Association for Postal Commerce
"Representing those who use or support the use of postal services for Business Communication and Commerce"
"You will be able to enjoy only those postal rights you believe are worth defending."

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This Month in the Postal World:
Page One | Page Two  | Page Four | News Archives
July 31, 2015

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

USPS Webinar on Service Performance: The Postal Service's service performance webinar slides have been posted on this site.

Attention PostalOne!® & BIDS Users

  • PostalOne!® & BIDS Releases 41.2.0.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! & BIDS Releases 41.2.0.0 will deploy Sunday, Aug 2, 2015 between 4:00AM CT and 9:00AM CT. This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time. Please note, a new Mail.dat® client download 41.2.0.0_PROD will be made available during this release. This download will be optional and users can continue to submit files using their current Mail.dat client Version 41.1.0.0. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.2.0 can be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .
  • PostalOne! & BIDS Releases 41.2.0.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur Sunday, August 2, 2015. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Monday morning August 3, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
45687 [2015–18777] [TEXT]  [PDF]
45686–45687 [2015–18778] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Product Changes:
  Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  45688 [2015–18780] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  45688 [2015–18773] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  45687–45688 [2015–18774] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  45688 [2015–18775] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  45687 [2015–18776] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  45688 [2015–18779] [TEXT]  [PDF] 

DOMESTIC NEWS

Wall Street Journal: United Parcel Service Inc. said it would buy transportation and shipping services provider Coyote Logistics LLC for $1.8 billion, an acquisition that will add in-house technology to fill empty space on existing trucks. UPS, which is acquiring Coyote Logistics from private-equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, said Friday that the acquisition should create $100 million to $150 million in annual operating synergies and start adding to earnings in 2016. Coyote Logistics will operate as a separate subsidiary and keep its name.

Wall Street Journal: U.S. labor costs rose at the slowest pace in at least three decades in the spring, a sign of persistently sluggish wage growth that could weigh on the Federal Reserve's decision to raise short-term interest rates. The employment-cost index, a broad measure of workers' wages and benefits, climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in the second quarter from the first quarter, the Labor Department said Friday. That marked the smallest quarterly gain since record keeping began in 1982. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.6% increase.

Direct Marketng News: Insiders who have long fought the postal rate wars feel that the Postal Regulatory Commission's eight-month extension of the exigent surcharge will inevitably lead to its demise. There's no discernible inclination on the part of the PRC to do otherwise, they say, and the Postal Service is exhibiting new signs of life. Only an act of Congress can grant the USPS's wish of exigency forever, and the odds of action on such legislation in the next two years are slim to none.

Government Executive: Mail will get a few cents cheaper next spring, as the U.S. Postal Service's regulator has set a new cap on how much revenue the agency can earn from its emergency price increase before it must cancel the temporary rate.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

GHANA: Ghana Business News: The Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission has advised companies, which are not courier service providers but render such duties, to regularise their operations and obtain the necessary licensing. The Commission also urged new companies who wish to provide courier services to obtain the said license before commencing business. Speaking at a news briefing on Wednesday, Mr Isaac Annan Riverson, Executive Secretary of the Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission, said the Commission would not wish to be going to court with regard to related issues.

UNITED KINGDOM: Financial Times: The last mile is always the hardest. But Ofcom frets that Royal Mail was using its commercial freedom to change wholesale prices to block competition. It hasn't helped that lossmaking Whistl has now retreated from end-to-end deliveries. Ofcom's concern is that Royal Mail, having seen off its only competitor in end-to-end deliveries, will sit back on its haunches rather than push for efficiencies. So helpfully, Ofcom has launched a fundamental review of prices to keep posties on their toes.

UGANDA: New Vision: Posta Uganda will launch financial services to use its country wide postal networks to promote financial inclusion especially the unbanked rural communities. Financial inclusion is the provision of basic financial services to people without access to such services.These services include money transfers, savings, payments, insurance and credit.James Arinaitwe, managing director Posta Uganda said that the post office was not only for posting and receiving letters but their license allows them to provide financial services.

July 30, 2015 

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Office of the USPS Inspector General: As a Small Business Mailer, Have You Ever Applied for Mailing Permits? -- The U.S. Postal Service offers business mailers useful mechanisms to help streamline the mailing process and reduce mailing rates. To determine if they are eligible for these offerings, mailers must apply for the appropriate permits and, when required, pay a nonrefundable application fee. While large business mailers may have staff experienced in the Postal Service permit application process, small business mailers may lack this in-house expertise. We would like to hear about small business mailers' experiences with the Postal Service's permit application process.

USPS Industry Alert:

  • USPS Shipping Products and Services Webinar Series August 4, 2015, 11a.m. EDT – Pickup Services. Join us as the Postal Service continues to host its series of informational webinars on a variety of products and services. The webinars will focus on service enhancements, features, benefits, how to get started, and onboarding information to acquire the knowledge and skills to effectively use the service. Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 11a.m. EDT – Pickup Services Package Pickup services allow customers to request pick up of a package or packages, by their USPS carrier, the next day during their regular delivery. Pickup on Demand is a time-specific request, for which a fee is charged and packages can be scheduled for pick up within a two-hour timeframe of the customer's choice. Package Pickup and Pickup on Demand are both scheduled through USPS.com. Speaker: Patricia Harris, Product Development Specialist, Sr. Attendee Information: US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (866) 381-9870 Conference ID: 17345195 Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=efd515fca45d520b345c150128ccd97db
  • Attention PostalOne! Users Release 41.2.0.0 Production Deployment, August 2, 2015 PostalOne!® Release 41.2.0.0 Production Deployment - PostalOne! Release 41.2.0.0 will deploy Sunday, Aug 2, 2015 between 4:00AM CT and 9:00AM CT. This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time. Please note, a new Mail.dat® client download 41.2.0.0_PROD will be made available during this release. This download will be optional and users can continue to submit files using their current Mail.dat client Version 41.1.0.0. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.2.0 can be found on: https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releases/may2015/releasenotes.cfm
  • PostalOne! Release 41.2.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur Sunday, August 2, 2015. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Monday morning August 3, 2015 between 9:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission

  • PROPOSED RULES Periodic Reporting , 45468–45469 [2015–18666] [TEXT]  45467–45468 [2015–18665] [TEXT
  • NOTICES New Postal Products , 45564 [2015–18706] [TEXT]

Department of State: As required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, the Department of State gives notice of a meeting of the Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services. This Committee will meet on Thursday August 6, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time at the American Institute of Architects, Board Room, 1735 New York Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20006.

DOMESTIC NEWS

The Hill: A House Democrat has introduced legislation to end a Prohibition-era ban on shipping alcohol through the U.S. Postal Service. With 24 original co-sponsors, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) unveiled the USPS Shipping Equity Act on Thursday. Current law bans the Postal Service from shipping beer, wine and distilled spirits to consumers., which Speier said puts the USPS at a competitive disadvantage against companies competitors that can ship alcohol.

WBBM: A mail truck was hit by a freight train Thursday morning in west suburban Addison. A Canadian National train hit the semi, which was carrying mail, at the Grace Avenue crossing at 4:48 a.m., according to Addison police. Grace was closed between North and Belden as crews cleaned up the debris. Minor injuries were reported, and no one was transported to the hospital. U.S. Postal Inspectors were at the scene, and the Canadian National Railroad is investigating the accident.

The Hill: Lawmakers will likely have at least until the end of October to raise the nation's borrowing limit, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday. Lew told lawmakers that while he cannot pinpoint when the nation would be in danger of missing debt payments without a borrowing boost, he was confident he would be able to avoid default until at least late October. Congress needs to pass funding legislation to avoid a government shutdown by the end of September. Many expect lawmakers to pass a short-term funding measure, which could eventually couple a longer government-funding bill with legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Lawmakers also face a raft of other issues in the fall, including extending authority for highway spending, dealing with expiring tax provisions and deciding whether to renew the charter for the Export-Import Bank. [EdNote: So much to do. So little time for postal reform.]

Politico: A federal grand jury has indicted Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah and four other individuals on a slew of criminal charges related to a long-running probe into his 2007 campaign for mayor of Philadelphia. Fattah, who was elected to the House in 1994, has been charged with bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and filing false statements as part of a years-long criminal scheme that even included Fattah lobbying President Barack Obama for an appointment for one of his alleged co-conspirators. The 58-year-old congressman faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Fattah has been the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees funding for the Justice Department and other federal agencies. He has now stepped down from that post. [EdNote: He also once chaired the House committee with legislative jurisdiction over the Postal Service.]

Washington Post: Remember paper? Memos to sign. Maps to fold. Letters to write. Calendars to flip. Wistful paper executives remember. They've watched e-mail, annotatable PDFs, digital calendars and paperless billing diminish more than a third of the copy- and writing-paper business in recent years, spurring mill closures and eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs. But now paper and packaging — still a $132 billion industry but absorbing a 5 percent loss in office- and writing-paper revenue each year — is fighting back. Aided by the same USDA program that helped milk companies produce the "Got Milk?" ads, paper and packaging manufacturers have launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign to remind the digitally revolutionized how paper can, as the marketing verse puts it, "solve problems," provide "an outlet for our creativity" and "connect us in personal, meaningful ways."

Postalnews.com: It has been almost five years now since Jack Potter retired as Postmaster General, so you might be surprised to learn that he's still on the payroll- and he probably made more than you did last year. According to a recent OIG report, Potter was paid $110,625 in "deferred compensation" last year. Deferred compensation is a way of getting around federal executive salary caps- pay in excess of the cap in a given year goes in to a deferred compensation fund, to be doled out after the executive has left the USPS. Potter had over a million dollars accumulated in his fund when he retired. After receiving his payment last year, he has over a half million left. Potter is currently the President and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, where he is paid a reported $350 thousand a year, with up to a 20% annual bonus.

Bloomberg: In cities such as San Francisco and New York, letter carriers have been showing up on people's doorsteps as early as 3 a.m. bearing unusual cargo: milk, eggs, and other perishable items. The U.S. Postal Service has been delivering groceries to customers of Amazon.com in selected areas since October 2014. "It's just leveraging our infrastructure," says Megan Brennan, who was sworn in as America's 74th postmaster general in March, becoming the first woman to hold the job in the institution's 240-year history. "We're on people's doorstep six days a week, seven days a week in some cases. It's just a logical progression." Brennan needs all the new business she can get. In 2014 first-class mail volume fell 3 percent compared with the previous year, to 64 billion pieces. Advertising mail, which some people refer to as junk mail, remained essentially unchanged. But the USPS's package volume climbed 8 percent from the year before, to 4 billion items, and accounted for 20 percent of the agency's $68 billion operating revenue. Yet as its package volume rises, the USPS has had to invest in new equipment. Last year it spent $200 million to furnish its carriers with 270,000 Internet-connected handheld scanners made by Honeywell that enable them to provide real-time package tracking.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

NETHERLANDS: Post & Parcel: PostNL and the management of Whistl have reached an agreement on the main conditions of a management buy out of Whistl, following PostNL's strategic review of its activities in the UK. In a statement published today (30 July), PostNL said: "This transaction will allow Whistl to develop its current profitable activities and strengthen its position in the UK. As part of the transaction PostNL will retain 17.5% of the shares in Whistl and will continue supporting the business as a shareholder."

CANADA: Financial Post: In the past, "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night" could keep postal workers from their appointed rounds. So goes the famous quote carved on the main post office in New York City. But it is the Internet and the exploding number of alternative electronic communications technologies, not the elements, that will soon force dramatic changes to Canada Post Corporation (CPC). The federal government must face the realities forced on CPC: plummeting use of letter mail fuelled by adoption of electronic communications technologies such as e-billing, e-banking, e-deposit of paycheques and pensions, digital flyers, email, texting, social media.

July 29, 2015 

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Postal Regulatory Commission: PRC Resolves Issues on Remand in Exigent Rate Case

Today the Postal Regulatory Commission issued Order No. 2623 to address issues presented in the exigent rate case that was recently remanded to the Commission by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers v. Postal Regulatory Commission, 2015 WL 3513394 (D.C. Cir. June 5, 2015). Order No. 2623 authorizes the Postal Service to collect an additional $1.191 billion in contribution as an exigent rate adjustment. Together, this additional amount and the $2.766 billion in contribution previously authorized by the Commission in Order No. 1926 produce a total exigent rate adjustment of $3.957 billion in contribution. On appeal, the Court upheld most of Order No. 1926 by leaving undisturbed the Commission's conclusions that the Great Recession of 2007-2009 constituted an extraordinary or exceptional circumstance warranting exigent rate relief; that the Great Recession remained an extraordinary or exceptional circumstance until the Postal Service had an opportunity to adjust to the "new normal" in the mail economy; and, that the relief awarded the Postal Service was "reasonable equitable and necessary." However, the Court vacated that portion of Order No. 1926 that found that mail volume lost due to the exigent circumstance should be counted only once in calculating the contribution loss that the Postal Service was entitled to recover through exigent rates (the "count once" rule). In its order, the Commission addresses five areas raised by participants in the remand proceedings:

  • The Postal Service's "New Normal" Arguments
  • The "Count Once" Rule and Alternative Approaches
  • The Unit Contribution Calculation
  • Application of the Reasonable and Equitable and Necessary Standard
  • Requests by Mailers for Additional Protection from Overcollection

The Commission declines a request by the Postal Service to revisit the "new normal" analysis and to make adjustments to the "new normal" cutoff for each class of Market Dominant mail. The Court deemed the "new normal" rule to be well-reasoned and grounded in the evidence before the Commission in previous proceedings. The Commission accepts the Postal Service's methodology for counting mail volume losses due to the Great Recession and rejects alternative methodologies proposed by other participants. Using the Postal Service's methodology to replace the "count once" rule increases total estimated mail volume losses due to the Great Recession to 35.088 billion pieces from the 25.271 billion pieces originally estimated by Order No. 1926. In Order No. 2623, the Commission also declines to revisit its prior analysis to adopt a proposal by several participants to revise the unit contribution methodology that was used by Order No. 1926 to translate volume losses into financial losses eligible for recovery by means of an exigent rate adjustment. That unit contribution methodology was not disturbed by the Court and the Commission finds no compelling reason to revise its earlier decision. When applied to the increased mail volume losses calculated under the Postal Service's methodology, the unit contribution methodology previously used by Order No. 1926 entitles the Postal Service to collect $1.191 billion of additional contribution through the exigent rate adjustment.

[Editor's Note: This would mean the exigency will be in effect for an additional eight months.]

Office of the USPS Inspector General: The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) is conducting a review of small business access strategies. The objective of this review is to assess Postal Service strategies to facilitate small businesses entering the mail stream, including Periodicals. The OIG established an Audit Asks web site to provide an opportunity for our stakeholders to comment on our projects. Web site visitors can register comments and upload documents related to our project at the link below. We will consider and use this information as appropriate during the course of our work. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact me at 636-345-9722 or Paul Klutz, Auditor-In-Charge, at 703-248-4567.

Attention PostalOne! Users

  • PostalOne!® Release 41.1.4.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! Release 41.1.4.0 will deploy on Thursday evening July 30, 2015 between 5:00PM CT and 8:00PM CT. This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time. There will not be a mandatory Mail.dat® client download required. Please note release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.1.4.0 will be published and can then be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .
  • PostalOne! Release 41.1.4 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur on Thursday evening Jul 30, 2015 as well. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Friday morning July 31, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Federal Register: Postal Service RULES Records and Information , 45065–45067 [2015–18557] [TEXT]

DOMESTIC NEWS

Money: For many of us Internet service is a fact of modern life. While we may not like the monthly bills, like our phones and electricity, we can't imagine living without it. But, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, there is a small minority of Americans—about 15%—who still aren't online. While that's down from roughly half in 2000, the rate has changed little in the past three years, according to Pew. Just who are the holdouts? As you might expect they skew older. About 40% of people 65 and older aren't online, compared to just 3% in their 20s, according to another recent Pew survey. But cost is a big factor too. About 14% of people who earned $30,000 to $50,000 weren't online, and that's three times the rate for those making $75,000 or more. And when Pew asked non-Internet users why they weren't logging on, about a fifth cited costs. While lots of the technology people use to get on the Internet has been getting cheaper, consumers pay an average of $50 a month for broadband, which is $10 more than they did a decade ago, according to Reuters.

Ballard Spahr: A federal court in Pennsylvania has ruled that a debt collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by sending a collection letter in an envelope that allegedly revealed a barcode in which the plaintiff's account number was embedded.

Fierce Government: The Postal Service complied with all federal salary regulations that govern total compensation including annual salaries and bonuses for USPS employees, says a July 22 Postal Service inspector general report. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 revised the cap on total compensation payable to USPS employees, the report (pdf) says. As a result of the revision, USPS cannot pay an employee more than $201,700 for calendar year 2014. The only exception is that some employees may have an annual compensation of up to $233,000 with a bonus or reward program approved by the Postal Service Board of Governors, and employees in critical positions may have an annual compensation of up to $279,600. For the highest paid critical employees, the Board of Governors may allow up to 12 USPS officers or employees to receive pay that is up to 120 percent of the annual salary of the vice president. Currently, USPS officers that are in that top tier of salaries include the Postmaster and Deputy Postmaster General as well as the agency's CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, chief human resources officer, chief marketing and sales officer and the USPS general counsel.

Direct Marketing News: Real Mail Notification (RMN), the Postal Service's Great Byte Hope, the breakthrough that senior Post Office executives anticipate will illustrate what digital-only marketers are missing by leaving mail out of the mix. The service, which sends subscribers emails at 8 a.m. with photos of that day's mailbox contents, will debut in a pilot in New York City this fall in a co-rollout with My USPS, the Postal Service's parcel-tracking service.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNITED KINGDOM: The Independent: Royal Mail could be fined almost £1bn after the postal regulator found that it broke competition law and prevented rivals from expanding.

July 28, 2015

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission

  • PROPOSED RULES Procedures Related to Commission Views , 44921–44922 [2015–18425] [TEXT]
  • NOTICES New Postal Products , 45006 [2015–18426] [TEXT]

Office of the USPS Inspector General: Postal Senior Service? -- "People aren't dying like they used to. Thanks to medical advances and better lifestyle choices, Americans are living a lot longer. In fact, those who are 65 or older account for 14.1 percent of the U.S. population, or about 45 million people — the highest percentage ever, according to the Administration on Aging. By 2020, seniors will account for 16.1 percent. As the number of older Americans increases, so do their needs. Not all of those needs are being met. But the U.S. Postal Service could change that. Budget constraints in recent years have forced many providers of elderly wellness services – anything promoting physical, emotional, or even financial health – to shutter physical locations and move online. But, according to the National Council on Aging, 41 percent of older Americans do not use the Internet at all, meaning more than 18 million seniors might be cut off from programs they need most. With its vast network of post offices and letter carriers, isn't the Postal Service well-positioned to partner with a wide range of wellness service providers who want to reach seniors on the other side of the digital divide? We hosted a forum with wellness professionals and postal employee representatives who essentially explored that question and concluded that, yes, there are numerous opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborations. We provide details of the discussion in our new paper, The Postal Service's Role in Delivering Wellness Services and Supplies . . . .

DOMESTIC NEWS

Joplin Globe: "Our View: Thank Blunt for championing rural mail service"

KDKA: A 21-year-old Pittsburgh native has been arrested for allegedly selling marijuana through the mail. For four months, the Allegheny County Police Narcotics Unit has been investigating a marijuana distribution network based out of San Francisco, California. Police arrested a person for receiving a shipment of the marijuana through the United States Postal Service. They used that person as a confidential informant to help bust the person who was distributing the marijuana.

NPR: A jury convicted a Washington, D.C., woman of delivering marijuana. A dealer paid her to pick up the pot mailed from elsewhere and pass it off to a Maryland man. Her cut was left in a mailbox.

KATU: Oregon State Police say a statewide investigation is underway Monday after "multiple government offices" received mail with an unknown substance. State police say at least 10 different county or state buildings throughout the state received the letter. Hazmat teams responded to the reports, OSP said. Investigators from multiple agencies also responded. The Washington County Sheriff's Office received a letter Monday morning, opened it up, and discarded it without thinking much of the gibberish filling the letter. "It was difficult to comprehend exactly what the message was so at that point we hadn't really divulged that far to really ascertain that," said spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray. The letter was then triple-bagged and given over to federal investigators after the Washington County Sheriff's Office learned of the statewide problem. U.S. Postal Inspector Jeremy Leder said it is "very likely" the letters are related. He said since letters sent within the state can have different dates of delivery, more letters may arrive at their locations Wednesday. He also said there is no reason to believe the general public is at risk.

The Hill: Two Democratic senators want a federal watchdog to examine whether there's a link between access to broadband and poor service from the U.S. Postal Service. Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), both strong supporters of strong rural postal service, said that rural residents had a greater need for efficient mail delivery – in large part because they have less access to broadband.  Democratic senators like McCaskill and Heitkamp have been especially critical of Postal Service policies that have reduced hours at post offices, and elongated delivery times. "The planning and execution of the USPS' restructuring have raised some troubling questions and had a disproportionate impact on the nation's rural communities," McCaskill and Heitkamp said. The Postal Service has lost billions of dollars in recent years, but also seen its finances stabilize – due in large part to the rise in online shopping. McCaskill and Heitkamp, joined by other Senate Democrats, have introduced legislation to protect rural postal delivery.

CNET: eBay's US venture into speedy deliveries has ended up in the scrapyard. The online marketplace said Monday it has killed off eBay Now, which it started three years ago to allow its customers to buy items from local sellers and then get them delivered as soon as the same day. An eBay spokeswoman said in an interview that the company walked away from the delivery services after finding that same-day deliveries made more sense for items that customers would need quickly -- like groceries or diapers -- than for many of eBay's main offerings. eBay still offers in-store pickup at US locations including Best Buy and Toys "R" Us. The company also continues to pilot scheduled delivery in the UK and operate delivery networks in Australia, Germany and the UK that allows customers to collect purchased items in stores.

Business Wire: Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) reacted with astonishment and outrage at the latest schemes being proposed to allow the fiscally imperiled United States Postal Service (USPS), which has lost $46 billion since 2007, to expand into unrelated sectors of the economy. "The USPS should be required to do what every failing entity does: hew to its core business, right-size its operations, and gets its fiscal house in order."

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNITED KINGDOM: BBC: Communications regulator Ofcom has accused Royal Mail of breaching competition law after it proposed raising prices for its bulk mail delivery customers. Bulk mail is collected by other postal firms from businesses and passed to Royal Mail for sorting and delivery. Royal Mail set out the price changes in January 2014, before withdrawing them. Rival firm Whistl, which had planned its own delivery network, claimed the price hikes were anti-competitive. Ofcom said its specific allegations include that "changes to Royal Mail's wholesale prices for bulk mail delivery services contained a differential in pricing which meant that, in practice, higher access prices would be charged to... customers that competed with Royal Mail in delivery than to those access customers that did not". At the time that the price increase was proposed, TNT Post - now Whistl - was proposing to launch a rival bulk letter sorting and delivery service for business customers. Following the price hike, it complained to the regulator about anti-competitive practice on the part of Royal Mail and ultimately gave up on its rival venture.

UNITED KINGDOM: BusinessInsider: Royal Mail shares are diving right now after the UK's competition watchdog accused the postal service of "unlawful discrimination" against rivals. Shares are off 2.18% 10 minutes after trade started on the London Stock Exchange.

NETHERLANDS: Journal of Commerce: TNT Express posted a 6.2 percent increase in second-quarter revenue, driven by a stronger dollar and growing business from small and medium-sized customers. The Dutch logistics group, which agreed to be acquired by its larger rival FedEx during the quarter, grew revenue to 1.76 billion euros ($1.9 billion) from 1.65 billion euros in the same period a year ago. Adjusted for positive currency effects, underlying revenue increased by 4.1 percent. Operating income jumped to 19 million euros from 3 million euros last time. But adjusted income, after restructuring and other charges, was 29 million euros lower, at 41 million euros. The net loss narrowed to 1 million euros from 4 million euros.

July 27, 2015

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Tag Worldwide 676 Wedgewood Drive Woodstock, GA 30189 Contact: Roger Brown Sr. Strategic Sourcing Mgr. - Postal Affairs . Tag is a global brand services company that delivers value by working with clients and their strategic partners to implement marketing communications, creatively and efficiently.

DOMESTIC NEWS

Roll Call: With only 16 scheduled legislative days before government funding runs out, Speaker John A. Boehner finally acknowledged Thursday that the House and Senate were headed toward funding the government through a continuing resolution. A CR, omnibus — or even cromnibus — is not out of the ordinary. Though funding the government through appropriations bills is so-called regular order, the last time Congress actually passed all 12 spending bills on time was 1997. Despite GOP leadership's stated goal of restoring regular order and passing appropriations bills this year, it's long been accepted that a spending deal would be necessary at the end of the fiscal year in September. (The Senate hasn't passed a single appropriations bill this year.)

Kentucky New Era: Here is some good news for rural Americans who are concerned about the reliability of mail delivery following postal cutbacks for several years: Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee ordered a study of on-time mail delivery outside of the country's urban areas. The National Newspaper Association, long an advocate on rural postal service issues because many smaller newspapers are delivered through the mail, applauded the study. "We asked in March that the Postal Regulatory Commission work out a study on rural and small town mail. Now we are gratified that the Senate Appropriations Committee is going to require it," said NNA president John Edgecombe Jr., who publishes The (Geneva) Nebraska Signal.

Tatango: With mobile phones become smarter and smarter each year, you'd think consumers would be using text messaging less and less, as sending a text message is relatively simple, when compared to all that a smartphone is capable of. Not true according to Experian's new report titled Millennials come of age: ConsumerSpeak Series, which ranks text messaging as the #1 activity for smartphone users 35 years and older.

Mobile Marketing Watch: Mobile millennials can't stand being parted from their smartphones, but that love hasn't spread to using their devices for purchases … at least not yet. A June 2015 study by MocoSpace and Social Lens Research shows that almost two-thirds of U.S. millennial mobile phone users said they did not make purchases on their phones. Only 23 percent used the mobile internet to buy — and fewer than a fifth used apps when they did so.

Save the Post Office: "The true cost for restoring service standards and why the Postal Service can afford it."

INTERNATIONAL

GHANA: GhanaWeb: Ghana Post Company Limited intends to enhance its services in Africa and beyond through a project under the African Postal Financial Services Initiative (APFSI). The main objective of the company is to reduce the cost and time involved in sending remittances on the African continent and beyond. According to Samuel Adu-Boafo, Acting Managing Director of Ghana Post, the project would boost the services offered by Ghana Post in rural areas, as well as other countries.

AUSTRALIA: Government News: Australian taxpayers could realise economic benefits of more than $20.5 billion over the next decade if Australia's three tiers of government manage get their act together on digital transformation according to sponsored research by forecaster Deloitte Access Economics. A major part of the mammoth saving stems from a huge cost reduction that can be realised by moving government transactions from face to face and snail mail channels to online execution. Phone transactions and interactions are estimated to cost $6.60 a piece, making them 16.5 times more expensive, while postal transactions chalked-up a cost of $12.90 a piece according to Deloitte – hardly a stamp of fiscal efficiency. [A] . . . challenge for government agencies that are now digitising their services is ensuring that they have a plan in place for if and when online channels misbehave or are knocked out of action. Both the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Services have this year felt the heat of customer anger thanks to hiccups in processing online or phone-based transactions.

GERMANY: Financial Times: DHL's hub at Leipzig, where about 100,000 parcels and documents are processed each hour, highlights the vast scale and reach of the German logistics group – one of four companies that dominate the fast delivery of packages around the world. But the four may soon become three, if regulators approve the €4.4bn takeover of Netherlands-based TNT Express by the US logistics giant FedEx. TNT reports second-quarter results on Monday. The deal poses a formidable challenge to DHL in Europe, where it is market leader, by combining the US company's global reach with TNT's road network in the EU, according to analysts.

July 26, 2015

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Senator Cory Booker: U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has announced the introduction of the Postal Innovation Act, a bill that supports the modernization of United States Postal Service (USPS) vehicles by incorporating more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly technology. "At a time when budgets are tight, it is in our best interest to find creative ways to make prudent investments that improve safety, reduce the carbon footprint of postal vehicles, and save taxpayers money," Sen. Booker said. "The Postal Innovation Act will help the Postal Service identify efficient and innovative technologies to better serve Americans." The USPS employs nearly 22,000 people in New Jersey and 618,000 people across the nation. USPS has long been a provider of critical communications services, yet needs to explore ways to keep pace with the changing needs of consumers. The Postal Innovation Act takes steps forward to address these challenges by having the USPS investigate the economic benefits of non-postal services such as public Internet access. The savings from these programs can spur future innovation, research, and development to ensure the USPS can sustain itself well into the future.

DOMESTIC NEWS

Philly.com: To Benjamin Franklin's successes in science, statecraft, and slyness, add a lesser-known exploit: postal service. Among the many hardships of colonial life, lack of communication perhaps ranked right behind hunger and fear. In the absence of a service operated by the British crown, many fledgling colonies instituted private mail systems. In 1683, the Pennsylvania Assembly decreed "All justices of the peace, sheriffs or constables . . . empowered to press either man or horse" to deliver mail, allowing "two pence per mile to be paid out of the public stock" for any inconvenience. To get messages across the plantation patchwork of the South, the region's hospitality alone could not be relied upon: A "hogshead" of tobacco (a barrel nearly four feet high) was the penalty for failing to participate in colonial mail relays. It may amuse modern observers of state-subsidized mail that the crown finally decided to get involved in intercolonial post to make money. Coffers pinched by war with Spain, it concluded in 1710 that "rates of postage may in many parts . . . be increased and other new rates granted, which . . . may in some measure enable your Majesty to carry on and finish the present war." But the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have double-checked its maths. The crown's North American postal efforts were soon hemorrhaging money.

The Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald: Is the mail on time in rural areas? Small towns and rural areas may soon get more attention from the U.S. Postal Service, following several years of post office and mail sorting facility closings. The Senate Appropriations Committee this week ordered new examination of the on-time arrival of mail outside urban areas. The Postal Service may have finally realized the need for a separate measurement of rural mail. Changes in the service network over many years have disproportionately diminished service to small towns, mostly because they are further away from mail processing plants and their mail has to travel further.

Hawaii News Now: "USPS testing package-sized mailboxes"

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: The Tobago News: Residents from other parts of west Tobago are now coming forward to complain about poor mail delivery. This comes after the Tobago News spoke to householders in Mt. Pleasant about delays in the delivery of their letters and bills. At the time, the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TT Post) acknowledged the difficulties in Mt. Pleasant and stated that the problem had been solved. TT Post will tomorrow (July 27) host the address improvement and postal code launch at the MIC Building in Milford Road, Canaan. The Minister of Public Utilities, Nizam Baksh is expected to address the concerns of residents. According to the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, TT Post has social and other obligations in relation to their services to the people. In section 8 of the Trinidad and Tobago Post Act (Amended) it states that TT Post is responsible for the appropriate development and supply of postal services to satisfy all reasonable demands, current and anticipated, of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The Act further states that TT Post shall ensure its counter, collection and delivery services are reasonably accessible to all persons in Trinidad and Tobago and ensure that the performance standard of its services, including the letter delivery service, reasonably meets the social, industrial and commercial needs of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Postal services fall under the responsibility of the Tobago House of Assembly.

CANADA: Winnepeg Free Press: First, Canada Post cut door-to-door delivery in order to reduce costs, now a business expert suggests it scrap five-day-a-week delivery. In a report published by the MacDonald Laurier Institute Thursday, Prof. Ian Lee of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa said the Crown corporation must make deep cuts. Lee, in his 32-page report, said in order to survive, Canada Post has to go far beyond full community-box delivery. Lee said residential customers should have mail delivered to them only three days a week. He said delivering to each house accounts for 39 per cent of Canada Post's costs. In the next few years, Lee said, Canada Post should raise prices, get rid of its postal monopoly and convert corporate-owned postal outlets into franchises. Business mail would continue to be delivered five days a week. "The status quo will kill the post office," he said.

UNITED KINGDOM: Tamebay: The front page of the Daily Telegraph . . . [carried] a story about HMRC's impending crackdown on eBay sellers in addition to smartphone app stores run by Apple and Google, holiday lettings sites and a raft of other online retail sites. According to the article HMRC will be given new powers grab details of millions of online transaction en masse to target those who don't declare their income from online selling. The aim is to target businesses, although from previous HMRC fishing expeditions they've shown a remarkable ability to target businesses displaying their details online but a complete inability to compare the business credentials against company or personal tax returns. What HMRC haven't demonstrated is an ability to target those masquerading as private sellers who actually are operating as a business and that's where the biggest returns are likely to be.

July 25, 2015

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Department of State: On August 6, the Department of State's Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services will meet to consider issues related to terminal dues, customs treatment of mail, and recent developments in the Universal Postal Union. The meeting will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT, at the American Institute of Architects Board Room, 1735 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006. The public may attend this meeting as seating capacity allows.

DOMESTIC NEWS

Pittsburgh Tribune: A prominent Democratic fundraiser who chaired the finance committee for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign is listed with his law firm and other vendors on subpoenas federal agents served this month at city halls in Reading and Allentown, documents show. Alan C. Kessler, a partner with Philadelphia-based Duane Morris law firm, is listed on subpoenas for both cities, as are many of the individuals and contractors. Kessler did not return calls or emails. Duane Morris declined comment through spokesman Mark Messing. It's not clear what the FBI is investigating. The agency has not commented on the raids that took place July 2 and July 10.

Morris SunTribune: Small towns and rural areas may soon get more attention from the U.S. Postal Service, following several years of post office and mail sorting facility closings. The Senate Appropriations Committee this week ordered new examination of the on-time arrival of mail outside urban areas. National Newspaper Association President John Edgecombe Jr., publisher of The Nebraska Signal in Geneva, NE, said the new requirement resulted from NNA's work to improve rural mail service. He expressed NNA's thanks to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, for being the champion of a new rural mail service measurement.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

AUSTRALIA: Post & Parcel: Paul Fanthorpe, Australia Post's general manager of customer research and insights, told delegates at a Sydney e-commerce expo yesterday (23 July) that value for money (VFM) was the number one driver for Australia's online shoppers, followed by ease of use and convenience.

July 24, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

USPS Office of Inspector General:

  • Retail Systems Software-Business Process Controls: The U.S. Postal Service is currently replacing its existing retail point of service software with Retail Systems Software (RSS). As of May 2015, the Postal Service has deployed RSS to about 3,400 of the 17,781 retail units. The Postal Service plans a complete nationwide deployment by May 2016. Our objective was to determine whether the controls surrounding point of sale business transactions were in place and effective, and if control issues identified during RSS implementation were adequately remediated.
     
  • Highway Contract Routes - Extra Trips in the Greater South Carolina District: The U.S. Postal Service uses highway contract routes (HCR) to transport mail between its facilities and other designated points. An extra trip is one made in addition to those outlined in the contract; it results in added costs. Extra trips can be the result of late mail processing or early mail collection runs. Management should approve extra trips only when needed to prevent serious delays of preferential mail or when there is excessive mail volume. Our objective was to assess HCR extra trips in the Greater South Carolina District, which was consistently one of the top 10 most at risk districts for extra trips in our Transportation Risk Model.
  • Office Compensation for Calendar Year 2014: Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service complied with applicable provisions of the Postal Act of 2006, Postal Service policies and guidelines, and IRS regulations for calendar year 2014 officer compensation.
     
  • Management Alert - Management of Unauthorized Software: This management alert presents the results of our review of the U.S. Postal Service's Management of Unauthorized Software (Project Number 14WG015IT001).

Attention PostalOne! Users: From approximately 10:00 am until 12:45PM  Postalone! along with several other application was unavailable due to network issues. The application is now back online and available. We are still researching the root cause of the issue at this point. Please contact the PostalOne! Help Desk with any questions or concerns.

DOMESTIC NEWS

Postalnews.com: Postal Inspectors and Postal Police Officers recently recovered almost $75,000 worth of missing mailing equipment in a single day, part of an ambitious crackdown on the theft of USPS property. Lost Mail Transport Equipment (MTE) — including pallets, letter trays and tubs — cost the Postal Service $120 million in 2013. Postal Inspectors investigate and seek prosecution when individuals steal, sell or knowingly misuse MTE.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

CANADA: The Star: The New Democrats would force Canada Post to bring back door-to-door delivery of the mail through legislation if there was no other way to reverse the recent service cuts, says Thomas Mulcair. "Canadian taxpayers are the only shareholders of Canada Post. We would act in accordance with the law and we would make sure that the decision we have taken and what we have promised to taxpayers we would do, would be carried through," Mulcair said in an interview with the Star during his eight-day campaign-style swing through Ontario. Mulcair confirmed he was talking about forcing the reversal by changing the law, if necessary and possible, should the NDP form government after the Oct. 19 federal election.

FRANCE - SWITZERLAND: Postal Technology International: Asendia, a joint venture between La Poste and Swiss Post, has set up a new microsite that provides cross-border e-commerce support materials to retailers who want to sell their products in other countries. The material is available in various languages and enables retailers to assess how prepared their business is ahead of entering a new market.

NEW ZEALAND: Scoop: "While finance minister Bill English says the Government does not intend to sell New Zealand Post, they are doing a very good job at trying to sabotage the state owned postal service", says Postal Workers Union spokesperson John Maynard. "Posties may be the only employees in New Zealand compelled to assist private companies to actively undermine the viability of their own employer. The National Government's Postal Services Act 1998 requires posties to deliver the mail of private sector mail companies which do not have their own delivery network. "The Government has also been consistently pressuring New Zealand Post to reduce its costs. The company's response has included privatising Post Shops and reducing delivery services. "To the marketing advantage of its private sector competitors New Zealand Post has also loudly proclaimed its delivery service reductions while at the same time quietly removing many hundreds of kerb side post boxes against strongly expressed objections from within local communities. Also see Post&Parcel.

July 23, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

U.S. Senate: The Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved a proposal offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) to do the following:

"The Committee directs the Postal Regulatory Commission and Postal Service to work together to expand the methodology to report mail delivery performance to specifically include mail delivery from rural towns to other rural towns; from rural towns to urban areas; and from urban areas to rural towns. The Committee requests this methodology within 60 days of enactment of the Act, with a subsequent report on the data gathered using this methodology to be provided to the Committee no later than March 1, 2016." 

USPS Office of the Inspector General: The Postal Service'S Role In Delivering Wellness Services And Supplies -- "The U.S. Postal Service has had a meaningful role in the lives of older Americans for hundreds of years. Through its vast network of letter carriers and post offices, it reliably delivers critical information, medicine, and supplies nationwide. Wellness organizations are also important to the health and independence of this generation as they provide programs to promote financial, physical, and mental health . . . . Building on its core competencies, the Postal Service could coordinate and collaborate with wellness organizations to offer new and far-reaching services to older Americans nationwide. To explore this possibility, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) hosted a discussion forum with representatives from wellness and postal organizations. This paper summarizes the discussion from the event and identifies related opportunities. Participants came to a consensus that collaborations could help wellness organizations cost-effectively meet their objectives and provide financial benefits for the Postal Service. For example, a postal partnership could maximize a wellness organization's return on investment by allowing it to reach more individuals by leveraging letter carriers or renting post office space, while avoiding the cost of maintaining and staffing parallel brick-andmortar facility networks. Partnerships could allow wellness organizations to reach more Americans while using fewer resources. When funders — either governmental or private entities — see how much more efficiently and effectively these wellness programs are providing services, they are more likely to further invest in the programs, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved . . . ."

Federal RegisterPostal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 43803 [2015–18019] [TEXT]

NATIONAL NEWS

eCommerceBytes: "USPS: Grocery Delivery Service Won't Impact Small Biz"

Journal of Commerce: The massive freighter order FedEx filed with Boeing this week will do more than replace aging planes. The addition of as many as 100 Boeing 767-300 freighters over the next few years will mark a major shift in how FedEx Express manages capacity and yield in its global network. The 767 will become the workhorse of FedEx's global fleet, replacing older models, some of which offered more cargo capacity but less fuel economy. The new planes are more fuel efficient, and require two-man, rather than three-man crews. And those new planes, with less cubic capacity and lower maximum payloads than the some of the planes they will replace, may be easier to fill in an era of lower air freight demand.

SFGate: A U.S. supervisory postal inspector once named a federal employee of the year pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing mail containing prescription pills, jewelry, passports, collectible Playboy magazines and other items in San Jose.

WBAY: An Oshkosh postal worker is facing federal charges after prosecutors say he stole mail. According to a criminal complaint, 48-year-old Tyler Patrie took mail from the Oshkosh processing and distribution center where he works as a clerk. The complaint says Patrie was seen by co-workers stashing mail in his pants and then his locker before taking it home with him. The complaint says some of the items he stole include e cigarettes, a purse, cash and an iPhone charger.

Wall Street Journal: United Parcel Service Inc. is in talks to buy Coyote Logistics LLC, a provider of transportation and shipping services, according to people familiar with the matter. UPS could pay $1.8 billion or more for the company, according to one of the people familiar with the talks. It isn't certain the talks will result in a deal, the people said. The addition would give UPS a leg up into the fast-growing freight brokerage business when shippers are switching to slower and cheaper delivery methods and e-commerce profits haven't been as robust as expected. U.S. domestic freight brokers, or third-party logistics companies, grew 20% overall last year, and the business is expected to reach nearly $200 billion in overall sales by 2018, according to research firm Armstrong & Associates. Coyote is "one of the fastest-growing [third-party logistics providers] in the country," said Evan Armstrong, president of the research firm.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNITED KINGDOM: Wall Street Journal: Royal Mail PLC announced Wednesday that it was acquiring shares in the company that makes Mallzee, a shopping app whose rating system allows shoppers to give their opinion on fashion products by swiping pictures of the clothes to the left or right on a smartphone, much as Tinder users can browse profiles and reject them or accept to chat with them with a finger swipe. Royal Mail says mobile-shopping apps now generate a‎ growing share of parcel sending. Mallzee will get access to Royal Mail's address book of retailers that use its delivery services.

July 22, 2015

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Attention BIDS MicroStrategy Report Users  -- BIDS MicroStrategy Release 41.1.4.0 will deploy to Production on Thursday, July 30, 2015. This will be a phased deployment, with the first phase planned for 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM CT, and the second phase scheduled for 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM CT. This release will address certain defects in MicroStrategy reports. While no outage is anticipated, users logged into the application during either of the above maintenance windows may need to login again as the system refreshes with the update. The release notes for BIDS MicroStrategy Release 41.1.4.0 will be published at the following page: https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releases/may2015/releasenotes.cfm.

Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission PROPOSED RULES Periodic Reporting , 43370–43371 [2015–17939] [TEXT] NOTICES New Postal Products , 43480 [2015–17940] [TEXT]

USPS Office of the Inspector General: The recent OIG presentation on "Understanding The Value Of Mail Through Neuroscience" has been posted on this site.

Postal Regulatory Commission: Docket No. RM2015-14 -- This rulemaking addresses the Commission's process for developing views to the Secretary of State on certain international mail matters pursuant to 39 U.S.C. 407(c)(1). The Commission develops its views mainly in the context of the United States' membership in the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the Secretary of State's lead role in international mail matters, and UPU procedures for regulating international mail. For purposes of developing its views, the Commission focuses on those proposals that could affect a market dominant rate or classification.

Attention Business Customer Gateway Users: Understand Your Quarter III Service Performance Measurement Metrics Full-Service Customers Webinar July 31, 2015, 12:30p.m. EDT Mark your calendar and join us to review the Quarter III Service Performance Measurement (SPM) results with our Full-Service customers. Subject matter experts will be on hand for an open discussion to help you understand the logic behind SPM. Topics include: * Why mail is excluded in measurement by month throughout the quarter * Positive trending * How we can work together to get as much mail as possible into measurement * Upcoming new initiatives Hosts: John Nabor, Program Manager, Business Mailer Support Arslan Saleem, Program Manager, Service Performance Measurement  Attendee Information: Meeting Number: 741 286 899 U.S. Attendee Dial-in: (855) 860-7461 toll-free (678) 317-2063 direct. Attendee Direct URL: https://uspsmeetings.webex.com/uspsmeetings/j.php?MTID=m014e53d668c75941fb1569ee8b2a3a6f Conference Code: 428 758 7236

Flathead Beacon: U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has introduced legislation in hopes of preserving and improving mail service in rural America. The bill, called the Rural Postal Act, comes just two months after the U.S. Postal Service reported a net loss of $1.5 billion during the first three months of 2015. The service also handled 420 million fewer piece of mail during that time period than the previous year. The independent agency, which receives no tax dollars but is subjected to congressional control, has been struggling to stay afloat for years and has made service cuts in rural areas, including Montana. The Postal Service says the cuts are necessary, but Tester says they are punishing rural communities. The bill, which is sponsored by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan), would put a two-year moratorium on closing processing plant and protect rural post offices.

DOMESTIC NEWS

Postalnews.com: The US Postal Service released the following statement responding to charges that it is in then process of privatizing the service by shifting retail services away from post offices to contractors: "The Postal Service remains committed to providing convenient customer access to postal products and services. Claims of privatization are false and misleading. We have no interest in privatizing the Postal Service. We are looking to grow our business, to provide expanded access to products and services through retail partners, as well as in our own locations. By locating postal services inside established businesses, we are helping customers save time, and in many cases, have the benefit of longer hours seven days a week than at regular Post Offices."

Bethesda Beat:U.S. Postal Service inspectors say the company accused of sending out fraudulent letters promising property tax reductions has agreed to stop doing so and repay those who fell for the scam.

KFSN: There's growing concern nationwide that mail delivery may no longer be safe. Mail delivery shouldn't be stressful. But for one Fresno woman, it is. Susan Newman said, "A little black car pulled up got out of the passenger side walked up took the package and went away." These two, Sesar Garcia and Vanessa Tucker of Los Banos are accused of doing just that. But in Los Banos, police recovered mail belonging to at least seven different victims in early July. The United States Postal Service says mail thieves use that same method all over California. "Now it's all sent to my husband's office," said Newman. "We won't leave it anymore and it's an inconvenience for us." A community mailbox at a north Fresno apartment complex was opened with a crow bar and packages were stolen this week. It's an increasing concern people are reporting to the United States Postal Service, not just in Fresno, but all over the country. U.S. Postal Inspector, Jeff Fitch, said, "If it's happening to you it's probably happening to your neighbor and during these investigations we will recover mail."

The Street: You may hate junk mail, but research says it works anyways. People may pass by billboards with their heads pointed elsewhere, click through video ads with mild annoyance and hit the mute button during TV commercials. But they still enjoy reading business-fueled snail mail. Direct mail evokes more emotion and remains one of the best ways to target local and specific audiences, which is why the piles of paper known as junk mail remain so popular with companies large and small. "[Direct mail is] not as sexy and exciting as some of the tech innovations on the Internet," said Gary Mulloy, CEO of Money Mailer, a direct mailing company. "But people pick up their mail to get advertising, they like getting it that way." Junk mail tends to provoke more emotional responses than digital marketing. According to a joint study between the United States Postal Service and Temple University's Center for Neural Decision Making published June 15, respondents were more likely to remember a mailed print ad better than a digital one and place a higher value on the product being advertised.

Fedscoop: The Postal Service attempted Monday to repudiate accusations that its cybersecurity practices are not up to par. The statement came in response to a report released Friday by the agency's Office of the Inspector General that painted an unflattering picture of USPS' precautionary measures prior to the November 2014 cyber intrusion that exposed the personal information of 800,000 current and former employees. Among its findings was that Postal Service leadership "had not emphasized cybersecurity, as evidenced by its undertrained employees, lack of accountability for risk acceptance decisions, ineffective collaboration among cybersecurity teams, and continued operation of unsupported systems." Monday's USPS response, posted on the agency's website, described the findings as out-of-date.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

MACEDONIA: Balkan Insight: Macedonia's Transport Ministry has issued a call to choose a consultancy firm tasked with coming up with the best privatization model for the national postal service, Makedonska Posta AD.

UNITED KINGDOM: Postal Technology International: Spring Global Mail has launched a new postal service for sending lithium batteries to European destinations from the UK. The service offers a postal channel for manufacturers and retailers to deliver lithium batteries cost effectively through either standard or registered post. The service applies to lithium batteries packaged with equipment or on their own, with a maximum weight of 2kg. Lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods and have to travel through road line-haul not airmail.

GERMANY: Tamebay: A lot of retailers are struggling with their sales to Germany due to the Deutsche Post strikes. eBay have acknowledged the issue and agreed to waive any defects due to possible postal delays, but we're now hearing from Amazon sellers with similar issues. Amazon is a little bit different to eBay, but A-Z claims will be just as punitive to your selling ability and are to be avoided at all costs. However Amazon has one killer advantage over eBay which is FBA. Amazon's Katie McQuaid, UK Director, FBA assured Tamebay that "FBA will continue to deliver its one day promise regardless of potential strikes and service disruptions in individual service providers"

ARMENIA: HETQ: On 21 of July, 2015 HayPost, the national postal operator of the Republic of Armenia, opened its first international office in Glendale, California, USA. Among the guests who attended the official launch ceremony were the Minister of Transport & Communication of the Republic of Armenia Gagik Beglaryan, the Mayor of Glendale Ara Najarian, the directors & officers of HayPost and Corporacion America (the company which manages HayPost) and community representatives. The residents of California are now able to send parcels to their friends and relatives easier and faster, using the direct delivery service from HayPost USA to HayPost in Armenia. "ShopInAmerica", a brand new concept introduced by HayPost, will grant residents of Armenia an open access to shop and acquire goods from the USA via the office in Glendale and receive their purchases directly in their cities or villages, even in the most remote rural areas.

PHILIPPINES: GMA News: PHLPost said it now accepts premium contributions from PhilHealth members via more than 1,000 PHLPost outlets nationwide.

ITALY: Wall Street Journal: Matteo Renzi will try again this year to sell a 40% stake in Poste Italiane, the government-owned bank that also delivers mail. Wish the Prime Minister and Italy luck because they're going to need it. The listing on the Milan stock exchange is expected to raise €4 billion. Rome says it will use the proceeds to pay down some of Italy's government debt, although the expected income pales in comparison to the €2.2 trillion Rome owes. That's progress, but a partial sale won't fix the biggest harm Poste Italiane inflicts on Italy: the distortion of the financial system. Liberalization of the postal-delivery market has eroded the profitability of the postal business, so financial services make up the difference. Insurance products accounted for €18.8 billion out of Poste Italiane's total annual revenue of €28.5 billion last year. Revenue from the BancoPosta unit is expected to increase to €6 billion by 2017, according to Fitch Ratings, up 10% from the 2012-14 average, thanks in part to the fees it charges for payments made using its network of post offices. Such growth is possible because Poste Italiane's financial arms compete on an uneven playing field with private banks and insurers.

July 21, 2015

POSTAL-FEDERAL NEWS

Attention BIDS MicroStrategy Report Users BIDS MicroStrategy Release 41.2.0.0 will deploy to Production on Sunday, August 2, 2015 between 4:00AM CT and 9:00AM CT. This release includes updates and fixes to known issues in MicroStrategy reports. While no outage is anticipated, users logged into the application during the maintenance window may need to login again as the system refreshes with the update. The release notes for BIDS MicroStrategy Release 41.2.0.0 will be published at the following page: https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releases/may2015/releasenotes.cfm.

USPS Office of the Inspector General:

  • How Can Effective Project Management Improve Major Business Strategies? To develop and use technology and generate actionable data to increase business value, the Postal Service established the Delivering Results, Innovation, Value and Efficiency (DRIVE) Initiative 51 - Leverage Technology and Data to Drive Business Value. Administered by the Postal Service's Strategic Planning department, the DRIVE process is designed improve the development and execution of major business strategies. The objective of the audit is to determine whether the DRIVE 51 initiative used established DRIVE project management processes such as setting aggressive goals, measuring and reviewing performance, and conducting proper oversight. (1) What can the Postal Service do to ensure the success of this DRIVE initiative process? (2) How can this initiative be managed to effectively leverage technology, develop technical systems, and provide actionable data to drive business value?
  • U.S. Postal Service Cybersecurity Functions.

Background. Cybersecurity is the body of processes, practices, and technology designed to protect networks, computers, programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. In November 2014, the U.S. Postal Service announced a significant cyber intrusion had occurred that compromised large amounts of data. This report addresses cybersecurity functions of the Postal Service at the time the intrusion was identified. Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service's structure, operations, and resourcing of cybersecurity functions aligned with industry best practices to support the enterprise. We examined Corporate Information Security Office processes and other Postal Service cybersecurity functions.

What The OIG Found. Management has taken significant positive action since the cyber intrusion based on input from business and industry experts. Enhancing the cybersecurity of the organization will be a long and challenging effort. Specifically, the Postal Service has additional work to do to align its structure, operations, and resourcing of cybersecurity functions with industry best practices. At the time the intrusion was identified, Postal Service leadership had not emphasized cybersecurity, as evidenced by its undertrained employees, lack of accountability for risk acceptance decisions, ineffective collaboration among cybersecurity teams, and continued operation of unsupported systems. Because leadership had not established an effective cybersecurity culture to support business operations and drive employee behaviors, employees were not prepared to recognize and appropriately respond to cybersecurity risks. Additionally, staffing and support for cybersecurity functions provided for basic operations and compliance with legal and industry requirements. However, it did not provide for effective operations, including skilled, 24-hour-a-day incident response and analysis, effective vulnerability management, or rolebased training. This is because sufficient personnel resources were not devoted to cybersecurity functions. Without adequate resources, the Postal Service did not have the cybersecurity capabilities to prevent, detect, or respond to advanced threats. Finally, the Postal Service lacked a comprehensive risk-based cybersecurity strategy. Consequently, it was not prepared for the rapidly changing threat landscape nor could it effectively manage the corresponding risks. The Postal Service has already begun taking action to address the strengthening of cybersecurity functions. These include an extensive joint forensic investigation with subject matter experts and initiated implementation of enhanced monitoring capabilities and procurement of 24-hour security operations center services. Existing plans for improvements in access management, intrusion detection, and authentication processes have been accelerated. In addition, the postmaster general appointed a vice president-level chief information security officer.

What The OIG Recommended. We recommended management develop, execute, and communicate a strategy to embed a strong cybersecurity culture into daily operations and adequately staff and resource cybersecurity operations. We also recommended management implement a plan for the organization to exercise the appropriate governance and incident response.

Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
RULES
Automatic Docket Closure Procedures ,
43017–43019 [2015–17825] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
43136 [2015–17826] [TEXT]  [PDF]
43135 [2015–17783] [TEXT]  [PDF]
43136 [2015–17784] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Rate Adjustment Products ,
43134–43135 [2015–17782] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service: A letter has been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee concerning an appropriations amendment by Rep. Chaka Fattah and would require the USPS to revert service standards for First Class Mail and Periodical Mail that were effective on July 1, 2012. That same amendment is being sought in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21) has announced that it opposes this amendment, and urges that it not be included in the Senate Appropriations legislation.

USPS Industry Alert: Mark your calendar and join us to review the Quarter III Service Performance Measurement (SPM) results with our Full-Service customers. Subject matter experts will be on hand for an open discussion to help you understand the logic behind SPM. Topics include: * Why mail is excluded in measurement by month throughout the quarter * Positive trending * How we can work together to get as much mail as possible into measurement * Upcoming new initiatives.  Hosts: John Nabor, Program Manager, Business Mailer Support Arslan Saleem, Program Manager, Service Performance Measurement  Attendee Information: Meeting Number: 741 286 899 U.S. Attendee Dial-in: (855) 860-7461 toll-free (678) 317-2063 direct Attendee Direct URL: https://uspsmeetings.webex.com/uspsmeetings/j.php?MTID=m014e53d668c75941fb1569ee8b2a3a6f Conference Code: 428 758 7236

DOMESTIC NEWS

Fast Company: Alex Sanz probably gets more mail than anyone you know. He's the founder and CEO of Virtual Post Mail, a company that has helped, since 2009, thousands of customers turn their daily delivery of physical, postal mail into electronic, digital data. Virtual Post Mail customers pay to receive their mail at its California location, where workers scan a picture of the outside of each envelope or package to upload to the company's servers. Then, customers can decide with the click of a mouse whether to have Virtual Post Mail open and scan the contents of a particular parcel, forward it to another address, or simply shred it. Users range from frequent travelers who want to read their mail while they're on the road to expats looking to keep a U.S. address to startups eager to outsource the business of handling and archiving their incoming correspondence, Sanz says.

The Drinks Business: The USPS Shipping Equity Act has been introduced to the House of Representatives by Californian Democrat Jackie Speier. The proposal seeks to overturn a 1909 law that prohibits beer, wine or spirits being sent through the national postal service. It is hoped that the move will free up licensed brewers, distillers and winemakers to promote their business through posting samples to potential retailers or even full bottles directly to consumers. Backers of the bill also claim it could help increase business for a postal service suffering from falling demand, and provide fairer competition between USPS and private delivery companies like Fed Ex.

Save the Post Office: Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provided an estimate for how much it would cost the Postal Service to return to the service standards that were in effect on July 1, 2012. Going back to these standards for delivery times is one of the provisions in a proposed amendment attached to the FY 2016 appropriations bill drafted by the House Appropriations Committee. Senator Tom Carper asked the CBO to prepare an estimate for how much it would cost to comply with the amendment. According to the CBO's letter to Senator Carper, "Based on preliminary information from the Postal Service, we expect that it would cost well over $1 billion in 2016 for USPS to attempt to fully comply with the amendment." The CBO says that going back to the earlier standards would probably not even be possible because the Postal Service doesn't have that kind of money. The most it could spend to improve delivery times next year is about $300 million. According to the CBO, in order to return to the earlier service standards, the Postal Service would need to add work hours, reopen facilities that have been closed or sold, and replace equipment it no longer owns. The CBO offers to provide Senator Carper with further details on the $1 billion price tag, but the letter itself does not explain how the number was arrived at. If you look at what's happened over the past few months, the $1 billion doesn't seem credible, and one wonders if the CBO has misunderstood what the amendment is all about.

Linns: The Inspector General of the United States Postal Service has sharply criticized the agency's handling of the 100 panes of upright Jenny Invert stamps that were supposed to be randomly distributed along with the 2.2 million normal $2 Jenny Invert panes in 2013. The report, issued July 15, said the creation of the 100 rarities violated a postal ban on the intentional creation of stamp rarities. The Postal Service "strongly and inappropriately influenced the secondary [stamp] market by creating the rarity," the report said. Only 20 of the 100 upright panes have been registered as sold, the new report said.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Staples Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. have teamed up to make shipping easier, particularly for distributed sales professionals and technicians. Shoppers at Staples stores can now charge their shipping costs to their UPS account, which means they don't have to prepare labels ahead of time and will see the invoice, and any customized rates, on their regular UPS invoice. This means customers don't have to prepare labels ahead of time and will see the invoice, and any customized rates, on their regular UPS invoice. And they get the convenience of being able to buy office supplies for their business when they ship packages.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNITED KINGDOM: Financial Times: Declining revenue from letters is continuing to hold back progress at Royal Mail, the 500 year old postal operator that is promising to step up the "pace of change" and modernise in the face of growing competition. The group has reported flat revenue for its first quarter - the three months to June 28, writes Nathalie Thomas. At its core UK letters and parcels business (UKPIL), underlying revenue fell 2 per cent, year-on-year, dragged down by a 4 per cent decline in letters revenue. Parcels revenue, however, grew 2 per cent. Letter volumes fell 5 per cent during the quarter, despite the service benefiting from political parties sending out pamphlets prior to the general election in May. Parcels volumes were up 3 per cent.

UNITED KINGDOM: Irish Independent: Britain's postal firm Royal Mail posted flat revenue in its first quarter and said it would continue to focus on cost controls this year as letter volumes fall and competition holds back growth in the parcels market.

AUSTRALIA: MIS Asia: eCommerce software developer, ShipIT, has partnered with Australia Post to offer order and shipping management for online purchases. ShipIT said the partnership enables an integrated order and shipping management system to reduce administrative work for companies. ShipIT chief executive, George Plummer, said the solution offers customers a single platform to access orders and delivery status from multiple platforms. "Shipping has traditionally been a manual process. This means that merchants have to cut and paste order data, handwrite courier labels and manually create customs forms and documents," he said. Online shopping by Australians has increased nearly 10 percent in one year according to National Australia Bank's latest online retail sales index.

July 20, 2015

DOMESTIC NEWS

National Association of Advertising Distributors: The NAAD Board of Directors has selected PostCom President Gene Del Polito to receive the NAAD Merlyn W. Webb Award, the highest award presented by the association in recognition of his work in behalf the direct mail industry.

Time: Hillary Clinton had good reason to celebrate Saturday. The American Federation of Teachers, a 1.6-million strong union of teachers, nurses and higher education faculty endorsed her, adding a key working-class voice to a campaign that has so far lacked much overt support from organized labor. But almost immediately, there was a backlash among teachers in far-flung locals across the states. The AFT's Facebook page lit up with angry comments from those who favored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders instead. For Clinton, the trouble seems to lie in a rift between organized labor's heart and its head. Activists in a wide array of unions including the American Federation of Teachers, Communication Workers of America, the American Postal Workers Union and the AFL-CIO locals say they are eager to support Sanders.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Trindad Express: THE Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPOST) has issued a pre-action protocol letter to its former managing director in a bid to recover over $250,000 following the purchase of motorcycles which were never used by the company. Fifty motorcycles were bought for the corporation's delivery officers at a cost of $555,105 in 2013. The motorcycles were sold between June and July 2015 for $304,553 causing loss and damages of $250,552 to the company. The former managing director is accused of causing the loss through his alleged failure to exercise due care, diligence and skill.

NETHERLANDS: Post & Parcel: PostNL has reported that all its independent delivery drivers are back at work today. As previously reported, some independent drivers went on strike last week because they were not satisfied with their contractual relationship with PostNL. On 13 July PostNL, responding to concerns voiced by the Dutch postal workers' union FNV, invited all its independent parcel deliverers to become company employees. Alternatively, if they choose to remain as "entrepreneurs", the company said that their "remuneration will be increased by about 10%".

UNITED KINGDOM: Sky News: The fractious relationship between Royal Mail and its regulator risks deteriorating further following a secret protest about Ofcom's oversight of a rival's complaint. Sky News has learnt that Royal Mail has objected to a procedural issue relating to Ofcom's long-running investigation of a complaint by Whistl, which alleged that the privatised postal operator was planning predatory and anti-competitive pricing changes. Royal Mail's objection is being examined by an Ofcom employee who is expected to adjudicate in the coming weeks, according to people close to the situation.

MONGOLIA: AKIpress: PTotal revenues from postal and communication services made 354.2 billion togrog ($178.6 million) in Mongolia in the first half of the year, reports the National Statistics Agency. The rate thus increased by 2.8% in comparison with the previous year, while revenues from the population made 76.4% in total. postal services delivered 402.1 thousand letters and documents, 72.7 thousand parcels and 4.17 million print publications to the population.

NEW ZEALAND: Parcel2Go: Switzerland and New Zealand have announced that they are conducting trials for drone deilvery, although it is not expected to be ready for commercial use for another five years. In June, New Zealand-based delivery company Fastway Couriers successfully trialled a drone parcel delivery service by shipping car parts from Penrose to Mount Wellington. The journey would take a land-based courier 20 minutes but the drone completed the delivery in just five minutes. Fastway Couriers teamed up with unmanned aerial vehicle company Flirtey, based in Sydney Australia, whose drones do not require a person to control it with GPS, have a range of 15 kilometres and can carry packages weighing up to 2.5kg. One of the biggest barriers for Amazon has been the regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, companies testing courier drones in New Zealand will face fewer obstacles because of the country's relaxed legislation and less crowded skies.

CANADA: The Chronicle Journal: Canada Post is slowly ending door-to-door mail delivery in Canadian cities, including Thunder Bay and Dryden next year. This is not going down well with the postal workers union and, again, with seniors. This is largely aversion to change, and opposition by the mail carriers. But if Canada Post can accommodate these employees in other postal work, change can be as good as a rest. Canada Post has said that it will accommodate Canadians who will find it impossible to get their mail at a community box. That is a relatively small segment of the population. The rest can certainly get to the neighbourhood box and probably use the exercise. We are Canadians. The prospect of a short walk in winter should not deter able seniors from getting their mail — which needn't be retrieved every day. Helpful neighbours and family members can be recruited in exceptional circumstances.

July 19, 2015

DOMESTIC NEWS

The Atlantic: "Can Design Help the USPS Make Stamps Popular Again?"

Detroit Free Press: Many companies outsource work to India — but a major Indian company is outsourcing key automotive engineering work to Detroit even though it does not sell vehicles in the U.S. In an interesting twist, when Mahindra & Mahindra wanted to expand its global vehicle development capabilities, it recognized there was insufficient talent in India. Executives looked at creating a technical center in Germany, Italy; England, and California, among others, before deciding Detroit was the true epicenter for automotive development and testing, said Richard Haas, CEO of the Mahindra North American Technical Center, now located in Troy. And Mahindra is in the running for a $5 billion contract with the U.S. postal service to supply 180,000 vehicles a year for five years.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

CANADA: Kamloops This Week: Canada Post plans to honour its commitment to not lay off any of its workers as it shifts from home delivery to community mailboxes, a spokesperson said. Anick Losier said the Crown corporation is confident attrition will work in most communities, noting if it doesn't, work will be transferred in for those who remain.

ITALY: Financial Times: Italy's government will fire the starting gun on the flotation of its 153-year-old national post office in the first week of August, kicking off a widely anticipated €12bn privatisation programme. The plan to raise about €4bn from listing a 40 per cent stake in Poste Italiane on the Milan stock exchange in late October is the main plank of Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi's stalled drive to sell off state assets.

July 18, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission RULES Update to Product Lists, 42723–42726 [2015–17685] [TEXT]  NOTICES New Postal Products, 42847 [2015–17686] [TEXT

Industry Alert: USPS Shipping Products and Services Webinar Series. July 21, 2015, 11a.m. EDT – Hold For Pickup. Join us as the Postal Service continues to host its series of informational webinars on a variety of products and services. The webinars will focus on service enhancements, features, benefits, how to get started, and onboarding information to acquire the knowledge and skills to effectively use the service. Hold For Pickup service, ship a package to the Post Office of the customer's choosing, where it can be retrieved at their convenience for up to 15 days. Hold For Pickup service provides customers with the convenience of picking up packages on their schedule, and the confidence that their packages are held in a safe environment. Speaker:  Patricia Harris, Product Development Specialist, Sr. Participant information is provided below: Attendee Information: US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (866) 381-9870 Conference ID: 17345172  Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=eb56de0905faa617c6c3f78be2b61595b

DOMESTIC NEWS

The Gazette: Today's communication landscape is clearly different, marked most clearly by a seemingly ubiquitous Internet. Yet most still use the mail to send birthday cards, pay the mortgage and bills, and even acquire a passport. Moreover, rural America still lags behind more urban areas in Internet use, making the USPS that much more important in many areas of the country. Unfortunately, the U.S. Postal Service seems to be increasing service and product offerings in metropolitan centers like San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York, while they are shutting down mail processing facilities and decreasing service in other areas.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

GERMANY: Supply Chain Digital: For 50 years, advanced technology from Siemens has been helping Deutsche Post sort the mail efficiently. Siemens technology has successfully led the way through generation after generation of sorting machines, ensuring that mail are sorted not just accurately, but cost-effectively as well. The origins of automated mail sorting extend back quite some way. Between 1950 and the beginning of the 1960s the mail volume in Germany more than doubled, from 4.2 billion items a year to 9.3 billion. This made finding a way to automate the mail sorting process essential. Siemens started work on the development of an automated sorting system in 1958 in collaboration with Deutsche Bundespost's postal engineering centre. Deutsche Bundespost introduced the world's first system of postal codes in 1961, in the process creating the basis for automated sorting.

ENGLAND: Express: The regulator is concerned that there are not enough players in parts of its markets, after the letter delivery service arm of Whistl and parcel firm City Link both folded in recent months.  Ofcom said it will look at the firm's position in the parcels market "and assess the company's potential ability to set wholesale prices in a way that might harm competition". The collapse of the letter service run by Whistl - formerly known as TNT - left the Royal Mail with no national competitor.

July 17, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Attention PostalOne! Users:

  • PostalOne!® Release 41.1.4.0 Production Deployment-  PostalOne! Release 41.1.4.0 will deploy on Thursday evening July 30, 2015 between 5:00PM CT and 8:00PM CT.  This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time.  There will not be a mandatory Mail.dat® client download required. Please note release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.1.4.0 will be published and can then be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .
  • PostalOne! Release 41.1.4  Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur on Thursday evening Jul 30, 2015 as well. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Friday morning July 31, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Office of the Inspector General:

  • Software Development Processes - Audit Report (IT-AR-15-006)
  • Software Inventory Management - Greater Boston District - Audit Report (IT-AR-15-007)
  • Issue Brief: Package Service Forum Recap - OIG Spotlight (RARC-IB-15-003)
  • Mobile Delivery Device Deployment and Functionality - Audit Report MI-AR-15-005)

USPS: The Postal Service will discontinue support for BlackBerry devices July 31. Voice and data services will be de-activated on the devices the next day. Employees who use the devices must switch to another smartphone.

Attention PostalOne! Users:

  • PostalOne!® Release 41.1.3.0 Production Deployment --  has completed and been verified.  Again, please note that a mandatory Mail.dat® client download is not required.
  • PostalOne! Release 41.1.3.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) -- has also completed with validation occurring tomorrow morning (Friday, July 17, 2015) between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Attention BIDS PostalOne! Mircostrategy Report Users: BIDS MicroStrategy  Release 41.1.3.0 deployment tasks and initial verification are complete.

Federal Register:

  • U.S Postal Service RULES: Requirements for Authority to Manufacture and Distribute Postage Evidencing Systems, 42392-42393 [2015-17533] [TEXT]
  • U.S. Postal Service NOTICES: Addition of Competitive International Merchandise Return Service Agreements with Foreign Postal Operators to Competitive Product List, 42560 [2015-17532] [TEXT]
  • U.S. Postal Service NOTICES: Product Changes: Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement, 42560 [2015-17527] [TEXT], 42561 [2015-17528] [TEXT], 42560 [2015-17529] [TEXT], 42560 [2015-17531] [TEXT]

DOMESTIC NEWS

Mel Carriere (Blog): Recent events in our little post office made me think of a Postal version of To Tell the Truth.  I guess we would have to exhume Kitty Carlisle and Peggy Cass (another professional celebrity panelist) to do this, which could be problematic, but here's how the game will go.  We'll get Megan Brennan, our current titular Postmaster, retired PMG Pat Donahoe, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos - who doesn't have anything to do with the Postal Service but it sure seems like he does, to serve as contestants and then see if our distinguished panelists can figure out who the real Postmaster General of the United States is from among these three.  Don't turn the channel - the answer isn't as obvious as it seems.

Post&Parcel: UPS Capital has announced that it is buying the Insured Parcel Services (IPS) business of G4S International Logistics (G4Si). As previously reported by Post&Parcel, UPS Capital recently acquired Parcel Pro, the leading logistics provider to the high-value jewelry, wristwatch and collectibles industries – and so this new acquisition will add more scope to UPS Capital's offerings in the high-value parcel shipping sector.

Post&Parcel: Google has unveiled its Purchases on Google feature, which will make it easier for consumers to buy products directly from mobile search ads. Essentially, the new features will mean that consumers will be able to use Google like an online marketplace, as well as a search engine. Google is testing the new buy buttons live on mobiles and has reportedly started work with key global retailers including eBay, Flipkart and Zalando to add "deep links" to their apps right in their shopping ads. Google posted a notice entitled "Winning the shopping micro-moments" on its official blog yesterday (15 July), which outlines its new approach.

Government Executive: A provision tacked on to a funding bill in Congress would force the U.S. Postal Service to spend $300 million next year on hiring more employees and reopening facilities, according to a new estimate. The House Appropriations Committee's amendment would actually come with a price tag of more than $1 billion for fiscal 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office, but USPS could not realistically afford those costs and would likely only invest the $300 million into complying with the law. The measure was attached to the fiscal 2016 financial services and general government appropriations bill.

Fierce Government: The growth of e-commerce has led to a dramatic increase in the number of packages shipped, and the Postal Service has an opportunity to both satisfy the new needs of customers and garner significant revenue, says a July 8 Postal Service inspector general report. The IG says e-commerce sales reached about $300 billion in 2014, or 6.5 percent of total retail sales that year. And those numbers continue to grow.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Postal Technology International: Preliminary results from a report by International Post Corporation (IPC) have shown that the global postal sector registered overall revenue growth of 2.9% for 2014. It is the fourth year in a row that the industry has grown, which is largely due to increased e-commerce related volumes. Total revenue growth in Europe reached 1.4%, and Asia Pacific and North America showed growth of 3.9% and 3.2% respectively. Posts from emerging economies presented a strong growth of 8.0%, which can be partly explained by higher economic growth and rapidly increasing e-commerce sales.

ENGLAND: The Guardian: An investigation by the postal regulator is to focus on whether recent changes in the market have left Royal Mail in such a dominant position that it could drive up prices and hit competition. Shares in the company, which was largely privatised in October 2013, fell more than 3% after Ofcom gave more details of its planned inquiry in a discussion document released on Friday. "The review will incorporate our existing work to assess Royal Mail's efficiency, consider its position within the parcels sector, and assess the company's potential ability to set wholesale prices in a way that might harm competition," the regulator said. "In addition, the review will address the implications of (former postal rival) Whistl's withdrawal, which represents a significant change in the potential level of competition for end-to-end letter delivery."

UNITED KINGDOM: The Telegraph: Royal Mail shares fell 3.5pc on Friday as Ofcom outlined a wide-ranging and "fundamental" inquiry into the company's operations that could see it impose a cap on prices. The communications watchdog is seeking views on how regulation of the sector should change as it looks to secure the future of the universal postal service in a changing market, and tackle concerns that the company no longer faces competition in the delivery of letters. The universal service is a commitment to make deliveries to all parts of the UK at a flat rate, six days a week. In a discussion document published on Friday, Ofcom suggested it could roll back some of the commercial flexibility it granted Royal Mail in 2012, including the ability to put up its prices. It will look at "whether Royal Mail's commercial flexibility remains appropriate", and, if not, "whether wholesale or retail charge controls might be appropriate".

FINLAND: Global Newswire: The Group's net sales decreased by 12.0% and amounted to EUR 406.3 (461.9) million in April–June. Net sales decreased by 5.3% in Postal Services, by 18.5% in Parcel and Logistics Services and by 27.1% in Itella Russia, and increased by 0.5% in OpusCapita. Measured in local currency, Itella Russia's net sales decreased by 10.4%.

July 16, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Attention PostalOne! Users:

  • PostalOne!® Release 41.2.0.0 Production Deployment-  PostalOne! Release 41.2.0.0 will deploy Sunday, Aug 2, 2015 between 4:00AM CT and 9:00AM CT.  This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time. Please note, a new Mail.dat® client download 41.2.0.0_PROD will be made available during this release.  This download will be optional and users can continue to submit files using their current Mail.dat client Version 41.1.0.0. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.2.0 can be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .  
  • PostalOne! Release 41.2.0  Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will occur Sunday, August 2, 2015. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Monday morning Aug 3, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Mailers Technical Advisory Committee: **DATE CHANGE**MAIL PREP AND ENTRY FOCUS SESSION WEBINAR
**NEW DATE** Friday, July 31, 2:00-3:00 p.m. (EDT). Please note: The Mail Prep and Entry Focus Session Webinar originally scheduled for Thursday, July 30, has been rescheduled to Friday, July 31 at 2pm (EDT). Those that have registered for the original webinar date will receive an auto email to confirm the date change to their calendar.
 
The Mail Prep and Entry Focus Group will host the webinar for MTAC members that will include updates normally given during the focus group meetings at MTAC. Covering these topics in advance of MTAC week will allow time to share new opportunities and have more robust discussion on topics of interest at the face-to-face focus group meeting.

Agenda:

  • CSA Communications
  • FAST Update
  • Final Update on HUBS
  • Work Groups / User Group Update
  • Remittance Update

Registration is required.  Attendee Information: US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (866) 381-9870, Conference ID: 75194928. Attendee Direct URL and Registration: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=e0b72d80efe5add388a7d71177bb71079

Attention PostalOne! Users:

  • PostalOne!® Release 41.1.3.0 Production Deployment-  PostalOne! Release 41.1.3.0 will deploy today (Thursday, July 16, 2015) between 5:00PM CT and 7:00PM CT.  This is a relatively small release containing fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time.  There will not be a mandatory Mail.dat® client download required. Please note, release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.1.3.0 can be found at https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releases/may2015/docs/releasenotes/PostalOneReleaseNotes41_1_3_0.pdf
  • PostalOne! Release 41.1.3.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also this evening (Thursday, July 16, 2015) between 5:00PM CT and 7:00PM CT. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Friday morning July 17, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.

Attention BIDS PostalOne! Microstrategy Report Users: BIDS MicroStrategy  Release 41.1.3.0 will begin phased deployment activities this morning (Thursday, July 16, 2015) with the first phase tasks planned between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM CT. A second and final phase of activities will occur between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM CT this evening.  This release is intended to address known defects in the MicroStrategy reports..  While no down time is anticipated, some users may need to login again as the system refreshes with the update.  Users may experience this within the 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM CT deployment window and again between the 3:00 and 6:00 PM CT window. Please note, release notes for BIDS MicroStrategy Release 41.1.3.0 can be found at https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm. Please contact the PostalOne! Helpdesk with any issues or concerns.

Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Product, 42134-42135 [2015-17403] [TEXT]

DOMESTIC NEWS

Atlanta Business Chronicle: United Parcel Service of America Inc. is making a second expansion this year of its UPS Worldwide Express Freight service, adding five countries in Latin America and three in Europe. Atlanta-based UPS (NYSE:UPS) reported the guaranteed service is designed for urgent, time-sensitive and high-value international heavyweight shipments – product launches, inventory shortages or equipment failure replacement parts – to 58 origin and 56 destination countries and territories. The expansion adds eight new origin and five new destination countries. Countries adding origin service include: Bulgaria, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Romania and Serbia.

Hannibal Courier-Post: The next step in the discussion surrounding rural post offices and postal standards took shape as the Rural Postal Act of 2015 sponsored by Heitkamp, co-sponsored by Tester and McCaskill, according to a release from Claire McCaskill's office.

Insurancenewsnet: Legislation to make it easier for owners of life insurance policies and annuities to receive their documents more efficiently was signed into law on July 10, said Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), author of the measure. House Bill 972, now Act 30 of 2015, now gives life insurance companies the option to send policies and annuities to their customers electronically, if so chosen by the consumer. Companies still will have the option of delivery via the United States Postal Service or another postal delivery service. "State laws need to keep up-to-date with current technology, and that also includes our insurance laws," said Pickett, who chairs the House Insurance Committee. "Before this law, insurers were required to either hand deliver or send via certified mail to a policyholder an insurance policy or annuity. This update in state law makes this process less cumbersome for both the customer and the company." Under the new law, proof of delivery is established by the mailing to the owner or the date of electronic transmission, as long as the consumer has agreed to use that format. In the event of a dispute with the policy/annuity owner, the burden of proof shall remain with the insurer to establish that a policy or annuity was delivered.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

TAIWAN: Taipei Times: The number of letters sent via Chunghwa Post Co in May was the lowest in six years as fewer people are using postal services due to technology that lets people communicate quickly, the postal service said. Chunghwa Post has served the Republic of China since the beginning of the 20th century. Taiwan's highest number of sent items was in 2000, with 387.8 million letters sent, an average of about 139 letters per person. The amount of mail has since dropped continuously and averaged 9.5 pieces of mail per person in May, the state-run company said.

LITHUANIA: The Baltic Course: Based on the data of Lithuania's Communications Regulatory Authority, in the first quarter of 2015 year-on-year, the total revenue for provision of postal services increased 11.4% – from EUR 25.1 to EUR 28 million, reports LETA/ELTA.

US STATE DEPARTMENT: Post&Parcel: The US Department of State announced in the Federal Register on Tuesday (14 July) that the meeting will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the board room of the American Institute of Architects building on New York Avenue NW. The agenda of the meeting will include: consideration of postal terminal dues, customs treatment of mail, and developments in the Universal Postal Union. Individuals interested in attending or speaking at the meeting should contact Ms. Shereece Robinson, prior to the close of business on 30 July.

INDIA: Economic Times: As ecommerce and last-mile delivery services are making their way into the daily lives of urban India, the holes of the country's largely incomplete address system are starting to show. Any end customer can relate to the lamentable experience of trying to communicate directions to a government employee or a delivery boy armed with jewellery, a letter from a loved one, or the day's lunch. Seeing this, startups such as Zippr and wWhere have come up to "revolutionise" the location data industry, overwriting obsolete addressing systems with specific short codes that, if all goes according to plan, are to be shared with governments and delivery providers alike to facilitate hassle-free and efficient services.

July 15, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Congressional Budget Office: For fiscal year 2016 the amendment would require the United States Postal Service (USPS) to comply with the service standards for first class mail and periodicals that were effective on July 1, 2012. CBO estimated that enacting the Fattah amendment would increase off-budget spending by $300 million in fiscal year 2016.

Based on preliminary information from the Postal Service, we expect that it would cost well over $1 billion in 2016 for USPS to attempt to fully comply with the amendment. However, because of operational challenges and the Postal Service's precarious financial condition, CBO doubts the agency could fully comply with the amendment.. CBO currently estimates that the USPS will end fiscal year 2016 with net receipts of about $1 billion (on a cash accounting basis). Of that profit, we estimate the agency could spend about $300 million in 2016 to improve service for delivery of first class mail and periodicals as required by the amendment.

Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Product, 43581-43582 [2015-18163] [PDF]; 41516 [2015-17253] [PDF]; 41515-41516 [2015-17254] [PDF]; 41517 [2015-17277] [PDF]

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Docket No. RM2015-11: Petition of the USPS Requesting Initiation of a Processing to Consider a Proposed Change in Analytical Principles (Proposal Three).
    Objective: This proposal seeks a change in the methodology in the "Revenue, Pieces and Weight By Class and Special Services" (RPW) report for estimating the shape and weight of letter and card mailpieces that would be sampled digitally from the Origin- Destination Information System - Revenue, Pieces and Weight (ODIS-RPW) system. Under this proposal, beginning Q2 FY2016 (January 1, 2016), a portion of the letter Mail Exit Points (MEPs) would be identified as eligible for sampling digitally (digital images). These images would be selected during the incoming second-pass delivery barcode sequence (DBCS) mail processing operation and transmitted to a central server for data recording. This process would replace manual data collection, which currently requires a data collector to travel to the test site and then randomly sample the mail from containers. Manual data collection by a data collector can be referred to as live ODIS- RPW testing. All characteristics of a live mailpiece can be collected from an image of that mailpiece except for weight and letter and card shape. The Postal Service proposes to apply a distribution key from the machinable letters tested live to the letters tested digitally.
  • Docket No. R2013-10R: Initial comments addressing the Commission's standard to determine when mail preparation changes have rate effects with price cap implication are due no later than August 3, 2015. Reply comments addressing matters raised in initial comments are due no later than August 14, 2015.

DOMESTIC NEWS

eCommerceBytes: eBay is passing the buck when it comes to certain claims filed against sellers, with the company's seller advocate advising there was little a seller could do when USPS tracking information is no longer available. The "tracking gap" problem is being felt now due to PayPal's policy that went into effect in November when PayPal began permitting chargebacks up to 180 days after a sale. The problem? The USPS only keeps delivery tracking information for 120 days. When an eBay seller asked how sellers could protect themselves from claims of non-delivery during this tracking-gap period, eBay seller advocate Jim "Griff" Griffith said, not much.

Federal Times: In 2010 the Postal Service laid out a series of reforms it said were needed to cut billions of dollars from its operating costs and help the agency survive and thrive in a more digital future. The biggest pitch: Ending Saturday delivery for letters, which the Postal Service had estimated would save about $3 billion annually. But years later an improving financial landscape and a Congress continually deadlocked over Postal Service reform has led to a slow and quiet death for what was once seen as the linchpin of a revitalized Postal Service. "While the topic of five-day delivery was a large part of the legislative ask in the last Congress, we are currently looking to gain consensus and we have not been promoting five day as a key tenet," said Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan. She said the Postal Service still needs to find ways to increase revenues and optimize its networks while delivering fewer pieces of mail to more addresses.

REPORT: Forrestor Research eCommerce Forecast, 2014 to 2019 (US): Forrester expects online retail sales in the US to reach $334 billion in 2015, approximately 10% of all sales in the US. eCommerce will experience a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the next five years, translating to $480 billion in online sales by 2019. Physical goods lead the growth in eCommerce as digital goods reach maturity. This year's forecast provides eBusiness and channel strategy professionals with insights into which categories are growing the fastest and how they can capture share in an increasingly competitive online retail environment. (To purchase, click the link).

Commercial Carrier Journal: A federal appeals court ruled last week in favor of the more than 500 FedEx Ground driver plaintiffs in a now five-year-old class action case in which the drivers claimed they were wrongly classified as independent contractors, arguing they instead should have been classified as employees of the company. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, upholding a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court last year that said per Kansas state law, the drivers should have been classified as employees.

Upper Michigans Source: U.S. Senator Gary Peters joined his colleagues in introducing legislation to improve rural mail service and delivery and provide protections for post offices and postal employees in rural communities. The Rural Postal Act of 2015 would place a two-year moratorium on postal mail processing facility closures, restore delivery standards and preserve six-day mail home delivery. This would protect mail processing facilities in Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Iron Mountain, which are currently in jeopardy of closing.

The Hill: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is courting postal workers on the campaign trail. The surging Democratic presidential candidate met with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and more than 40 other labor leaders Monday evening. American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein called Sanders a "champion" of the postal workers. "Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken champion of postal customers, postal workers and the public Postal Service — demanding expanded services for all Americans, an end to mail delays, and an end to the closure of postal facilities," Dimondstein said in a statement. Though the APWU has not yet endorsed any presidential candidate for the 2016 election, the union leader said there is "tremendous interest and excitement" about Sanders.

APWU [Press Release]: A "meet and greet" was held at the office of the American Postal Workers Union yesterday evening between more than 40 U.S. labor leaders and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running for president. "Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken champion of postal customers, postal workers and the public Postal Service – demanding expanded services for all Americans, an end to mail delays, and an end to the closure of postal facilities," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "And he has been a forceful advocate for working people for decades. He's not in the pocket of big corporations. We thought it was important to hear his ideas about the 2016 campaign – especially how he plans to take on the big-money interests that are strangling our political system and our economy. "There has been tremendous interest and excitement about his campaign in the labor movement," he said. The meeting at APWU's office was co-hosted by former president of the Communications Workers of America Larry Cohen, APWU President Mark Dimondstein and APWU Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Powell. Neither the APWU nor the CWA has endorsed a presidential candidate in 2016. Both unions are affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

Pennsylvania Business Daily: Pennsylvania life insurance policy owners and annuity holders can now organize their documents more efficiently, thanks to a bill enacted Friday modernizing older policy law. House Bill 972 became Act 30 of 2015 when passed last week, according to the bill's author, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-110). The regulation gives life insurance companies the option to send policies and annuities to their customers electronically, if so selected by the consumer. Companies will still have the ability to deliver paperwork via the U.S. Postal Service or other postal delivery method. The legislation updates the existing Insurance Company Law of 1921.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

CANADA: Newswire: In a giant white RV with "Stop the Cuts – Save Canada Post" splashed across it in bright red, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is taking to the road on a cross-country tour, encouraging people to fight back against cuts to postal service by voting out the Conservatives.

ISRAEL: CityMetric: What to do with a struggling mail service? Post is one of those things we rely on completely. We assume it will arrive every day. We assume it will, well, deliver.  But as the turbulance faced by Israel Postal Company over the past couple of years shows, a reliable, publicly run postal service is no longer something you can guarantee. Back in April 2014, facing huge debts, financial meltdown and a series of strikes, the company began thinking of ways to restructure, through a series of cost-cutting measures: two delivery days per week instead of five, more expensive stamps, and fewer post offices were all suggested as possibilities. Now, the plan for restructuring has been finalised, and is about to be put into practice. The headline change is a 51 per cent reduction in postboxes across the country, from a high of 3,000 a few years ago to a projected 1,550 mailboxes once the restructuring is complete (some were already sealed up earlier this year; the company cited a decrease in demand). Around 200 post offices will also close under the plan.

ENGLAND: Post&Parcel: In a statement issued today (14 July), Royal Mail said that the latest edition of its  survey on the preferences and habits of UK online shoppers – Delivery Matters – reveals that "while consumers say they are shopping more and spending more online, they have increasingly high expectations of ecommerce retailers when it comes to getting good value". According to Royal Mail, VFM was chosen by 84% of consumers as the main driver for shopping online. Royal Mail added that this focus on value has led shoppers to become "savvier" when it comes to sales. "Over a quarter (26%) of today's consumers would hold off placing an online order so they can benefit from a sale event, such as Black Friday or Amazon's Prime Day," claimed Royal Mail.

ENGLAND: Post&Parcel: The UK's second-largest postal operator, Whistl, has today reported that it will handle an estimated 3.75 billion items of mail this year, as result of some significant new client wins.

IRELAND: Irish Examiner: Eircode has cost the country €27m, and the problems that have come to light in the three days since its launch confirm detractors' long-held fears, writes Joe Leogue. The problems that have arisen in the three short days since Eircode's launch have confirmed many of the long-held fears expressed by the system's detractors.

SWITZERLAND: PSFK: Delivering the post in Switzerland presents some unique challenges in terms of weather conditions and geography. While the majority of the mail service uses hybrid or hydrogen-powered vehicles, in some places Swiss Post employs boats to reach remote locations, or even horse-drawn sleges in winter. Recently, Swiss Post has begun experimenting with the use of unmanned drones, adding the latest technological marvel to its array of delivery vehicles. In partnership with Swiss WorldCargo and drone manufacturer Matternet, Swiss Post began a series of trials to determine the feasibility and uses for logistics drones to supplement regular postal services.

CANADA: Huffington Post: I was surprised to receive an envelope in the mail from Canada Post informing me that our neighborhood would be converting to so-called community mailboxes next year. Having read the odd news item about their latest plan, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised but maybe I was simply in denial. Maybe I couldn't believe that Canada Post would do something this outrageous and arbitrary. Or maybe I just figured it was going to take years and years and that, at some point, the Conservatives would be turfed from power and this whole crazy scheme would be shelved. In any event, I must have rationalized that somehow it wouldn't affect me. Well, needless to say, I was wrong. Canada Post is apparently hell-bent on eliminating home delivery for almost everyone in Canada. Call me naïve but I fail to see why such a move is necessary.

July 14, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

DMM ADVISORY: July DMM Update

  • Postal Explorer is your source for up-to-date mailing standards. The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) is fully searchable on Postal Explorer and features fly-out menus, cross-reference links, and an extensive subject index. Yesterday we updated our mailing standards to include the following changes:
  • New Flats Sequencing System (FSS) Column Header Abbreviation: We revised 708.1.4 to add a new column header abbreviation. We published this information in the June 11, 2015, Postal Bulletin.
  • Mandatory Use of Customs Declaration PS Form 2976-B on APO/FPO/DPO Priority Mail Express: We revised 703.2.3.6 to make mandatory the use of PS Form 2976-B, Priority Mail Express International Shipping Label and Customs Form, on Priority Mail Express items requiring a customs form to APO/FPO/DPO addressess. We published this information in the June 25, 2015, Postal Bulletin.
  • Our next scheduled DMM Update is September 13, 2015.

Federal Register: State Department MEETINGS Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services [2015-17228] [TEXT]

DOMESTIC NEWS

Smithsonian: Kids these days. They'd rather send ecards than buy a good, old-fashioned greeting card, write a meaningful note, slap on a stamp and send it via snail mail. In fact, one of the most popular online card sites, someecards, is ranked among the top 200 websites in the world by Quantcast. But all of those virtual messages might just be killing the greeting card business, reports NPR's Frank Morris — a trend that's causing companies like Hallmark to get nervous indeed. Morris writes that the former greeting card behemoth has fallen on hard times, even closing a distribution center and laying off hundreds. He reports that the last five years have been particularly brutal to Hallmark, with the workforce dwindling by over half.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

IRAN: PressTV: The Islamic Republic of Iran Post Company has signed an MoU for cooperation with Germany's logistics firm DHL and Dutch package delivery firm TNT Express, its chief executive has said. Hossein Mehri said the state-run Iranian company had made the decision "in order to provide better services to customers and compete with foreign rivals".

JERSEY: Post&Parcel: Jersey Post has announced that 2014 was a year marked by strong trading results, solid revenue growth, and "progress made in securing valuable new business in overseas markets". The company's 2014 Annual Report and Accounts, published today (14 July), showed an increase in turnover of 3.3% to £35.4m and an operating profit before pension charge and exceptional items of £1.63m. The company said that, as traditional mail volumes have continued to decrease, its dependency on the UK parcels and packets market has been substantially reduced and now two thirds of logistics postings are to non-UK destinations.  New relationships with other global postal operators are benefiting Jersey's fulfilment operators and Jersey Post's overseas earnings. Also see itv.

NEW ZEALAND: Post&Parcel: PostNL is today (13 July) inviting all its independent parcel deliverers to become company employees. Alternatively, if they do choose to remain as "entrepreneurs", the company said that they will "earn more than at this moment". As previously reported, this decision follows on from union concerns over the status of PostNL's 1,000+ freelancers.

NETHERLANDS: Post&Parcel: The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has called on PostNL to provide more specific information on the costs which it allocates to meeting the universal service obligation (USO). In an official statement issued today (13 July) , PostNL said that, "further to a constructive dialogue and an extended explanation of the decision by ACM", it will "adjust and clarify the allocation". PostNL added: "This will result in a cost allocation that in the judgment of ACM will meet the requirements which have been accentuated in 2014. Based on the adjusted cost allocation, ACM will be able to determine the definitive tariff headroom 2016 for the USO."

July 13, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Office of the Inspector General: An Address of One's Own: More than half of people on this planet do not have an address, according to a Universal Postal Union (UPU) report. Without an official address, they have difficulty applying for government services, social benefits, or, in some cases, even obtaining a train pass. They cannot open bank accounts and may not be able to get health care. To a significant extent, a large majority of these 4 billion people cannot enjoy their full rights as citizens because they often lack an identity. "As a person's identity is often tied to having an address, various UN organizations and other international organizations support initiatives to strengthen national address infrastructures," the UPU report said. The UPU initiated its Addressing the World program more than 5 years ago to emphasize the importance of address systems to a nation's infrastructure, especially in developing countries where a lack of street names and property numbers hinder the ability to provide public services to residents and businesses. And a poor addressing system also carries an economic price tag. Costa Rica estimated its lack of an address infrastructure cost it $720 million a year, the UPU report noted. Since instituting its national addressing project, Costa Rica has improved emergency services, urban planning and zoning, its postal service, and tourism, which was especially affected by a lack of street signs. Here in the United States, the U.S. Postal Service offers general mail delivery to individuals with no fixed address and those with no identification. Mail is delivered to a post office and held for pick-up. The Postal Service works with the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, which strives to end homelessness. In October, the UPU will hold its first Global Addressing Conference to discuss innovative solutions to addressing challenges, including ways to develop and implement addressing systems quickly and at low cost. In particular, the conference will consider ways to use technology to reach those goals. Recent efforts suggest technology will certainly guide solutions. Irish company GO Code has found success in using a location's geo-coordinates (it's longitude and latitude coordinates) to help the Hope Foundation assign a unique address to each dwelling in Calcutta slums. Universal addressing solution what3words uses a unique combination of three words to identify a 3 meter by 3 meter square anywhere on the planet. And Natural Area Coding, which uses a grid system to assign 10-digit codes to locations, bills itself as the ZIP Code for the 21st Century because it provides a single, international standard. Do you consider addresses to be part of a nation's infrastructure? What other ways could technology be used to help with addressing challenges?

DOMESTIC NEWS

Fierce Government: A North Dakota senator introduced legislation last week meant to improve rural mail service and prevent rural postal offices and processing plants from closing. The Rural Postal Act of 2015, taken to the floor by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), would address several concerns related to rural postal delivery. Heitkamp has been a vocal advocate for making sure rural communities have proper postal options, especially in her home state, which, she says in a July 9 statement, has faced excessive post office closures. "Mail is a critical lifeline in rural America, and all North Dakotans deserve access to high-quality mail delivery and service, regardless of where they live," Heitkamp says in the statement. The bill would place a two-year moratorium on the closure of additional mail processing plants.

Life Hacker: Shopping for clothes online is convenient, but one drawback is you're not sure how the item will look until you buy it and it's delivered. Try.com is a free service that aims to fix that inconvenience. The website works with a number of online clothing retailers (ASOS, Zara, and Urban Outfitters, to name a few). You sign up via their site, then download the Chrome extension. Once you do, whenever you browse any supported retailer's sites, a "Try" option will now be available, allowing you to "order" the item through Try.com, rather than the retailer. From there, Try ships the item to you, along with a prepaid postage label. If you don't like it, you just return it. Your credit card is never charged, and shipping is free. Of course, if you like and keep the item, Try will charge your card. You can try on up to five items at once, and you have 10 days to make your decision. The company's CEO, Ankush Sehgal, says they make money by driving sales to retailers.

Washington Examiner: When purchasing a 49-cent postage stamp to send a greeting card or pay a bill, most of us probably think that we're getting a good deal — covering the costs of our friendly neighborhood letter carriers and the infrastructure required to run a national postal network. And the Postal Service's announcement last month expanding its New York metropolitan area grocery delivery service through Amazon.com and adding same-day package delivery in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco likely sounded like good news to many people in those places too. But pricing matters — a lot — and getting it wrong can turn any good deal into a debacle. A close look at the numbers strongly suggests that the U.S. Postal Service has systematically abused the legal terms of its first-class government mail monopoly, requiring mail customers to subsidize products like Priority Mail, its signature package delivery service. Federal law explicitly prohibits such subsidies, charging a federal regulator with preventing them. At the heart of the problem is the fact that the Postal Service leaves nearly half of its total operating costs assigned to "institutional overhead," not attributed to any specific product offerings. No successful business does that. The peril in this system for monopoly consumers comes when the rates they pay are increasingly required to cover much higher shares of these institutional expenses than competitive products.

Real Clear Politics: When he took over the panel in January, Chaffetz made a number of big changes, including replacing a significant portion of the Republican committee staff, shuffling around the subcommittees and inviting several new members onto the panel. Beyond those changes, he also built upon an effort that had been in the works for many months to improve relations with Democrats, specifically with ranking member Elijah Cummings, whose relationship with Issa was famously fractured – Issa once cut off Cummings' microphone and got up to leave while the Maryland congressman was speaking during a hearing. One simple example of the improved relations came from Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly. The Massachusetts lawmaker said he's been an advocate for postal reform for many years, but was never invited by Issa to join the conversation about the topic. Chaffetz, on the other hand, reached out to Connolly for his input. Though that may seem like a small gesture, Connolly said it shouldn't be overlooked.

The Economist: EXAMINING America's internet search history can reveal all manner of surprising information about the country's collective interests. It can also tell you what kind of jobs people want. Of those without work, or perhaps seeking a career change, some search for a specific role or sector, but others already have a desired company-of-choice in mind. An examination of Google search data reveals the most popular employer by sector and year allowing trend comparisons from state-to-state. Careers in package delivery are in high demand it seems. Over the past 12 months, United Parcel Service (UPS) was the most searched-for employer in 12 states and appeared in the top 3 searches across a total of 23 states, predominantly in the south and Midwest. Elsewhere, education and health dominate, with searches for roles at universities coming top in 13 states, and health-care jobs in seven others. These two sectors were among the biggest growers in 2015, education adding 305,000 jobs in the year to June, and health care adding 293,700.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

OMAN: Times of Oman: To overcome the challenges of the postal sector due to the advent of the Internet, the Oman Post has launched ePost for seamless communication in a secure environment. The Oman Post aims to make ePost a national hybrid mail network for citizens, businesses and the government so that they can communicate without any hiccup. ePost is a hybrid mail system merging electronic communication and printed ‘traditional' mail into one dynamic ‘address' through which registered users can send and receive both electronic and traditional mail items.

INDIA: Parcel&Post: India Post has announced that, from September, customers will receive messages on their mobile phones regarding the status of their mail, parcels, money orders and other deliveries. In addition, India Post reportedly plans to start tracking its postal delivery staff – in some regions, at least – with the help of GPS-enabled handheld devices. "From September, we will send SMS to people informing them about arrival of parcel at nearest centre and time period when it will be delivered," India Post Chief Postmaster General for Delhi, Vasumitra, told local media.

IRELAND:Independent: Millions of homes and businesses across the country are set to get a new individual 7 digit 'Eircode' after Ireland's first national post code service, Eircode, launches today. The scheme, which is aimed at reducing confusion surrounding non-unique addresses, is estimated to have cost about €27m. An Irish post code service was first proposed over a decade ago - and will be formally launched by Communications Minister Alex White this morning. Each new postcode consists of a seven digit unique identifier for every property in the country. 2.2m homes and businesses across the country will be receive their new code in the post in the coming weeks.

July 12, 2015

DOMESTIC NEWS

Duluth News Tribune: The Duluth mail processing center on the 2800 block of West Michigan Street remains fully staffed — but the delivery time of letters it handles appears to be falling behind the U.S. Postal Service's new two-day local standard.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

INDIA: DNA India The Postal Department's strategy to focus on fast growing e-commerce segment has bore fruits as it saw a 37% jump in parcel revenues in the past year. The increase in parcel revenues is in stark contrast to 2% decline in 2013-14, an official of the Communications and IT Ministry said. With dwindling letter or document traffic, the department is focusing on the fast-growing parcel segment, the official said, adding that various measures have been taken to modernise the department under the Digital India initiative.

SWITZERLAND:Sentinel Republic: The company says it will be exploring the cost effectiveness of drone use, but does not expect widespread use until at least five years from now. The Swiss Post is now testing drones for delivery, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The Matternet ONE drone that will be used during this trial is designed to transport small deliveries up to 1kg in weight. Having drones that could deliver to a customer's Global Positioning System coordinates would come in handy on snowy days in the Alps. Other possibility includes transport of some urgent consignments with highest priority. The Matternet ONE drone being trialled can transport cargoes of up to 1 kilogram in excess of 10 kilometres (about 6.5 miles) without need for a recharge – presumably including the return trip, though the release does not state this. The Swiss Post is working with Swiss WorldCargo, the air freight division of the Swiss global Air Lines, and the drone maker Matternet to get the program off the ground.

July 11, 2015

DOMESTIC NEWS

Dead Tree Edition: Next Wednesday is Amazon Prime Day, a huge promotion that one postal expert predicts will overwhelm the U.S. Postal Service. Amazon is celebrating its 20th anniversary on July 15 with a one-day online shopping event that will offer "more deals than Black Friday" to members of Amazon Prime, including those who sign up for a free 30-day trial membership. "It will be interesting to see how USPS handles what is sure to be a major onslaught of Amazon package deliveries, with Amazon Prime two day shipping after the one day sale," writes Lisa Bowes of Intelisent, a company that advises direct mailers. "Will Prime Day impact delivery for other classes of mail? My guess is – probably so . . . ." A look at the numbers indicates she is correct – that the Postal Service will struggle to handle the surge of Amazon packages without hurting delivery of other types of mail, even with massive overtime.

Forbes: According to René Lacerte, CEO and Founder of Bill.com, businesses pay seventy percent or more of their bills via paper checks. A 2013 Federal Reserve study revealed there were 21 billion checks processed in 2013 and roughly 19 billion of those were business to business payments. A majority of consumers use credit cards to process payments, but the three percent interchange fee is a deterrent for most business payments. Clearly there's an opportunity to move payments into the digital age and mobile may be just the vehicle to drive change. Bill.com saw this opportunity and launched its first app for iOS today with an Android version following in the coming months.

Direct Marketing News: The U.S. Postal Service failed to fully achieve any of the four goals it had set down for its performance last year, and fell short of seven out of eight performance indicators for delivering high-quality services. That's the assessment of the Postal Regulatory Commission, which gave the Postal Service incomplete in "excellent customer experience" for lack of sufficient data. High-quality services have only one determinant—percentage of deliveries made on time—and overnight presort First Class Mail was the lone class in which USPS exceeded its goal with a tally of 97%. One of its poorest performances came in Standard Mail, where the Postal Service delivered on time only 86% of the time and undershot its goal by nearly five percentage points. Three-to-five day mail fell short of its mark by more than seven points with 88% of deliveries made within that incredibly flexible time frame.

KVRR: A group of Senate Democrats is pushing a bill to improve mail service for their rural residents, saying they got the worst of cuts from the U.S. Postal Service. The bill from Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill and Gary Peters would speed up delivery times that the postal service has rolled back. It would also stop the service from closing any more mail processing centers for two years. The postal service has cut hours or shutdown rural post offices altogether as it continues to lose billions of dollars each year. "The standards have been diminished to the point where people are shocked at how bad their delivery system is.  It's not the employees its systematic management its management decisions that have been made in Washington, D.C," says Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Heitkamp says she's received more than 200 stories about mail problems through an initiative she set up last year. Also Direct Marketing News.

Roll Call: The fiscal 2016 appropriations process effectively screeched to a halt Friday, the day after bitter divisions over a Republican Confederate flag provision sunk the Interior-Environment appropriations bill and apparently laid claim to the rest of the spending measures as well. The end was signaled when three House appropriators, including the chairman of the Financial Services panel, said Friday that they were told the $20.25 billion Financial Services spending bill (HR 2995) will not be considered on the House floor next week, as was originally planned. The news about Financial Services, the only other spending bill House leaders initially said they would bring to the floor ahead of the August recess, brings most appropriations work to a halt on both sides of the Capitol, given Senate Democrats' blanket filibuster threat of any GOP spending measures on the floor in that chamber. This year's process in the House ends not with the whimper many observers initially expected given vicious opposition from Senate Democrats and the White House, but with a bang, displaying just how much of a policy divide there is between the GOP's establishment and more conservative wings. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., on Friday acknowledged that the process has slowed. "It's gonna be next to impossible," he said of his goal to pass all 12 spending bills by the August recess. Rogers added that it "remains to be seen" whether leaders will need to begin looking toward a continuing resolution for September, when current budget authority expires. "The Senate inaction complicates things more than anything else," Rogers said.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

CANADA: VOCM: Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are going door-to-door in the capital city today delivering information on the impact of the elimination of home delivery. The corporation is installing over one thousand community mailboxes in and around the city where door-to-door delivery now takes place. The AIC postal code is being spared the change for the time being while the corporation figures out how to deal with the downtown with its steep, narrow streets and lack of open space. CUP-W spokesman Craig Dyer says members will be going through affected areas distributing information on the impact of the changes.

July 10, 2015

 PostCom Members !! The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is now available online. 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. See what you've been missing.

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
39809–39810 [2015–16831] [TEXT]  [PDF]
39808–39809 [2015–16832] [TEXT]  [PDF]
39807–39808 [2015–16833] [TEXT]  [PDF]
39808 [2015–16843] [TEXT]  [PDF]
39809 [2015–16926] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Product Changes:
  Priority Mail and First-Class Package Service Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  39810 [2015–16848] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  39810 [2015–16847] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  39810 [2015–16849] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del., ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement on the Rural Postal Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) earlier today:

"We know all too well that the Postal Service continues to face financial challenges that threaten its future and long-term growth. This 200-year-old institution operates at the center of a $1 trillion industry that employs over 7 million people so we can't let it falter. That's why I am encouraged that a number of my colleagues, led by Senator Heitkamp, are taking steps to address some of the Postal Service's challenges, specifically the serious service issues affecting our nation's rural communities. As my colleagues and I have heard through numerous committee hearings and countless conversations with postal customers, stakeholders, and management, service in rural communities is suffering. It's clear that we must help the Postal Service get better in this area. This bill will start an important conversation in this Congress about how to do that. But as my colleagues know, we need a comprehensive solution to fix the Postal Service's problems, return it to solvency, and allow it to invest and grow in the years to come. I look forward to working with Senator Heitkamp and our other colleagues in Congress, the Administration, and stakeholders to find a solution that works."

DOMESTIC NEWS

Washington Examiner: When purchasing a 49-cent postage stamp to send a greeting card or pay a bill, most of us probably think that we're getting a good deal. But pricing matters — a lot — and getting it wrong can turn any good deal into a debacle. A close look at the numbers strongly suggests that the U.S. Postal Service has systematically abused the legal terms of its first-class government mail monopoly, requiring mail customers to subsidize products like Priority Mail, its signature package delivery service. Federal law explicitly prohibits such subsidies, charging a federal regulator with preventing them. At the heart of the problem is the fact that the Postal Service leaves nearly half of its total operating costs assigned to "institutional overhead," not attributed to any specific product offerings. No successful business does that. The peril in this system for monopoly consumers comes when the rates they pay are increasingly required to cover much higher shares of these institutional expenses than competitive products. The Postal Service's Inspector General and Postal Regulatory Commission have each published calls to start fresh with a new accounting system better equipped to improve transparency for costs.

Government Executive: Whenever the U.S. Postal Service faces a crisis, it turns to a specific part of its business to make the requisite cuts: delivery to rural areas. So says a group of senators representing rural states. The senators introduced legislation on Thursday to reverse that pattern. The cuts, the lawmakers said, have led to failures in USPS' ability to meet its own standards in rural services. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., put forward the Rural Postal Act to force the Postal Service to reinstitute service standards the agency redefined to help consolidate its network. Another major part of the lawmakers' push is to improve morale among postal employees. The bill would create a "chief morale officer" tasked with overseeing working conditions, staffing, communication and training efforts. Morale among Postal Service employees has been dropping "not because postal workers are in any way less diligent," Heitkamp said on Thursday. "The problem is they're not being well managed." She added USPS is an important provider of jobs, and lawmakers must ensure it is a "good place to work." The bill would also make permanent six-day mail delivery. The lawmakers are also seeking to protect rural post offices from closures and further reductions in hours, and to create a process to undo reductions that have already taken place. Their bill would place a two-year moratorium on the closure of additional mail processing plants, which they say has disproportionately affected rural areas.

The Bismark Tribune: A bill introduced Thursday by North Dakota's junior senator would draw a line in the sand as to what rural states expect from the U.S. Postal Service in terms of service. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and other senators introduced the Rural Postal Act of 2015, which she said contains provisions that would preserve and enhance rural service in states such as North Dakota. She called it a step in ensuring rural America is taken into account once any major Postal Service reform is enacted.

American Postal Workers Union: In response to a lawsuit filed by the APWU, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has coughed up 231 documents that shed new light on the secretive deal between Staples and the Postal Service. Perhaps most jarring is the acknowledgement that the Staples' deal was intended to serve as a model for transferring postal retail operations from the U.S. Postal Service to private retailers. The PRC released the documents only after extended legal wrangling. The APWU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the PRC on May 30, 2014, requesting documents pertaining to the agreement between the USPS and Staples. The PRC initially denied the request, but finally handed over the information on April 29, 2015, after the union filed a lawsuit.

Crooks and Liars: The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service is calling for support of two House resolutions that urge restoration of overnight mail service standards and a continuation of six-day delivery. The alliance consists of more than 70 national organizations. The coalition is asking people to contact members of Congress in support of House Resolutions 54 and 12. H. Res. 54, from Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Postal Service "should take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012." H. Res. 12, from Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), says that the USPS "should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service." These resolutions are in response to a new attempt to manufacture a crisis in postal delivery.

Trailer Body Builders: Morgan Olson LLC has been awarded a contract from the U S Postal Service to build 6,533 left-hand-drive walk-in delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service. The contract will begin in January and runs through November 2017.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

BRAZIL: Postal Technology International: If you ship packages into Brazil, you need to be aware of some important changes taking effect in August that require all shipments to include a tax ID number – called the CPF. If you don't have your customer's CPF, the parcels will be returned or destroyed and you'll be fined by Brazilian Customs. Many e-commerce merchants are not yet collecting CPF from their customers, and the new requirement could disrupt their Brazilian trade.

INDIA: The New Indian Express: Soon you need not have to bother about packing of articles while sending through post offices. As a part of embarking on a new era of business, the Postal Department has kick started facilities for packaging of articles at their offices itself. As a part of this, carton for the articles will be available from the counter set up at the postal offices. In the beginning stage, the facility will be available at six head post offices in the district. "The package facility will soon be extended to almost all the major post offices.

SWITZERLAND: The Wall Street Journal: Are drones the future of air freight? A pair of Swiss companies aim to find out. Swiss Post Ltd., Switzerland's postal service, Swiss WorldCargo, the air freight division of Swiss International Air Lines AG, and California-based drone manufacturer Matternet are testing the practical use of drones in logistics, the companies announced this week. The applications of drones range from "delivery to peripheral areas," to the express delivery of goods, quick delivery of urgent-transport items like laboratory tests and transporting emergency supplies "to an area cut off from the outside world following a storm," Swiss Post said in a statement announcing the effort.

UNITED KINGDOM: The Guardian: The Communication Workers Union has launched a campaign against what it claims are threats to working conditions and services at Royal Mail from privatisation and regulatory intervention. Government begins sale of remaining stake in Royal Mail Read more The union said its "People's Post" campaign was a response to the government's declared intention to sell its remaining stake in Royal Mail and the regulator Ofcom's demands for efficiency measures. If Royal Mail succumbed to pressure and tried to change workers' terms and conditions then the CWU could resort to industrial action.

BELGIUM: Post & Parcel: International Post Corporation (IPC) has announced today that – for the fourth year in a row – the global postal sector saw overall revenue growth in 2014, as many posts reported increased e-commerce-related volumes. IPC said that the preliminary results published today indicated the global industry had achieved year-on-year revenue growth of 2.9%. While this was an increase, it was down compared to the 3.7% rise in 2013, and the 3.9% in 2012. IPC will be presenting its full 2014 results as well as findings for the first half of 2015 in the 2015 IPC Global Postal Industry Report, which is set to be published in November.

July 9, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

PRC Office of the Inspector General: "Final Inspection Report PRC Imprest Fund " -- The objective of our inspection was to assess whether the PRC imprest fund was properly accounted for and administered according to PRC policy. The scope of our review included imprest fund expenses paid from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

Federal RegisterPostal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 39458 [2015–16759] [TEXT]

DOMESTIC NEWS

ETF Daily News: Can Uber and Amazon.com, Inc. Disrupt FedEx Corporation and United Parcel Service, Inc.?

The Hill: A group of Senate Democrats is pushing new legislation to improve mail service for their rural residents they say have gotten the worst of cuts from the U.S. Postal Service. The bill from Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) would speed up the mail delivery times that USPS has rolled back in recent years, make the current six-day delivery standards permanent and stop the Postal Service from closing any more mail processing centers for two years.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

INDIA: Business Standard: Come September and customers will receive messages on their mobile phones from India Post informing them about status of mails, parcels, money orders and other deliveries. Besides, the postal department has also decided to start tracking their postmen with help of GPS enabled handheld devices by October. This will help locate the postmen visiting the addresses given to them to deliver parcels and registered posts in Delhi under a pilot project.

CANADA: Post & Parcel: Canada Post has announced today (9 July) that it is proposing to increase postage rates in 2016. The postal corporation said in an official statement that it was proposing to take this step because "declining mail volumes continue to have a significant impact on its financial situation". Under the new proposals, the postage rate for domestic Lettermail items weighing 30 grams or less when purchased in a booklet, coil or pane would rise to $0.90 from the current rate of $0.85. The price of a single stamp would remain at $1.00. The rate change would take effect on January 11, 2016 and replace rates that will have been in effect for 21 months.

UNITED KINGDOM: Shropshire Star: The UK's parcels market has become like the "wild west", with bogus self-employment and illegal wages, a union leader has claimed.

UNITED KINGDOM: The Times: "Gangs exploit poor postal security to buy guns from US"

INDIA: The Hindu: To facilitate rural entrepreneurs reach national markets, the Department of Posts is foraying into the e-commerce sector. India Post is planning to enter e-commerce with the aim of promoting the interests of small and middle-level manufactures, artisans, craftsmen, weavers in the rural areas and open rural markets like how the urban manufacturers and business entrepreneurs were being benefited.

July 8, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Federal RegisterPostal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products,39165–39166 [2015–16645] [TEXT]

Postal Regulatory Commission:

DOMESTIC NEWS

Post & Parcel: In its latest annual report, the US Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has found that the US Postal Service has "partially met" goals on the quality of its services and income controls, but it did not meet goals for keepings it workforce engaged and ensuring a safe workplace. The Commission also reported that it could not determine whether the Postal Service met its Provide Excellent Customer Experiences goal "due to lack of comparable 2014 data". The PRC recommended that, in order to "better meet the goals and assess its performance in future years", USPS should:

  • (in cases where the overall delivery service performance indicator missed its target) isolate specific measurements for time periods, geographic regions or products;
  • provide results for each new customer experience measure based on surveys received throughout 2015;
  • (to determine the efficacy of the Postal Service's plan to meet its safe workplace goal) discuss the most common types of illnesses and injuries by employee activity and preventative measures in next year's report and plan;
  • revise its targets for sustaining controllable income to reflect the delay in implementing its network rationalization, as well as outline other methods employed to meet its controllable income goal.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

SINGAPORE: Nikkei Asian Review: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding announced Wednesday that it will invest around 279 million Singapore dollars ($206 million) in Singapore Post, the country's national postal service provider. Alibaba intends to boost its e-commerce business across the Asian region by deepening its partnership with SingPost. Alibaba will acquire an additional 5% stake in SingPost for S$187 million. Alibaba bought a 10.23% stake in 2014, becoming the second largest shareholder after Singapore Telecommunications, and its interest will rise to 14.51% after this transaction.

July 7, 2015

PostCom Members! The latest issue of PostCom's Postal Executive Update is now available online.

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

USPS Office of the Inspector GeneralNo Time Like the Present -- It's Christmas in July for the retail industry. Holiday decorations might not hit stores for a few more months, but retailers are now working on their 2015 holiday plans. And you can bet that shipping strategies are a big part of those plans. Online sales made up about 10 percent of the $616 billion in holiday sales last year, so shipping plans are a top priority for retailers. In addition, more and more retailers are eyeing the international market, which means cross-border shipping is part of the mix as well. As for its plans, the shipping industry is likely to heed the ghost of Christmas past to avoid repeating mistakes. UPS reportedly just started informing certain retailers that it will not give discounts on oversized items, such as furniture and grills, this holiday season. These items don't move on the company's automated conveyor belts and require more costly manual handling.

Postal Regulatory Commission:

DOMESTIC NEWS

MLive: U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee says he's working on a solution to keep a U.S. Post Office branch in downtown Flint. "The downtown post office provides an essential service to businesses and residents and I am very concerned about its potential closure," he said. "I have personally called the postmaster to discuss a solution that keeps a post office open in downtown Flint." "I am also disappointed that the U.S. Postal Service failed to inform my office of this potential closure and the lack of information that has been provided about why they chose to close this particular location," said Kildee, D-Flint Township. "I continue to work with the U.S. Postal Service to keep a downtown Post Office open so that mail service to Flint residents is not affected." Last week, a letter announcing the closure of the post office appeared on its front door, outside the Dryden Building, 601 N. Saginaw St.

Washington Post: Collect Space reports that the stamp -- which was produced in 1991 -- is affixed to the probe. The 4.67 billion miles to Pluto will be the farthest a USPS stamp has ever traveled, and as soon as the probe arrives, the words on the stamp -- "not yet explored" -- will become untrue. That's one paradoxical keepsake to have on board.

Window Book: Window Book, Inc. is pleased to announce the release of their latest breakthrough in Mail.dat® processing automation, Advanced Workflow Automation Manager (AWAM™). This new software works with Window Book's DAT-MAIL software to help mailers save time and improve productivity with high performance, automated Mail.dat importing and processing.

Linn's Stamp News: The United States Postal Service is unable to document cost savings from its decision to print postage stamps on paper that cannot be soaked off envelopes. That's the conclusion of the agency's response to a Freedom of Information Act request Linn's filed with the agency May 11 at the suggestion of a former senior postal official. Mary-Anne Penner, the new USPS acting director of stamp services, has said she would like to see a return to soakable stamps, an issue that remains popular with many stamp collectors.

24/7 Wall St.: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) related to the housing of contract postal units in Staples Inc. stores. The NLRB has determined that the USPS violated the law when it opened its first postal counter in a Staples store in late 2013.

Politico: As lawmakers return to Washington for a four-week sprint before the long August recess, they find themselves careening toward an unprecedented shutdown of highway construction projects this summer when transportation funding expires July 31. Just coming up with the $11 billion needed to keep the federal highway program running until the end of the year — let alone fully addressing a national infrastructure riddled with crumbling roads and bridges — will be challenging, given the need to offset any spending increase with a corresponding cut or revenue increase. Balancing the highway issues against a hefty to-do list will be a challenge for Republicans who control both ends of the Capitol, particularly with lawmakers eager to scatter across the country for the August recess. And the crammed July calendar doesn't even account for the major threat hovering over this Congress: a federal government that will shut down unless lawmakers approve a new spending law by Sept. 30, a fight in which both parties are already positioning themselves for the blame game. [EdNote: Also, Iran talks, education reform, appropriations bills, Puerto Rico . . . . If you're waiting for Congress to pass a postal reform bill, don't hold your breath.]

ErieTVNews: After months of rallying and negotiation talks, the American Post Workers Union has yet to reach a contract agreement with the U.S. Postal Service. According to APWU President Joe Szocki, the two sides have been in mediation since June, after failing to reach an agreement by the May 20 deadline.

The Boston Globe: The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing next month to determine whether a deal between the United States Postal Service and Staples Inc. violates a collective bargaining agreement with the American Postal Workers Union.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

SWITZERLAND: The Stack: Switzerland's postal service has begun practical trials of its drone-based postal delivery service, the organisation announced in a post today. The project is a collaboration between Swiss Post, Swiss World Cargo and California-based drone startup Matternet, which is supplying the lightweight airborne carriers. Swiss Post emphasises that the practical trials which begin this month will not lead to a commercial service in less than five years, and additionally that drones are not expected to predominate as a new delivery method in Switzerland: ‘The possible areas of application offered by drone technology are very diverse, ranging from delivery to peripheral areas to the express delivery of goods,'

AZERBAIJAN: AzerNews: A joint project between Azerpocht LLC and the World Bank will modernize Azerbaijan's postal system. The project will oversee not only reform at the post office, but also includes provisions to add a wide range of financial services directly available at post offices throughout the country.

UNITED KINGDOM: The Independent: Is the Government selling off its remaining Royal Mail shares too soon? Analys The Chancellor could make the timing of the next sale clearer in Wednesday's Budget.ts at Goldman Sachs suggest it might be after lifting their target price to 610p – a move which helped the shares up 5.5p to 510.5p.

MALAYSIA: The Rakyat PostPos Malaysia is expected to handle 2.6 million Hari Raya greeting cards this year. Pos Malaysia expects the number of cards to be huge despite most people thinking that these cards are no longer relevant. Pos Malaysia operations chief (Communications and Distribution Solutions) Helmi Hashim said that the promotion for 50 sen stamp for every Hari Raya card was to encourage people, especially during Raya, to use Pos Malaysia as their main medium. "The campaign is not just to attract people to use the postal service to send their greeting cards but also to preserve old traditions that are becoming easily forgotten.

OMAN: Times of Oman:  As part of its new strategy to develop human resources in postal services, the Oman Post Company is aiming to build a second generation of postal workers. Recently, Oman Post organised a training course for employees to enhance their ability with skills that help them convey quality services. Work ethics, promotion of values, job loyalty, and performance upgrades were taught to the employees in the postal sector, to prepare the second rung of staff. These courses will be circulated to all workers in the 88 branches in different states of Oman.

July 6, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Postal Regulatory Commission

DOMESTIC NEWS

The Country Today: Eau Claire Press Co. officials are continuing to work with U.S. Postal Ser-vice representatives in an attempt to resolve ongoing delivery issues with The Country Today. Since the closing of several postal distribution centers, some The Country Today customers have experienced inconsistent delivery through the mail.

CBS News: The Postal Service is shipping all 230,000 carriers new mobile devices with a soon-to-be-activated "panic button." GPS transmits their location to their supervisors every minute. Jeff Williamson is the chief of human resources for the Postal Service and gave CBS News the first public look at the devices, which will be rolled out by September.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Arabian Supply Chain: Sustained growth across key economic sectors such as FMCG, retail, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, automotive and logistics is fuelling demand for high quality materials handling products and services across the Middle East, according to global analysts Frost & Sullivan. The company values the UAE logistics market alone at $27 billion for 2015, up 15% from 2013.

BERMUDA: The Royal Gazette: Postal rate increases came into effect at the start of this month, with a 50 gram local letter rising in price from 35 cents to 50 cents. The rate has risen by 35 cents for each additional 50 grams of weight, up to a maximum of 2kg. International rates have also increased: a 10 gram letter to the United States, formerly 70 cents, is now set at 50 grams for $1.15. A detailed list of increases is given at the web site www.bpo.bm. It marks the first increase in rates for the service since 2000.

UNITED KINGDOM: Post & Parcel: Royal Mail has chosen Datalogic to implement a new parcel sorting system in around 20 mail centres across the UK. The companies said that the automated parcels sorting machines will improve the speed and efficiency of parcels sorting at the mail centres, and also enable enhanced tracking of barcoded parcels in the Royal Mail network.

AUSTRALIA: Post & Parcel: Australia Post will be using technology start-up company Bugwolf to crowdsource "vetted" beta testers for the postal operator's new apps, digital products and websites. Bugwolf describes itself as a company which provides an environment "where our clients de-risk their digital products before their customers discover user interface and user experience issues". The company explained that it does this by providing a "secure environment and scalable platform" where it can assemble teams from a "vetted pool of elite beta testers". According to Bugwolf, its approach "reduces test cycles from weeks to days, lowers the cost of testing by up to 50%, and provides up to 10x more test engagement than traditional beta-testing methodologies".

GERMANY: ReutersDeutsche Post and trade union Verdi have reached an agreement in a dispute over pay and conditions that has led to a series of strikes, including one that has lasted four weeks, they said on Sunday after marathon negotiations. The German postal operator will give its 140,000 workers a pay rise of 2 percent in 2016 and 1.7 percent in 2017, plus a one-off payment of 400 euros ($444) this year. In return, the union agreed to let Deutsche Post press on with plans to create new, low-cost parcel divisions, for which the company plans to hire 10,000 people. ($1 = 0.8999 euros)

INDIA: Times of India: Even in today's era dominated by cell phones and email, millions of Indians continue to rely on postal services to reach across to their loved ones, yet understandably growth in the usage of snail mail has been stagnant. According to a government official, both post cards and inland letters are primarily used in rural India and by those in cities to reach messages to India's hinterlands. Thus, the prices for the end user have remained unchanged since over a decade.

July 5, 2015

DOMESTIC NEWS

Waynesville Daily Guide: In an effort to better understand the ability of the Postal Service to meet stated delivery times, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is requesting that the federal government's top watchdog review the Postal Service's calculation of delivery times and standards. "As a former Missouri State Auditor, I know that solving problems has to start with a firm understanding of the facts," said McCaskill, who was born in Rolla, Mo. and is a senior member of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "That's why I'm asking the Government Accountability Office for this review, because we won't be able to fix these programs unless we know the full scope of the delay issues—especially in our rural communities." Senators Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Tom Carper of Delaware have also signed on to the request. The review is expected to be completed by August.

July 3, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
38477 [2015 16403] [TEXT]  [PDF]
38476 38477 [2015 16404] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Product Changes:
  Parcel Return Service Negotiated Service Agreements ,
  38477 38478 [2015 16426] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  38478 [2015 16427] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreements ,
  38478 [2015 16425] [TEXT]  [PDF]

USPS Industry Alert: Labeling Lists and Mail Direction File Updates to L012 Labeling List. Errors were found within the L012 (5-Digit Zip Scheme Combination) list that was published on 7/1/2015 for the 8/1/2015 effective date. New labeling list files will be posted on the Electronic Product Fulfillment (EPF) website and on the FAST website (under Resources) no later than Friday, July 3, 2015. The changes between the original list (published on 7/1) and the new list (published on 7/3) are as follows: Change From: 77619, 77627, 77651 GROVES TX 77630 Change To: 77619, 77627, 77651 GROVES TX 77619

DOMESTIC NEWS

KMSP-TV: Stolen packages from a stoop or front porch are usually a big deal around the holidays when those gifts start arriving, but Minneapolis police have found it to be an issue even in the heart of summer. Minneapolis police are warning the public that sometimes the thieves can make off with more than just your latest amazon order. Vonn Taylor has spent the last 6 months walking different mail routes for the U.S. Postal Service. If he is delivering a package and no one's home, he is careful to do what he can to shield it from the eyes of a potential crook.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

ZIMBABWE: Post & Parcel: The Zimbabwe Government has dismissed all the Board members of the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (Potraz) over allegations of corruption, abuse of financial resources and poor governance, according to local sources.

NORWAY - SWEDEN - DENMARK - FINLAND: Postal Techonology International: DPDgroup and PostNord plan to combine their shop network to create approximately 26,000 parcel drop-off and collection points throughout Europe. This includes DPD's network of approximately 20,000 parcel shops across 10 countries, and PostNord's network of 5,800 sites in the Nordic regions. The partnership will also grant Nordic customers access to DPD's Predict mobile-services solution, allowing them to control and customize their parcel deliveries. To further emphasize the new strategic direction, PostNord will feature DPD branding on 200 of its delivery trucks across Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

JAPAN: Post & Parcel: Japan Post has been using Toyota electric vehicles for postal pickup and delivery duties on a trial basis. Aichi prefecture-based Toyota Auto Body Co, a division of Toyota Motor Corp., announced last month (June) that it has provided four single-seater "Coms" vehicles to post office branches in central Japan. This is believed to be the first time that electric vehicles have been used for mail delivery in Japan. The Coms cars have a maximum speed of 60 kilometres (km) an hour, and can run for about 50 km between charges. Charging takes about six hours and can be done using regular household AC sockets. Toyota Auto Body has reportedly said that the trial will continue until March next year.

July 2, 2015

If you missed the recent PostCom webinar on Kathy Siviter's Update of USPS Service Performance Measurement, you can still watch and listen. The recording and the accompanying slides are posted online.

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Attention Postal One! Users:

  • PostalOne! Release 41.1.3.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! Release 41.1.3.0 will deploy on Thursday evening July 16, 2015 between 5:00PM CT and 8:00PM CT. This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time. There will not be a mandatory Mail.dat client download required. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.1.3 can be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .
     
  • PostalOne! Release 41.1.3 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur on Thursday evening Jul 16, 2015 as well. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Friday morning July 17, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT.
     
  • PostalOne! Release 41.2.0.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! Release 41.2.0.0 will deploy Sunday, Aug 2, 2015 between 4:00AM CT and 9:00AM CT. This release includes fixes to known PostalOne! issues. The PostalOne! system will remain available during the deployment time. There will be an optional Mail.dat client download created with the release. The download will not auto-update or be required for submission of Mail.dat. Changes in validations of update jobs will occur in both the available clients (41.1.0 and 41.2.0) and both will be supported. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 41.2.0 can be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .
     
  • PostalOne! Release 41.2.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will occur Sunday, August 2, 2015. The PostalOne! TEM environment validation will occur on Monday morning Aug 3, 2015 between 09:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT

USPS Industry Alert: Join the Postal Service for a webinar on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 11a.m. EDT Click-N-Ship Business Pro, free downloadable software that allows small and medium business mailers to produce domestic and international shipping labels with the required Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb), submit manifests and securely pay for postage via permit imprint. Because the IMpb contains detailed information about the package such as product, extra services, destination, and more customers gain visibility into shipments and day of delivery. Speaker: Mary M. Ballard, Business System Analyst Participant information is provided below: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 (11:00 a.m. EDT) Click-N-Ship Business Pro Attendee Information: US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (866) 381-9870 Conference ID: 17345171 Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=ee0659b7ae0b6081af07a336de4d6560b

Federal RegisterPostal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 38243 [2015 16349] [TEXT] 38242 38243 [2015 16350] [TEXT]

USPS Office of the Inspector General

  • The USPS Office of Inspector General established an Audit Asks web site to provide an opportunity for our stakeholders to comment on our projects. Web site visitors can register comments and upload documents related to our project on Extraterritorial Offices of Exchange (ETOEs) at https://www.uspsoig.gov/audit-asks/etoes-what-are-they-worth-postal-service
     
  • U.S. Postal Service's Delivering Results, Innovation, Value, and Efficiency Initiative 30 Achieve 100 Percent Customer and Revenue Visibility

    Background. In fiscal year (FY) 2011, the U.S. Postal Service established 36 Delivering Results, Innovation, Value, and Efficiency (DRIVE) initiatives to improve its business strategy. DRIVE aims to reduce the reported $20 billion gap between revenue and expenses by FY 2016 through bold, aggressive initiatives with measurable outcomes. DRIVE 30 Achieve 100 Percent Customer and Revenue Visibility has six projects designed to increase customer visibility to 95 percent and product visibility to 76 percent for meter revenue by FY 2017. The Postal Service uses customer visibility to improve its sales and marketing efforts by identifying the owner of a mailpiece. Through product visibility, it obtains mail class revenue information about metered mail, which identifies products customers are using. Our objective was to determine whether DRIVE 30 used established DRIVE project management processes.

    What The OIG Found. DRIVE 30 managers did not follow established project management processes. Specifically, two roadmaps had gaps of more than 2 to 3 months between milestone dates. Based on the DRIVE Governance Guide, milestone dates should be no more than 6 weeks apart. When milestones are too far apart, it is difficult to effectively monitor and detect risks to the schedule and to demonstrate progress. In addition, 83 changes, additions, or removals to project milestones were made in the Technology Management Office System without completing the required change request form. The Meter Product Visibility goal of a 2 percent improvement per year is not bold and aggressive, as it is not based on any activities that would improve the project goal beyond past performance. These issues occurred because the Strategic Management Office did not ensure DRIVE governance requirements for DRIVE 30 were followed. As a result, executive-level managers could make less informed decisions because they cannot accurately evaluate project goals. There is no guarantee that key planning considerations have been taken into account before the change occurs. Additionally, the initiative lead and roadmap owner did not identify new activities to improve meter product visibility. Instead, DRIVE 30 managers used this roadmap as a placeholder for monitoring, which is contrary to the purpose of DRIVE. As a result, visibility may not improve beyond what would occur through normal business activity.

    What The OIG Recommended. We recommended management require initiative leads and roadmap owners to implement milestones at 4- to 6-week intervals and complete all appropriate forms when making changes to project goals. We also recommended management ensure that DRIVE goals are bold and aggressive.
     

  • Market Dominant Billing Determinants: First-Class Mail

    Background.
    Billing determinants are spreadsheets that U.S. Postal Service employees manually produce to report volume and revenue for each price in the five market dominant classes of mail, including First-Class Mail. The Postal Service primarily obtains this data from its published price list and the Revenue, Pieces, and Weight codes. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the Postal Service to produce an Annual Compliance Report within 90 days of the end of each fiscal year. The report analyzes costs, revenue, pricing, and quality of service for all products. The Postal Service uses billing determinants to ensure price adjustments do not exceed the price cap for each market dominant class of mail. Given the manual preparation and complexity of the spreadsheets, there is a risk of data entry errors. Our objective was to assess the completeness and accuracy of the data used in market dominant billing determinants for First-Class Mail.

    What The OIG Found.
    We did not find any issues with the completeness of billing determinants but opportunities exist to improve the accuracy of the Postal Service's billing determinant calculations. Specifically, there were errors in fiscal year (FY) 2013 and FY 2014 First-Class Mail billing determinants resulting from inconsistent accounting of mail volume due to reclassifications and calculations we could not verify. As a result, the Postal Service incorrectly calculated a combined $156.8 million in revenue for FYs 2013 and 2014. Although these errors did not impact compliance with 2015 price cap requirements, there is a risk that future billing determinant calculation errors could. Overall, these errors occurred because the Postal Service did not establish strong controls over the billing determinant calculation process. Specifically, the Postal Service did not have documented repeatable processes to guide in the preparation of billing determinant spreadsheets and did not conduct quality reviews of billing determinants prior to publication. Recently, the vice president, Pricing, stated that Finance employees have begun reviewing billing determinant calculations for accuracy.

    What The OIG Recommended. We recommended the vice president, Pricing, file corrected FY 2013 and FY 2014 billing determinants with the Postal Regulatory Commission; develop procedures to ensure billing determinants are produced using documented, repeatable processes; and establish a quality review process. The current process, with the amount of judgement required and the tight timeframes, would be difficult to automate; however, as business processes change, opportunities for automation may increase and should be pursued.
     
  • Customer Care Centers

    Background.
    Residential and business customers contact the U.S. Postal Service through various toll-free telephone numbers for information on hours, prices, service issues, or other postal-related inquiries. These numbers received over 52 million calls in fiscal year (FY) 2014, 16 million of which were routed to the four Postal Service Customer Care Centers (Care Centers). The Postal Service finished insourcing its Care Centers in March 2014, and has about 1,500 agents nationwide handling calls. Care Center agents typically either immediately respond to customer requests or route calls to local operations staff. Managers oversee Care Center operations and review select calls for quality assurance. Care Center operations cost $129 million in FY 2014, including $13.2 million in contractor costs for training, reporting, and other functions. Care Centers are crucial for retaining customers and revenue and the Postal Service identified three performance metrics for its Care Centers: customer satisfaction, timeliness, and quality of information. Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Care Centers and determine whether there are opportunities for improvements.

    What The OIG Found. There are significant opportunities to improve the Postal Service's Care Centers. First, quality assurance reviews are insufficient, as 75 percent of them were not completed as required in FY 2014, and only shorter calls were chosen for review. Care Center managers stated this is a result of system issues and limited time. Second, there is no standardized, consolidated reporting process in the field to improve employee performance management and monitoring. Third, the Postal Service does not have a meaningful performance metric for evaluating the quality of information provided to callers. These issues collectively limit effective management and assessment of Care Center performance. We estimate $1.05 million in Care Center costs in FY 2014 as disbursements at risk due to insufficient quality reviews. Finally, the Postal Service should periodically assess the need for contractor-provided training and reporting. Contractor support is needed in this area at this time; however, using Postal Service employees for these activities may prove financially and operationally beneficial as the Postal Service becomes more experienced in managing its Care Centers.

    What The OIG Recommended.
    We recommended the Postal Service develop and implement controls for assuring that quality reviews are performed within established timeframes and calls are randomly chosen for review; establish standardized, consolidated reporting procedures for field supervisors; and develop a quality of information performance goal.
     
  • Award of Agilex Technologies, Inc. Contracts

    Background.
    U.S. Postal Service customers and employees increasingly rely on mobile devices to meet their business needs. To address this growing demand, the Postal Service awarded three contracts to Agilex Technologies, Inc. (Agilex). Agilex provides mission and technology consulting, software and solution development, and system integration. The first contract, valued at $389,871, was noncompetitively awarded in September 2009 for program management services. The second contract, valued at $512,710 and competitively awarded in August 2012, was for mobile computing strategy development. A third contract, valued at $8 million, was noncompetitively awarded in October 2013 to address immediate and future Postal Service mobile computing needs. When soliciting requests for proposals, contracting officers must ensure contract requirements correctly and clearly describe the Postal Service's expectations. The requirements must be outlined in enough detail to ensure a best value decision and effective contract performance. Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service properly administered the Agilex contracts.

    What The OIG Found. The Postal Service did not properly administer one of three Agilex contracts. Specifically, contracting officials awarded a contract to develop a mobile computing strategy without ensuring the contract requirements clearly described the Information Technology department's expectations. This occurred because the contracting officer did not work with the Information Technology department to clearly define its needs. Because these requirements were unclear, contracting officials incorrectly approved additional requirements without treating them as a new purchase. As a result, the Postal Service spent over $3.8 million for work that was outside the scope of the original contract requirements. Contract awards that do not clearly define requirements pose an increased financial risk to the Postal Service. When contract requirements are vague, prospective suppliers may make assumptions in their proposals that lead to higher costs. Such awards are not in the best interest of the Postal Service and may negatively impact the brand.

    What The OIG Recommended. We recommended management reiterate to contracting officers the importance of collaborating with their internal business partners prior to solicitation to obtain clearly defined requirements.

DOMESTIC NEWS

Air Cargo World: It's no surprise that DHL's largest U.S. hub is in Cincinnati. Its central location allows the express carrier to best reach the U.S. East and West coasts from a flight timing perspective. That explains why two other major express integrators UPS, which has its U.S. hub in Louisville, only 90 miles down the road, and FedEx, 480 miles away in Memphis are nearby. But like its competitors, DHL's concern is not merely reaching the coasts but the rest of the world and it is now expanding to meet rising demand. Since its exit from the US domestic express market in 2009, DHL has set its sights on growing its international service to/from that country, investing US$108 million to upgrade and expand its Americas hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG). Travis Cobb, DHL's senior vice-president, network operations, Americas, said part of the investment would be for a new apron to accommodate an additional 18 aircraft, and the remainder would be used for infrastructure, including warehousing and automation.

Post & Parcel: Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics GmbH has announced that it is implementing a new global setup, which will include regional companies established in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Commenting on the new setup, SPPAL CEO Michael Reichle said: "Our company is perfectly positioned to maximize customer benefit by addressing customer needs locally and carry out project management on site." Siemens said that the setup was a "decisive step" for SPPAL to maintain its position as a provider of technology and solutions for logistics processes and to stay "stable, flexible and sustainable in the medium-sized competitive environment".

Postalnews.com: In a major blow to the Postal Service's deal with Staples, Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint charging that the USPS illegally subcontracted work to the office-supply chain and ordering the agency to return the work that existed on July 31, 2014, to the APWU bargaining unit. A hearing is scheduled before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge on Aug. 17. If the NLRB sustains the allegations in the complaint, it could effectively end Staples' foray into the mail business.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Journal of Commerce: Deutsche Post DHL's plans to set up new parcels companies to compete with lower cost rivals is "non-negotiable" the chief executive of the mail and logistics giant said on the eve of talks tomorrow with unions aimed at ending a three month long strike by postal workers. Members of the Verdi union have staged nationwide strikes since April after Deutsche Post announced plans to create 10,000 new jobs at its parcel business but said new employees would be paid less than the group's other parcel workers. "The fact that there are these new companies is non-negotiable," Deutsche Post DHL Chief Executive Frank Appel told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The company has insisted it must cut its costs to compete with rivals such as UPS and TNT, the Dutch express delivery group that is being acquired by FedEx for 4.4 billion euros ($4.9 billion).

EUROPEAN UNION: Transport Topics: European Union antitrust regulators will decide Aug. 3 whether to clear FedEx's $4.9 billion bid for TNT Express, Reuters reported.

July 1, 2015

POSTAL/FEDERAL NEWS

Postal Regulatory Commission

USPS Office of the Inspector ETOEs What are they worth to the Postal Service? Extraterritorial Offices of Exchange (ETOEs) are businesses operated by, or in connection with, a postal operator outside of its national territory, within the borders of another country. An ETOE collects and consolidates mail from customers in a country then ships them to a destination country where the mail will be delivered to the recipient. This entire process frequently bypasses the Postal Service. In addition, Title 39 only authorizes the Postal Service to open international post offices in military installations and diplomatic posts for the use of authorized personnel. Thus, the Postal Service does not have statutory authority to establish ETOEs in foreign countries. These regulations leave the Postal Service with few options to compete in the inbound international shipping market.

Federal Register

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
37671 37672 [2015 16050] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
PROPOSED RULES
Rules of Practice Before the Judicial Officer ,
37567 37568 [2015 16141] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Rules of Practice in Proceedings Relative to Debarment from Contracting ,
37565 37567 [2015 16143] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
International Product Changes:
  Global Expedited Package Services: Non-Published Rates ,
  37672 [2015 16142] [TEXT]  [PDF]

DOMESTIC NEWS

Politico: Hillary Clinton will attend an informal, intimate get-together for national and international labor leaders at campaign chairman John Podesta's Washington, D.C., home on July 14, sources told POLITICO. The event, which takes place amid lingering concerns in the labor community over Clinton's stance on trade, is scheduled for one day after a handful of influential labor leaders host a D.C. meet-and-greet with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Communications Workers of America president Chris Shelton, Larry Cohen, the outgoing CWA president and American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein will host that meeting, which will be held at APWU headquarters in Washington. "It's a meet and greet, he's an important candidate," Dimondstein said of Sanders. "He's not in the pocket of the corporations, and wants corporate money out of politics. We hope to hear from him, to go into some of what his platform and program is, and how it relates to working folks. I have not officially endorsed Bernie, but I'm happy to be a co-host so he can meet with other labor leaders." He said he is expecting a group of between 30 and 40 labor leaders to attend.

The Denver Channel: When the U.S. Postal Service cannot get mail to where it belongs, the items are sent to a central location in Atlanta. It's there that the items are supposed to be held for around 90 days, in case someone contacts the post office for a search or with an insurance claim.

Global Address Data Association: The latest issue of the GADA newsletter is now available online.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

IRELAND: Post & Parcel: Gary Delaney, the chief executive of Loc8, told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications yesterday (30 June) that the new Eircode "will not deliver on the legal definition of what the national post code should be". Loc8 operates its own digital address system, but Delaney told the Committee that he was appearing as an expert rather than someone with a commercial interest. He argued that Eircode was not fulfilling its brief because it does not allow ordinary citizens or visitors to the republic to use it to identity localities. As previously reported, the system, developed by Capita Ireland, has met with criticism from some quarters. The first three digits of the code are based on major national routes and will identify the area, but the other four digits are randomly assigned and this has proved a concern for some because the postcodes will not be sequential. This means that within a postal district of tens of thousands of properties, it will be difficult to tell if certain properties are close to each other without paying for access to the government database.

NETHERLANDS: NLTimes: Trade union FNV is threatening PostNL with protest actions if the company does not respond to the unions demands for better working conditions for the thousands of independent delivery drivers by 12:00 p.m. on Thursday. Union director Renier Stroo announced this on Tuesday, NU reports. According to Stroo, negotiations on the delivery workers collapsed last week. FNV thinks the proposals that PostNL has made are inadequate. The union wants package delivers who remain independent to work for a minimum hourly rate. According to Stroo, the postal company will not go beyond an additional fee per week. "But the independent deliverers often work a 50 hour week or even longer. The longer the working week, the lower the hourly rate works out", he said to NU.

ITALY: CEP News: The Italian regulatory authority AGCOM conditionally approved the changes to the universal service obligation that were demanded by the postal service (CEP News 14/15). Last Thursday, the authority announced that the postal operator could reduce the delivery frequency to every second day if specified geographical criteria are met. With this, the distribution would adhere to the following pattern: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday, Thursday etc. However, additionally, a D+1 delivery still has to be offered, but the postal operator may offer this for an extra fee. The authority justified the decision with the continued decline in mail volumes due to the electronic substitution.

NEW ZEALAND: Stuff: A reduction in postal deliveries to three days a week has taken effect, as New Zealand Post tries to stay afloat in the digital age. From Wednesday, households could expect to receive standard mail delivery on either Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The service will keep to its target of delivering at least 95 per cent of standard mail within three days and urgent courier packages overnight.

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