-in of community mailboxes across the country.

YLE: More than 600,000 Finnish households are now saying no to freesheets and advertisements. The number is actually on the rise, even as the direct advertising industry is booming. Catalogues, advertisements, free newspapers, fast food offers… Finland's letterboxes are full of these and other types of printed spam which end up as waste – or which don't make it in through the front door at all. Tens of thousands of new households attach "no ads" signs on their doors and mailboxes every year. "There are definitely more of them these days," says Matti Tapaninen, a mailman of 40 years' standing. "People get fed up with hauling out bagfuls of paper waste every week." Especially young men living alone in apartment buildings prefer to skip the junk mail rounds entirely. The Janton concern specialises in direct mail advertisement. Development Manager Jani Kaski doesn't consider the rise in refusal signs a threat to the business. "Unaddressed distribution as a whole has developed radically," Kaski says. [EdNote: By law, the Postal Service does not deliver unaddressed mail by placing it in mailboxes. The only mail that the Postal Service could put in a box is one that has been addressed, even if only in the most simplified of forms.]

June 14, 2014 

QuadGraphics: The USPS exigent price increase went into effect on January 26 of this year. Since then, there has been a great deal of discussion and debate as to whether or not the increase should be permanent. No matter the final decision, the timing of the 2015 CPI adjustment will likely be affected by the outcome of the debate so the USPS can avoid having to adjust prices more than once during the year. We expect one price increase in 2015, and that should be the annual CPI adjustment (currently 1.471%). Only Congress could change that, and we're not in a position to speculate on whether anything will happen there at this time....

StreetWise Tech: In the fourth quarter and full fiscal year, FedEx ground growth and margins remained outstanding, but matching capacity to shifting demand continued to challenge express. Ground logged its 54th consecutive quarter of market share gains, and normalized ground margins tripled those of express. The latter's troubles stem in part from stagnation in international priority volume (down 2% year over year) even as low-rate international economy demand expanded (up 11%). Because stuffing long international flights with the economy packages decreases margins, the firm continues to reduce its own airlift capacity and increase its use of third-party carriers (like passenger plane belly space) for international economy packages.

TheTandD: Approximately four weeks ago, 719 Norway area postal customers found a survey in their mail boxes asking them for their opinions concerning the operational hours of the Norway Post Office. The survey offered four options. The first one was that the window hours would be realigned into either a two-, four- or six-hour workday. The second offered postal services through delivery personnel, and the third offered a Village Post Office option that would entail an area business partnering with the post office and serving as a point of contact for postal services. The fourth option would have closed the Norway service window and required customers to travel to a nearby post office such as Neeses (six miles away), Denmark (almost eight miles away) or Cope (a little over nine miles away). According to the survey, 166 (91 percent) of the returned surveys indicated that a realignment of hours would be the most preferred choice. Only seven surveys (4 percent) favored the delivery option. There were no votes for either the Village Post Office option or the nearby post office option. Nine surveys (5 percent) did not select any of the options. Cramer noted that based on the survey results, the Norway Post Office service hours will likely remain the same as the current hours — a six-hour service day.

Motherboard: Ever wonder how so many of the goods bought and sold over the hidden Internet's illegal markets seemingly slip through the cracks of the US Postal Service, Postal Inspection, and, by proxy, law enforcement and federal investigations? Besides shadowy LSD chemists who are really good at coring out books? This might have something to do with it: Turns out the Postal Service has some work to do when it comes to properly handling what are known as "mail covers," one of the mail service's primary tools for monitoring all the data on the outside of mailpieces that have been flagged for potentially furthering the investigation or providing evidence of a crime.

Office of the Inspector General: Postal Inspection Service Mail Covers Program -- Audit Report -- "WHAT THE OIG FOUND: Opportunities exist to improve controls over the mail covers program. For example, responsible personnel did not always handle and process mail cover requests in a timely manner and documents relating to the covers were not always returned to the program files as required. Of the 196 external mail cover requests we reviewed, 21 percent were approved without written authorization and 13 percent were not adequately justified or reasonable grounds were not transcribed accurately. Also, 15 percent of the inspectors who conducted mail covers did not have the required nondisclosure form on file. Further, the Postal Inspection Service provided evidence for only one periodic review of the mail covers program over the past 3 fiscal years and did not have procedures to ensure annual reviews were performed as required. Finally, the mail cover computer application did not always provide accurate and reliable information because system controls did not ensure completeness, accuracy, and consistency of data. For example, we found 928 mail covers in active status after the cover periods ended. Insufficient controls could hinder the Postal Inspection Service's ability to conduct effective investigations, lead to public concerns over privacy of mail, and harm the Postal Service's brand.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  FINAL AUDIT REPORT   PRC TRAVEL EXPENSES June 11, 2014 [This is a document you're going to want to read. It will help illustrate the frustration noted by many in Congress regarding the PRC. Issues related to travel have been a bone of contention between some at the PRC and the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.]

"On September 6, 2012, Senator Tom Carper, who was then the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, provided a letter with travel recommendations to the PRC Chairman. Senator Carper's recommendations addressed the following three areas: (1) Ensuring travel conforms with the PRC's strategic goals. (2) Improving the travel approval process. (3) Ensuring that travelers document that alternatives to travel are considered....

"We found the PRC did not always comply with established travel policies or properly support travel expenses. The PRC OIG previously reported some of these issues in FY 2009. In addition, we found travel approvals were not always in compliance with the recommendations made by Senator Carper. Furthermore, the PRC did not effectively monitor travel card activities and processes....By adopting Senator Carper's recommendations, including two approvals for international and domestic travel, PRC would be better positioned to use travel resources more efficiently....

"The PRC does not monitor its travelers' travel credit card activities. Monitoring travel credit card balances and transactions, such as cash advances, reduces the risk of credit card delinquencies or misuse. Employees obtained 47 cash advances totaling $12,017 during FY 2011 through FY 2013. The PRC policy8 allows a cash advance up to three days before official travel."

June 13 2014 

Sydney Morning Herald: For those of us who grew up on postcards and love letters and printed bank statements, the subtext is plain: Your beloved snail mail will soon become part of this history lesson. The letter is doomed. Physical mail volume peaked in Australia in 2008 and has declined ever since. In the past five years, the number of letters posted has dropped from 5.3 billion (2009) to 4.5 billion (2013). Some Australia Post estimates suggest the decline is ready to pick up exponential speed. Other insiders believe the letter will not go peacefully into the good night but could instead linger for another two decades. At this moment in the 205-year history of the organisation, uncertainty is the only constant - except for one. The one constant is the ever-present niggling need (or civic duty) for Australia Post to meet its Community Service Obligations - to provide a quick and reliable letter service at a single domestic rate, to all Australians, while maintaining 10,000 mail boxes and 4000 post offices. This is a gargantuan and expensive task, which has become harder with an expanding population. In the past five years, the number of addresses in Australia has grown from 10.5 million to 11.2 million.

World Press Online: Consistent with its strategic goals and long-term growth initiatives, Pitney Bowes Inc. is expanding its direct mail presorting capabilities in the Southeastern United States. Duncan, South Carolina is now home to Pitney Bowes' fifth U.S. Direct Mail Presort Services Operating Center, filling a void in a previously underserved market and enabling more mailers to benefit from the cost savings, quality assurance and predictability of Pitney Bowes Presort Services. "Pitney Bowes is experiencing strong growth by helping companies facilitate commerce and navigate the complexities of a physical and digital world," said Debbie Pfeiffer, president, Pitney Bowes Presort Services. "For marketers, direct mail remains a critical channel, and is even stronger when combined with digital channels. Our expansion into the Southeast will help make direct mail a more affordable and effective communication tool for our clients."

WTIC: Connecticut state prosecutors say seven post office workers have been arrested, charged with under-reporting their pay from the Postal Service in order to fraudulently collect unemployment benefits. In total, the seven collected more than $110, 000 in workers' comp. The Connecticut Chief State's Attorney's office says the arrests follow a complaint from the state Labor Department, and a joint investigation by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit in the Office of the Chief State's Attorney, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

WIAT: The speed limit on Alabama Hwy. 155 is 55 miles per hour in front of Penny Franklin's home. Franklin relies on an electric power wheelchair that tops out at 9 miles an hour. Right now she says she feels like she's taking her life and her hands when she goes to check her mail, because she has to cross two lanes of traffic. She thinks that this whole problem can be avoided if she moves her mailbox about 20 feet inside the dirt road driveway for her and her neighbors, but for reasons that are still unclear she says the post office told her that's not an option

Politico: Today marks two weeks since House leaders told their Republican colleagues about a plan to patch the Highway Trust Fund with changes to the Postal Service — and it hasn't won over many people so far. Of four House Republicans — three on the Transportation Committee — who spoke with MT about the proposal, the most positive stance anyone took was the suggestion that "people are warming up to it." One Republican on T&I didn't mince words: "It's beyond dead and it never should have had life. It is a pathetic, sad commentary on our unwillingness to face our bigger responsibility." Leaders talked about the plan at the GOP caucus meeting earlier this week, but "it didn't really go over well," according to a House Republican at the meeting. "There were a lot of people feeling like it was gimmicky and it doesn't really do what we want it to do." But, the member cautioned, "it feels like everything really changed Tuesday night" with Majority Leader Eric Cantor's shocking primary defeat at the hands of political novice Dave Brat. Cantor announced Wednesday that he will leave his leadership post at the end of July.

Linn's: If you needed a sign that Congress is not likely to soon resolve the United States Postal Service's financial woes, consider what the House Republican leadership did the last week of May. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor adopted an idea to use the estimated savings from ending Saturday mail deliveries to bail out another financially troubled problem: the highway trust fund. The idea, which the political news website Politico said few Republicans had taken seriously, was immediately pummeled by Democrats, postal unions and even some sympathetic Republican groups. What has gathered bipartisan support in the House, Politico noted, is a measure to direct the USPS to continue six-day-a-week mail deliveries. It has 220 supporters in the House.

Office of the Inspector General:

  • Delivery Vehicle Fleet Replacement - Management Advisory Report -- WHAT THE OIG FOUND: The Postal Service has an acquisition strategy, but has not fully developed or implemented it. The short-term plan developed in 2011 included acquiring 25,000 vehicles costing about $500 million to meet operational needs and replace some of the aging fleet. The long-term plan included purchasing the next generation of delivery vehicles beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2017. However, this plan lacked details, such as vehicle requirements, specifications, and green technology features. Despite 3 years of effort, neither plan has been approved or fully funded. In January 2014, the Postal Service received approval to purchase 3,509 vehicles to meet a contractual rural carrier vehicle commitment as a stop gap measure. These conditions occurred due to financial constraints. Our analysis of the delivery vehicle inventory and motorized routes showed the Postal Service could sustain delivery operations nationwide until FY 2017. On the other hand, it could experience vehicle shortfalls if there are unexpected decreases in vehicle inventory or increases in motorized routes. In addition, aging vehicles are typically repaired when they break down, even though it would sometimes be more cost effective to replace them. In designing new delivery vehicles, management must consider federal fleet regulations, emerging vehicle technologies, and fleet best practices. For example, growth in the package market could help dictate the design and technologies selected for a new vehicle. Moreover, replacing vehicles could take more than 10 years. Thus, the Postal Service should act quickly to implement a plan to meet operational needs, achieve sustainability goals, and reduce maintenance costs.
     

  • Advertising and Consulting Supplier Selection Process -- Audit Report -- "WHAT THE OIG FOUND: The Postal Service increased competition for advertising contracts by closing its two largest advertising contracts and competitively awarding contracts to four suppliers. Evaluation teams generally complied with the established guidelines for the supplier selection process by documenting narratives to support their consensus decisions, except for two consulting contract purchases. Specifically, the two evaluations did not include narratives to explain the basis of the competing supplier ratings. If supplier evaluations are not fully documented and maintained, the Postal Service cannot ensure the transparency and integrity of the supplier selection process and its contract awards may be vulnerable to challenges. As a result, we identified two contract purchases valued at $3.5 million for which evaluations did not contain narratives to support the consensus decisions. This does not necessarily indicate that the Postal Service incurred losses."

Wall Street Journal: The departure of Twitter's operating chief highlights waning demand for the role at S&P500 companies in the wake of the recession. The share of large companies with COOs has declined almost every year since 2001. Companies are "slicing out" their COOs in an effort to eliminate hierarchy and control the costs of an extra layer of management. As COOs fall out of favor, finance chiefs are gaining more responsibility and a clearer path to the top job. The number of CEO hires with finance experience rose to 22.1% last year from 13.2% in 2012.

The Baltic Course: The state-owned company Lietuvos Pastas (Lithuania Post) has ended the first quarter of 2014 with an operating profit of LTL 360,000 (EUR 104,000). The net profit has made LTL 65,000 (EUR 19,000). Based on unaudited data, Lithuania Post's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) margin was 3.8% making LTL 1.79 million (EUR 518,000). This makes 36% more than recorded during the same period in 2013, reported BC posts's press service.

NASDAQ: United Parcel Service Inc. ( UPS ) appointed Alan Gershenhorn as its first chief commercial officer, part of several management changes as the U.S. shipping giant aims to improve its performance.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  

Politico: Democratic operatives were just as surprised as everyone else by Eric Cantor's defeat — but now they're trying to figure out how to make the most of it. The early thinking: Stay out of the GOP's way. (Also on POLITICO: The GOP's habit of eating its own) [EdNote: Don't believe it? Then read this: "Tom Coburn rips outside conservative groups." Gee, maybe the Smithsonian should take over Congress and turn it into its new primates exhibit. All they seem to want to do is monkey around anyway. At least the kids'll be entertained.]

The Courier: Why does Australia Post's letter delivery have to make a profit? The organisation made $312 million profit overall last year, and can cross-subsidise letters from parcel delivery. The government simply wants to cut letter delivery and management costs to fatten up Australia Post for privatisation. Letter delivery is a community service, particularly for the elderly and disabled. Once again, the most disadvantaged will miss out if the service is cut.

Boston Globe: Staples Inc. said Thursday it will donate $1 million to DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that provides funds requested by teachers for classroom projects. In a press release, the Framingham company cited a recent survey that found 75 percent of parents of teens believe a shortage of school supplies is a "significant challenge for schools." Staples said teachers shell out an average of $408.71 from their own pockets on supplies for their classrooms each year. The new donation is being made at a time when teachers unions in several states are joining forces with US Postal Service workers to boycott the office supply chain.

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Wise up and get yourself some postal respect.

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ECNS: Alibaba Group signed a deal with China's largest postal service provider on Thursday in a latest move to strengthen its logistics arm before the e-commerce titan is listed in the United States. Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma and China Post's general manager Li Guohua inked a framework deal in Beijing with the ambition of delivering online purchases to any place in the country within 24 hours. The two companies will share warehouses, processing centers and delivery resources, aiming to build a smart logistics network providing easier and faster delivery services to online sellers.

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

  • MONTHLY UPDATES OF PRESORT DATA: USPS LABELING LISTS AND THE MAIL DIRECTION FILE Reserve your webinar seat now: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/598098408
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission has requested public comment on the Postal Service's proposed plan to remove the exigent rate surcharge. The Commission requests that commenters address several specific areas, in addition to any issues or suggested alternatives that are relevant.
  • The Offices of the Speaker, Majority Leader, and Majority Whip and the Committees on Transportation, Budget, Government Reform, and Ways and Means put out a press release that was later redlined by the Office of Thomas R. Carper, Chairman, Senate on Homeland Security and Government Affairs (postal jurisdiction); Chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Member, Senate Committee on Finance. Here is the result!
  • IMAG, the premier representative of the U.S. international mailing sector, has provided PostCom with information on the international mailing of dangerous goods. According to IMAG, "The rules around international mailing of dangerous goods are a lot like being on a diet: There are a lot more things on the NOT ALLOWED list than on the allowable list. And even those few dangerous goods that are considered mailable have many restrictions on them."
  • Will Cantor's defeat sink the highway-postal delivery deal? Heitkamp, Carper discuss postal service issues in North Dakota at Williston Forum. Shippers are bracing for a big increase in the cost of moving packages by ground service. Broadridge and Pitney Bowes launch new interactive technology platform. Time Inc to set a lonely course after a spinoff. Amazon expands middleman role in latest online payments push. USPS requests to add gifts cards as new price category. Grassley works with Iowa whistleblower to expose USPS contracting problem. Alex Cooper new Special Assistant to Commissioner Vice Chairman Acton. GOP, White House tout opposing highway proposals. U.S. struggles to draw young, savvy staff. Cantor loses primary in major upset. USPS announces new Manager, Package Platform. Date for oral arguments set by Court of Appeals in exigent case.
  • Updates from the USPS Domestic Mail Manual and Industry Alerts.
  • This week's listing of postal notices in the Federal Register.
  • Announcements on recent reports, projects, and blog entries of the USPS OIG.
  • International postal news.
  • Postal previews.
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The Financial Brand: The total volume of direct marketing focused on customer acquisition increased in the banking sector 18% from Q4 2013 to Q1 2014. This is driven in large part by a 32% increase in checking offers mailed, and an 18% increase in savings offers mailed. Chase and Capital One 360 continue to lead the industry in mail volume, but Discover and American Express both had significant increases in volume during the first three months of the year.

New York Times: People around the world are thrilled by the ease and convenience of their smartphones and Internet services, but they aren't willing to trade their privacy to get more of it. That is the top-line finding of a new study of 15,000 consumers in 15 countries. The privacy paradox was surfaced most directly in one question: Would you be willing to trade some privacy for greater convenience and ease? Worldwide, 51 percent replied no, and 27 percent said yes.

Daily Star: LibanPost Thursday introduced two automated mail-sorting machines at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut. The new machines are expected to improve the efficiency of mail delivery throughout Lebanon. The devices are equipped with automatic reading and video coding capacities, which provide traceability on both regular and corporate mail and will help reduce LibanPost's operational costs. The machines, which can each process 10,000 letters per hour, represent an important step forward for postal services in the region. 

Postalnews Blog "PMG's State of the Business message to employees".

The Island: The Asia Pacific Postal Union 2014 will meet in Colombo from September 13 to 19. High officials of the Postal Services of 32 member countries, who make up its Executive Council, will attend this prestigious event in the postal calendar. The Executive Council (EC) comprises all the member-countries of the Union with a quorum of the majority. To ensure the continuity of the work of the Union in the intervals between Congresses, the Executive Council meets in principle once each year. The functions of the Executive Council are to perform any duty assigned to it by a Resolution of the Congress; to lay down the international postal service rules which provide for details necessary for the operation of the international postal service between the member-countries; to maintain contacts with postal administration of the member- countries of the Union with a view to improving the postal service and to prescribe rules for the administration of the Philatelic Bureaus and to supervise their activities.

June 12, 2014 

"Behind the Badge," a dynamic new exhibition opening June 27 at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, will showcase the work of one of the nation's oldest federal law enforcement agencies. The United States Postal Inspection Service dates to 1776, when Benjamin Franklin first sent a surveyor to investigate the fledging nation's mail routes for efficiency and security. While post offices, postal employees and mail are common sights across the country, Americans may not realize that behind each is a network of U.S. postal inspectors working to keep the mail safe and empowering consumers to protect themselves and prevent crimes.

Pro Publica: The marketers that follow you around the web are getting nosier. Currently, many companies track where users go on the Web—often through cookies—in order to display customized ads. That's why if you look at a pair of shoes on one site, ads for those shoes may follow you around the Web. But online marketers are increasingly seeking to track users offline, as well, by collecting data about people's offline habits—such as recent purchases, where you live, how many kids you have, and what kind of car you drive. Onboarding: a ProPublica explainer of how online tracking is getting creepier. Follow ProPublica on Vine for more explainer shorts. (Icons courtesy of Lil Squid, André Renault, Gabriele Garofalo and Patrick Morrison, Noun Project) Here's how it works, according to some revealing marketing literature we came across from digital marketing firm LiveRamp....

Kuna: Ministers of communications and postal service of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states have approved here on Wednesday the single mail law and its executive statute. The 23rd meeting of the ministerial committee on communications, postal service and information technology approved the draft regulations of the operation of express mail, parcel and shipping service providers. The conferees also adopted a range of resolutions that regulate the purchase of mailing equipment.

Office of the Inspector General: Topeka, KS, Material Distribution Center – Information Technology General Controls -- Audit Report.

Post & Parcel: Jersey Post Group is the postal service provider for the people and businesses of Jersey in the Channel Islands. Jersey Post has recently completed the installation of a Simex Letter sorter within the Jersey Post Mail Centre at Rue de Pres, the postal authority's most significant investment in automation in recent years.

The Diplomat: Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) Director General Ludwik Sobolewski has accepted the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Romanian Postal Service National Company (CNPR) on Wednesday; he pointed out, however, that it will be a short-term commitment until the company moves closer to completing its privatization

Direct Marketing News: A funny thing happened to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on his way to pushing an aggressive June legislative agenda that included a modified postal delivery schedule. He lost his Virginia House seat in yesterday's GOP primary election to economics professor Dave Brat. The surprising defeat led the Washington Post to opine that House legislative activity would now cease, as Republican members would "avoid doing anything—literally anything—that could be used against them" in their mid-term reelection bids this summer. Today, Cantor stepped down from his House leadership position. That could well include postal issues that divide House members along political and geographic lines on issues like labor and rural delivery. Highway legislation, meanwhile, is legislation that must be passed soon, during repair season, or lack of needed construction will end up costing more in the long run. Cantor and House GOP leadership devised a plan to institute five-day mail delivery as a way to finance a short-term extension of the highway fund--a plan supported by Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe, who is eager for the opportunity to secure one of the planks in his five-year plan to rescue the Post Office.

June 11, 2014 

Winnepeg Free Press: Canada Post has identified locations for the first wave of new community boxes in Winnipeg and is already drawing flak from those who have seen the not-yet-officially-released list.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

IMAG International Mailers Advisory Group: The International Mailers' Advisory Group (IMAG) has produced  in collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service an excellent article entitled "International Mailing of Dangerous Goods: What Is Mailable." The purpose is to educate mailers regarding .the mailability of dangerous goods. It's worth reading.

Post & Parcel: US e-commerce retailers are being offered a new service that will mean they can avoid paying pre-paid postage for customer return labels that aren't used. Online postage specialist Endicia has launched a new Pay-on-Use Returns offering that means retailers pay for printed returns shipping labels only when they are used.

Washington Times: The U.S. Postal Service has an idea to consider about how to make money: Stop being only a mail delivery service. The agency's internal watchdog, the Inspector General, looked into ways to improve the USPS financial situation, and decided that "adding carrier services not directly related to mail delivery could increase revenue and enhance the Postal Service brand." Those services could include helping to monitor the well-being of the elderly, taking air quality samples, monitoring traffic, updating maps, verifying addresses for identification checks and delivering prescriptions or groceries.

USPS Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan has announced the appointment of Luke Grossman as Manager, Package Platform. Luke will be responsible for the development and integration of a comprehensive World Class Package Platform plan within the organization.

Financial: A new draft law on postal service that has established the Georgian Post monopoly is not meeting either EU regulations or general conditions of a competitive business environment, said Malkhaz Papelashvili, General Manager at Georgian Express, official representative of DHL Georgia. The company sees huge opportunity in expanding its business in complex logistic and domestic transportation during 2014. Georgia's express industry showed only 3-4% growth during 2013. During the current year the main concern of express business operating in Georgia has been focused on a draft law on postal service that established the Georgian Post monopoly.

The USPS agreed to a slight delay in its plans to start monthly updates to Labeling Lists and the Mail Direction File that was scheduled to begin in July 2014. Because of the postponement of the PostalOne! software release, mailers asked the USPS to delay the start of the monthly updates to avoid developing and implementing two back-to-back software releases. The USPS agreed to begin the monthly update process with the September data to be published August 1, 2014. Please join the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) on Monday, June 23 for a free webinar as Bob Schimek, Senior Director of Postal Affairs for Satori Software, Inc. describes the changes that are occurring to monthly updates of Presort Data, and key elements you need to be aware of.

ABC6OnYourSide: Several viewers have claimed the U.S. Postal Service is slow, late and unreliable, so ABC 6 Investigators started asking questions and holding the government accountable. James Baker wants to keep his ride running, so he ordered a manual for his car online. But after two weeks, he's still waiting by his mailbox. "When you don't get answers, you get really mad," Baker said. "I mean there were points of rage." Baker is upset because this marks the third package that hasn't shown up. He's tracked all three shipments time and time again. Two of them, according to the USPS website, say there were delivered. The third is still in limbo. Baker says he went to the nearby post office four different times and came home with nothing. "The simple fact that you can lose three packages in one day and have zero accountability for it and you can keep your job – it worries me," Baker said. After contacting our Waste Watch Investigative Tip Line, we started asking questions. The postal service says it's looking into it. However, after an employee showed up to Baker's home, he's left still wondering what happened. "Not even an ‘I'm sorry' from someone at the post office," Baker said. "I'm not asking for a lot but I want them aware of the situation and try to fix the situation instead of ignoring the situation and continuing to do business as usual."

Politico: House Republican leadership and the political world at large were rocked last night with the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to economics professor Dave Brat in Virginia's Republican primary. Cantor had spent over $5 million on the race, and the contest wasn't even on many pundits' radars. It's the first time a House majority leader has lost a primary since the position was created in 1899 and could be fairly called one of the biggest upsets in modern U.S. political history. Transpo fallout: Cantor hasn't been very vocal on transportation issues in his time in leadership, but he has supported budgetary frameworks that called for big cuts to transportation funding and was part of leaders' recent push to tie the Highway Trust Fund bailout to Postal Service changes

From the Federal Register:

General Services Administration
RULES
Federal Management Regulations:
  Mail Management; Requirements for Agencies ,  
  33477–33482 [2014–13592] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Wall Street Journal: The federal workforce needs fresh blood. The percentage of its employees under the age of 30 hit an eight-year low of 7% in 2013, government statistics show, compared with about 25% for the private-sector workforce. Back in 1975, more than 20% of the federal workforce was under 30. Without a pipeline of young talent, the government risks falling behind in an increasingly digital world, current and former government officials say. Meanwhile, critics say that government hiring is confusing, opaque and lengthy, deterring even those who want to devote their lives to public service. The process is "deeply broken," says Max Stier, chief executive of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, which aims to motivate a new generation of government workers.

The Age: Australia Post will go the way of Kodak and the local video store without a fundamental transformation of the business, according to CEO Ahmed Fahour, who confirmed the company will axe 900 jobs over the next 12 months. In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Fahour confirmed he was lobbying the federal government to relax Australia Post's community services obligations, which include the delivery of standard mail to homes five days a week.

Sky News Australia: The ACTU has slammed the almost $5 million salary being paid to Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour as the government-owned company prepares to axe 900 staff. The blast from the nation's peak union body came amid a threat of industrial action in response to Australia Post's confirmation on Tuesday of massive job cuts, the majority of which will be made at its headquarters in Melbourne over the next 12 months. ACTU secretary Dave Oliver on Wednesday said the salary paid to Mr Fahour, a former National Australia Bank chief, is particularly extraordinary at a time when there are calls from business leaders and other high earners to lower wages and even drop the minimum wage. Mr Fahour was paid $4.8 million last year for his dual role as chief executive officer and managing director of Australia Post, a company which is 100 per cent owned by taxpayers. In comparison, Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene, who last year oversaw the privatisation of 60 per cent of Britain's postal company, was paid a $2.23 million, while US Postal Service boss Patrick Donahoe was paid about $595,000. The British and US postal services easily dwarf Australia Post.

Zambia Daily Mail: On June 3, 2014, Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Yamfwa Mukanga, in the presence of various stakeholders and the local community, officially launched the national addressing and postcode project at Kalingalinga Primary School. The project will now be rolled out to the rest of the country starting with Lusaka Province.

Post & Parcel: The new boss of Poste Italiane has said the national postal operator in Italy needs to invest to regain lost ground in the mail and parcels market. Francesco Caio was speaking yesterday at a meeting of the Poste Italiane board of directors, laying out areas where he believes the organisation needs a "strong recovery operation". He said the Italian postal service had seen its postal revenues fall 12% in the past three years, a steeper decline than the European average. The EUR 500m drop in profitability from 2010 to 2013 was only partially offset by growth in financial services, he added.

Postal Technology International: The latest issue of Postal Technology International is now available online.

The Washington Times: Miracle of miracles. The U.S. Postal Service finally understands that the only possible route toward survival is to dramatically reform itself. Postal Regulatory Commissioner Robert G. Taub acknowledged this harsh reality. "If a downturn in the economy or other circumstances further stress the Postal Service's cash flow," he told New York's Black River Valley Club on June 5, "it risks not being able to pay some of its bills and could — in the extreme — run out of cash." Alas, he "currently estimates that it has only 14 days of liquidity." Mr. Taub also said, "Unlike other countries, the universal service obligation in the United States is largely undefined, and is instead comprised of a broad set of policy statements with only a few legislative prescriptions." Regardless, he firmly believes "the strength of the system is the engine that will ensure the Postal Service will continue to meet its obligation to deliver." Many Americans still want the option of a post office, but there's a better way to do it: Privatize the U.S. Postal Service.

Canberra Times: The job cuts Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour confirmed on Tuesday are heavier than they appear to be, and still don't solve the long-term problem the group faces. About 900 people will go, and that is only 2.8 per cent of the 32,000 the group directly employs. In the decade ahead of the latest cull Australia Post cut 3049 jobs or 8.7 per cent of its workforce, however, and the latest cuts are 22 per cent of the 4000 managers, administrative staff and support staff who will supply the jobs that go. Australia Post's unchanged medium to long-term problem is declining volumes and revenues in its traditional mail service, which has high fixed costs tied to its legal obligation to deliver mail five times a week to more than 11 million addresses.

Roll Call: With only two months before a crucial fund for highway projects nationwide is tapped, House Republicans and the White House touted dueling plans Tuesday aimed at avoiding a late-July construction shutdown. Speaker John A. Boehner told Republicans in a private morning meeting that leadership's plan to raise cash for a temporary $15 billion road fix by eliminating some Saturday mail service may not be ideal, but is the only viable plan that does not raise taxes. On the other side of the Capitol, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tried to sell the House Democratic Caucus on a larger-scale highway bill President Barack Obama unveiled earlier this year, which would also bolster the Highway Trust Fund. Foxx told reporters after the meeting that the administration's policy is the viable one because it also reauthorizes the expiring surface transportation bill. Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., said he is leaning against the GOP leadership's proposal because he thinks it would hurt those who still rely on the Postal Service. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said he would likely vote against such a plan because he thinks money should be taken from bike lane and park funding before the Postal Service takes a hit. House Democrats signaled they will offer little help in passing the GOP bill.

Roll Call: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is keeping his options open on how to fund a new highway bill in order to help foster a bipartisan solution. "Nothing has been agreed to, nothing has been ruled out, nothing has been ruled in," Wyden told reporters Tuesday. "And the way it's going to work is by the end of today, early tomorrow morning, we'll have a bead on what members of the Finance Committee want to do and then we'll go from there." "There are no easy answers here," Wyden continued. "Failure is not an option and we're going to make decisions in a bipartisan way." A possible path currently under discussion in the House would use funds saved from an overhaul of the post office. House Republican leaders issued a memo to their members late last month, proposing a $14 billion to $15 billion yearlong patch to the highway trust fund, paid for by changes to the Postal Service's delivery schedule. But the proposal has already been decried by Senate Democrats, conservative outside groups and newspaper editorial boards alike, all noting that it does not provide a long-term revenue source for highway funding. And while House GOP aides concede it is not a perfect plan, they note that there have been no other viable plans put forth to deal with the issue. Club For Growth president Chris Chocola excoriated the proposal in a news release Tuesday.

June 10, 2014 

Bloomberg: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called on Congress to pass long-term legislation to repair U.S. highways and bridges, saying a short-term patch tied to Postal Service reductions amounts to a gimmick.

The Jakarta Globe: State-owned postal service Pos Indonesia launched a parcel locker service in Bandung, West Java, on Tuesday as part of efforts by the company to boost its logistics business. The locker service — the second of its kind in Southeast Asia after Singapore — allows clients to have packages delivered to a locker terminal if they are unable to be at home during the day to take delivery. Clients making use of the service will receive a personal code that allows them to access specific lockers, which contain their packages, on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week. "This is the first service of its kind in Indonesia, starting in Bandung in June. We plan to introduce this to other big cities in Java," Pos Indonesia president director Budi Setiawan said in a statement.

Fierce Government: While a Postal Service system that collects, stores and reports mail volume data has been generally reliable, the USPS Office of Inspector General found areas where data accuracy can be improved. The June 2 IG report said about 95 percent of the total mail volume recorded in the USPS Web End-of-Run, or WebEOR, system is automated data that comes directly from mail processing equipment at each facility. The system calculates the other 5 percent of its data for manually processed mail – letters and packages that can't go through a machine – based on projections from annual surveys. However, the report found that the system resets volumes to zero if mailpieces that need to be processed by multiple sort programs aren't done within three business days. WebEOR can't automatically identify this variance so personnel must manually review data collection reports to detect such errors, the report found.

EINNews: The Club for Growth released the following statement on plans by House GOP leaders to offset a bailout of the Highway Trust Fund by counting savings from a "not as large bailout" of the United States Postal Service. "Both the Highway Trust Fund and the United States Postal Service are unsustainable in their current form, and stealing from one to prop up the other is simply bad policy and demonstrates a lack of leadership by the Republicans," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "Instead of continuing the charade that the Highway Trust Fund and USPS are solvent in the long run, Congress should devolve highway funding to the states and privatize the United States Postal Service completely. There's simply no reason to keep kicking the can down the road."

The Hill: The Obama administration is not ruling out a Republican proposal to fund the nation's highways with cuts to the U.S. Postal Service, the head of the Transportation Department said Tuesday. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx emphasized that he and President Obama strongly prefer a four-year plan to refill the nation's highway trust fund with new corporate tax revenues, warning Congress to end the "gimmicks" when it comes to transportation funding. But he also stopped short of saying the administration would reject the GOP's one-year fix, which is offset largely by ending Saturday letter deliveries. GOP leaders estimate that their proposal to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail would raise $10.7 billion over a decade – enough to extend the highway fund for as long as a year. They're quick to note that Obama included the postal reform provision in his latest budget blueprint.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  Alex Cooper has joined the staff at the Postal Regulatory Commission as the Special Assistant to Commission Vice Chairman Mark Acton. Alex came to the PRC following years of professional experience in the private sector as Vice President of Government Affairs with the TCH Group, LLC. Prior to that, Alex was a congressional staffer for six years where he served as the point of contact on postal, federal employment and DC issues for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's staff under then-Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) before him. His near decade of postal involvement and seasoned understanding of the legislative process, combined with strong political acumen, uniquely qualifies him for this role.

Financial Chronicle: Online retailers jostling for a chunk of India's $13 billion e-commerce trade are so desperate to avoid snarled roads and inefficient railways that they fly their packages in the passenger cabin of costly commercial flights. The cargo, however, often gets bumped off. India's largest domestic e-tailer Flipkart as well as bigger global rivals like Amazon and eBay Inc are widening their supplier networks or racing to build multi-million dollar logistics networks to circumvent crumbling infrastructure, keen to attract customers by shrinking delivery times to same-day or even as short as nine hours. In the meantime, they remain at the mercy of commercial airlines, which frequently remove their parcels to make room for passengers, highlighting one of the challenges to expanding in an e-commerce market that consultants say is growing at a compound rate of 34% a year, and which saw online retail sales of $1.6 billion last year.

Copenhagen Post: The transport minister Magnus Heunicke has openly criticised the national postal service Post Danmark for using eastern European labour via distributors that pay well below Danish wages. Post Danmark has admitted that 10 percent of its transport services are performed by distributors who employ foreign drivers who are often paid a quarter of what their Danish counterparts get.

The Drum: The Royal Mail has apparently refused to distribute the current issue of The Drum magazine as it uses the word ‘fuck' prominently on the front cover. The 11 June edition of the magazine may now be delayed for up to two days as a result of being sent back to the printer to have its packaging tweaked to ensure the word cannot be seen through its transparent wrap.

PoliticalNews.me: A new report requested by Sen. Chuck Grassley on a tip from an Iowa whistleblower confirms the U.S. Postal Service mishandled $18.4 million in contract payments to maintain and change the locks on Postal Service-owned mailboxes in the Western Area including Iowa. "The whistleblower came forward with his concerns, I asked for an investigation, and the investigation found the whistleblower was right," Grassley said. "This is a good example of why whistleblowers who identify waste, fraud and abuse deserve a Rose Garden ceremony on behalf of the grateful public. It's also a good example of why every agency that serves the public needs an independent watchdog to review issues of concern." Grassley received information from an Iowa whistleblower and made a request to the Postal Service Office of Inspector General in October 2012. The whistleblower alleged that the Postal Service's contract with Diebold, Inc., to repair and change locks in the Postal Service's Western Area disregarded many Postal Service rules and procedures. The inspector general found the Postal Service did not award the contract in accordance with Postal Service policies and procedures and did not develop a purchase plan or conduct a price analysis before awarding the contract. As a result, contracting officials did not assess price reasonableness or obtain higher level review and approval as required, and the Postal Service did not conduct an analysis to establish the contract payments of $18,399,448 provided the best value, although this does not necessarily indicate the Postal Service incurred losses.

The Telegraph: The postal service has opened 80 lockers at its Mona Vale branch to capitalise on the growth of online shopping and deliveries. The postal service is also expected to step up calls for the Federal Government to subsidise the Community Service Obligation (CSO) that requires it to deliver mail door-to-door five days a week, or to allow it to cut mail deliveries to three days a week.

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Post's attempts to shore up its letter-delivery service have included charging customers a premium to deliver mail the same day or overnight to another city. Implicit in that approach is a deterioration of the existing service Australia Post provides to households and non-business customers, but no matter. The fact that this has gone largely unremarked upon is a telling indication of how our reliance on Australia Post has diminished in recent years. Christmas cards may still be posted to friends, but everyday personal correspondence is now largely conducted via email or on social media. Bills and documents are still sent via snail mail, but more and more companies are sending things electronically. This trend will, of course, accelerate as the national broadband network is rolled out and the digital revolution gathers pace.

Post & Parcel: Australia Post is reorganising its business to bring together its parcels and express services under the StarTrack brand, while leaving mail and post office services under the existing core brand.

The Diplomat: Urgent Curier merges with Cargus International after the investment fund Abris Capital Partners acquires Urgent Curier. In October 2012, the fund purchased Cargus International, according to a press release of Urgen Curier company. The Romanian courier market is represented by Fan Courier, with business of 280.5 million lei, DHL Romania with 220.42 million lei, TNT Romania with 164.41 million lei and UPS Romania with 119.87 million lei. Except Posta Romana, the national postal services provider owned by state, the market reached around 250 million Euro overall value in 2013, with 50 million more compared to 2012, according to estimates of Gian Sharp.

Ham & High: For more than 500 years post was delivered by Royal Mail until, after a long reign, the Dutch recently decided the UK deserved "greater choice". Netherlands company TNT Post expanded its operations and since February has been delivering mail to residents of north west London. But Heathman understands not all has gone to plan. For one Swiss Cottage resident, going Dutch has meant that a letter about a hospital appointment sent from the Royal Free, based just 20 minutes walk from his home, took 19 days to arrive.

Press Release: Escher Group today announced that it has secured a new contract with the Royal Gibraltar Post Office. The contract is for the automation of Point of Service across their post office network. The contract is a six year license. Escher's Riposte solution will automate retail services including mails, parcels, express mail services, redirection service, stamp sales, and post boxes. Escher's solution will future proof the Royal Gibraltar Post Office providing them with a seamless integrated platform which will enable them to quickly deploy additional services to their customer base into the future.

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
RULES
Procedural Rules ,
33390–33413 [2014–12430] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
RULES
National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Procedures ,
33095–33097 [2014–13418] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
Meetings; Sunshine Act ,
33222 [2014–13536] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Office of the Inspector General: Dim Weight, Bright Idea? Dim weight. Sounds like something you might call your not-so-smart cousin. It's actually a way to price parcels based primarily on how much space they take up during transport and delivery. FedEx is the first major carrier to announce plans to charge prices based on the dimensional weight of all its ground shipments. Retailers and other shippers are bracing for a nasty hike in shipping costs come January 2015, when the FedEx changes take effect.

9News National: Australia Post has announced it will axe 900 staff, with the bulk of job losses to occur at its Melbourne headquarters and in Sydney. About 150 jobs will be lost in Sydney and about 70 per cent of the cuts will be made in Melbourne. A smaller number of jobs would be lost in Brisbane and in other locations. The cuts are expected to save Australia Post about $90 million a year, and will offset the cost of reforms such as extended trading hours and deliveries of parcels on Saturdays.

June 9, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

12th International Petersberg Conference, 24.06. - 25.06.2014 Postal outlets worldwide are changing rapidly. Many postal markets are now open to full competition, which is putting pressure on all players in the market. Demographic developments as well as changes in demand call for new and innovative retail outlet concepts. The 12th International Petersberg Conference explores trends, markets and framework conditions, introduces innovative technologies and shows practical examples of new and efficient concepts for postal retail outlets around the world.

MarketWatch: A deal to fund the dwindling federal pot of money toward transportation is likely to get struck at the last minute, an analyst forecast on Monday. At issue is the highway trust fund, which is expected to be depleted by the end of July. The federal gasoline tax hasn't been increased in 21 years, and other sources of money have been tapped, according to Corey Boles, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group. To keep the fund fully funded for one year, Congress will need to find an additional $15 billion. A House Republican idea would be to pay for the fund by limiting Saturday postal deliveries, though Senate Democratic lawmakers object. Raising the gas tax — as suggested by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — is seen as extremely unlikely any time and especially in an election year. "It is not immediately clear where the additional revenue will come from, but the last thing either party wants is a funding shortfall for highway projects just months before the mid-term elections. The downside risk is that because of the focus on the elections, and the assumption that a highway fix is easily achievable, lawmakers don't start really paying attention until there is little time left to reach a compromise," Boles says.

Lancaster Online: What happens if you lose your license due to a drunk driving arrest, and you have to drive a truck for your job? If you are a U.S. Postal Service employee, your boss just pays somebody else to drive you around for a while. That's what has happened in Lititz, where James E. Avers, 34, of Mount Joy, has been getting a paid chauffeur to drive him until he gets his suspended license back, after pleading guilty to four counts of drunken driving in 2013.

2014 USPS Mailing Promotions Registration Starts June 15 Color Print in First-Class Mail Transactions Promotion and Emerging Technology Promotion Mailers and mail service providers can register via the Business Customer Gateway (https://gateway.usps.com). Please note that participants are required to register for each promotion separately. The Color Print in First-Class Mail Transactions promotion will provide an upfront 2% postage discount to mailers who use dynamic/variable color print for marketing and consumer messages on their bills and statements to create a greater connection and response from consumers. The goal of this promotion is to grow the value of First-Class Mail and encourage mailers to invest in color print technology. For more information, please join us for an informational webinar on June 12th at 3pm EDT. Click here to register. The Emerging Technology promotion provides an upfront 2% discount to mailers who include "enhanced" augmented reality or Near Field Communication on or in their mailpieces. The goal of this promotion is to encourage mailers to adopt and invest in new technologies that can be integrated into their mailing campaigns. If you missed the recent webinar for this promotion, it is available for viewing here. Please contact the program office at: FCMColorPromotion@usps.gov or EmergingTechPromo@usps.gov with any questions about either of these upcoming promotions.

Post & Parcel: Finnish postal operator Itella says it has formed a novel partnership with e-commerce marketplace Mitäsaisiolla.fi (MSO.fi). The alliance will offer online merchants selling via MSO.fi a market platform and logistics service as a single solution. Itella said it would mean good customer service and faster delivery times for participating merchants. MSO.fi was launched by multi-channel publishing house Sanoma in the tail end of last year, and now has nearly 200 e-commerce merchants offering 35,000 products through the website.

Pitney Bowes: Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. and Pitney Bowes Inc.  today announced the formation of a joint venture and launch of a technology platform named Inlet™ that will make it easier for companies to distribute statements, bills and other documents to consumers via participating online channels. Inlet will enable companies to provide millions of consumers access to their most important documents from hundreds of providers in just a few clicks. Broadridge Financial Solutions and Pitney Bowes also announced that iPay Solutions™ from ProfitStars, a division of Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., will be rolling out the Inlet platform to their financial institution clients starting in 2015.

New York Times: On Monday, the nation's largest magazine publisher will begin trading as an independent company — stock symbol: TIME — with an uncertain future. What was once a jewel in terms of profit and stature is now a drag on the share price of Time Warner, its parent company, and is being spun off with little ceremony and a load of debt. Absent the diversified portfolio of Time Warner, Time Inc. will be going it alone with more than 90 magazines and 45 websites in a market that views print as a thing of the past. The new entity will start off with $1.3 billion in debt, including $600 million that will go toward a one-time cash dividend to Time Warner shareholders. That stands in stark contrast to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which was given a $2 billion cash cushion when it was spun off into a separate company last year. At approximately three times earnings, Time Inc.'s debt is high-risk, and Moody's has rated it at less than investment grade. As recently as 2006, Time Inc. produced about $1 billion in earnings, a figure that is now down to $370 million. Revenue has declined in 22 of the last 24 quarters.

Reuters: Amazon.com Inc will start managing subscription payments for start-ups and other companies - the latest in a series of quiet moves the e-commerce giant has made into PayPal's turf over the past year. The service, which launches on Monday, allows the company's more than 240 million active users to use credit card details stored on Amazon.com to pay for services such as a monthly phone bill or a digital music subscription. Amazon then charges a fee on each transaction. EBay Inc's PayPal has long dominated online payments services but Amazon sees plenty of scope to push into new areas.

SupplyChainBrain: On Jan. 1, 2015, FedEx will begin applying dimensional weight pricing to all ground shipments. No longer will shippers pay the same rate for all parcels of less than three cubic feet. The change is expected to boost rates by 30 to 50 percent in some cases, and affect an estimated one-third of FedEx's ground shipments. The increase was buried in a May 2 announcement of FedEx pricing changes, which also included a 3-percent rise in FedEx Freight's fuel surcharge indexes, to take effect on June 2 of this year. But FedEx gave customers a full eight months' advance warning of the shift to dimensional weight pricing – perhaps to give rival UPS time to match the action. Industry observers expect UPS to do just that, given the propensity of the two parcel-handling giants to follow one another's pricing moves. One way or another, though, shippers are about to experience "a significant change for the industry in terms of how packages will be rated," says Jaris Briski, general manager of integrated parcel solutions with third-party logistics provider Genco. What can shippers do? Dominant as FedEx and UPS are, their customers aren't without options. Step one, says Briski, is to conduct a self-assessment to determine the impact on your own operation. Do you fully understand the change, and how it will affect you? What do your current contracts with the parcel-handling giants, as well as with other providers, look like? Make certain that you have a method of calculating the true landed cost of every shipment. Beyond that, there are certain "levers" you can work in order to mitigate the impact of a price boost, Briski says. Large-volume shippers can explore opportunities for discounts or even free shipping.

Asia Pacific FutureGov: Madhya Pradesh becomes first Indian state government to give legal status to email correspondence. Madhya Pradesh, one of India's less developed states, has taken a step in to the 21st century by giving government email communications the same status as postal correspondence. Last month Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan approved the landmark decision which, surprisingly, puts the state of 75 million at the forefront of India's public sector. All civil servants are now able to communicate with citizens and one another without reaching for the postage stamps or fax machine. According to senior officials with the state government, email will enable faster decision-making by cutting out the average five day delivery time for inter-city postal services within the state. The email services will be provided by India's National Informatics Centre.

Malaysian Digest: Courier service provider GD Express Carrier Bhd plans to set up a representative office in Indonesia by year-end. The move is to seize a growing market pie of the sector in view of the upcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC). With around 40,000 small and mid-sized businesses among its clients, GD Express is 26 per cent owned by Singapore Post Ltd (SingPost), the national postal system of Singapore.

Auto-Retail Network: Over-55s use of smartphones to shop online is "a potentially lucrative and untapped market", according to a new report from Deloitte. The report's author said: "Over the next 10 years, the over-55s are forecast to account for much of the growth in the consumer market. Smartphone devices play an increasingly important role in driving online sales and influencing in-store sales by providing consumers with an opportunity to compare prices, research products and interact with family, friends and their favourite brands. As over-55s rapidly increase their adoption of smartphones, it is vital for consumer businesses to engage with this age group via smartphones.

WomenOfChina: The FOR YOU Health Technology Company donated 10 million yuan (U.S.$1,700,000) worth of women's hygiene products and 460,000 yuan (U.S.$ 73,000) to the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) to support the "Postal Parcel for Mothers" project in Beijing on June 6. CWDF Secretary General Qin Guoying said at the donation ceremony that the FOR YOU Health Technology Company has made donations to CWDF several times and had showed great concern for poverty-stricken women, adding CWDF would continue to cooperate with FOR YOU to help poverty-stricken women across China.

WantChinaTimes: China is seeing a surge in online purchases made by foreign buyers, and the Chinese government and e-commerce companies have gotten involved to push growth in the area, the mainland-based China Times reports. Chinese consumers have been making purchases through overseas e-commerce sites for items difficult to obtain in China or which are priced cheaply, and businesses are also going the other way around, as more foreigners have started buying through Chinese sites, the newspaper said.

Independent: Postal workers 'will strike' if told to deliver free Sun copies as Hillsborough anger continues.

Isle of Man.com: Representatives from the Isle of Man Post Office Senior Management team will this week attend the Small Posts & Islands Postal Forum in Gibraltar. The three day event being hosted by Royal Gibraltar Post Office will provide Island and other Small Postal Administrations from across the globe with opportunities to explore common current challenges and to share best practise and expertise with one another.

MoneyWeek: The privatisation of Royal Mail continues to take up a lot of column inches. But meanwhile, this smaller rival – the country's largest independent postal operator – is quietly getting on with making money. The business has been around since 1971 and up until 2009 was known as Business Post. It just announced a 28% jump in full-year pre-tax profits. Despite a strong run up in the share price over the last 18 months, I think it could be a good long-term bet.

Washington Post: A plan from House Republicans to buoy the nearly-empty highway trust fund with savings from eliminating Saturday mail delivery has struck many observers as an odd idea — a budget accounting trick that would finance road projects by preventing a future bailout of the U.S. Postal Service. But the top postal official says he couldn't be more pleased. "We not only need five-day delivery," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in an interview. "But I would say, if this was able to help take the angst out of the [broader postal] legislation for some lawmakers, that would help us out."

The Canadian Press: Canada Post has hiked postal rates for regular mail and plans to cut up to 8,000 jobs as it phases out urban home mail delivery over the next five years — all in a bid to reverse the tide of red ink at the money-losing Crown corporation. But one thing isn't being cut: free parliamentary mailing privileges, known as franking. Canada Post declines to say whether it has given any consideration to ending the practice. Nor has any parliamentarian raised the idea, even as they're embroiled in controversy over almost 2 million allegedly improper partisan missives mailed, for free, by New Democrat MPs. Canada Post receives an annual subsidy of $22 million from the federal government to help defray the cost of free government mail and free mailing of materials for the blind. That subsidy hasn't changed since 2000, although the corporation argued in 2007 that it fell far short of covering actual costs. It presumably falls even shorter now, seven years later.

June 8, 2014 

The Republic: U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and the head of a U.S. Senate committee working on legislation to protect postal service in rural communities have met with Williston leaders to discuss mail delivery service and efforts to improve it. The Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/1n0VQBB ) reports Heitkamp and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Carper from Delaware discussed the Fix My Mail initiative with Williston community members Saturday. Carper is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Heitkamp is a member of the committee. Heitkamp says more than 140 North Dakotans have shared with her stories about USPS woes. She says the stories have mentioned customers missing prescription drug packages, as well as issues of recruitment and retention of postal employees. Carper says postal reform is a priority of his committee.

Magic City Morning Star: U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree are calling on Speaker John Boehner to abandon a proposal to temporarily address the impending shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund by eliminating Saturday mail delivery. In a letter to the Speaker, Michaud and Pingree say it is irresponsible to try to address one job crisis by creating another. Speaker Boehner is pushing the measure despite a majority of the House supporting H.Res. 30, which expresses the importance of continuing six-day mail delivery for working families, in particular.

Reuters: The incoming head of United Parcel Service Inc said on Friday the world's largest parcel delivery company will continue investing to build capacity in emerging markets and to expand its services, especially in healthcare, its fastest-growing segment after e-commerce.

Dead Tree Edition: The editorial below from "an anonymous PostCom board member" appeared in this week's issue of PostCom Bulletin, the organization's newsletter. I thought the insights about how to get postal reform moving and about the U.S. Postal Service's governing body were worth sharing with a wider audience, so I'm republishing it with the permission of PostCom. "With all the discussion on desired postal reform, where do things stand, and where do we go from here? Please allow me to start with the conclusion and work backwards from there... let's KISS with real intent! Everyone at the table agrees that (1) any FERS and CSRS overpayment should be refunded and (2) the RHBF payment schedule should be restructured. These two reforms provide the most immediate financial relief, the greatest bang for the buck, and avoid changes that would weaken the value of mail and inhibit growth in the mail. So let's KISS now, execute these changes, and move on with the development of fruitful businesses and a healthy postal infrastructure."

The Guardian: Proposed cutbacks at Australia Post will most likely be felt more in cities than in regional and remote areas, the acting prime minister, Warren Truss, has said. Truss, who is the federal leader of the National Party, dismissed concerns that the cuts would hit regional and remote areas the hardest.

Sky News Australia: The government has ruled out selling Australia Post for now, but says the future of our mail service is uncertain due to dwindling demand. The service has already signalled that everyday home delivery of standard-priced mail could be cut back to two or three times a week, pending approval for government regulation changes.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Australia Post will this week announce it is set to shed 900 jobs, according to reports, with most positions to go from operations in Melbourne. The report said private modelling indicates the organisation would lose $7.1 billion through to 2022-23 if it continued on its current path. Australia Post has been reviewing its business model as it continues to incur large financial losses from the declining use of traditional mail.

June 7, 2014 

Office of the Inspector General:

United Parcel Service: The UPS Board of Directors today announced that it has named David Abney, currently the company's Chief Operating Officer, as its new Chief Executive Officer and appointed him to the Board of Directors. Scott Davis, 62, who has served as the company's Chairman of the Board and CEO since 2008, will retire from UPS and will assume the role of non-executive Chairman. Both moves are effective September 1, 2014.

June 6, 2014 

National Journal: "Cantor Plans to 'Clarify' Postal Service-Highway Fund Plan for Republicans Next Week"

The Guardian: The boss of Royal Mail saw her pay drop by £610,000 last year, partly because she handed back a £250,000 housing allowance following the intervention of business secretary Vince Cable. Moya Greene, who has been chief executive of the recently privatisated postal operator since 2010, collected total pay, bonuses and pension contributions of £1.35m in the last financial year compared to £1.96m a year earlier. Her basic pay remained flat at £498,000. Despite the reduction, her total pay was still 50 times the average £27,036 collected by her 150,000 workers. The average bonus handed to postmen and women was £514 – compared with Greene's long- and short-term bonuses of £873,000.

Fleet Owner: The growth of online shopping, direct-to-consumer shipping and so-called "omni-channel" distribution demands is generating big amounts of change for the third party logistics (3PL) industry – to the point where the number of 3PLs overall may shrink significantly, in the main through mergers and acquisitions.

DMM (DOMESTIC MAIL MANUAL) STREAMLINING INITIATIVE UPDATE. Postal Explorer® (pe.usps.com) is your source for up-to-date mailing standards. The Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) is fully searchable on Postal Explorer and features fly-out menus (menus that when moused over drop down to the side displaying subsections of the DMM), cross-reference links, and an extensive subject index. Effective June 4, 2014, we introduced a streamlined version of the DMM. This is the first step in an initiative to reduce the size of the DMM without changes to content to make it quicker, easier, and more convenient to use. Chapters 200, 300, and 400 have been consolidated to create a revised Chapter 200, "Commercial Letters, Flats, and Parcels." We have eliminated redundant language and reorganized the remaining language for consistency and to improve flow and ease of use. Chapter 100, "Retail Letters, Flats, and Parcels," has also been streamlined. Additionally, the applicable Quick Service Guides (QSGs) have been renumbered to align with new Chapter 200 and updated with new DMM reference information. Applicable Customer Support Rulings have also been updated with new DMM reference information. Our next scheduled DMM update is July 7, 2014.

Bloomberg Businessweek: "A Postal Worker Union Guy's Economic Case for Keeping Saturday Delivery"

Press Release: The UPS Board of Directors today announced that it has named David Abney, currently the company's Chief Operating Officer, as its new Chief Executive Officer and appointed him to the Board of Directors. Scott Davis, 62, who has served as the company's Chairman of the Board and CEO since 2008, will retire from UPS and will assume the role of non-executive Chairman. Both moves are effective September 1, 2014.

Watertown Daily Times: Radical changes have to be made to the structure of the U.S. Postal Service for it to survive, according to Postal Regulatory Commissioner Robert G. Taub, the keynote speaker during a luncheon Thursday at the Black River Valley Club on Washington Street.

  Audit Report: Award of the Diebold, Inc. The Postal Service did not award the  Diebold contract in accordance with Postal Service policies and procedures. Officials did not develop a purchase plan or conduct a price analysis before awarding the contract. As a result, contracting officials did not assess price reasonableness or obtain higher level review and approval as required. We found the Postal Service did not conduct an analysis to establish that contract payments of $18,399,448 provided the best value, although this does not necessarily indicate the Postal Service incurred losses. Further, officials inadequately analyzed Postal Service internal lock repair and maintenance costs. Based on our calculations, they overestimated the annual cost savings by $6,839,456 per year and outsourced the work to Diebold based on this inflated cost savings assumption.

 NY Times: American employers added 217,000 workers in May, a bit more than the average monthly gain over the last six months and another sign that the economy may finally be gaining momentum after a weak start to the year. The unemployment rate was flat at 6.3 percent, the Labor Department said Friday morning in its monthly report on hiring and joblessness.

The Conversation: In the near future a trip to the Post Office in regional and remote Australia may mean picking up a parcel or a letter. It could also mean a virtual meeting with your tertiary education provider, a virtual consultation with a medical specialist or a discussion with an expert about how to leverage your local products into the Asian market. Australia Post's future, including its ownership and business model, has reached a tipping point at the centre of which is the decline in Australians' use of the humble letter. Last week the government took privatisation off the table, removing a distraction from the bigger issues facing Australia Post.

Watertown Daily Times: Radical changes have to be made to the structure of the U.S. Postal Service for it to survive, according to Postal Regulatory Commissioner Robert G. Taub, the keynote speaker during a luncheon Thursday at the Black River Valley Club on Washington Street.

Dead Tree Edition: "Out-of-control postage costs have been an almost insurmountable problem for print advertising customers and, in fact, have led to many bankruptcies, catalog/magazine closures, and paper demand losses to electronic competition."

Macau Daily Times: Macau Post (CTT) users claim that it takes a long time for letters and parcels sent from the United States and European countries to be delivered. The Times has learned of the case of a person who received in May a first-class letter from the US that was initially stamped on March 14. "What's wrong with the Macau postal service?" our source asked. CTT alleges that it has not received reports of a large-scale postal delivery delay since March this year. Nevertheless, it claimed that other factors, such as mail being transferred from a third country or region, can cause letters and parcels to arrive late.

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

  • The Postal Service submitted its exigent surcharge roll-back plan to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The removal of the exigent surcharge was based on a specific target established by the Commission. [see PostCom Bulletin 23-14]. The Postal Service pointed out the overall economy, upcoming annual price changes, and its mail mix as factors to be considered on when it will reach its target as well as how the surcharge will be rolled back.
  • According to a PostCom member, "With all the discussion on desired postal reform, where do things stand, and where do we go from here? Please allow me to start with the conclusion and work backwards from there... let's KISS with real intent! Everyone at the table agrees that (1) any FERS and CSRS overpayment should be refunded and (2) the RHBF payment schedule should be restructured. These two reforms provide the most immediate financial relief, the greatest bang for the buck, and avoid changes that would weaken the value of mail and inhibit growth in the mail. So let's KISS now, execute these changes, and move on with the development of fruitful businesses and a healthy postal infrastructure."
  • A letter was sent to every member of the House of the Representative, as well as the full Senate, by the American Postal Workers Union, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Rural Letter Carriers; Association, and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission has released its final regulations on the treatment of mid-year rate reductions, de minimis rate increases, and rate incentives for purposes of the price cap system established under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.
  • USPS delays the elimination of BRM parcels. Load leveling forces mailers to rethink delivery dates. Senate Carper comments on postal funding highway trust fund. House to tie HTF bailout to USPS. USPS may delay next price increase. PRC puts together a list of NSAs. Post Office, Mailers are at an historic juncture.
  • Updates from the USPS Domestic Mail Manual.
  • This week's listing of postal notices in the Federal Register.
  • 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.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

Kangla Online: The drug mafia still uses the postal service system as possibly the easiest route for drug trafficking in Manipur. Imphal West District Police has seized 15,000 capsules of banned Spasmo Proxyvon (SP) from a post office delivery van at Lilong on Thursday.

Star Africa: The Southern African Postal Operators' Association (SAPOA), meeting in western Namibia's seaside city of Swakopmund, has seen its financial services increased by 81 percent in the 201/13 financial year, SAPOA chair Thato Mosisili confirmed on Thursday.The SAPOA was created in 2001 by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as its regional body responsible for the postal sector.

Wall Street Journal: R. R. Donnelley & Sons. Co.‘s 150-year history has been one long tale of disruption, according to CEO Tom Quinlan. "Talk about disruption. This company doesn't know anything but disruption," Mr. Quinlan said Thursday during an interview at company offices in New York. The Chicago-based printing giant has contended with all sorts of alternatives to the printed word—the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, the Internet, and mobile phones and tablets. As a result, Mr. Quinlan says, "Donnelley has had to evolve." Its recent evolution has included Work-Bench, a New York-based business accelerator for later-stage enterprise technology startups. Donnelley funds the project, which provides startups with shared office space, business support and introductions to potential corporate customers. The startups focus on areas such as mobile management, cyber security and analytics. The project is overseen by Tom Carroll, Donnelley executive vice president for external and postal affairs. Mr. Carroll says the goal is to identify emerging technology that Donnelley can use for the benefit of itself, its customers, and their customer and supplier ecosystems.

usps logo DMM Advisory: June DMM Update. Postal Explorer® (pe.usps.com) is your source for up-to-date mailing standards. The Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) is fully searchable on Postal Explorer and features fly-out menus (menus that when moused over drop down to the side displaying subsections of the DMM), cross-reference links, and an extensive subject index. Effective June 4, 2014, we introduced a streamlined version of the DMM. This is the first step in an initiative to reduce the size of the DMM without changes to content to make it quicker, easier, and more convenient to use. Chapters 200, 300, and 400 have been consolidated to create a revised Chapter 200, "Commercial Letters, Flats, and Parcels." We have eliminated redundant language and reorganized the remaining language for consistency and to improve flow and ease of use. Chapter 100, "Retail Letters, Flats, and Parcels," has also been streamlined. Additionally, the applicable Quick Service Guides (QSGs) have been renumbered to align with new Chapter 200 and updated with new DMM reference information. Applicable Customer Support Rulings have also been updated with new DMM reference information. Our next scheduled DMM update is July 7, 2014.

June 5, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Post & Parcel: Siemens no longer intends to sell its baggage handling and parcel and postal sorting activities. The activities are to be further operated as a separate business under the Siemens umbrella. "I've made it clear again and again that we have to get our businesses in order again ourselves. We'll do this in the case of postal automation and airport logistics. We'll set up the company so it can operate better and more flexibly in its medium-sized competitive environment. And we'll create the required prerequisites for this: suitable financial resources, appropriate management structures and an appropriate timeframe," said Siemens President and CEO Joe Kaeser. The carve-out of the baggage handling and parcel and postal sorting activities as a separate company is to take place in the coming months.

Office of the Inspector General:

From the Federal Register:  Postal Service RULES Elimination of Business Reply Mail Parcels: Deferral of Enforcement Date , 32490 [2014–13042] [TEXT] [PDF]

Press Release: UPS has announced that it was recognized by IDG's CIO Magazine as a recipient of the CIO 100 Award for the successful deployment of its On-Road Integrated Optimization Navigation (ORION) analytics software. The proprietary technology was launched in 2013, and is the result of a decade-long operational technology commitment to cut miles, reduce fuel and improve the overall customer experience. The 2014 CIO 100 Award marks yet another accolade for the industry-leading analytics solution, which received top honors at the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Excalibur Awards at the end of 2013.

Washington Post: Both parties want to do nothing but squabble before this year's election. Not much will stop them — except, perhaps, this dose of reality: If political point-scoring is all they accomplish over the next several weeks, work on the nation's roads, bridges and rails will come to a halt. The federal Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of money this summer. Without a fix, federally backed transportation projects all over the country — not just highways — would be in danger of severe disruption or cancellation. That translates into high costs now to stop and restart projects once funding comes through, higher costs in the future as contractors build the risk of funding holdups into their prices, downward pressure on construction jobs and unnecessary delay for anyone who uses the infrastructure. Failing to shore up the fund in time would be plain legislative malfeasance. Don't get us wrong: The Saturday delivery change makes a lot of sense on its own. So does corporate tax reform. But continuing to jury-rig the highway budget with unrelated "offsets" does not. If the nation's leaders are too cowardly to make obvious policy choices this year, they will have to develop some backbone before the next self-imposed transportation funding crisis.  [EdNote: Welcome to Capitol Hill -- Dysfunction Junction.]

June 4, 2014 

Washington Times: USPS is calculating vehicle MPG at a rate much lower than the industry average, investigators said. That's led officials to think the contractors are burning more gallons of gas than they actually are, and are paying for more gallons of gas than the contractors use. "This can create an environment for fraud, waste, and abuse," the IG said. "The risk is that suppliers may use excess gallons for non-Postal Service operations, which is prohibited." Using more up-to date calculations and putting the excess fuel to better use could save the Postal Service nearly $200 million over the next two years, investigators said. Postal Service officials disagreed with the IG's concerns over waste.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   PostalOne!® Release 38.0 Postponed PostalOne!® Release 38.0 Postponed - The PostalOne!® Release 38.0, scheduled for July 2014 has been delayed until August 2014 with an implementation date of September 7, 2014. Reference the release notes posted on RIBBS under Major/Minor Release/August/September 2014 Release to understand the functionality being deployed and what functionality will be available August 24 versus September 7, 2014. Beginning August 24, mailers will be able to submit files with new specifications for mail.dat 14-2 and mail.XML 16.

Salon: The current regime in charge of the U.S. Postal Service has no interest in postal banking. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe recently told American Banker that the idea was "not in our wheelhouse," and expressed surprise that the USPS inspector general, David Williams, would even raise the idea in a white paper. Donahoe has continued his "innovations" for dealing with the post office's Congressionally-created budget deficit, through branch closures, proposed service disruptions and privatization.

Postal Technology International: Swiss Post has launched a new logistics solution, YellowCube, offering an all-in-one e-commerce logistics solution for online retailers. After a two-year development phase, YellowCube is now available, handling a range of services for e-merchants including product storage and picking, parcel packing and the entire returns management system. YellowCube features a fully automated storage and picking facility for online merchants to send and receive parcels, and allows Swiss Post to handle everything from order processing, marketing, payment, end-to-end logistics and customer service.

Canton Patch: A spokesperson with the United States Postal Service said several customers at the Canton post office have complained to staff "of harassment" by Carolyn Cosby. The woman who wants to run as an independent candidate for Cherokee commission chair has been told she was violating regulations by asking residents outside the Canton post office to sign her petition to get her name on the ballot.

Post & Parcel: The Romanian government has claimed success in negotiations with unions over a new labour deal. A series of meetings took place last month between Romanian Post and the Trade Union of Postal Workers of Romania (SLPR) amid public protests and strikes by 4,000 union members after "two tough years for postal workers" during a transformation of the Post.

DutchNews: Postal delivery company Post.NL has applied for permission to close down 1,500 of its 2,500 parcel collection points, according to regional newspaper group Wegener. The closures would be one way the company can cut costs, and economic affairs minister Henk Kamp is likely to agree, the papers say. If the plan goes ahead, hundreds of thousands of people will live at least five kilometres from their nearest Post.NL service point. The company is struggling to cope with falling volumes of post and competition from express parcel firms.

MONDAQ: Most of us are aware of the timely-mailed-timely-filed "mailbox rule" contained within the Internal Revenue Code. Most of us are probably also aware that a document mailed with a private delivery service may also qualify for the rule. However, as illustrated by the U.S. Tax Court's recent decision in Sanders v. Commissioner, there are important details to the rules governing private delivery services, the failure to adhere to which can lead to disaster. Also complicating matters, many states do not conform to these federal rules, so taxpayers must carefully review and adhere to the filing rules in each state where they have state tax filing obligations. The mailbox rule is codified in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 7502. Pursuant to IRC § 7502(a), the deemed delivery date for any return, claim, statement or other document required to be filed by a prescribed date under the "internal revenue laws" is the U.S. postmark, provided that the document is actually delivered by U.S. mail to the agency, officer or office to which the document is required to be filed. The same general rule applies to payments required to be made under the internal revenue laws. The reference in IRC § 7502 to the "internal revenue laws," however, makes that provision broadly applicable in various contexts. Thus, while the provision applies to tax returns and tax elections, it also applies to documents filed with the U.S. Tax Court.

eCommerceBytes: eBay announced it is raising the cost of return shipping rates on eBay on June 4 "to better align with the United States Postal Service rate changes announced in January 2014." The USPS return-shipping rates apply to all sellers that offer hassle-free returns, but sellers with large volumes of heavy-weight returns, such as furniture or appliances, will experience the greatest impact, eBay explained. The new rates are available on the eBay website - click on "Return shipping rates." As one seller pointed out, the USPS costs are higher than shipping outside of the program. For instance, they explained, "Without the Hassle-Free Program, return shipping for a 3-ounce item is $1.93. With the Hassle-Free Program, it's $2.60."

Money CNN: Google is working on the ultimate security and privacy feature. It's called "End-to-End" encryption, and it's the best way to stop anyone from snooping on your emails. Google would turn your emails into jumbled code, and the only person who can see the email in plain text is the trusted person on the other end.

WMAR: They are the backbone of the U.S. Postal Service. "You trust these people with your mail," said Yvette Miles as she stopped off at the Catonsville Post Office. But news of a sticky-fingered mail carrier has replaced that trust with doubt. "The first thing I thought was, 'Oh God. It could have been a paycheck of mine,'" added Pam Preston, a regular customer there. "Sometimes I'll get cash from people, but often I'll be told that the people are a bit hesitant about that because they don't know what hands it will go into," said Richard Andrei. According to postal inspectors, when thousands of pieces of mail reached the hands of Jeffrey Shipley, he handpicked, which ones to deliver and which ones to keep for himself.

Idaho Statesman: A 46-year-old former Grangeville postal employee who stole thousands of dollars from a customer was sentenced to five years of probation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boise. Mari A. Mort was also ordered to pay restitution of $7,721.58 to Water Oz, a company near Grangeville. Mort, who worked at the post office from February of 2011 to June of 2013, pleaded guilty to misappropriating postal funds in March. She charged Water Oz for packages they did not mail and then refunded the money to herself, according to the U.S. attorney. The Office of the Inspector General for the United States Postal Service investigated.

June 3, 2014 

NewsNet5: Postal service on Saturday or paying for pothole patching? That's the latest choice posed by House Republican leaders looking for ways to pump a bit of cash into the soon-to-be broken federal Highway Trust Fund. It comes down to fewer mail trucks rolling on Saturdays or less federal support for highway work seven days a week. The fund is expected to run short by late July or early August, meaning no money for new road projects and will likely interrupt some construction already under way. Although President Barack Obama has proposed cutting Saturday delivery, too, many congressional Democrats are flat against the postal option, complaining it would solve neither the USPS' nor the trust fund's long-term money problems. Members of the Senate Finance Committee from both parties are slated to have a "no-staff" closed door huddle later this week to try and come up with better ideas for keeping federal highway tax dollars flowing beyond August and into the fall.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Docket No. RM2014-3: Order Adopting Final Rules On The Treatment Of Rate Incentives And De Minimis Rate Increases For Price Cap Purposes
    "The Postal Regulatory Commission today released final regulations on the treatment of mid-year rate reductions, de minimis rate increases, and rate incentives for purposes of the price cap system established under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The rules create a new type of rate filing called a "Type 1-C rate adjustment." Type 1-C rate adjustments allow the Postal Service to reduce rates without calculating the annual limitation on the percentage change in rates. Generally, the Postal Service will be able to choose whether or not to generate and bank unused rate adjustment authority as a result of a Type 1-C rate adjustment. The rules also provide the Postal Service with the flexibility to implement very small rate increases in between its regularly scheduled rate adjustments without calculating the annual limitation on the percentage change in rates."

Wall Street Journal: Siemens AG has abandoned its plans to sell its baggage-handling and parcel-sorting operation, the German industrial conglomerate said Tuesday, after failing to find a buyer.

Postalnews Blog: Linns Stamp News recently published an article entitled "Village Post Offices — are they really worth it for the USPS?", questioning the viability of the VPO program. Now the USPS has posted a response which claims that a few of the author's statements were incorrect.

Fierce Government: Challenges abound for the Postal Service in preparing for increased package growth brought on by the explosion of e-commerce, a June 2 USPS inspector general semiannual report says. Though the Postal Services has more than enough machinery to process the increase in packages, USPS needs to properly staff processing facilities and adjust the mail delivery to facilities so it's available for processing when the machine's operating window beings, the IG says.

ForConstructionPros: Terry O'Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers' International Union of North America – made the following statement today regarding the proposal by some House Republicans to patch the Highway Trust Fund: The idea of robbing the U.S. Postal Service to provide another duct-tape fix to our nation's critical transportation infrastructure would damage both Americans who rely on the mail service and those who want safe roads and bridges. Gimmicks will not address the dire situation of our roads and bridges.

Fleet Owner: A short-term fix for the nearly insolvent Highway Trust Fund (HTF) floated by the top Republican leaders of the House that would inject it with monies attained by cutting appropriations for the United States Postal Service (USPS)-- itself running in the red— appears en route but fast to the dead-letter office. A bipartisan majority of at least 220 members has already signaled approval of a House Resolution (H.Res.30) that states USPS "should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service."

Direct Marketing News: Business mailers have been part and parcel (ahem) of the Post Office's history since at least the 1840s, when local retail circulars came into being. After that came catalogs, which helped establish parcel post. Today, business mailers—including First Class financial mailers, Standard Mail advertising mailers, and e-commerce package shippers—are the U.S. Postal Service's No. 1 customers. Of the $46 billion dollars USPS collected in postage for market-dominant products in which it owns a monopoly, nearly $36 billion was accounted for by Standard Mail, Flats, and presort First Class Mail paid for by business mailers. The symbiotic relationship between USPS and bulk mailers is currently at an historic juncture, with the USPS struggling for its very survival and mailers dealing with an unprecedented "exigent" rate increase to help offset a steady 30% decline in First Class Mail and competition from the Internet. As it concluded its most recent fiscal year last September, the Postal Service declared a net loss of $5 billion and had posted losses in 19 of its previous 21 quarters. Some critical numbers in today's situation for both direct mailers and the Post Office....

NASDAQ: Japan'sFinance Ministry will seek to add midtier brokerages as principal underwriters when selling its stake in the conglomerate that operates the postal system Japan Post Holdings is expected to go public as soon as fiscal 2015, with the government to direct the proceeds toward disaster recovery efforts.

Marketwired: LSO, the Southwest's leading regional parcel carrier, today announced the availability of a new web-based solution that provides customers with the most optimal shipping solution for small and mid-sized businesses. This simple, integrated software enables customers a single, convenient, one-stop shopping portal to select the best and fastest way to ship any package, regardless of carrier.

Mark Ramsey Media: Digital disruption? Well, it isn't just an issue for postal. Here's what one radio business pundit wrote: "Because you can't roll back the clock to an era when buying advertising was simple and entertainment choices and their distribution platforms could be counted on one hand. Because the fact that you have a huge margin on traditional radio buys and a smaller margin on all things digital is of no interest to your consumers, your fans, your transmedia competitors, or your clients. They don't care about your nostalgic musings. And they sure don't care about your margins. The biggest problem broadcasters have with digital media is that it doesn't fit snugly within a generations-old business model that, until recently, wasn't broken. But now it is. Sorry. C'est la vie. Time to cook up some new ones!"

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  Negotiated Service Agreement Requests Approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission

Heritage Action: If Congress does not bail out the HTF by the end of July, the federal government will continue to collect federal gas tax revenues, but it would have to begin slowing down its reimbursements to state Departments of Transportation. This would not just be an isolated instance of bad policy in the face of predictable overspending. Since 2008, more than $55 billion has been funneled from taxpayers into the Highway Trust Fund in the form of HTF bailouts—violating the user pays, user benefits principle. With each bailout, the link between highway spending and gas taxes is degraded, making it increasingly difficult to enact structural reforms that turn over the federal highway and transit programs to the states, so they can manage their transportation needs without Washington bureaucrats. Instead of maintaining its current spending pace, Congress should be using this opportunity to force the program to live within its means, setting spending levels in line with available revenue, while it works to return this responsibility to the states. The states know their transportation priorities better than Washington does.

Dead Tree Edition: The U.S. Postal Service is thinking about foregoing its usual January price increase next year. It's not that postal officials have suddenly been afflicted with a case of generosity after jacking up most postal rates by more than 5% earlier this year. They're merely preparing for what happens when (or, rather, if) the temporary 4.3% "exigent" portion of the recent rate increase expires. USPS has gone to court in hopes of making the exigent increase permanent. But if that effort fails, the surcharge will expire after bringing additional postal revenue of $3.2 billion, which will take an estimated 18 months. Postal officials apparently want to avoid across-the-board rate cuts when the exigent increase expires. "The Postal Service could delay the next rate adjustment so as to coincide with the rescission of the exigent surcharge," USPS noted in a filing yesterday with the Postal Regulatory Commission. "The Governors of the Postal Service could decide to proceed with a January price adjustment for one class of mail — say, Periodicals — while delaying it for other classes." USPS has been eager to impose additional price increases on magazines and newspapers because it claims to be losing money on the Periodicals class.

Postalnews.com: In a letter urging Senators and Representatives to reject any proposal that would weaken the Postal Service, the National Presidents of the four Postal Unions collectively object to a proposal to use the United States Postal Service as an offset to fund the federal highway trust fund. House Version | Senate Version

RIBBS: You really ought to check it out:

Office of the Inspector General:

  • Spring 2014 Semiannual Report to Congress The U.S Postal Service Office of Inspector General released last Friday its Semiannual Report to Congress (SARC). The report outlines the USPS OIG's activities for the reporting period of October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

  • Parcel Payment Technologies and Payment Strategies - Finance The Postal Service offers services through a network consisting of nearly 32,000 Post Offices, stations, and branches, plus thousands of Contract Postal Units, Community Post Offices, Village Post Offices, retail establishments that sell postage stamps and other services as a convenience to customers, as well as their website, www.usps.com.

Reuters: U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated in May and construction spending rose for a third straight month in April, suggesting economic growth was regaining steam in the second quarter. Related Stories US construction spending up 0.2 percent in April Associated Press US ISM manufacturing index at 53.2 vs 55.5 expected; construction spending creeps up CNBC U.S. economy contracts in first quarter, but labour market firming Reuters Ahead of the Bell: US consumer spending Associated Press Manufacturing growth picked up in May, ISM says in corrected report Los Angeles Times The economy sank in the first quarter under the weight of a brutally cold winter and a slow pace of restocking by businesses. But businesses appear to rebuilding inventories, with new orders at factories hitting a five-month high in May. "It points to an acceleration in economic activity. We expect GDP growth to pick up meaningfully this quarter, with the pace of growth rising to around 4.0 percent," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

National Journal: Members of the Senate Finance Committee will meet behind closed doors Wednesday to try to find a way to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from going broke at the height of the construction season this summer. The panel's session comes on the heels of a House Republican proposal to shore up the highway fund for a year by allowing the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday deliveries and putting the savings into infrastructure projects—a plan ridiculed and dismissed by two Senate committee leaders. But that bill did not directly address the looming Highway Trust Fund shortfall, or how to replenish it. That issue is being left for the Senate Finance Committee to resolve, and it is that panel's chairman, Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has called for Wednesday afternoon's meeting of panel members from both parties, without staffers present. The private session will be to "discuss proposals and direction for the Highway Trust Fund," said Wyden spokeswoman Lindsey Held. "More to share after that discussion." Time is running out. Thousands of highway and bridge projects and hundreds of thousands of jobs could grind to a halt in two to three months unless a solution is found to keep the fund's balance above zero. One idea that Wyden has talked about is resurrecting the Build America Bonds program, which was part of the stimulus strategy in 2009. By the time the program ended after two years, Wyden said at a hearing last month, it had helped finance more than $180 billion worth of projects from one end of America to the other. "The lesson is clear: There are hundreds of billions of dollars in private capital sitting on the American sidelines. Surely some of that can be invested in American infrastructure," he said.

WPTV: One stroke and one color at a time, Lynn Morgan paints a picture of a beautiful landscape. "My paintings sort of all portray peaceful solitude," explained Morgan. Her recent dealings with the Postal Service has this artist seeing red. "Someone sent me a check to buy one of my paintings and I never received that," explained Morgan. She says that's not the only check missing. As Treasurer of an art association, she collects dues. Morgan said six checks sent from various states across the country never arrived. "They're saying I sent you a check and they get kind of aggravated with me about that," explained Morgan. "It's frustrating." We found there are 150 stories like Morgan's in West Palm Beach.

Gizmag: With swooping curves, a bulbous windshield, and prominent pod-like headlights, the "Deliver" van built by Liberty Electric Cars is certainly a distinctive-looking vehicle. But with a carrying capacity of 700 kg (1,540 lb), a quoted range of more than 100 km (62 m), and a top speed claimed to be in the order of 100 km/h (62 mph), it seems like a practical one, too. As part of that practicality, the Deliver also has a flexible ergonomic cabin that features the removal of the B-pillar on the curb side and the addition of a swivel seat, so that the driver can quickly and easily enter or exit the vehicle in a way that reduces both delivery times and operator stress. These features alone would make the Deliver a practicable postal or parcel electric van for urban deliveries. Given that it also has a claimed minimum range of 100 km (62 m) the Deliver could be a possibility for intercity work as well; a round trip within the given range parameters would be easily accommodated between most large urban areas. And weighing in at 2,200 kg (4,850 lb) fully laden, the Deliver – even with a substantial battery pack – is similar in weight to other comparable commercial vehicles. See also EVWorld.

Federal News Radio: Frederic Rolando, President, National Association of Letter Carriers The Postal Service's latest financial results are no better than any of their recent numbers. But they might not be as bad as they look. Different interpretations of those numbers cause some leaders to think the Postal Service has a faster route back to profitability than Congress does. Frederic Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, told In Depth with Francis Rose nobody argues about the numbers themselves. It's more about how you read them.

Daily Times: Pakistan Post received an amount of Rs 35.5 million during the period July-Feb 2013-14 on account of terminal dues for imbalance of international mails received from and dispatched to other countries. According to Economic Survey 2013-14, Pakistan Post dispatched more volume of mail than it receives for delivery. Thus it always remains net creditor. Pakistan Post is in process of implementing the Doha Postal Strategy approved by the 24th Congress of the Universal Postal Union to improve the inter-operatability of the international postal networks. Provide technical knowledge and expertise related to the postal sector and promote innovative products and services.

June 2, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  Docket No. R2013-11 Report Of The United States Postal Service In Response To Order No. 1926 Regarding Surcharge Removal Plan (June 2, 2014)

"There are multiple ways in which to remove the exigent surcharge, if it becomes necessary to do so. The most obvious method would be to simply file a notice with the Commission rescinding the surcharge shortly before the point at which the Postal Service believes it has generated the $3.2 billion in revenue allowed under the Commission's order. Another possible approach would require altering the schedule of regular rate changes.

"That is, the Postal Service could delay the next rate adjustment so as to coincide with the rescission of the exigent surcharge. If the available percentage of rate authority attributable to inflation were 4.3 percent or greater, then the surcharge could simply be absorbed as part of the scheduled rate - 4 - change. Even if inflation were less than 4.3 pecent, the Postal Service could, notwithstanding, use available pricing authority to fold in the exigent surcharge into the basic rate structure of some products, while adjusting the prices of other products so as to come out at the cap. Quite obviously, the two approaches discussed above are not mutually exclusive.

"The Governors of the Postal Service could decide to proceed with a January price adjustment for one class of mail—say, Periodicals—while delaying it for other classes. Or, the January schedule could be maintained for all classes, but less than all of the available pricing authority could be used for one or more classes with the rest banked, to be used in a subsequent, altered schedule of regular rate changes that would coincide with the rescission of the exigent surcharge. As part of that scheduled rate change, decisions would be made as to which products to fold in the surcharge as part of the basic rate schedule, consistent with the cap.

"In short, the Governors have a number of options available to them in planning for the rescission of the exigent surcharge, so that the exigent surcharge can be timely rescinded if it becomes necessary to do so. As decisions are made, the Postal Service will report to the Commission as to how they influence the development of the final plan for eliminating the surcharge. "

Jersey Isle News: Jersey Post has today released the results of its third island-wide survey that gave all islanders the opportunity to provide feedback on the company and its services. Jersey Post first conducted an island-wide survey at the end of 2011 and, as a result, implemented a number of changes, including the removal of the two-tier postal service and the introduction of alternative parcel delivery options. In summary, the results are as follows: 91.6% of respondents said their postman is good or very good, compared to 86.5 % last year. 79.9% of those responding stated that the delivery service is good or very good, compared to 70.6% last year. 81% of respondents said that the retail network and associated services are good or very good, compared to 70.9% last year. Islanders stated that their highest priority for their postal service are keeping costs low (51%), followed by consistency of delivery time (36%) and timeliness of delivery (13%).

Transport Topics: Democrats have dismissed a proposal by House Republicans to end Saturday mail delivery and make other changes at the U.S. Post Office in order to come up with money to shore up the Highway Trust Fund. The chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), called the Republican proposal "strange," saying it would help the fund for only a few months by cutting back mail deliveries to American households. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of EPW's Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, labeled the idea a "non-starter." Boxer said in a statement that the Republican plan is a jobs killer that wouldn't even fund the Highway Trust Fund for a long enough time to provide the certainty that she said states, cities, and businesses need. She called the idea a "classic example" of House Republicans not planning for a shortfall known about for years. "It is unworkable, makes no sense, and ignores the huge infrastructure needs we face, as so many bridges and roads are in grave disrepair," she said in a statement. See also Politico.

Office of the Inspector General: If your favorite catalog looks more like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition or even an issue of Life magazine, there's a good reason. These high-end photo displays and glossy spreads help retailers sell products online. Retailers are pouring more money into catalog design, including expensive photo shoots, because they find this drives online and in-store sales. Catalogs and other hard copy advertising act as bait to lure the customer into online or brick-and-mortar shopping. So it would seem that physical stores and hard-copy ads are not dead; they are evolving to complement a retailer's digital presence.

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

CSOOnline: In a letter to the California Attorney General's Office (OAG), American Express says that 76,608 people in the state will get a breach notification letter after some of their data was published by Anonymous Ukraine earlier this year. In March, Anonymous Ukraine released more than 7 million records as part of a protest against the financial firms that helped "enslave" people the world over.

Post & Parcel: As if the US Congress hasn't squeezed enough money out of the ailing US Postal Service in the last decade, lawmakers in Washington have now come up with a genius plan to cut mail delivery to five-days-a-week and use the savings on an insolvent federal road-building initiative. The US Postal Service has lost more than $41bn in the last six years, and now has liabilities greatly exceeding its assets. Postal chiefs do want to end Saturday deliveries for regular mail, but using the estimated $2bn a year savings to help balance the Postal Service books. But leaders in the House of Representatives have been circulating a memo suggesting that a cut to mail delivery frequency could provide funding they could use in the Highway Trust Fund, a programme usually funded by fuel taxes that is set to run out of money at the end of the year. The plan has been denounced by mailers and postal unions alike over the weekend.

Post & Parcel: Royal Mail has raised concerns over the route of the UK government's controversial High Speed Rail project, which proposes a major new transport route from London to the North of England. The project is already resulting in mail company UK Mail Group moving its headquarters and central hub to Coventry, out of the path of the planned rail link.

Cape Gazette: "Carper calls for increase to federal gas tax. Federal Highway Trust Fund facing $20 billion shortfall"

Post & Parcel: Eesti Post today unveils its new international name Omniva, which will be used for its logistics solutions and business operations in the Baltic domestic market. The name Eesti Post will be retained for post offices and the mail delivery service, and will be the legal name of the company in Estonia.

YLE: The state postal services company Itella has had to recall laid off workers in the Uusimaa region in southern Finland to meet the demand for mail delivery services. According to the Postal and Logistics Union PAU, mail has been failing to reach its destination daily as a result of a workforce shortage. Earlier this year Itella sent home nearly 500 postal delivery workers, citing a decline in paper mail.

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  The Postal Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting to discuss the agenda items outlined below. Part of the meeting will be open to the public as well as audiocast, and the audiocast may be accessed via the Commission's Web site at http://www.prc.gov. Part of the meeting will be closed. After the close of the public part of the meeting, a public listening session will be offered to allow the public to comment on any agenda item or related subject matter. The Commission will then resume in its closed session. PORTIONS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: 1. Report from the Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations on legislative activities and the handling of rate and service inquiries from the public. 2. Report from the Office of General Counsel on the status of Commission dockets. 3. Report from the Office of Accountability and Compliance. 4. Report on international activities of the Commission. 5. Report from the Office of the Secretary and Administration. Page 2 of 2 6. Presentation to Commissioners on the Postal Service's Sustainability Program by a representative of the Postal Service

Post & Parcel: "Excerpt from UPU's Development strategies for the postal sector: an economic perspective"

June 1, 2014 

Direct Marketing News: The prevailing sentiment among many mailers is that load leveling was inevitable because the Postal Service was eager to improve efficiency and consolidate some of its facilities—a move delayed while waiting for postal reform that never actually materialized. The PRC's take was that testing load leveling at one facility was insufficient preparation for the program's launch and that load leveling could also be interpreted as a further rate increase for mailers. USPS addressed those concerns in its rules posting in the Federal Register. As a result of the program, direct mailers must learn by doing as they adjust drop-off schedules to make sure their mail is delivered by a particular date.

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