This Month in the Postal World:
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January 31, 2015
From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission New Postal Products , 5589 [2015–01907] [TEXT]
The Olympian: Two bills in the state Legislature aim to simplify the process of voting: one through providing prepaid postage on ballots, and the other by allowing voters to return ballots by email and fax. “In a democracy, everyone should participate, and we should make it as easy to participate as possible,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, the sponsor of Senate Bill 5344. Hasegawa’s bill would require prepaid postage on return envelopes for primary and general election ballots. The state would reimburse counties for the cost of postage.
Office of the Inspector General: Highway Contract Routes (HCR) - Extra Trips - Greater South Carolina District -- The U.S. Postal Service uses highway contract routes (HCR) to transport mail between its post offices and other designated points where mail is received or dispatched, such as mailers’ facilities. Extra trips are in addition to those normally provided under the terms of the contract that result in more costs to the Postal Service. Management schedules extra trips to prevent serious delays of preferential mail or as a result of high mail volume. PS Form 5397 authorizes extra trip occurrences and PS Form 5429 provides contractor additional payments. The OIG has been monitoring HCR extra trips as part of its quarterly Surface Transportation Risk Model. The risk model consistently ranked Greater South Carolina District as one of the 10 most at risk districts for extra trips for fiscal year (FY) 2014, Quarter (Q) 3.
Wall Street Journal: The U.S. economy entered 2015 on the most robust streak of consumer spending in years, yet when the first growth figures for 2014 came out Friday they underscored the lack of vigor in the current expansion.
Postallnews.com: Elizabeth Johnson has been named acting vice president, Corporate Communications. She will lead efforts to help the Postal Service communicate about important activities internally and externally. Johnson succeeds Mitzi Betman, who retired as vice president, Corporate Communications, and chief of staff Jan. 16. “Corporate Communications plays a vital role in informing employees and customers about the work of the Postal Service, and I look forward to working with the team to continue those efforts,” Johnson said. Johnson, district manager for Mississippi District, previously served as district manager for Central Florida and Maine districts. She worked in Human Resources for many years, including as a labor relations manager for Northeast Area and a human resources manager for Midwest Area.
CBS New York: Residents in a Rockland County town say they have a postal problem. Complaints range from long slow lines in the post office, to multiple reports of receiving the wrong mail. Residents said the postal service can’t brush the issue off as weather related. They’ve been dealing with it for months. The U.S. Postal Service said after being notified of comments on Facebook it found complaints were primarily from residents along one route in town. They claim a special route review is being conducted to address the later delivery times. The postal service said ti will take about a month to make changes to the route with the most issues.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Marketplace: Saturday is Patrick Donahoe’s last day as postmaster general. He has spent his entire career – almost 40 years – with the U.S.P.S., and his successor, Megan Brennan, is likely to push for many of the reforms Donahoe has. The postmaster general makes about $275,000 a year, but earns it, say people who follow the agency. There are very few decisions you can make without approval, says Gene Del Polito, who heads a trade group called the Association for Postal Commerce. “When you are postmaster general, you really have 535 members of your board of governors – they are all members of the U.S. Congress, and they all think they know your job better than you do.” On the one hand, there is this expectation the U.S.P.S. should be run like a business, but Rick Geddes, who teaches policy analysis and management at Cornell University, says the postmaster general’s lack of autonomy has kept the organization from being as nimble as it has needed to be.
January 30, 2015
Manufacturing Business Technology: Rather than replace Microsoft Office or Gmail, Amazon's new WorkMail will operate as a secure back-end technology, allowing users to exchange emails, manage contacts and calendars on Amazon's cloud servers. WorkMail users can continue to use alternate email services, and WorkMail will exchange messages through its secure network at a charge of $4 per inbox, which includes 50 GB of storage per user. Google Apps charges $5 per month, while Office 365 is $6 per month.
Marketing Mobile Daily: Mobile ecommerce is growing fast, and that is obviously good news for retailers -- but as always, you take the good with the bad. In this case the bad news is that the increase in legitimate mobile commerce sales provides cover for an increase in mobile commerce fraud. That’s according to a new report form LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which calculates that the volume of fraudulent transactions increased from 0.8% of total mobile commerce revenues in 2013 to 1.36% in 2014, a year-over-year increase of 70%. All this fraud brings a high cost beyond the mere loss of revenues. Each dollar lost to fraud costs mobile commerce retailers a total of $3.34 in 2014.
Washington Post: Mark Meadows is a difficult man to predict. As the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government operations, the North Carolina Republican is in a key position to affect federal workplace and employee issues. But what should they expect from him? While his right-wing credentials shine, he appears more open to the concerns of federal government workers than his terrible federal union ratings would indicate. He plans to meet with employees in a different agency each month. In a committee with a reputation for caustic partisanship, Meadows and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), a progressive and the top Democrat on the subcommittee, speak warmly of their personal and professional relationship.
Global Newswire: Command Security Corporation has announced that on January 29, 2015, the U.S. Postal Service ("USPS") issued a stay of the transition of the two contracts recently awarded to Command Security Corporation ("Command Security" or the "Company") pending the resolution of a dispute over the award of such contracts. The contracts at issue were disclosed in a press release issued by the Company on January 6, 2015, and in a Form 8-K filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 12, 2015.
Lakefield Standard: The U.S. Postal Service is legally obligated to serve all Americans uniformly regardless of geography. It is hard to believe the USPS will be able to meet this obligation in light of a series of planned mail processing plant closures later this year. In fact, in Jackson County, it is already falling short. The USPS will close more than 80 mail processing plants in 2015, with smaller, regional plants being consolidated into urban facilities. The postal service already closed nearly 150 plants over the past three years and says service has not been affected. This is not true.
Senator John Tester: Senator Jon Tester today met incoming Postmaster General Megan Brennan for the first time to discuss strengthening the Postal Service and the need to improve delivery standards in rural states like Montana. Tester emphasized the Postal Service's delivery standards have become a disaster for USPS and for the Montana families that rely on the Postal Service to deliver medication, election ballots and ultimately, to stay connected. He also voiced the need to reform funding of the Postal Service's employees' retiree health benefits to maximize returns and limit the waste of current funds. "I live in the sticks and I'm telling you the Postal Service is critically important for rural America. Folks around the country rely on the mail every day for essential deliveries," Tester said. "I was pleased to meet Ms. Brennan and I look forward to continuing our dialogue to restore mail delivery standards in rural America." Tester highlighted that closing processing plants and cutting service standards will greatly impact the speed of delivery around the country. Since 2011, 141 mail processing facilities have been closed, including six in Montana. Eighty-two more facilities are expected to close by September of this year - a plan that Tester calls "short-sighted." This week Tester sent a letter to Brennan calling on the USPS to ensure accuracy, as well as its accountability to others, when tracking how long it takes for mail to get from place to place.
India Education Diary: Fujitsu today announces details of how it is investing €345 million (50 billion Yen) over the next three years into its Global Delivery capability in order to bring innovative new ICT services and solutions to market. Alongside the goal of globally standardizing its service delivery offerings, Fujitsu sees innovation as a key enabler for its customers to better and faster achieve their own business goals, while being a significant differentiator in an increasingly commoditized global services market.
Budapest Business Journal: State-owned postal service, Magyar Posta, is scheduled to start operating 19 automated postal check terminals at large retailers and train stations around the country in February, Hungarian business daily Világgazdaság reported today. According to the paper, Magyar Posta will establish necessary conditions for qualifying check payments made with bank cards in the form of purchases instead of cash withdrawals by the end of the current year.
Today Online: More than S$100 million, which we have committed to technology, people and capabilities to drive productivity and enhance the service level, is being disbursed over several years. Of this, 60 per cent goes directly into improving postal service, specifically through upgrading of our postal infrastructure, refreshing of the post office network and rehiring of additional postal staff.
Internet Retailer: While the new pricing structure has the obvious potential to significantly increase transportation costs for many parcel shippers, it could also negatively impact e-commerce sales levels, making it even harder for smaller companies to compete with giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart. Some experts believe this change could impact as many as 30% of all packages shipped using Ground service.
January 29, 2015
TWCNews: Senator Charles Schumer is urging the new postmaster general to keep the William Street processing and distribution center in Buffalo open until at least the end of 2015. Schumer met Thursday with the new postmaster and urged her to honor the agreement the senator had with the outgoing postmaster which would keep the facility open through 2015.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
On October 17, 2014, the Postal Service began discussions with the Commission on proposals to develop new internal service performance measurement systems for several of its market dominant products, including products within domestic First-Class Mail, Periodicals, Standard Mail and Package Services.1 Service performance, for the products under consideration, are currently measured using either external, or hybrid (combined internal and external), measurement systems. . . . The Commission will host an off-the-record technical conference on March 5, 2015, which is open to all persons interested in the Postal Service’s service performance measurement systems proposals. The Postal Service shall briefly outline the proposals contained within its plan, and be available to answer questions. Interested persons are invited to comment on any or all aspects of the Postal Service’s new proposals for service performance measurement and reporting systems. Comments are due March 26, 2015. Reply comments may be filed no later than April 8, 2015. The Commission intends to evaluate the comments received and use those suggestions to help carry out its service performance measurement responsibilities under the PAEA. Material filed in this docket will be available for review on the Commission’s website.
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.
The Economic Times: Directly stepping into the cyber world, India post is going to launch its own e-commerce portal in the shape of those like Amazon or eBay soon. The aggressive step of India Post, world's largest postal service, is a part of its massive IT based modernization initiative worth Rs 5,000 crore. The portal will be like popular e-commerce entities like Amazon or eBay. A conduit between buyers and sellers. But, it is not going to be entirely open for any item to be traded by anyone. Rather a moderated and scrutinized list will be followed.
Roll Call: Congress’ Top Travelers Say Globetrotting on Private Dime Essential -- As one of the top travelers in Congress, Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette likes to give this advice to incoming House freshmen: “Pick one or two countries and really get deeply involved in the politics and culture.” In February, DeGette and her husband traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, for the week-long Congress-Diet Seminar, a $23,687 trip, sponsored by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, in which she is co-chairman of the Congressional Study Group on Japan. Traveling with a small group of members and their spouses, DeGette met with journalists, government officials and Japanese lawmakers and toured a Buddhist temple, shrine and other cultural sites. Private groups sent members of Congress and their staffs on 1,942 trips last year, more than in any year since Congress tightened its rules in 2007 on outside groups paying for travel, part of the response to the Jack Abramoff scandal. The total bill for travel to domestic locales and distant corners of the globe — including Belgium, Colombia, Cuba, Israel, Italy and Turkey — topped $5.1 million in 2014, according to an analysis of records maintained by the website Legistorm.
Air Cargo World: DHL Global Forwarding, the logistics arm of Deutsche Post DHL, last week completed construction of its US$35 million, 491,000-square-foot container freight station in Chicago, which will be the company’s largest cargo facility in the United States. The three-story building (see artist's rendering at right), containing both office and warehouse space to hold 500 workers, is located in Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s cargo zone and took about a year to complete. Part of the building has been designated a Foreign Trade Zone, which is a secure area under the supervision of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and considered outside the customs territory of the U.S. for the purpose of duty-payment.
Transport Intelligence: Ti’s team of researchers and analysts have been working on the production of the Agility Emerging Markets Index 2015 and the Global e-commerce Logistics 2015 report for the last few months. Their combined findings show that the e-commerce markets in emerging markets are expected to see marked increases in growth over the coming years and that Asia Pacific will overtake North America as the largest e-commerce market overall.
BBC: Royal Mail chairman Donald Brydon is to step down, the company has said. Mr Brydon, who oversaw the controversial privatisation of the postal company and has been in the post since 2009, will remain in the job until at least the summer.
San Jose Mercury News: The U.S. Postal Service has been under fire for a variety of mail problems in Los Gatos, which is why postmaster John Lopez was asked to speak at the Jan. 20 town council meeting. Town staff also complained about inconsistent mail delivery and pick-up at town hall. When Lopez addressed the council last week he acknowledged "we did have issues" with deliveries and timeliness. Mail delivery problems can be reported to Rep. Anna Eshoo's office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650.323.2984. Contact USPS at 800.275.8777 or go to faq.usps.com for more information.
Post & Parcel: International mail firm Asendia USA has formed a partnership with shipping software firm ShipStation to simplify the international parcel shipping process for e-commerce merchants. Asendia, the international mail joint venture between Swiss Post and La Poste Group, said the partnership with ShipStation would allow e-commerce retailers to take advantage of “deeply discounted” international shipping services with the US Postal Service and other postal administrations, while using ShipStation’s processing system to prepare and print shipping labels. Texas-based ShipStation has been providing shipping software for e-commerce since 2011, offering automatic order importing from 50 different online marketplaces, including eBay and Amazon. Asendia said ShipStation users using its services would now benefit from a cleaner label, package visibility and the ability to have customs data automatically uploaded.
Datamininglab: Elder Research Builds Custom Tool to Help Reduce Fraud, Waste, and Abuse at the Postal Service IG (434) 973-7673 Elder Research (ERI) partnered with the USPS OIG to create and field a custom solution to detect anomalies and generate investigative leads based on risk indicators. With the tool, ERI created predictive models that scored and rank-ordered contracts based on weighted combinations of risk indicators, generating leads that proved to be 74% actionable, resulting in over $11 million in recoveries, restitutions, and cost avoidance cases in the first year of the tool’s deployment
Green Valley News: The U.S. Postal Service is obviously on the wrong track in pursuing profitability with slower service. Slower is unlikely to be better. In fact, the success of services such as United Parcel Service and FedEx have long been based on exploiting the slow speed of the Postal Service. Now snail mail is getting even slower. Businesses still have a huge reliance on the Postal Service for delivery of bills and for the return of payments. Even in an era of electronic banking, businesses still write and send many checks. Slower delivery of both billings and payments can make a big difference. Periodicals will also slow a day. Newspapers largely rely on their own delivery systems but many magazines still use the Postal Service. Print publications may not be as immediate as digital or television news, but they tend to be timely and thorough. Subscribers deserve to receive them sooner, not later.
The Beckley Register-Herald: District 1 Congressman David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to the postal slowdown and a return to prior service standards.
Januar 28, 2015
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Office of the Inspector General: Estimating the Value of the U.S. Postal Service Brand -- "Our white paper, The Value of the U.S. Postal Service Brand, details the extensive research and analysis as well as PQC’s methodology and model that produced an estimate of the Postal Service’s brand value at $3.6 billion. That is, the Postal Service can expect to realize $3.6 billion in future cash flows as a direct result of its brand. For example, if the U.S. Postal Service were largely unknown to the public, appearing to be just a generic delivery service, the organization would not realize the $3.6 billion in cash flows attributable to the brand over its lifetime, all else being equal. The PQC white paper asserts that there is still untapped value in the Postal Service brand and suggests ways the Postal Service can enhance some of its brand attributes."
Transport Intelligence: Mobile commerce (m-commerce), alternative payments, cross-border and the ‘shared economy’ are among the many trends affecting e-commerce and its logistics. Logistics providers are responding in varying ways by offering more delivery options, more alternative delivery locations and utilizing technology to provide such services as real-time tracking and visibility. At the same time, retailers are investing in e-commerce logistics such as establishing e-fulfillment centres and creating a multichannel experience for consumers.
Transport Intelligence: A wake-up call to the express and small parcel industry . Amazon is rumored to be changing its network favoring regional parcel carriers, the USPS and its own delivery fleet to address shipping. Uber, Zipments and other similar same-day delivery businesses are taking advantage of the rising use of smartphone apps along with the use of freelancers and/ or contractors. This in turn allows them to operate with far less overhead versus traditional delivery providers. Higher shipping costs may in fact drive companies to use such delivery services.
Reuters: Japan Post Holdings Co aims to unveil a growth strategy in June, hoping to win over investors who criticised the lack of a plan when the state-owned entity said it aimed to list on the stock exchange. The postal and financial services provider last month said it and two subsidiaries would conduct separate initial public offerings (IPO) later this year, in what could collectively be Japan's biggest privitisation in nearly 30 years.
Mmegi: BotswanaPost will pilot home delivery of mail- in the areas of Block 7 and 8 in Gaborone beginning April this year. This project, which is going to take a year, will take advantage of the ongoing Ministry of Lands and Housing’ s project of putting up street names and locators in the mentioned areas. “People should expect to have post boxes set up outside their homes and have their mail, which is addressed to a physical address, not postal address, delivered directly to their home.” said Pearl Ntlotlang, Postcode and Addressing Manager in an exclusive interview with Mmegi. -
From the Federal Register: Postal Service Product Changes: Priority Mail and First-Class Package Service Negotiated Service Agreement , 4597 [2015–01501] [TEXT]
Benzinga: Most people use United Parcel Service, Inc. UPS and FedEx Corporation FDX to ship items overnight, but few options are available for faster or same-day shipping. In some cases a courier might actually cost more than the value of the item being shipped. This poses a significant challenge to individuals who need something immediately, but either can't afford the shipping fee or simply don't have any way to send the item fast enough. Roadie, a new startup from serial entrepreneur Marc Gorlin (co-founder of Kabbage), wants to change that. The concept is pretty simple: when an item needs to be shipped, users jump into the Roadie app and see if any drivers (known as "Roadies") are headed in the right direction. If Bob lives in Detroit, Michigan, and he wants to send a lamp to Chicago, Illinois, he can see how many people are headed from Detroit to Chicago and when they plan to leave. This allows individuals to ship items faster and cheaper than most alternative options. It also gives Roadies the chance to make some extra money during a commute they had to endure anyway.
January 27, 2015
Attention Postal One! Users:
PostCom welcomes its newest member: Fulfillment Distribution Center, Inc. 720 Anderson Avenue St. Cloud, MN 56303 Contact: Arlin Wertish Vice President Returns/Shipping
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Lexology: "Top 10 reasons why postal service contracting differs from other federal agencies"
Louisville Business First: Shares of United Parcel Service Inc. are down about 2 percent, to about $100.98 per share at midday Monday. That follows a sharp decline on Friday, after the company lowered its earnings guidance because its U.S. domestic shipping segment underperformed last quarter. The company said package volume and revenue results came in as expected but higher-than-anticipated peak season expenses cut into the company's operating profit. Bloomberg commentators discussed the company on the "Before The Bell" program, saying UPS had more workers than package volume on some days during peak season. The company is considering surge pricing during its holiday peak season.
Gizmodo: Twitter's stepping up things in the battle for ad money by introducing a new sales tool that lets advertisers target people by post code alone. Imagine the fun you could have with a few quid and the postal digits of a friend or enemy!
Office of the Inspector General: Efficiency Review of the Chicago, IL, Network Distribution Center – Operations and Transportation
What The OIG Found. Opportunities exist to improve the efficiency of some operations at the Chicago NDC. The Chicago NDC did not attain the average productivity of comparable NDCs. Specifically, we found the Chicago NDC’s parcel sorter machines and sack sorter operations were inefficient and determined the facility used more workhours in mailhandler operations than necessary. As a result, the Chicago NDC could eliminate 119,572 workhours from its mail processing operations. We also found some mail transport equipment with unused space, equipment not properly restrained for transport, and some trailers from the Chicago NDC headed to Pittsburgh and Des Moines NDCs were not filled to capacity. These Highlights conditions occurred because officials did not properly staff operations based on mail volume and did not have the latest technology installed on parcel sorter machines to automate parcel distribution. In addition, the Powered Industrial Vehicle Management System used for tracking motorized equipment was not working; and employees did not fully use the Yard Management System to ensure efficient trailer yard moves or follow NDC guidelines for properly sorting, labeling, and consolidating mail. Further, management did not review its highway contract route transportation requirements. The Postal Service could save about $5.6 million annually by eliminating unnecessary workhours, ensuring compliance with NDC guidelines, and eliminating three underutilized transportation round trips.
What The OIG Recommended. We recommended the vice president, Great Lakes Area, instruct the Chicago NDC to eliminate 119,572 workhours at the Chicago NDC by evaluating staffing and scheduling; installing singulate, scan, and induction equipment on parcel sorter machines; repairing and using the Powered Industrial Vehicle Management System; and fully using the Yard Management System to assign trailers to dock doors. We also recommended the vice presidents, Great Lakes, Eastern, and Western areas, reinforce compliance with NDC guidelines, remove unnecessary transportation, and reinforce existing safety procedures for restraining mail transport equipment.
Washington Post: Ireland’s state-owned postal carrier, An Post, has apologized after one 3-year-old’s letter to Santa Claus was returned to her home last week, nearly a month after Christmas. The girl’s father, Alan Campbell, told RTE radio on Monday that the returned letter was marked “insufficient address.” The letter, addressed the girl’s mother and mailed along with Dear Santa notes from her two siblings, was marked “Santa Claus, Santa’s Grotto, Lapland, The North Pole.”
ABC40: The USPS has announced they will not be delivering mail Tuesday in several districts due to the severe snowstorm including in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
January 26, 2015
American Postal Workers Union: With a ‘Golden Parachute’ in Hand, Donahoe Opposes Retirement for Young Workers -- "When Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe retires at the end of the week, he’ll get a retirement package of more than $4 million. Not bad for a “civil servant.”
Postalnews Blog: Many Postal Service retirees begin new careers after leaving USPS, and Brenda Lawrence is no different — although her new job is unique. Lawrence took office this month as U.S. House of Representatives member from Michigan’s 14th Congressional District, which includes eastern Detroit. She retired from USPS in 2008 after 30 years, including serving as a letter carrier.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
ASAE has announced that Jessica Lowrance, Executive Vice President of the Association for Postal Commerce has earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE °) designation. The CAE is the highest professional credential in the association industry. To be designated as a Certified Association Executive, an applicant must have a minimum of three years experience with nonprofit organization management, complete a minimum of 100 hours of specialized professional development, pass a stringent examination in association management, and pledge to uphold a code of ethics. To maintain the certification, individuals must undertake ongoing professional development and activities in association and nonprofit management. More than 4,000 association professionals currently hold the CAE credential. The CAE Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Postal Service Files Competitive Price Change No Price Increase Expected for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail. Today, the Postal Service filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a Competitive Products price change. Unlike other shipping companies, the Postal Service is not implementing any new dimensional weight charges with this pricing proposal, continuing its commitment to deliver the best value for customers. With affordable shipping options, the Postal Service hopes to attract new business customers to become their delivery provider of choice. Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), each product must cover its attributable costs while all competitive products, collectively, must contribute an “appropriate share” to the institutional costs of the Postal Service. The PRC has defined this share as, at least, 5.5 percent of the Postal Service’s institutional costs. While moderate price increases are proposed for the majority of the competitive products, the key elements of the 2015 Competitive price change filing include: (1) No price change for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, or Pickup on Demand (2) Eliminating the Parcel Return Service – Full Network price category (3) New zoned prices based on origin ZIP Code for Priority Mail International (PMI) destined to Canada (4) An increase to 66 pounds for the maximum weight for PMI Rate Group 17 (Netherlands) (6) Combining the insurance tables for Priority Mail Express International and for PMI to simplify pricing The Postal Service has structured this pricing proposal to drive business and profitability. The PRC will review the prices before they are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015, to determine if prices are consistent with applicable law.
WLNS: Senator Debbie Stabenow today introduced an amendment that would stop the U.S. Postal Service from closing a number of processing plants, including one in Lansing. Today’s move would delay any closings for two years. The measure also would re-establish overnight delivery standards for first-class mail.
New York Times: After years of decline, the number of catalogs mailed in the United States increased in 2013, to 11.9 billion, according to the Direct Marketing Association, a trade group. While that figure is about 60 percent of what it was at its peak in 2007, some analysts say the recent 1 percent rise in mailed catalogs, coupled with the care retailers are putting into them, may signal something of a renaissance. Not all catalogs will rebound in this environment. However small, the recent resurgence in direct mail may be explained by a better understanding of the catalog's power to drive sales, Mr. Cohen said. He pointed to Lands' End as an early example. In 2000, that retailer reduced the number of catalogs it sent consumers. It experienced a $100 million drop in sales as a result, according to research by Kurt Salmon. Lands' End later added a pop-up survey to its website and found that 75 percent of customers who were making purchases had first reviewed the catalog. "Sometimes the only way to realize how important the catalog is, is to take it away," Mr. Cohen said.
eCommerceBytes: Many merchants who ship online orders via FedEx and UPS ground are unaware of the significant changes to rates that took effect at the beginning of this year, according to Endicia. The company, which helps businesses with USPS shipping, surveyed 700 businesses and found that 28% of online businesses hadn't heard of dimensional weight pricing that will hit the rivals of the U.S. Postal Service. Shipping larger, lightweight products will cost significantly more than it did in 2014, and Endicia said those businesses unaware of the changes "will probably only understand its impact once they see a price hike in their January 2015 invoice from FedEx or UPS." Endicia also found that 74% of the businesses they spoke to disagreed with dimensional weight pricing "because they believe it is expensive and unfair to businesses and shippers." While Endicia is far from unbiased, it's interesting to note that of the 700 businesses they spoke to, 80% said they would use the U.S. Postal Service for their larger, lightweight packages.
KOAM: U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill used a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting to discuss the urgent need for reforms to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to help protect delivery service for Missourians in rural communities.
CanadaNews Wire: The message coming from the public commission is clear: Montrealers want to keep their door-to-door delivery and they're concerned about the consequences of losing it. For three days, Montreal residents spoke at public meetings on the impact of ending door-to-door delivery that were organized by the Commission sur le développement social et la diversité montréalaise. Most of the presenters at the Commission were firmly opposed to the cuts.
The Postal Service will be filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission its proposal to change competitive services rates.
Office of the Inspector General:
Forbes: According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) if you want to continue to take advantage of commercial mailing rates, you must now be meeting all IMpb (Intelligent Mail Package Barcode) requirements.
Press Release: BCC Software, a leader in postal products and data marketing services, announced the addition of return mail tracking based on USPS® Intelligent Mail® barcode and IMb Tracing™ to its industry leading Track N Trace® service. Track N Trace is already trusted by thousands of mailers and marketers to track the current delivery status of their outbound mailings. This new option for inbound mail tracking will provide customers the same visibility, accountability, and predictability currently available for outbound tracking.
January 25, 2015
Wallaceburg Courier Press: Little boxes — and plenty of them. Close enough to walk to — but not on our front lawns, if you please. If Londoners must give up door-to-door mail delivery in favour of communal boxes, they’re making clear how big the boxes should be and where they should be installed. Londoners so far have shown a “strong preference” for smaller boxes, clustered close to their homes, said Canada Post spokesperson John Hamilton. “People want to walk to the mailbox. They want it in their neighbourhood.”
Attention Postal One! Users:
EFYTimes: NPI, a leading mail and parcel sorting technology company, today announced it was selected by Brazil Post (Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos) for a system upgrade to nine tilt-tray parcel sorters. The contract, which is valued at $36 million USD, is the third in a series of contracts worth a total of approximately $100 million USD and marks the continuation of a strategic partnership between Brazil Post and NPI.
January 24, 2015
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Office of the Inspector General: DRIVE 30 - Achieving 100% Customer and Revenue Visibility In an effort to increase the completeness, accuracy and consistency of its systematic revenue reports, the Postal Service established the Delivering Results, Innovation, Value, and Efficiency (DRIVE) initiative 30 - Achieve 100% Customer and Revenue Visibility. The DRIVE process will help the Postal Service improve business performance to meet the critical needs of operating in today’s competitive marketplace. The objective of our project is to determine whether the DRIVE 30 initiative followed established DRIVE project management processes, such as establishing aggressive goals, conducting proper oversight, and maintaining a separation of duties while monitoring key indicators related to cost and performance. Questions: 1. What can the Postal Service do to ensure the success of this DRIVE initiative process? 2. How can this initiative be better managed to increase customer and revenue visibility?
From the Federal Register:
Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Market Dominant Price Adjustment , 3995–3996 [2015–01238] [TEXT] Postal Service NOTICES New Mailing Standards for Lithium Batteries , 3996–3998 [2015–01346] [TEXT]
January 23, 2015
The Atlantic: Last year may have been a banner year for job creation in U.S., but it was not a banner year for unions. The percentage of union members among workers nationwide dropped to a new low of 11.1 percent in 2014, extending a decades-long decline for the labor movement. Despite their shrinking membership rolls, labor unions remain powerful political forces both nationally within the Democratic Party and even more so in big cities. With the decline in membership rates continuing even in a good year for the economy, the more pertinent question is, will the labor movement's plunge ever bottom out?
NAPUS: The proposed consolidation of NAPUS and the League of Postmasters has progressed to written submission of Chapter Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation and National Bylaws for the new organization. The documents are the results of discussion, collaboration and compromise by the committee working on the consolidation. Representing NAPUS on the committee was National Secretary Treasurer, Dan Heins, from MN and retired Postmaster and National Parliamentarian John Galera, from HI. Representing the League of Postmasters was retired Postmaster, Jack Jameson, from NC and retired Postmaster, John Olson, from MN. The new proposed organization will be incorporated as a non-profit organization and shall be known as the "Postmasters and Managers of America" (PMA). Extensive discussion of the proposed consolidation of the organizations will be held at our Leadership Conference in March. The vote for consolidation will be held at each organization's national conventions to be held later this year.
DMM Advisory: IMpb Compliance Thresholds Effective January 25, 2015 . In the Federal Register notice final rule, New Standards to Enhance Package Visibility (78CFR, 76548-76560), dated December 18, 2013, the Postal Service™ announced the threshold requirements for mailers to comply with Intelligent Mail® package barcodes (IMpb). This notice is a reminder that the new IMpb thresholds and the meter compliance requirements are effective January 25, 2015. The table below shows the IMpb thresholds that will become effective.
IMpb Compliance Thresholds
January 25, 2015
Unique trackable IMpb barcode
Destination Delivery Address 11-Digit Delivery Point Validation (DPV®) ZIP Code® included in the Shipping Services File
Shipping Services File (SSF) v 1.6 or higher
Metered customers must apply a trackable barcode to each package shipped with the Postal Service including those mailed at retail price. Parcels mailed at Commercial Base or Commercial Plus prices will be required to meet all IMpb requirements to retain commercial pricing. See the entire notice on the Federal Register site athttp://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-12-18/html/2013-30023.htmFor more information about the IMpb requirements, please visit Intelligent Mail® Package Barcode website on RIBBS: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmailpackage
The Hill: The United States Postal Service is considering raising its rates for international mail. Under the new rule, the price for letters, postcards and flats sent first-class international would increase by 4.2 percent. The rate for letters sent to international destinations would increase from $1.15 to $1.20.
Wall Street Journal: United Parcel Service Inc. said higher-than-expected seasonal expenses dragged down its earnings in the fourth quarter as the shipping giant took steps to avoid a repeat of the holiday shipping snafus that plagued its network in 2013.
Sacramento Bee: Federal postal inspectors and Elk Grove police are on the lookout for mail thieves after dozens of cluster mailboxes were broken into in recent weeks. "Since the beginning of the month, approximately 55 break-ins," of cluster boxes have occurred, said Jeff Fitch, U.S. postal inspector and public information officer. The freestanding cluster boxes usually have about a dozen locked slots for individual homeowners. Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article7994940.html?#storylink=cpy
Business Reporter: The boss of Royal Mail has suggested that more courier companies will go bust this year, following the collapse of City Link. Moya Greene, chief executive of Royal Mail, said: "There's too much capacity in the market, and it's put pressure on prices … I don't want to predict the demise of other companies, [but] there needs to be a new equilibrium in this industry." The number of delivery companies going bust jumped by a fifth last year, as smaller firms fail to cope with increased customer demands. According to research by accountancy firm Moore Stephens, 221 delivery and logistics companies went out of business in 2014 compared with 184 in 2013.
New York Daily News: Taurean Hawkins, 28, was busted by the feds for allegedly keeping more than 500 pieces of mail at the girlfriend's apartment.
United States Court Of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Circuit: The United States Postal Service petitions this Court for review of Postal Regulatory Commission ("PRC") Order Number 2306, Order Denying Request, in PRC Docket Numbers MC2013-57 and CP2013-75. Order Number 2306, which was filed on December 23, 2014, held, among other things, that a proposed postal product (tentatively called the "Round-Trip Mailer") for mailing digitized entertainment content could not be created as a "competitive product" under the standards set forth in 39 U.S.C. §3642.
Reminder: Attention Business Customer Gateway Users Program Registration Release 22.214.171.124 — will be deployed to Production from 12:00 am (Midnight) to 10:00 am CST on Sunday, January 25, 2015. There will be an outage and the Online Enrollment Service and Incentive Program accessible via the Business Customer Gateway will be unavailable during this time.
USPS Board of Governors Meeting. The Temporary Emergency Committee of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service ("TEC") will meet Feb. 6 in open session at Postal Service headquarters, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, DC. The public is welcome to observe the meeting beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor. The TEC is expected to discuss the following items: 1. Call to order and remarks of the Chairman of the TEC 2. Remarks of the Postmaster General and CEO 3. Approval of prior minutes 4. Committee reports and assignments 5. Quarterly report on Financial Performance 6. Quarterly Service Performance Report 7. Tentative agenda for the April 13 and 14 meeting 8. Adjournment Open session meetings of the TEC, and the Board of Governors once a quorum is reconstituted, are available on live audio webcasts at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/bog/welcome.htm.
MAIL PREP AND ENTRY FOCUS SESSION WEBINAR February 5 2:00-3:00 p.m. (EST) The Mail Prep and Entry Focus Group will host a webinar for MTAC members that will include all of the regular 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 topics will include: (1) Work Group/User Group Updates (2) Bundle breakage Improvement program Registration Required. Instructions for participating in the webinar appear below: Attendee Information US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (855) 821-1290 Conference ID: 70399002 Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=ec225a9b002d01ca40fa81657ff420cca If you cannot join using the direct link above, please use the alternate logins below: Alternate URL: http://usps.webex.com Event Number: 394 776 486
Attention MicroStrategy MQR and BMA Report Users: There will be a planned maintenance window to upgrade the MicroStrategy Terminal Servers beginning January 30, 2015 at 5:00PM CST and ending February 1, 2015 at 6:00PM CST. Impact to users during this maintenance window will be as follows:
This notification is for informational purposes only, and no action is required on the part of users. Please contact the Help Desk at 1-800-522-9085 with any questions or concerns regarding this planned outage.
Daily Mail: Royal Mail said chaos at rival delivery firm Yodel helped it pick up fresh work over Christmas. Retailers turned to the postal service after its competitors experienced meltdowns and massive backlogs of items in the run-up to the festive period, resulting in some presents being delivered late or not at all.
Live Charts: Moya Greene, the chief executive of Royal Mail, has said the firm remained under pressure, despite a 4% rise in parcel deliveries during the Christmas season. The postal group benefited from the demise of rival City Link but cost cutting measures remained necessary, Greene said after predictions that 3,000 more jobs will be cut across the company.
Entrepreneur: The other week I was reading an article about how shipping carriers fared over the holidays. FedEx and United Parcel Service were mentioned, but noticeably absent was the U.S. Postal Service. As someone who works closely with the U.S. Postal Service and developed technology to print its shipping labels from home, this baffled me. The postal service delivered 524 million packages in December (an 18 percent increase over 2013) versus UPS and FedEx's projected 585 million and 290 million respectively. (The latter two companies haven't released their figures yet.) Of that 524 million, a record 28 million were delivered in a single day -- December 22 -- ensuring that packages arrived in time for Christmas. So why then when people speak about shipping carriers, is the postal service mentioned as an afterthought, if at all? There's a tendency to discuss shipping in terms of the Big 2 instead of the Big 3. So I want to set the record straight: Today's postal service is just as capable of package delivery as FedEx and UPS. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service has transformed itself from a humble mail carrier to a package delivery powerhouse, and if businesses fail to notice this change and adopt it as a part of their shipping mix, they will lose money in the long run.
Washington Post: House Republicans pitched two bills this month that would drastically reduce the federal workforce and the government's use of contractors. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) proposed legislation on Wednesday that would shrink the federal workforce through attrition by 10 percent over the next five years, saving an estimated $35 billion during that span. The cuts would not affect postal employees. "We've racked up $18 trillion in debt simply because Washington has no idea when to stop spending," Lummis said in a statement. "Attrition is a solution that requires the federal government to do what any business, state or local government would do to cuts costs — limit new hires."
From the Federal Register:
Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Income Tax Review , 3666 [2015–01047] [TEXT] New Postal Products , 3667 [2015–01048] [TEXT] 3666–3667 [2015–01055] [TEXT] Postal Service PROPOSED RULES International Mailing Services: Proposed Price Changes , 3536 [2015–01097] [TEXT
PostCom Members !! The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is now available online with UPDATED POSTAL RATE CHARTS. 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.
Folio: After the latest USPS rate hike, it's going to cost more to ship magazines to your subscribers. But it might not stay that way. The USPS announced a rate increase last week intended to keep mailing prices in line with inflation—a jump of about 1.9 percent across the board. It's a change that's expected to generate about $900 million annually for the struggling postal service. While periodicals as a whole, will be 1.965-percent higher, accompanying changes mean that some magazines will be treated differently than others. A few publishers will see price reductions of more than 20 percent, while others will have their mailing costs rise by up to 100 percent. "The postal service is making more changes to the rate design than in past years. In the case of periodicals, there are a number of new rate cells and preparation requirements that'll be going into effect," says Rita Cohen, senior vice president of legislative and regulatory policy for the MPA. "That makes it very hard to analyze what the impact is going to be on operations and pricing. So we're working with printers and other supply-chain providers to figure out some of the data that's missing. We know that, overall, the postal service asked for the allowable CPI increase on periodicals, but we don't know exactly what it means for individual publishers."
January 22, 2015
The Association for Postal Commerce ("PostCom"), the Direct Marketing Association ("DMA"), and Idealliance (collectively, "The Mailer Associations") submit these comments in response to the United States Postal Service's ("USPS" or the "Postal Service's") proposed rule purporting to implement the new "Address Quality Management" program that will replace the existing use of the MERLINtm sampling system for evaluating address quality on specific mailings.
MAIL PREP AND ENTRY FOCUS SESSION WEBINAR February 5 1:00-2:00 p.m. (EST) The Mail Prep and Entry Focus Group will host a webinar for MTAC members that will include all of the regular 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 topics will include: § Work Group/User Group Updates § Bundle breakage Improvement program Registration Required. Instructions for participating in the webinar appear below: Attendee Information US/Canada Attendee Dial-in: (855) 821-1290 Conference ID: 70399002 Attendee Direct URL: https://usps.webex.com/usps/onstage/g.php?MTID=ec225a9b002d01ca40fa81657ff420cca If you cannot join using the direct link above, please use the alternate logins below: Alternate URL: http://usps.webex.com Event Number: 394 776 486
Direct Marketing News: "Gone With the Mail?" Postal Museum Readies Mail Industry Saga -- Here's the big news about the National Postal Museum; the news that will have direct mailers and catalogers spending layovers there by the droves. The museum is hard at work assembling its next big exhibit: "The Mailing Industry." "It's the one story we haven't told," says Museum Director Allen Kane, a 30-plus-year veteran of the Postal Service who ultimately served as its chief marketer. "It's a huge story, and we didn't know how to tell it." Now, however, the outline for the narrative is underway. The museum has hired a project director—mail industry veteran Karen McCormick, former president of Fulfillment Express. It has identified a dozen segments of the mailing industry and begun collecting ideas and information from groups such as the National Postal Policy Council, the Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee, and the Volume Mailers Group. The main story points "The Mailing Industry" hopes to present are: How companies and entire industries adapt to serve communication needs through the Postal Service; How entrepreneurs, innovators, and multi-generational family businesses helped enhance and grow commerce channels through the Postal Service; How important the USPS-mailing industry partnership is to the U.S. economy; and How the USPS network helped to build the mailing industry.
UPDDATED PostCom's comparison charts of 2015 prices
Federal Business Opportunities: The United States Postal Service is issuing a Request for Information and Prequalification/Sources Sought for its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) Acquisition Program. The purpose of this RFI is to inform prospective suppliers on the USPS's preliminary/draft specifications and plans for acquisition of NGDV fleet replacements. The information contained in this RFI and Sources Sought announcement is considered the most current available information; however the USPS reserves the right to modify any and all provisions of the document contained within.
Federal Times: Satire website The Onion took aim at the Postal Service On Jan. 21, poking fun at the dwindling number of people sending birthday cards and paying bills through the agency.
January 21, 2015
The Onion: Postal Service Unveils New Line Of Stamps Honoring Americans Who Still Use Postal Service
The Moscow Times: Russian Post has begun delivering large packages directly to people's doorsteps, according to a press release issued by the state-owned national postal service on Wednesday. The new policy is likely to be a welcome change for Russians, who under normal procedures must visit a post office and wait in line — sometimes for hours — to receive packages.
MyRetailMedia: German logistics behemoth DHL Express has announced the launch of a helicopter delivery service from London Heathrow to Canary Wharf in a bid to slash delivery times between the US and UK.
Globes: A collective agreement for recovery of the Israel Postal Company Ltd. was signed today. The agreement will make it possible to carry out a recovery program initiated by the Ministry of Finance and the Postal Company management. The agreement encountered difficulties over the past two weeks, making its implementation doubtful, despite the agreements reached last October. Representatives of the holders of the Postal Company bonds petitioned the court to appoint Eyal Gabbai as trustee for a recovery arrangement because of their concern that it would not be carried out. The agreement includes a number of key measures during a four-year recovery period, including providing better service to the public by keeping postal branches open until 8 PM three days a week, creating incentive and remuneration mechanisms for postmen designed to increase the volume of registered mail deliveries, and development of additional growth engines involving credit, finance, and insurance. The agreement will also facilitate the introduction of new services at branches and the operation of mail delivery centers.
The Australian: The federal government is poised to move quickly to partially deregulate century-old rules governing the postal service in an attempt to help ease the technology-imposed changes hitting Australia Post. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the changes are "imminent", which means they will go before cabinet early in the new year. The first full cabinet meeting is planned for the week starting February 2 but whether the Post -issues are on the agenda is not known.
Quad Graphics Blog: The USPS filed a notice last week with the Postal Regulatory Commission for a nearly 2% increase to take place on April 26. What does that mean for mailers? Unlike previous CPI increases that only included price increases for established rate categories, this price proposal includes new FSS pricing – now including Bound Printed Matter flats – as well as incentives for Carrier Route 5-digit pallets, which can only contain carrier route bundles. As such, comparing current prices for flats – Standard Mail, Periodicals and Bound Printed Matters – with what has been proposed, is not easy to do. Without the preparation requirements, which the USPS has yet to provide, we can only make assumptions on what can be accomplished and whether there will be cost added to our process to meet the requirements and take advantage of new incentives, like the Carrier Route 5-digit pallets.
Transport Intelligence: TNT announced that it has extended its existing international delivery service to Germany, offering guaranteed next-day delivery to all postal codes in the country.
Office of the Inspector General: "Investing in the Future" -- For the first time in years, the U.S. Postal Service has money to invest in its future. Postal officials have said they expect to spend about $2 billion on capital projects in 2015. There's a good chance most of that investment will go toward revamping the 190,000-vehicle fleet – one of the Postal Service's most pressing needs. Our audit work found that the Postal Service's vehicle fleet is adequate for delivery needs only until about 2017. Another area overdue for investment is facility maintenance and improvements. An earlier audit report found that budget constraints have hindered the Postal Service's ability to fund facility repairs and alterations. About half of its incomplete repairs in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 were potential safety and security problems, our report noted. While $2 billion is a nice chunk of change, it's a relatively small capital investment for a $68 billion organization. Still, the Postal Service has had so little available money for capital projects over the past few years that $2 billion seems like a bonanza. So this week, we are asking you to weigh in with your suggestions on how the Postal Service should invest its $2 billion. Should vehicle fleet replacement be the number one priority? Or facilities? Where else is capital investment needed? What else would be on your wish list if extra funds were available?
Fierce Government: A coalition of organizations including the American Postal Workers Union are calling for the Postal Service to expand its financial services in underserved neighborhoods. APWU says millions of working people, many of them minorities, don't have access to affordable financial services and because of that have to rely on predatory check-cashing companies and payday lenders. One-third of the nation's zip codes have a post office but lack a traditional bank, the statement says, and the USPS has more storefronts than any other retailer. So the USPS can utilize its 31,000 neighborhood retail offices to offer affordable financial services.
The Week: The first thing the poor need is a place to park their capital when they get it. But if the private sector is unable to provide banking and credit in a manner that isn't destructive, then the rather obvious answer is to have the public sector provide them. David Dayen has already done yeoman's reporting laying out how basic banking services could be layered atop the current infrastructure of the United States Postal Service. The proposals — including one backed by the Postal Service's own inspector general — encompass basic checking account and debit card services, the provision of savings accounts, and small-dollar loan services. Post offices already exist in many of the poorer areas traditional banks have abandoned, and the Postal Service actually served a similar function through much of the 20th century. It could provide these services for just 10 percent of what pawnshops, check-cashers, and payday lenders charge for them.
Montreal Gazette: The city of Montreal kicked off a series of public meetings Tuesday night to examine the impact of eliminating door-to-door mail delivery. Alain Duguay, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in Montreal, said the union is "categorically opposed" to Canada Post's plan to phase out home delivery and alleged that the postal service is exaggerating the financial woes that prompted the delivery service overhaul.
January 20, 2015
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Press Release: Quad/Graphics has signed an agreement to acquire Courier Corporation, a recognized leader and innovator in digital and conventional book manufacturing, publishing and content management.
Cameroon Tribune: The postal sector in the country is sick, with many benefitting from the malaise to feed fat. The sector is plagued by cacophony, and the Interim Director of Regulation and Control of Postal Activities in the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Kalpele, admits this. "We can readily say that there is disorder in the sector," Kalpele told Cameroon Tribune, insisting that there has been some laisser-faire in the sector due to the lack of a legal framework. And now that there is one, the Ministry is insisting on regulating the sector. Meanwhile, the country's postal sector has one public operator, Cameroon Postal Services (CAMPOST.) The reign of disorder will soon end and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication is promising hard times for unscrupulous private operators who resist the legal framework by not seeking authorisation. A plethora of operators involved in urban transport have found fertile ground in providing parcel and money transfer services without government authorisation.
The Express Tribune: Senior officials of Pakistan Post Office admitted before a Senate panel on Monday that its own employees were involved in the failure of an ambitious Rs800 million project for computerising the country's postal service system. The primary reason for the failure of the project is the involvement of our own workers, who want to continue their malpractices in the absence of an efficient service," said one of the senior officers of Pakistan Post Office. When the committee members asked whether any action was taken against such persons who intentionally block reform in their department, the officer said that they are yet to find out as to who are directly involved. However he affirmed that it is obvious that the staff intentionally made the software in the branches defunct to continue work through the manual system, so that they can continue their malpractices.
Daily News Egypt: The National Postal Authority (NPA) has put in place plans for several projects in 2015, according to the NPA's Chairman of the Board of Directors Khaled Negm. The projects mainly concern developing workers' performance and office machinisation, in the hope of improving services provided to customers and raising the authority's income.
Retail Week: Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten has teamed up with Japan Post to launch a new click-and-collect service across the country. The new service, which is set to launch in April, will offer customers the option of picking up items purchased online from lockers at their own convenience. Rakuten shoppers will be able to have their goods delivered to lockers at around 30 of the postal service's locations across Japan's capital city, Tokyo.
CBC: The City of Montreal is holding three days of public hearings about Canada Post's plan to end door-to-door delivery and replace it with communal mailboxes over the next four years. A committee made up of elected officials from across the island will be overseeing the meetings and will issue a report on Feb. 17.
Associated Press: U.S. Sen. John Boozman has been named chairman of a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate's Appropriations Committee. Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran announced Tuesday that Boozman, a Republican, will chair the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over annual funding for various federal agencies in the Executive Branch, Federal Courts and the District of Columbia. It oversees funding for financial-related agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The subcommittee is also responsible for recommending funding for independent agencies that include the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Postal Service.
PRWeek: The US Postal Service has cut short an agency review it was conducting for wide-ranging strategic communications assistance, according to a notice obtained by PRWeek. The organization told interested agencies that it decided to pull the solicitation due in part to events that "will likely lead to a redefinition of our requirements," according to the emailed notice. The message stated that the Postal Service "expects to have a clearer line of sight on any necessary adjustments to our requirements by late spring or early summer 2015." It identified hurdles like "deferred congressional action on postal reform, pending key personnel changes within our corporate communications office, and the recent board of governors' appointment of a new postmaster general." The USPS was looking for a "highly qualified" agency to provide strategic comms services for its in-house team and executive leadership, including internal and external comms, social media, legislative work, and public affairs support. Other services would extend to corporate communications' "subordinate organizations," such as public affairs and media relations, field communications, multimedia comms, and national events, according to the documents. A budget was not included. The contract was expected to run for three years, with three annual renewal options.
Budapest Business Journal: Hungarian state-owned postal company Magyar Posta is planning no layoffs despite the decrease in the use of postal services in Hungary. Magyar Posta expects to see a drop in revenue from letter delivery and postal check services, which will be handled via other sources, and it also foresees changes that will affect business activities in HR management. There is, however, no cause for layoffs based on information currently available.
What They Think: The USPS pricing is running higher than the CPI, and printing prices are lagging. That means, strangely enough, that printing is getting cheaper every day, because those price increases are half the rate of the increase in CPI. It also means that USPS prices "crowd out" other resources in mail project budgets, placing downward pressure on print prices, as well as pushing down. The gap between wireless communications and USPS inflation widened a lot. USPS went up +5.37% last year, and wireless communications dropped -3.69%. That's a 9.5 percentage point gap! In response to T-Mobile and Sprint, AT&T is now letting users bank their unused data plan amounts. This will send effective communications prices down further as customers who occasionally go over their limits will no longer pay high fees for those overages. And, these kinds of plans only encourage further reliance on digital media and information access. Last year, computer prices fell -1.79% (which is very small for that category). and commercial printing prices were up +0.53%, still lagging inflation. What does this mean? Postal prices (no matter what happens with the upcoming Postal Regulatory Commission rulings) will continue to be out of step with their media competitors. This creates important strategic considerations for all businesses that are involved with the mail. Some printing companies will choose to de-emphasize mail-based products in favor of other types of print, such as signage, event graphics, packaging, and other opportunities. This is also a good reason to pursue digital media production as well as media management.
CFO Journal: J.C. Penney resurrects its catalog. A half-decade after killing off its hefty catalog to focus on the Web, J.C. Penney Co. is bringing it back, armed with data showing that many of its online sales came from shoppers inspired by what they saw in print.
January 19 2015
Federal Times: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he will look at reforming all aspects of the federal workforce, from hiring and firing authorities to pensions and pay. He said he would like to work with unions and other groups to figure out common sense ways to reform civil service issues, and fix what he called an antiquated government management structure. Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has called for an end to the defined-benefit pension system and instead shift to a 401(k)-style retirement policy. He said Postal Service reform could also serve as a precursor to governmentwide civil service reform. He said agencies need to be be able to control costs and plan for the future while getting the flexibility to experiment without rigid workforce rules and he said the Postal Service could be at the forefront of that change. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said if Chaffetz and other Republicans on the committee embrace cooperation and compromise there is a "real chance to enact substantive civil service reforms that enhance the hiring process and empower our civil servants to be rewarded for innovating and improving program delivery." But if Republicans on the committee follow a less cooperative path, there might instead be efforts to tear down civil service protections and instill a culture of fear in the federal workforce.
KCBS: Those familiar little white vehicles that mail carriers drive could soon be disappearing. They've been used for decades by the postal service, but according to a USPS spokesman, they no longer fit the bill because these days the postal service is delivering less mail and more packages. "On any given day we have 214,000 vehicles on the road at one time delivering mail. Those trucks were largely designed to deliver letter class mail. Yeah, it can accommodate some parcels, but not the kind of parcels we're seeing today where we're looking at a 12-percent increase. Just right here in this facility alone we're going to see four million pieces of mail. Of that, I'd say about half a million will just be parcels alone," said postal service spokesman Gus Ruiz. He said the post office needs more UPS sized and style vehicles.
January 19, 2015
|PostCom Members !! The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin with a report on the Postal Service's proposed rate changes as well as PostCom's charts comparing current and proposed ratess 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. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.|
The Moscow Times: Packages can now travel from Beijing to Moscow by rail following the launch of the first Russia-China railroad delivery service, the logistics branch of Russian Railways announced Monday. "Up to the present, international mail was delivered to Russia by air and by road only," Russian Railways Logistics said in a statement. The service was organized on behalf of state postal service Russian Post. Mail will be shipped along the century-old Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest railway line in the world, which runs from Moscow to Russia's Far East and then on via connecting branches to China, Mongolia and North Korea.
CBS Sunday Morning: The Ageless Allure of Stamp Collecting No true philatelist would pass up an 1860s stamped Pony Express envelope, now valued at as much as $50,000. Once upon a time stamp collectors, known as "philatelists," seemed to be everywhere. There are still die-hard collectors -- and some budding ones. But it's clear the hobby has lost a bit of its luster, which seems a shame to Patrick Donahoe, Postmaster General of the United States.
Post & Parcel: SingPost has acquired a 90% stake in a New Zealand-based freight forwarding company to further boost its ambitions in the Asia Pacific region. The national postal operator in Singapore said it paid NZD 3.6m (USD 2.8m) for the controlling stake in Famous Pacific Shipping (NZ) Limited along with certain debts owed by the acquired firm.
January 17, 2015
Government Executive: Oversight leaders in the new Congress have promised a renewed focus on reforming the U.S. Postal Service, but the usual obstacles are already taking shape. Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Sam Graves, R-Mo., have introduced a resolution calling on the Postal Service to "take all appropriate measures" to continue to deliver mail six days each week. Eliminating Saturday mail delivery -- while continuing six-day package delivery -- has been perhaps the most significant hurdle preventing an agreement on postal reform. Connolly and Graves' measure was put forward with 91 cosponsors, including members of both parties. A similar resolution in the last Congress eventually amassed 221 signatures of support. Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., introduced a separate measure calling on USPS to ensure the "continuation of door delivery for all business and residential customers." Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations -- which has the Postal Service under its purview now -- called reforming the cash-strapped agency a priority. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the new chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has advocated taking the Postal Service through bankruptcy. Johnson has indicated he is open to compromise, but has not yet elaborated on what that will look like.
Page Six: Ever wonder how lowly paid lawmakers leave office filthy rich? Sen. Dianne Feinstein is showing how it's done. The US Postal Service plans to sell 56 buildings — so it can lease space more expensively — and the real estate company of the California senator's husband, Richard Blum, is set to pocket about $1 billion in commissions. Blum's company, CBRE, was selected in March 2011 as the sole real estate agent on sales expected to fetch $19 billion. Most voters didn't notice that Blum is a member of CBRE's board and served as chairman from 2001 to 2014. This feat of federal spousal support was ignored by the media after Feinstein's office said the senator, whose wealth is pegged at $70 million, had nothing to do with the USPS decisions.
The Daily Caller: A list of the worst examples of unfair government competition was released Thursday by a group hoping to bring attention to the problem. The list by the Business Coalition for Fair Competition was designed to help bring attention to what they view as egregious examples of unfair government sponsored competition. Additionally they hope to influence lawmakers to end policies that cause such government overreach to occur. BCFC argues that privately owned companies that rely on profits from consumers often have trouble competing with government agencies or groups receiving subsidies that produce similar products or services, but don't have to rely on consumers to stay in business. The group also argues that by not having to rely on customers, these agencies or groups will often produce substandard products and services that pose a danger to the consumer such as flawed technology endangering the military and bad infrastructure projects in towns and cities. Among their top ten examples of unfair government competition for 2014 is the Postal Regulatory Commission [government grocery delivery].
Washington Examiner: Senate Democrats want to use the Keystone Pipeline bill as a vehicle to impose a two-year moratorium on U.S. Postal Service cuts. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced legislation Friday to stop the postal service from planned cuts that are aimed at closing a budget deficit. It will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to decide whether to allow a vote on the measure when lawmakers resume debate on the Keystone bill next week. Sanders said without congressional action, the postal service will close 82 mail sorting facilities and eliminate up to 15,000 postal jobs in 37 states.
January 16, 2015
IMpb Compliance Thresholds Effective In the Federal Register notice final rule, New Standards to Enhance Package Visibility (78CFR, 76548-76560), dated December 18, 2013, the Postal Service™ announced the threshold requirements for mailers to comply with Intelligent Mail® package barcodes (IMpb). This notice is a reminder that the new IMpb thresholds and the meter compliance requirements are effective . See the entire notice on the Federal Register site at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/
IMpb Compliance Thresholds
September 7, 2014
Unique trackable barcode (legacy or IMpb)
*IMpb only by
Destination Delivery Address/11-Digit Delivery Point Validation (DPV®) ZIP Code®/ZIP + 4® in file
**Street address/11-Digit DPV code by
Shipping Services File (SSF) v 1.6 or higher (v 1.3, v 1.5 permitted)
***SSF v 1.6 or higher ONLY by
Kokomo Tribune: When the United States Postal Service announced in November it was consolidating the Kokomo processing center into Indianapolis, Nancy Fowler sprang into action. A member of the American Postal Workers Union, she spearheaded the creation of the Consolidation Coalition. The USPS has consolidated roughly 300 processing centers nationally since 2006, and with plans to consolidate 82 more in 2015, Fowler and fellow postal workers wanted to get the word out to people that their mail delivery is going to slow down. The coalition held in a rally on Nov. 14 to get its campaign started. Since then, it's participated in community events like the farmer's market to drum up support and gain petition signatures while raising awareness.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
The Malay Mail Online: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) must order Pos Malaysia to reverse its recent increase of courier charges in light of global falling fuel prices, PKR said today.
Dead Tree Edition: Only the Postal Service's Board of Governors can file for a rate change, but Congress has failed to fill so many positions on the board that it no longer has a quorum. Until more governors are approved, a Temporary Emergency Committee of the remaining governors is acting in place of the board. A legal challenge to the emergency committee's authority to raise rates might delay implementation, if not block them altogether. It would be a sweet irony if the inaction of Congress -- where a majority of members seem OK with jacking up the postage paid by business mailers -- blocked USPS from rate increases that would fall disproportionately on business and institutional mailers.
January 15, 2015
PostCom Members !! The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is 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. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.
Postal Service Files Market Dominant Price Change - Proposes an Additional $0.9 Billion in Annualized Contributions The Postal Service has filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a Market Dominant price change based on a Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap authority of 1.966%. The Postal Service believes strongly in the value of mail and maintaining relevance for today's customers, offering reasonable pricing, workshare incentives, and meeting its obligation to the American public to strengthen its financial condition.
GlobalPost: Japanese e-commerce giant has joined hands with the country's national postal service to offer delivery lockers for customers to pick up items purchased online at their own convenience, the Kyodo news agency quoted sources close to the matter as saying on Thursday. Rakuten Inc. and Japan Post Co. have planned to launch the new service in April at about 30 locations such as post offices in Tokyo, and will consider adding locations across Japan after the limited launch, according to the sources. The new service will enable shoppers at the major Internet mall to have items delivered without their addresses known.
Universal Postal Union: In a recent TEDx talk, Chief of Research Miguel Luengo-Oroz highlighted a new collaboration between Global Pulse and the Universal Postal Union. He explained how a single letter has as many as twenty data points and that 'big postal data' may become a novel way of garnering real-time economic insights from regions that do not have a strong digital presence.
Benzinga: Pitney Bowes CEO Marc Lautenbach was on CNBC Wednesday to explain what the company does and how recession in other countries is affecting the company.
SeacoastLine: Print Bounces Back to the Top of Direct Mail Marketing - While digital, offers a cheap and quick point of entry, it falls short at providing evidence that it works. Complaints about unwanted banners, pop-up ads and unrequested email have skyrocketed. Indicators point to an overload of online messages being sent to folks who don't want to hear them. Toss in security breaches or computer viruses and the world of online marketing is not only plagued by too much noise, it is now all-out interruptions. Consumers fed-up with bloated in-boxes.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Office of the Inspector General: Market Dominant Billing Determinants Do you use Postal Service First-Class billing determinants? Market dominant billing determinants are the most detailed information the Postal Service publishes about the volume of its monopoly products. Billing determinants are volume and calculated revenue derived from the Revenue Pieces and Weight Report for each price cell of every mail product. The Postal Service uses historical billing determinants in its calculations to ensure proposed price increases in classes of mail will not exceed the price cap. The Postal Service also uses billing determinants for its Annual Compliance Report (ACR), which it must prepare each year to show compliance with legal requirements. We will look at where First-Class market-dominant billing determinants come from, their accuracy, and how the Postal Service compiles them. How do you use First-Class market-dominant billing determinants? Have you ever noticed discrepancies in Postal Service First-Class billing determinants? If so, what were they?
The Hill: It appears new House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) really doesn't want to sit in the shadow of his predecessor and fellow Republican, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). At least, that's what his critics are saying. One of the Utah Republican's first acts since taking over the Oversight gavel: Removing portraits of Issa and other past chairmen from the walls of the Oversight hearing room, committee sources told The Hill.
The Hill: President Obama on Wednesday outlined his administration's plans to expand high-speed Internet access around the country by pre-empting state laws that restrict the expansion of city-owned broadband networks.
Politico: The U.S. government is ushering in a new era for the Teamsters, ending its 25-year supervision of a union once infamous for its ties to organized crime. Teamster corruption has held the federal government's attention since the late 1950s, when Robert F. Kennedy first pursued the matter as counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management, also known as the McClellan committee. Kennedy continued to investigate the Teamsters after he became attorney general in 1961, and those investigations continued in one form or another through the 1980s. Story Continued Below But on Wednesday, the Justice department concluded, in effect, that the Teamsters' bad old days were over.
Lloyds Loading List: The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has raised concerns about the short implementation period for new updates to US freighter security programmes, advising its members that recently released updates to security programmes for all-cargo aircraft in the USA must be implemented by 16 February, 2015. The updated security programmes, issued by the United States Transport Security Administration (TSA) on 29 December, 2014, affect all US and non US-based freighter aircraft operators within, into, and out of the US.
Bernama: Pos Malaysia Bhd today launched its new corporate identity which projects a more progressive and modern look that embodies the spirit of a modern forward-thinking organisation. Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the rebranding was necessary to enable Pos Malaysia to remain relevant besides strengthening its position in facing the stiff competition in the progressing information technology world.
KDAL: In light of recent revelations that the Postal Service failed to study the impact of consolidating or closing sites—including the Duluth mail sorting facility—Congressman Rick Nolan is calling on Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to halt site's closing. Late last year, the service's Inspector General determined that the U-S-P-S failed to study how the closing would impact service or to notify customers of that impact.
Journal Gazette: A federal grand jury indicted the head of the local postal workers union, accusing her of embezzling nearly $60,000 from the union. According to court documents, Pamela Nessen, 58, was president of Local 286 of the American Postal Workers Union. The indictment alleges that Nessen embezzled $58,598.10 from union funds from November 2009 until November 2013. According to the website Union Facts, Nessen was paid $20,289 in 2012 as president of the local postal workers union. At the end of 2010, the local union listed assets of $84,545, according to the last copy of federal tax records publicly available. While the indictment was handed down in November, it was not unsealed until Tuesday after Nessen surrendered to police Monday.
Business Recorder: Directorate General of Pakistan Post Islamabad held a meeting with the Minister of State for Postal Services Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri in the chair here on Wednesday to discuss and plan strategy on 10 points furnished by the Ministry of Communication. Federal Secretary for the Ministry of Communication Shahid Ashraf Tarar, Director General Pakistan Post Mishal Khan among other postal officials also participated in the meeting. Deputy Director General Dr Aziz Ullah Khan briefed the participant in detail on the occasion. The 10 points brought into consideration were, to re-functionalise Pakistan postal services management, to computerise maximum units of Pakistan Post, assessment of loss and fraudulent cases, tariff revision with Ministry of Finance, establishment of private courier regulatory authority and elucidation of other pending issues like business strategy.
Proactive Investors Australia: Technology company TZ Limited (ASX:TZL) has completed a milestone in the roll-out of its smart parcel locker business, completing the shipment of the 100th Locker Bank to Singapore. To date, 85 Locker Banks have been installed at nominated locations for Singapore Post with the remaining 15 Locker Banks scheduled for deployment in early 2015. TZ and Singapore Post are currently working together to establish on-going supply requirements for 2015. TZ will look to update the market as and when new purchase orders are received for new POPStation Locker Banks. TZ is the market leader in SMArtDevice™ technology combining state-of-the-art SMAactuated intelligent fastening and locking devices with TZ remote software control. TZ's pilot program to supply Italian postal service Poste Italiane with its smart Parcel Lockers is also live following an extensive period of end-to-end testing and final commissioning. If the pilot is successful, it is understood that it is Poste Italiane's intention to build a parcel locker network throughout Italy. TZ is continuing negotiations with Pos Malaysia Berhad for a formal contract for the supply, installation and support of electronic parcel lockers.
January 14, 2015
Attention Business Customer Gateway Users: Program Registration Release 126.96.36.199 — will be deployed to Production from 12:00 am (Midnight) to 10:00 am CST on Sunday, January 25, 2015. There will be an outage and the Online Enrollment Service and Incentive Program accessible via the Business Customer Gateway will be unavailable during this time.
Office of the Inspector General: Government Mail How Do You Get Government Information? How do you get information from local, state and federal government sources? Television and radio? Email? Other social media? The U.S. Mail? You likely rely on most or all of these for official information, whether it's your municipality reminding you to pay your water bill or the U.S. Census Bureau prompting you to complete its questionnaire. Government entities are increasingly using email and social media to communicate. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently twittered about Ebola updates. But there are times when electronic communication alone just won't do the trick. And if a government agency wants you to take some action, physical mail may get a better response than email. In 2014, federal, state, and local government entities combined spent $2.7 billion with the Postal Service. Federal government agencies alone spend nearly a billion dollars a year. The Postal Service is perennially ranked as the most trusted federal agency. Yet, it has been financially strapped. Given those facts, are you surprised government entities don't depend more on the Postal Service? Should government agencies use the Postal Service exclusively? Can the Postal Service play a larger role in helping agencies fulfill their missions and generate more revenue at the same time? Moscow Times: Russian Post has rejected as an insult the comparisons between the service's newest uniform with that worn by Nazi soldiers. Images of the recently unveiled uniforms flooded the Internet on Tuesday, leading some social media users to compare them with the black outfits worn by members of the Nazi's SS squadron. Both the postal and Nazi uniforms are dark in color, and display braiding on the lapel and cuffs. There where postal workers wear a company emblem on their left arm, members of the SS would have displayed a Nazi swastika symbol. The design of Russian postal workers' outfits has been based on army uniforms since the time of tsar Peter the Great, and that braiding was added to the uniform following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union lost more than 20 million men during World War II — more than any other nation — and its victory over Nazi Germany is remembered every year on May 9. Washington Post: The problems facing the postal service and the changes necessary to address them are well understood. The fundamental obstacle, Mr. Donahoe explained, is not conceptual or technical but political: the resistance to change by the various interest groups that benefit from things as they are, groups that wield significant clout on Capitol Hill. The mailing industry, he noted, shortsightedly resists greater pricing flexibility for the postal service, even though "the ongoing lack of reform creates more pressure to raise prices — which is what happened this past year." As for postal unions, Mr. Donahoe said, their "narrow" focus on preserving existing jobs helps short-circuit the postal service's attempts to operate more efficiently, such as the innovative retail partnership with Staples stores that was curtailed last year in the face of union protests. Without a more farsighted approach, the agency can, at best, expect to stagger along its current path of missed innovations and underinvestment. The new Congress has the power to revive the reform bill this year and thereby decide whether the U.S. Postal Service thrives and modernizes — or whether this foundational institution of the U.S. economy continues to crumble under the weight of special-interest politics.
Office of the Inspector General: Government Mail How Do You Get Government Information? How do you get information from local, state and federal government sources? Television and radio? Email? Other social media? The U.S. Mail? You likely rely on most or all of these for official information, whether it's your municipality reminding you to pay your water bill or the U.S. Census Bureau prompting you to complete its questionnaire. Government entities are increasingly using email and social media to communicate. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently twittered about Ebola updates. But there are times when electronic communication alone just won't do the trick. And if a government agency wants you to take some action, physical mail may get a better response than email. In 2014, federal, state, and local government entities combined spent $2.7 billion with the Postal Service. Federal government agencies alone spend nearly a billion dollars a year. The Postal Service is perennially ranked as the most trusted federal agency. Yet, it has been financially strapped. Given those facts, are you surprised government entities don't depend more on the Postal Service? Should government agencies use the Postal Service exclusively? Can the Postal Service play a larger role in helping agencies fulfill their missions and generate more revenue at the same time?
Moscow Times: Russian Post has rejected as an insult the comparisons between the service's newest uniform with that worn by Nazi soldiers. Images of the recently unveiled uniforms flooded the Internet on Tuesday, leading some social media users to compare them with the black outfits worn by members of the Nazi's SS squadron. Both the postal and Nazi uniforms are dark in color, and display braiding on the lapel and cuffs. There where postal workers wear a company emblem on their left arm, members of the SS would have displayed a Nazi swastika symbol. The design of Russian postal workers' outfits has been based on army uniforms since the time of tsar Peter the Great, and that braiding was added to the uniform following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union lost more than 20 million men during World War II — more than any other nation — and its victory over Nazi Germany is remembered every year on May 9.
Washington Post: The problems facing the postal service and the changes necessary to address them are well understood. The fundamental obstacle, Mr. Donahoe explained, is not conceptual or technical but political: the resistance to change by the various interest groups that benefit from things as they are, groups that wield significant clout on Capitol Hill. The mailing industry, he noted, shortsightedly resists greater pricing flexibility for the postal service, even though "the ongoing lack of reform creates more pressure to raise prices — which is what happened this past year." As for postal unions, Mr. Donahoe said, their "narrow" focus on preserving existing jobs helps short-circuit the postal service's attempts to operate more efficiently, such as the innovative retail partnership with Staples stores that was curtailed last year in the face of union protests. Without a more farsighted approach, the agency can, at best, expect to stagger along its current path of missed innovations and underinvestment. The new Congress has the power to revive the reform bill this year and thereby decide whether the U.S. Postal Service thrives and modernizes — or whether this foundational institution of the U.S. economy continues to crumble under the weight of special-interest politics.
January 13, 2015
The Hill: Postal Regulatory Commissioner Ruth Goldway -- "The Postal Service has achieved considerable success in removing costs from the system during the last six years, at a time when mail volumes were in decline. This latest round of operational cuts, however, threatens the very integrity and concept of Universal Service -- the Postal Service's primary obligation under the law. The Postal Service is moving ahead with these changes despite three cautionary reports: a March 2013 Management Advisory Report; a September 2012 Audit Report issued by its Office of Inspector General, and an Advisory Opinion produced by the Postal Regulatory Commission in 2012. Unfortunately, the Postal Service has not taken those important steps. First, the Service has not publicly identified the impact on revenue and profit from the proposed changes. Second, the Postal Service has not disclosed a robust, reliable figure for savings obtained from the first set of consolidations. Third, the Service has not identified projected savings from the second phase of consolidations. Before proceeding with these changes, the Postal Service should – at the very least – offer well-supported projections of the impacts on operational efficiency and solid estimates of financial savings before hastily embarking on this new round of cuts and closures.
Wall Street Journal: The grocery business is plagued by notoriously slim margins. The trade group Food Marketing Institute estimates the supermarket industry as a whole turned in a 1.3% net profit after taxes in 2013 on $620 billion in sales. Those numbers haven't stopped venture capitalists...from taking a chance again. Instacart isn't alone. Amazon.com Inc., Fresh Direct LLC and Good Eggs Inc. are all hoping to win with grocery delivery, not to mention traditional retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Safeway Inc. Google Inc. 's current arrangement to deliver some groceries from a Bay Area Whole Foods makes it Instacart's nearest competitor. In San Francisco alone, there are at least six different companies doing this kind of work.
Post & Parcel: Polish mail and parcel delivery firm InPost has acquired one of its partners on an important public sector mail contract. InPost, part of the Integer.pl Group, is known outside Poland more for its parcel locker terminal business, but is one of the largest private sector postal operators in Poland. It said it has acquired 100% of the Polska Grupa Pocztowa (Polish Postal Group) SA.
Office of the Inspector General: Do you find flexibility policies helpful or harmful in your workplace? A business is only as good as its employees, which is why more and more organizations are offering flexible workforce policies to attract and retain the best workers. Among other things, flexible workforce policies help employees adjust their work schedules to the needs and circumstances of their personal lives, so they can have a healthier work-life balance. The idea is that happier employees are more committed and productive employees, and that leads to better customer service. We endorse the win-win idea behind workforce flexibility in our new white paper, Flexibility at Work: Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service. We believe the U.S. Postal Service could do better at recruiting and retaining high-quality employees if it started offering flexible workforce policies. As it is, there's relatively little flexibility in postal work schedules, making it very hard to accommodate an emergency or even a pressing situation facing a worker – for instance, kids that need to be picked up at a certain time every day or elderly parents that need to be driven to a regular medical appointment each week. Properly implemented policies offering things like job-sharing, compressed work weeks, shift-trades, and self-scheduling are proving effective in other industries, as numerous businesses are finding they have a stronger labor force as a result of the flexibility. We don't say which specific policies the Postal Service should implement. Rather, we present four high-level principles to consider when developing flexible workforce policies: create a partnership for flexibility between labor and management; evaluate a portfolio of initiatives; develop more detailed information on the expected or anticipated daily workload; and seek continuous feedback from employees. What do you think?
From the Federal Register: Postal Service NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act , 1679 [2015–00506] [TEXT]
Federal News Radio: John Pickett, Senior Economist, Office of Inspector General -- USPS A better work-life balance at the Postal Service will help the agency, its employees and its customers. That's according to the agency's Inspector General, who has a plan to introduce more workplace flexibility for Postal Service employees. The IG says the plan should make everyone that interacts with the agency happier and more productive. John Pickett is senior economist for the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General. On In Depth with Francis Rose, he shared details on how to implement a new work-life balance plan.
Ardmoreite: A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 800 American adults finds that 42 percent favor allowing the Postal Service to make budget decisions without congressional approval. Thirty-two percent oppose letting the agency act without congressional oversight. Twenty-six percent are undecided. Congress currently can veto any cost-saving measures the Postal Service proposes and has halted plans to eliminate Saturday delivery, close post offices and otherwise streamline operations. Donahoe has sought to reduce mail delivery to five days a week to cut costs, and most adults (58 percent), as they have for years, continue to favor that. Twenty-nine percent oppose cutting delivery to five days. Thirteen percent are undecided. But only 30 percent believe the U.S. government should go so far as to consider selling the Postal Service to a private company like UPS or Federal Express. That's down from 35 percent in 2013 and 40 percent in 2011. Fifty-three percent disagree with the government selling the Postal Service, while 17 percent are not sure. Forty-five percent of adults believe private companies should be allowed to deliver first class mail. Forty percent oppose allowing private companies to deal in first class mail. Fifteen percent are undecided.
January 12, 2015
Air Cargo World: Logistics firm, The Parcel Centre, based at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, is breathing life back into LJLA. Linked to TNT, UPS and DHL, The Parcel Centre is offering a range of services using a 70-strong van fleet and air through their airfreight division, Wynne Aviation Services. The Parcel Centre is working to boost freight levels, which fell from 30,000 tonnes a year in 1995 to just 281 tonnes in the last fiscal year. - See more at: http://aircargoworld.com/Air-Cargo-World-News/2015/01/news-briefs/6947?#sthash.23pmMsjG.dpuf
Forbes: Since the end of last year, South Africa has suffered its most wide-ranging rolling blackouts in seven years. As the nation gets back to work after the Christmas holidays, many business leaders believe the situation can only get worse. After years of under investment, the state-owned power company, Eskom, can no longer reliably meet the nation's electricity needs. Eskom isn't the only state-run company to hit the skids. The government has recently announced that it will take direct control of two other ailing state entities, South African Airways and the postal service.
San Francisco Chronicle: For California Democrats, sprawling Los Angeles County is the scary-looking guard dog that just won't bark. In November's election, California's largest county was dead last in turnout, with just over 31 percent of registered voters casting ballots. And even that dismal number was a huge improvement from the June primary, when Los Angeles County turnout was 16.9 percent — also the lowest in the state. The dismal local turnout makes a difference, particularly to Southern California politicians who aspire to statewide office, like former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Rep. Jane Harman. Both have been mentioned as potential candidates for the seat that Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer will be giving up after 2016. Plenty of politicians, consultants and academics blame the county's turnout woes on the mail. "Los Angeles County is still suffering the effects of not embracing vote-by-mail years ago," said Douglas Herman, a Democratic political consultant in Pasadena. That's important, because studies have shown people who automatically get their ballots by mail are more likely to vote.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
"It is ordered:
1. The Postal Service shall notice the removal of the exigent surcharge removal at least 45 days before the date of the removal.
2. The Postal Service shall provide bi-weekly estimates of the incremental and cumulative surcharge revenue beginning the quarter in which the Postal Service anticipates removing the surcharge. 20 See Section IV. A., supra at 10-11.Docket No. R2013-11 - 16 -
3. The Postal Service is not required to demonstrate compliance with 39 U.S.C. 3622, including workshare provisions, if it removes the exigent surcharge without an accompanying inflation-based adjustment.
4. The Postal Service shall adjust the Exigent Surcharge threshold to account for Forever stamps (PIHOP adjustment) consistent with the body of this Order."
USPS Webinar: PostalOne! Release 40.0 Production Deployment- PostalOne! Release 40.0 will deploy on Sunday, January 25, 2015. This release includes new business functionality, updates to existing functionality, and database maintenance activities. This release will require an extended maintenance window. The PostalOne! system will not be available from January 25, 2015 12:00 AM CT (midnight) through 10:00 AM CT. There will be a mandatory Mail.dat® client download required. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 40.0 can be found on https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .
Office of the Inspector General: How Do You Get Government Information? How do you get information from local, state and federal government sources? Television and radio? Email? Other social media? The U.S. Mail? You likely rely on most or all of these for official information, whether it's your municipality reminding you to pay your water bill or the U.S. Census Bureau prompting you to complete its questionnaire. Government entities are increasingly using email and social media to communicate. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently twittered about Ebola updates. But there are times when electronic communication alone just won't do the trick. And if a government agency wants you to take some action, physical mail may get a better response than email.
fvw: German postal operator Deutsche Post is expanding in the travel market with the launch of online package holiday sales under the ‘Post Reisen' brand in cooperation with Austrian firm Eurotours. Post Reisen will offer a traditional mix of package holidays, city trips, tours and cruises, mostly to destinations in Europe and with a special focus on domestic travel within Germany and to neighbouring Alps regions. It will use Deutsche Post's Postbus long-distance coach services for travel within Germany and to various European cities. Deutsche Post will sell the holidays directly through the Postreisen.de website and promote them through various marketing activities. Eurotours will act as the legal tour operator, contracting hotel and air capacity and creating the different holiday products. As a direct sales business, the Post Reisen holidays will not be sold through travel agencies.
American Postal Workers Union: An addendum to the Sept. 22, 2013, POStPLAN Memorandum of Understanding will place a number of career jobs into Level 4 post offices, which otherwise would have been staffed exclusively with Postal Support Employees (PSEs). The offices in question are open four hours per day. The specific numbers and offices have not yet been identified, APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in announcing the Dec. 31, 2014, agreement, but identification is expected to take place within the next 30 days.
Dead Tree Edition: You Won't Believe What This Fortune Teller Predicts for Publishing in 2015! -- Postal rates; USPS will announce a new strategic plan called Seven Six Three; USPS bankruptcy; Putting the USPS up for sale; and more.
Governing: We say we want professional management in the public sector, but it's in the interest of neither politicians nor public employees. Consider the U.S. Postal Service, which has professional management in name but not in fact. Between Congress on the one hand and labor on the other, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahue is all but powerless to manage the institution he supposedly heads. The Postal Service's professional managers know exactly what to do to render the agency economically viable. But those measures are not politically viable. So the Postal Service's top management must wait and hope that, one day, that which is required might be politically permissible. We often pay lip service to professional and managerial values in the public sector, but we rarely permit those values to be applied. At one end of the spectrum, the politicians in charge do not regard managerial values as consistent with their political interests. At the other end, the labor unions that represent millions of government employees regard professional management as their mortal enemy. So it is that we portray government's management deficit as a political problem. But in truth it is a structural, institutional problem. Neither the politicians in charge of government nor the employees who would be subject to it have any interest in promoting professional management. As long as this remains the case, and it looks like it may remain the case in perpetuity, institutions of government will continue to operate without professional management. The public pays a huge price for this, but as yet neither politicians nor labor have been called upon to pay any price at all.
The Telegraph: Royal Mail shareholders could receive a £1bn boost from the value of its surplus property, fund managers say. The whole company is currently valued by the stock market at about £4bn. The privatised group has a portfolio of redundant sorting offices, particularly in London, partly thanks to the switch to mechanised sorting, which requires less space. At the time of the group's stock market flotation in October 2013, Telegraph Money disclosed that its surplus property was worth about £500m, according to fund managers who had been through its books as they decided whether to invest. But that figure has now doubled, according to the most optimistic assessments, as London's property market has continued to boom.
January 11, 2015
Save the Post Office: Slowing down the mail could have significant effects on mail volumes and revenues, and much of the savings the Postal Service is anticipating from plant closures and eliminating jobs may vanish, as suggested by the market research study that got buried. At this point, however, it's almost impossible to know how much revenue will be lost due to Network Rationalization. Volumes are affected by many other factors, like rate increases, electronic diversion, and the economy. Isolating the effects of service standards is difficult, and the Postal Service doesn't seem very interested in the question anyway. Postal officials seem more focused on reassuring customers that the changes in standards will have just a "slight" effect. It may not even matter. The leaders of the Postal Service have decided that slowing down First Class Mail will be beneficial to its bottom line. And these days that seems to be about all that does matter. It may not even matter. The leaders of the Postal Service have decided that slowing down First Class Mail will be beneficial to its bottom line. And these days that seems to be about all that does matter.
The Oregonian: A federal judge in Portland chided government agents Friday for running a series of elaborate ruses to catch a U.S. mail carrier they accuse of fraudulently obtaining workers' compensation benefits. Agents went so far as to set up a phony business to lure their target – 41-year-old Brian W. Hendricks – into a 7 ½ -hour deep-sea fishing expedition. They also duped him into an interview with an undercover agent posing as a vocational rehabilitation specialist.
January 10, 2015
Quad Graphics Blog: According to the PMG, mailers are myopic because they want lower prices, which to him means that we don't want the USPS to have the flexibility to develop new products and pricing. I'm not quite sure how you make that connection. Selective memory seems to be a characteristic of this PMG. Lest we forget, in 2006 the mailing industry agreed to annual price increases at the average rate of CPI applied to each class in the Market Dominant category. Mailers have said for as long as I can remember that predictability and stability in prices were key to future success. And lest we forget Part II, prior to postal reform (Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act – PAEA) we endlessly heard from the USPS how they had not raised prices for years by more than CPI and were able to manage within it. And then there is the fact that as the USPS continues to raise prices (6% in 2014 as a result of exigency), the rest of the industry involved in the business of mail has had to adjust to a new paradigm in pricing and operational efficiency. That's called market and demand-based pricing. I think it safe to say that the majority of the companies involved would have been very happy with the ability to increase their prices annually over the last 6 years at the rate of CPI, and that if we could all have added an additional 4.3% increase into that mix, everyone's bottom line would look much better. . . . Disparaging public remarks about your customers and business partners is not the best path forward, even if you aren't going to be around to answer for them.
Worcester Telegram: Hundreds of employees at the Central Massachusetts Processing and Distribution Center will have to reapply for jobs elsewhere when services at the facility are consolidated with two others, a USPS spokeswoman said Thursday. John H. Flattery, president of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO Local 4553, which represents workers at the plant, said in an email he was notified that at least 383 jobs at the Shrewsbury facility will be eliminated. Melissa L. Lohnes, spokeswoman for USPS' Greater Boston District, said it will not mean an end to the workers' employment with the postal service. They will be given an opportunity to apply for jobs at other facilities, she said. "They will have an opportunity to have employment. But, at a different facility," Ms. Lohnes said Thursday evening. "It's not technically a transfer. It's a reapplication for a position. That's actually how a lot of the positions are bid for in the postal service. "They're able to apply for any job they're qualified for in the postal service. It could be in any state, if there's an opening, if they'd like to go for."
January 9, 2015
American Postal Workers Union: A little-noticed OIG report bolsters the union's position that mail processing plants are crucial to Postal Service operations and should not be privatized. Many Americans view the Postal Service as having only two components: those who deliver mail and those who assist you at the window, the Dec. 8 report notes. Some have argued that focusing on these two sectors – and allowing private companies to take over mail sortation and transportation – would improve efficiency and cut costs. While the report focuses on processing plants, Panzar notes that it includes any transportation related to the "middle mile."
Attention Postal One! Users:
The Hill: Record-low gas prices across the U.S. have given rise to fresh talk in Washington of raising the federal gas tax for the first time in over 20 years, with leading Republicans now saying a hike must not be ruled out. The GOP has long resisted calls from business leaders and others to boost the 18.4 cent-per-gallon tax as a way pay for upgrades to the nation's crumbling roads and bridges. Yet in recent days, senior Senate Republicans have said they want to keep options open and that "nothing is off the table" when weighing the best mechanisms to pay to finance infrastructure projects.
MoneyWeek: The collapse of delivery company City Link over Christmas has starkly shown the woes facing Britain's parcel businesses. Royal Mail (LSE: RMG), UK Mail and TNT have all said in recent months how hard life has become for them. Royal Mail's revenue from parcels in 2014 will probably have stagnated, or even fallen. Despite the boom in internet shopping, many parcel companies seem to be making less rather than more money. That's because there are too many delivery vans out there chasing the business.
The Telegraph: A Czech postman has got the sack after he was caught on video hurling parcels out of the back of his van onto the pavement. The video, which appeared on YouTube and got widespread coverage in the Czech media, showed the postal working chucking one package after another onto the ground in an apparently ill-tempered search for the parcel he was supposed to be delivering.
The Daily Beast: There is little doubt that Attkisson's computers were hacked by an illicit outside entity; experts hired independently by CBS, Attkisson and just-retired Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, conducted separate forensic analyses and found evidence of repeated intrusions using unauthorized software. The big question, essentially, is whodunit? Coburn, who said he used his staff from the Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate Attkisson's personal computer, told the Daily Beast: "CBS wouldn't let us look at the [office] computer, but on the one we did look at, we found programs that are not available anywhere else except to a very few people." While he stopped short of linking the discovered programs to a federal agency, Coburn said: "I think she [Attkisson] has got a legitimate claim. I think her civil rights were violated." But this week the Justice Department and the Postal Service—among the defendants in the case, who also include Attorney General Eric Holder and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe (both of whom have announced retirement plans), and various "unknown named agents" of the government—pushed back hard against Attkisson's allegations.
The New Indian Express: People holding accounts with a post office can now operate their accounts from any other post office and also online. The department of posts, AP Circle, launched Core Banking Services (CBS) on Thursday, offering online banking, mobile banking and SMS alerts. ATMs will be opened in another six months.
DCVelocity: FedEx Corp. plans to hike its diesel and jet fuel surcharges effective Feb. 2 amidst the steepest decline in oil prices in nearly six years. The changes mean that most FedEx air and ground shippers will be looking at higher fuel charges next month except for those shippers with contracts that contain specific language governing surcharge implementation. Typically, parcel contracts give the carrier latitude to impose the fuel surcharge that's in effect on the day a package is picked up. The carriers are also free to change surcharge levels without prior notice. Surcharge levels can fluctuate depending on changes in oil and fuel prices.
MSNBC: "The Ed Show" on saving the Postal Service.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
January 8, 2015
Xenia Gazette: Ohioans and their elected representatives in Washington are turning to new challenges for the new year. With a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, leaders will undoubtedly focus on shaping and crafting a government that reflects the principles of fiscal responsibility, liberty, and free enterprise. Sadly, several institutions in our country have strayed from these principles and are suffering as a result. One agency that typifies this unfortunate state of affairs is the U.S. Postal Service. The organization, whose mission is to deliver letters to citizens anywhere in the country at a reasonable rate, has, in efforts to sustain itself, created new and expanded services that are doing more harm than good. Examples include overextending itself to deliver packages 7 days a week. Next on the Postal Service's list are potential forays into payday lending and warehousing services. As varied as these new services may be they all share the practice of adding high costs to the agency without proven benefits to compensate for the costs. Speaker John Boehner must also recognize that any larger effort in Congress to make government more efficient needs to include a close review of the Postal Service, and leadership to advance the best solutions for preserving it. Ultimately, the Postal Service needs to address its growing debt and ensure that the core services that we all depend on are maintained. Let's ask our leaders to take on this challenge and keep the Postal Service focused on mail delivery and being more accountable overall.
Postal Technology International:
The Fiscal Times: The new Congress has already pushed through some controversial new rules. Republicans on Tuesday passed a package of rules that will govern how the House of Representatives operates over the next two years, including an obscure change that has infuriated many on the left, who see it as designed to favor tax cuts by tinkering with federal budget math. The new rule requires that major legislation be subject to so-called dynamic scoring by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, meaning that the official analysis of the costs of legislation would have to factor in assumptions about the macroeconomic effects it might have. The rule applies to any bill that would have an effect on the federal budget equal to .25 percent of projected GDP in a given year, which works out to about $45 billion as of now.
Save the Post Office: Early last fall, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) filed a labor grievance against the Postal Service concerning who separates and sorts the mail brought back to the post office by rural carriers. Now the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA) has filed a lawsuit against the Postal Service and the APWU over the issue.
Montrose Daily Press: Montrose-area residents whose mail was compromised last month may have to wait for a while before it is returned to them. Hundreds of pieces of mail recovered by the Montrose County Sheriff's Office are now in the custody of U.S. postal inspectors in Denver, who are processing it as evidence, determining who the victims are and also determining whether there is any evidence of additional fraud. "It's necessary for us to keep that recovered mail, as it is important evidence relative to our ongoing investigation," said Pam Durkee, a postal inspector and spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspectors Office.
Forbes: FedEx had forecast an 8.8% year-over-year increase in its package volumes for the holiday season between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. In order to handle the 290 million packages, FedEx had taken measures which included increasing seasonal workers, using six-sided cameras to read package labels, investing in improving its network and capping deliveries of retailers. Looking at its significantly improved delivery rates, it seems that FedEx's preparations paid off. According to ShipMatrix, a logistics software firm, FedEx achieved a 91% on-time delivery rate during Thanksgiving week, compared to 83% last year. The company's performance through the days leading up to Christmas was exceptional. On December 22 and 23, FedEx delivered 99% of the packages on time, compared to a low 90s delivery rate a year ago. Even on December 24, FedEx managed to reach a delivery rate of 98%, compared to 90% last year.
Atlanta Business Chronicle: United Parcel Service Inc. will bring its UPS Worldwide Express Freight service to 12 new origin and nine new destination countries. The Atlanta-based package shipping and logistics company said countries adding origin service include Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, Turkey and Vietnam. Countries adding destination service include Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam. The service offers palletized shipments over 150 lbs. Delivery is door-to-door and day-definite, with customs brokerage service included. Saturday deliveries are available to select U.S. and Canadian postal codes.
Linn's: In a Jan. 8 speech at the National Press Club, departing Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe blamed "shortsightedness" by mailers and postal unions for undermining his efforts to resolve the United States Postal Service's financial crisis. Donahoe said postal management had established "a smart, comprehensive business plan" but said labor unions and mailers rejected it "because it threatened the status quo." In his speech, Donahoe blamed mailers for viewing the future of the USPS "mostly through the lines of pricing" This means "they don't want the Postal Service to have greater product and pricing flexibility." Postal unions view the USPS "mostly through the lens of preserving jobs and benefits as they currently exist," he said. The postmaster general cited the American Postal Workers Union's successful efforts against opening postal sales outlets in 82 Staples stores. "It's an example of the narrow, near-sighted view winning over the broader, long-term strategy," he said, adding that the fight has made it difficult for USPS to find other retail partners.
Roll Call: Once again, Congress adjourned last year without passing much needed reform for the United States Postal Service. Reform is critically needed since the agency continues to flirt with financial insolvency caused by a crippling obligation to prefund decades of retiree health care costs. It is up to the 114th Congress to enact commonsense reforms that can address the Postal Service's problems, recognizing that "service" is not only part if its name, but is also vital to its success. Despite this, Postal Service has not been responsive to all its customers. While offering Saturday service for parcels and even Sunday service at no premium for certain customers on one hand, it has repeatedly tried to decrease service for first-class mail and periodicals and targeted rural areas for service reductions.
Washington Post: On Monday, the U.S. Postal Service's inspector general posted a report with a seemingly innocuous title. "Flexibility at Work," it read. "Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service." Inside, the report talks about things like helping its approximately 627,000 employees take time off when they need it, or giving employees the option of working four longer days per week rather than five, and bring in supplementary workers to cover shifts when necessary. The modern workforce, it argues, insists on the ability to accommodate family and social life; allowing for variations in scheduling will make everyone happier and more productive. That all sounds good, right? As it turns out, however, "flexibility" means different things to different people. And the unions that represent the Postal Service's workers saw in the report an immediate threat. Still, Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce, says change is necessary for the USPS to remain competitive with FedEx and UPS. The fact that it has four unions and three management associations, each with extensive contracts that outline what members can and can't do, "is one of the Postal Service's Achilles heels," Del Polito says. "It needs the flexibility. It doesn't have the flexibility, and it doesn't have the willingness from unions to get it."
January 7, 2015
Universal Postal Union: The UPU's Council of Administration (CA), in session at UPU headquarters, decided last Thursday, 13 November, to give the chairmanship of the organization's international meeting to Côte d'Ivoire. In September, the UPU and Côte d'Ivoire had announced the cancellation of the Strategy Conference initially scheduled to take place in Abidjan on 14-15 October 2014 as a result of the prevailing health situation in the region, linked to the Ebola epidemic in neighbouring countries, and the low levels of registrations for the conference. At the same time, in recognition of the Côte d'Ivoire's commitment to the Union, the CA also asked Côte d'Ivoire to co-chair the high-level ministerial conference that will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, during the Universal Postal Congress in 2016.
Direct Marketing News: New House Oversight & Government Reform committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (above) cleaned house as the 114th Congress opens shop this week. More than half of members on the committee will be new, and nine of the 24 Republicans on the panel will be freshmen reps. Postal service overhaul is one of the chief issues on which Chaffetz hopes to bring his more positive approach to bear, he said.
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MacMegasite: Christmas 2014 and New Year 2015 saw global digital newsstand Magzter add on a whopping 125 new international publishers in a short span of just 11 days (December 24,2014 to January 3, 2015). Magzter has been making news in the digital publishing space ever since its inception in June 2011 and with good cause; its proprietary Orey Click Publishing (R) System for one-click publishing, content portability, access to 1000s of paid and free magazines, interactive editions, free app creation, free digital delivery of magazines to print subscribers and easy social sharing being a few of the many reasons. The year 2014 saw the newsstand gain massive recognition in more geographies globally with publisher registrations from the U.S.A, UK, Australia, Canada, China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, U.A.E and Ireland; bringing the total count to almost 5000 magazines.
ACA International: Changes that took effect this week will not affect bulk or metered mail as much as first-class letters. That may mean that collectors waiting for reply or payment via mail will have to wait longer. "Return mail will be slower," Donahoe said. "And so the check that that is in the mail will be slower." Donahoe did not indicate how much longer return mail may take. However, he did say that thanks to technology as much as 30 percent of first-class mail is still "delivered overnight," and that the new lower standards and consolidation would create delivery times that vary by city or region.
KTRK: Houston post office employees say they are not getting paid on time. It's happening at a Houston mail processing facility that has been the center of customer complaints about slow mail delivery. Employees we spoke with say they have not been paid on time. At least one worker is still waiting for her check.
Metronews: When experts talk about sustainable transportation and solving traffic woes, most of them concentrate on personal cars and public transit. But there's another piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed: last-mile logistics. That's the name given to the final delivery of goods as they're shipped from warehouses to stores, restaurants, businesses or private homes. About 20 per cent of all city traffic is related to last-mile delivery, so optimizing it could reduce the number of trucks on our streets and the corresponding traffic congestion, as well as cut down significantly on emissions and air pollution. "The right vehicles need to be used for each type of (cargo) movement, so customers can select the most convenient commercial vehicles in each situation," says Yoshihide Maeda, senior managing director for truck manufacturer Hino Motors. "When you're talking about the future, you cannot avoid the issues of energy and the environment."
DC Velocity: The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) said yesterday it delivered 524 million packages in December, an 18-percent increase over December 2013 levels and a USPS record for holiday package traffic. On Dec. 22, the Postal Service delivered more than 28 million packages, the most packages delivered in one day in USPS' history. On the same day, USPS delivered 463 million pieces of mail. USPS began seven-day-a-week deliveries in late November. More than 20 million packages were delivered on the five Sundays prior to Christmas Day, USPS said. Approximately 118,000 packages were delivered on Christmas Day, it said.
BizReport: The U.S. Postal Service plans to introduce new technology to improve address quality, according to a notice published in the Federal Register last week. The new technology will enable analysis of all pieces of a mailing rather than just a sample, as is currently the case with the Move Update system. Mailers that use Intelligent Mail barcodes and eDoc (electronic documentation) will have access to the new Address Quality Measurement Tool to clean their lists more effectively.
StockMarketWire: Escher Group, a provider of outsourced, point of sale software to the postal industry, warns that FY adjusted EBITDA will be materially below current market expectations. Overall group revenues for the year to 31 December are expected to be down 15% year-on-year. The group says it is providing a trading statement as a sizeable licence agreement did not conclude before year end. Negotiations on this agreement are continuing into 2015.
AMEInfo: Emirates Post Group (EPG) honoured some of its distinguished leaders at the EPG Leadership Awards 2014 ceremony presided over by Mr. Fahad Al Hosani, Acting Chief Executive Officer of EPG. In his welcome address, Mr. Al Hosani lauded the initiative held for the first time by the Group, inspired by the standards of leadership laid down in the Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Program, and said good leadership provides the key to the development and success of every organization. He added that effective leaders put a distinctive stamp on an organisation's growth track.
CRIEnglish: New stats are suggesting China's express delivery sector has seen a revenue growth of over 40 percent this past year. The delivery sector in China is now an over 30-billion US dollar business. China's postal regulator says Chinese couriers delivered around 14-billion parcels last year, the most in the world. At the same time, the State Post Bureau says it is opening up the market to more foreign players, while at the same time, helping the domestic industry expand overseas.
Jagran Post: To leverage the assets of postal network, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said post offices in rural areas can be used to deliver various services and information to the individual households. He also said the postal network can become a driving force for the economy, similar to the Indian Railways, and the huge assets held by the Postal department across the country can be suitably used for the benefit of the people. Modi, speaking after the presentation of a report by the task force on leveraging India's post office network, said post offices in rural areas can be used to deliver services and important government information to individual households.
New York Times: Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general, said myopia and shortsightedness had held up continued efforts to turn around the financially troubled Postal Service. Critical changes needed to turn around the financially troubled United States Postal Service have been held up by Congress and by opposition from postal labor unions that want to preserve jobs and benefits, the postmaster general said.
Washington Post: Like many other working-class people in Pittsburgh, Pat Donahoe could have ended up toiling in the steel mills that once thrived in the city. Instead, he listened to his Uncle Bob, who rousted the young Donahoe from bed to take a post-office employment test. He got the job. Forty years later, the onetime postal clerk is preparing to leave his position as postmaster general of the United States. His love for the U.S. Postal Service seems as great as his allegiance to Steel City, where his family remained as he commuted weekly to Washington. His allegiance to colleagues in the rank-and-file postal workforce, however, appears very thin to those who represent it. Donahoe's prescription for a rejuvenated Postal Service makes labor leaders sick. He accused the American Postal Workers Union, the largest USPS labor organization, of having a "nearsighted view" because it demonstrated against Staples stores providing postal services. "Unfortunately, the APWU's approach is to keep all transactions at the post office," Donahoe said. "That's not convenient for customers, especially in today's world, and it's not a smart strategy from a retail perspective for our business."
ExecutiveGov: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), incoming oversight and government reform committee chairman, has announced the formation of new subcommittees and their selected chairpersons. Chaffetz announced Dec. 17 the establishment of the government operations subcommittee that will focus on federal records, national archives, executive office of the president, the Postal Service, FOIA, commerce, treasury, education, labor and federal civil service, with Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) as chairman.
Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Postal Service said it delivered roughly 524 million packages during December, an increase of 18% from a year earlier, exceeding its expectations. The USPS's package business has been a bright spot, with more than 20% growth over the past five years.
Federal Times: In 2014 the Postal Service reported a $1.4 billion operating profit, the largest it had seen in years and attributed in part to its recent efforts to modernize its IT infrastructure. While the Postal Service is still in the red financially because of its obligation to prepare its retiree health benefits - about $5.6 billion a year - Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a speech Jan. 6 that popular features such as improved tracking and date-specific deliver come from an improved technology platform.
Cayman Compass: An entire set of financial records was improperly shredded, staff members willfully ignored directives of managers, managers routinely lapsed in their reporting responsibilities and $250,000 was spent on a system to track stamp sales that ultimately did not work at the Cayman Islands Postal Services Department. Those findings are among the myriad of problems uncovered by government's Internal Audit Unit during a review of revenues earned by the postal service between 2011 and 2013. The review was completed toward the end of 2013, but was released only recently under a Freedom of Information request made by the Cayman Compass.
From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES FY 2014 Annual Compliance Report , 906–908 [2014–30976] [TEXT]
AllAfrica.com: Despite decline, letter-post still contributes more than 40 per cent of postal revenues; latest Universal Postal Union (UPU) statistics show however, Nigeria and other African country rake in just a little from the revenue drive. The bulk came from the domestic side or 6.6 billion items, representing an increase of 3.7 per cent. International parcels also went up to 67 million items, growing by 5.8 per cent since 2012. Parcel volumes increased in all regions of the world, except in Africa and Asia-Pacific, where slight decreases were observed. The downward trend in global letter-post traffic has continued from 2012 till date. In Africa, only nearly 43 per cent of the population receives home delivery, while in Arab countries that percentage reaches almost 63 per cent. 13 per cent of the world's population must collect their mail. In Africa, that figure reaches 44 per cent, compared to 29 per cent in Arab countries and about 4 per cent in industrialised countries.
Rapid City Journal: Retiring Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe scoffed Tuesday at suggestions that the Postal Service could ease some of its chronic financial woes by branching out and offering basic banking services to its customers. "Our role is delivery," not making financial services available, he told reporters. The banking proposal came from the office of inspector general within the Postal Service itself, and has gained considerable attention, including the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a member of the Senate Banking Committee. Supporters say such services could include prepaid debit cards, check cashing or savings accounts.
National Review: The U.S. Postal Service's inspector general wants the agency to deliver financial services along with the mail. It's a horrendous idea. It would open another floodgate of politicized lending and weakening credit standards, put taxpayers on the hook, unfairly compete with private-sector financial institutions, and violate current law. Lo, over the last year, partisans of an even greater government role have been beating the tom-toms for the Postal Service to provide financial services, putatively to help the unbanked and "underbanked" and offset its losses delivering mail.The market for consumer financial services is vigorously competitive and innovative, where it's permitted to be. Government shouldn't deliver services better performed by the private sector.
SCMagazine: The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced in November 2014 that it was investigating a potential cyber intrusion into some of its information systems and that more than 800,000 staffers were possibly affected – now the investigation has revealed that nearly half a million current and former employees may have had injury claim data compromised. The file – which contains data associated with current and former employee injury compensation claims – was created in August 2012 and includes information that dates from November 1980 to Aug. 30, 2012, Partenheimer said. The information varies depending on the individual, but possibly consists of names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, medical information, and other information, according to Partenheimer.
Washington Post: The U.S. Postal Service is disputing claims in a lawsuit by former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson concerning its possible involvement in the hacking of her computers. In a complaint recently filed with the D.C. Superior Court, Attkisson sues Attorney General Eric Holder and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe for violating several of her constitutional rights, including her freedom of expression and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Washington Post: Postmaster general takes parting shot at unions, mailers -- The outgoing head of the U.S. Postal Service took a parting shot at labor unions and the commercial mailing industry Tuesday for what he called the "shortsightedness and myopia" that have impeded efforts in Congress to modernize the money-losing agency he's led since 2011. "What's holding us up?" Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told reporters at a speech at the National Press Club as he prepares to retire in February after a nearly 40-year postal career. "Myopia. Shortsightedness," he said, describing the obstacles he hit in a four-year effort on Capitol Hill to secure postal legislation. "That may sound a little harsh, but it would be too easy to say that it's just Congressional gridlock." "As much as we try to have an elevated conversation about the future of the organization," he said, "we never get beyond the narrow set of interests that are determined to preserve the status quo." "At some point in time, people have to start thinking about the future," he said, not hiding his impatience with lawmakers and stakeholders who he said are too focused on their own self-interest.
American Postal Workers Union: APWU President's Statement on PMG's Remarks to the National Press Club and his ‘Verbal Attack' on APWU -- "The nation will benefit from the departure of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. In his short tenure, Donahoe has led an all-out assault on the nation's Postal Service. He has shuttered hundreds of mail processing facilities, slashed hours at thousands of neighborhood post offices, and sold priceless postal real estate. Just this week, he implemented service cuts that will virtually eliminate overnight delivery of first-class mail and slow all mail throughout the country. Patrick Donahoe has run the service into the ground. America needs a Postmaster General who will enhance and expand service. . . .We aren't narrow-minded; we are single-minded . . . ."
Federal News Radio: "Myopia" and "shortsightedness" from postal unions, Congress and the mailing industry are keeping the Postal Service from making changes that would let it survive in the digital era, according to Postmaster General Pat Donahoe. "That may sound a little harsh, but it would be too easy to say that it's just congressional gridlock," Donahoe said Tuesday at the National Press Club, in what was billed as a farewell address. He accused foes of his reforms of trying to hold onto a status quo, whether it be employees' benefits or the cost of mass mailing, that prevents the agency from evolving rapidly.
January 6, 2015
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Reuters: Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said on Tuesday the financially beleaguered U.S. Postal Service can be profitable if it can overcome healthcare burdens and pursue innovations such as grocery delivery. Donahoe, who is leaving the job on Feb. 1, said the service needs greater control of its workforce and more flexibility in pricing and developing new products. The Postal Service has been losing billions of dollars for years, including $5.5 billion in fiscal 2014, despite cutbacks in the workforce, consolidation of facilities and other cost-cutting moves. "Congress needs to look at the Postal Service as a business that is going to be a lot different in the coming years and it should view this as a positive, desirable outcome," Donahoe said in a speech at the National Press Club. He said the service could be profitable if it changes its business model and cited its experiments with same-day delivery of packages and grocery deliveries as forward-looking tactics. [EdNote: You can get a copy of the PMG's remarks on the USPS web site.]
Politico: The financial and political risks associated with federal credit have not yet registered with most policymakers, much less the public. Some of the federal government's credit operations produce failure rates no private bank would tolerate. The average default rate for private bank loans is about 3 percent; by contrast, the State Department's "repatriation" loans to Americans who get stuck without cash abroad have a 95 percent default rate.
Politico: Being in politics today often seems like being in the middle of the worst divorce you've ever seen, every day. The level of pettiness and small-minded meanness in political discourse is disheartening at best. It works against our national interests at its worst. It is hard to solve big issues with small politics.
Insider Monkey: FedEx Corporation and United Parcel Service, Inc. may see more of their customers shipping through the United States Postal Service (USPS) after both companies hike their rates and introduce dimensional charging, Morgan Brennan says in a report on CNBC.
From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 539–540 [2014–30968] [TEXT]
Office of the Inspector General:
Wall Street Journal: "Cyberdefense Is a Government Responsibility"
Government Executive: When the U.S. Postal Service announced it would shutter 82 mail processing facilities in 2015, it planned to start closing many of the plants in January. But for at least 10 of the facilities, USPS has now moved back that timetable to April or later. The Postal Service began consolidating its nationwide infrastructure of processing facilities in 2012, and shuttered 141 plants in the first phase of its "network rationalization" plan. The second phase was originally set to begin in 2014, but was delayed to 2015 as USPS awaited the possibility of more sweeping reform from Congress. The first phase is saving $865 million annually, the agency said, projecting the new round of cuts will generate an additional $750 million in savings each year.
Toronto Sun: Canada Post gave Toronto's traffic crackdown its stamp of approval on Monday. The mail carrier announced that it was working to change how postal workers operate in the downtown core to help avoid causing congestion. "To help reduce traffic congestion and gridlock in the downtown core, we recognize that changes to operating procedures must be made by everyone who serves the downtown core," Canada Post stated. "Canada Post is in the process of conducting a thorough review of our pick-up and delivery operations in the downtown core of Toronto and have assembled a senior team to work and implement a plan to help alleviate this issue." The Crown corporation said in the short term, it is looking at shifting stop times where possible to off-peak hours — either between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. or after 7 p.m.
Punch: The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, says over N300bn has been invested in courier services. She said on Monday that the country had also increased the number of registered courier companies to 293 as of November last year. According to her, asset in the courier sub-sector, "including revenue, capital items and other working facilities, is estimated at about N300bn." Johnson noted that in 2014, the industry was viewed as "critical and ranked with oil, gas, and power." She said the sector contributed 9.58 per cent to Gross Domestic Product as of the third quarter of 2014, "while it is also enabling other parts of the economy with an additional $6bn Foreign Direct Investment between 2011 and 2013."
January 5, 2015
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Office of the Inspector General: Flexibility at Work: Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service
"Increasingly, companies large and small are moving toward flexible workforce policies, which allow employees, among other things, to adjust their work schedules to their personal lives as much as possible. In general, the strategic value of such policies is that they help employees establish a healthy work-life balance, which can yield benefits all around. Employees tend to be happier and therefore more committed to their jobs, often leading to greater productivity and better customer service. A business relies heavily on the strength and dedication of its workforce, and flexible workforce policies are helping companies both attract and retain the best workers. Research we conducted and have chronicled in our white paper, Flexibility at Work: Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service, shows that the U.S. Postal Service could similarly benefit by attracting and retaining high-quality employees through adoption of flexible workforce policies. Properly implemented, policies that offer, for example, job-sharing opportunities, compressed work weeks, shift-trades, and self-scheduling – all proving very effective in other industries – could be the proverbial win-win-win for the Postal Service, its workforce, and its customers. We present four high-level suggestions for the Postal Service to consider: create a partnership for flexibility between labor and management; evaluate a portfolio of flexibility initiatives; improve information on workload; and seek continuous feedback from employees."
USA Today: Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service and several unnamed federal employees, claiming they were responsible for her computer being hacked while she reported on stories critical of the Obama administration. [EdNote: I read her book "Stonewalled." It's a great read. You might want to listen to a recent podcast with her. Ms. Attkisson provides additional background on the lawsuits here.]
Great Falls Tribune: Congress returns to work this week with a lengthy list of issues that could have a big impact on Montana, from the Keystone XL pipeline to transportation and health care. Lawmakers begin the 114th Congress Tuesday, when Montana Sen.-elect Steve Daines, Rep.-elect Ryan Zinke and other colleagues are sworn in, leaving both chambers in GOP-control for the first time in eight years. It's unclear whether Congress will act on some of the more controversial issues, or how closely it will work with President Barack Obama, but Montana's Washington delegation acknowledges there is a lot of work to do. "Congress must focus on policies that strengthen the middle class and continue to move our economy forward," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said. "We must make smart investments in infrastructure, pass responsible forest management legislation, reform the USPS and our housing finance system, and keep our promises to veterans and seniors."
DMM Advisory: Published Federal Register Notices The following two Federal Register notices have been posted on the Federal Register website on December 17 and December 23, respectively, and will be posted on the Postal Explorer® website under Federal Register Notices on December 31.
Washington Times: Now that the holiday rush is over, change is afoot in the nation's mail. On Tuesday, outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, who has led the oft-challenged U.S. Postal Service for four years, heads to the National Press Club for some candid talk about the future of an organization that handles 40 percent of the world's total mail volume - that's 158 million assorted letters and packages a year. Some change is already underway though. On Monday, the service lowered its standards for mail delivery across the nation - delivery will be slower in some cases - and consolidated some facilities in a prudent cost-cutting measure to counter financial losses of $26 billion in the last three years. Mr. Donahoe says he will offer a "frank appraisal on what is working and what needs to be fixed" before he leaves his post in February 1.
Post & Parcel: The loss-making US Postal Service is still failing to recover its costs from operating various monopoly mail services. In particular, troublesome services like Standard Mail Flats have actually seen their cost coverages worsen despite regulatory requests and orders issued in past years requiring USPS to improve them. The Postal Service, which is set to begin closing 82 mail processing plants across the country from this week in an attempt to improve its profitability, revealed its latest performance figures within this year's annual compliance report. There was some positive news within the compliance report, notably a slowing decline in important First Class Mail revenues. But, the report showed that the Postal Service is still unable to bring in enough revenue to support the costs of operating various services. Standard Mail Parcels cost coverage improved from 64.3%in 2013 to 66.3% in 2014, but is still behind the 85.5% level of 2012 since service changes have seen a higher proportion of volumes from nonprofit mailers. Periodicals cost coverage remained similar this year to last year's levels at 76.1%. Six Standard Mail letters discounts exceed costs avoided, along with six Standard Mail flats discounts and five Standard Mail parcels discounts. USPS said it was planning to eliminate portions of discounts that exceed cost avoidance "as soon as [is] practicable" through future price increases.
BusinessWire: Amazon today announced that sellers on Amazon sold a record-setting more than 2 billion items worldwide in 2014. The number of sellers on Amazon adopting the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service to help scale their businesses and delight customers with Amazon's award-winning fulfillment and customer service also grew more than 65 percent year-over-year worldwide. There are currently more than 2 million sellers on Amazon worldwide that account for over 40 percent of the total units sold on Amazon.
Tamebay: As anyone who fills up at the pumps will know, the price of vehicle fuel has dropped considerably in recent months. That's good news for lots of people. And as one of Tamebay's readers correctly noted in an email when he got in touch with us over the weekend: isn't it time to start asking the question why postal and courier fuel surcharges haven't been reduced too? He wrote: "As fuel prices have fallen to a six year low I have been wondering why these fuel surcharges haven't fallen. They go up quick enough but surely they should fall as well? I am about to challenge my suppliers over this. Interlink currently charge me 7%!" It's a good question. Are you subject to a fuel surcharge from a courier? Have they reduced it now the commodity prices for oil have fallen? If not, why not?
Business Insider: Starting January 1st, the car fleet of The Romanian Post will be equipped with GPS monitoring systems, following an investment of EUR 400,000.
Dead Tree Edition: "Ten Words That Summarize What Happened to Publishing in 2014"
January 4, 2015
Politico: Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicts President Barack Obama will not be happy with some of the bills the new Republican-controlled Congress will try to put on his desk starting early this year.
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: The U.S. Postal Service next week plans to begin a new round of plant closings and consolidations that will affect dozens of mail-processing centers, including three in Mississippi, despite calls from more than half the members of the outgoing Senate to postpone the changes. All told, the Postal Service plans to close 82 mail processing centers nationwide next year, starting Saturday. Critics say the program will slow down delivery times and harm the agency's brand. Auditors reportedly have found incomplete impact studies for all of the 95 mail-processing facilities that are due to absorb operations from other centers, a situation that seems typical of the Postal Service, which apparently has been ill-managed for years. The Postal Service insisted that it had fulfilled its obligations with the impact reports, but an independent review by Congress is the best method of determining that. The next phase of consolidation will increase delivery times and eliminate overnight delivery for "a large portion of first-class mail and periodicals," according to the inspector general's report. A Postal Service fact sheet says the changes will only nominally increase the average delivery time for first-class mail, from 2.14 days to 2.25 days.
KMTV: A man appointed as Forest City postmaster in 2012 is awaiting trial. Danny Miller is accused of stealing prescription pain medications from the mail. His federal trial had been set to begin on Monday. Instead, Miller's trial has been continued to February 2. A federal grand jury indicted Miller in October on a charge of theft of mail by a postal service employee. Miller formerly served as postmaster in Fertile, Iowa.
Washington Post: Suffice it to say that the past four years have been pretty dismal on Capitol Hill. But this year's new Congress does not have to follow the pattern. Then there are some knotty problems on which the parties are surprisingly close to final agreement. The U.S. Postal Service faces long-term technological and structural challenges, but Democratic and Republican lawmakers have hammered out balanced plans to reduce the service's financial burdens in return for sensible streamlining reforms.
January 3, 2015
Reuters: For top U.S. retailers, free delivery is now the norm. That is good news for shoppers, but not so much for investors. During the just-ended holiday season, outlets from Target to Wal-Mart to Amazon expanded their free-delivery options, adding more items eligible for free shipping. They also did away with minimum spending thresholds to qualify for the perk. Yet as more U.S. shoppers view free shipping as their right, retailers struggle to make a profit online. That struggle will become evident in coming weeks when companies report financial results for the holiday quarter, analysts said.
Gulf News: Amazon has announced that it was trialling parcel delivery by bicycle in New York. More significantly, however, in both the US and UK, the ecommerce group has set up its own delivery van network, with its own vehicles and drivers. Although the vast majority of its parcels are still delivered by established postal operators — including FedEx, UPS, TNT and DPD — analysts say that Amazon's decision to deliver some of its own packages will shake-up an overcrowded postal market and drive consolidation. In November, Britain's privatised mail operator blamed a 21 per cent drop in first-half operating profits, from 353 million pounds to 279 million pounds, on competition from Amazon's van network. UK Mail also reported a sharp fall in group pre-tax profit for the six months to September 30, to 4.9 million pounds, as group revenue slipped from 243.4 million pounds to 241.4 million pounds. Royal Mail says Amazon's decision to deliver its own packages could cut revenue growth in the parcels market — estimated at 4 per cent — by half over the next two years.
From the Federal Register:
Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 266–267 [2014–30786] [TEXT] [PDF] Postal Service NOTICES International Product Changes: Global Expedited Package Services; Non-Published Rates , 267 [2014–30807] [TEXT] [PDF] Meetings; Sunshine Act , 267 [2014–30977] [TEXT] [PDF]
At the Postal Regulatory Commission: The Commission is composed of five Commissioners, each of whom is appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term of six years. A Commissioner may continue to serve after the expiration of his or her term for up to one year or until a successor is confirmed. At any time only three Commissioners may be members of the same party. The Chairman is designated by the President. Currently the Commission is comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat. The names of the current Commissioners, their affiliation and term expiration dates are:
Current Commissioners Term Expiration Date Acting Chairman Robert G. Taub (R) Oct. 14, 2016 Vice Chairman Tony Hammond (R) Oct. 14, 2018 Commissioner Mark Acton (R) Oct. 14, 2016 Commissioner Ruth Y. Goldway (D) Nov. 22, 2014 Commissioner Nanci E. Langley (D) Nov. 22, 2018
Branson Tri-Lakes News: A Branson postal worker is facing multiple forgery charges after being accused of falsifying several magazine orders for a fellow employee to get back at her for rebuffing his sexual advances.
The News Tribune: The United States Postal Service, working to cut back its expenses, will announce on Monday new first class mail delivery standards that could end overnight deliveries in metro areas, but hope remains that some one-day deliveries will be unaffected.
National Legal and Policy Center: On November 4, Susan Haugen, former treasurer of the South Dakota chapter of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), was charged in U.S. District Court for the District Court of South Dakota with three counts of embezzling $36,309 in funds from the Huron, S.D.-based union. According to the grand jury indictment, Haugen, now 55, during May 2010-March 2014 made about $25,000 in unauthorized cash withdrawals and spent another $11,000 with the union credit and debit cards, all for personal expenses. The charges follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
January 2, 2015
The Hill: Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) said Friday he voted against a government spending bill last month partly because it wouldn't prevent the U.S. Postal Service from closing more mail facilities. "USPS is vital to our region, providing quality mail service to our rural district and creating many good-paying, middle class jobs," Nolan wrote on Facebook. Nolan argued that Congress should instead overhaul the USPS retiree benefit program.
PRNewswire: On Jan. 5, the United States Postal Service will lower standards for mail delivery across the nation. Mail will take longer to reach its final destination. In contrast, USPS expanded package delivery to seven days a week during the holiday season. Where is USPS headed in an era of growing ecommerce and package delivery, but a drop in the use of mail for bill-paying and personal correspondence? Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe who has led USPS since 2011, during one of the Service's most turbulent periods, and is leaving his post on Feb. 1, will offer a frank appraisal on what is working and what needs to be fixed at a Newsmaker news conference 10 a.m., Tues. Jan. 6, in the National Press Club's Murrow Room. Past National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane, who previously covered USPS for Bloomberg News, will host the event.
The Times of Malta: "Increase in internet, television, telephone subscriptions, drop in postal traffic"
January 1, 2015
Detroit News: The Postal Service has maintained a culture of secrecy around its finances. Amidst these unprecedented losses, and the looming possibility of a massive taxpayer-funded bailout, improving financial transparency should be a critical priority for the agency. The Postal Service is badly in need of a new accounting system, as reports issued in the past year by both its inspector general and the Postal Regulatory Agency have determined. The obscure and arcane system the Postal Service now uses doesn't accurately measure its expenses. The agency only attributes about half its operating costs to specific products or services. It tabs the rest — tens of billions of dollars — as "overhead." Before it can right its finances, the Postal Service must adopt a more transparent accounting system, one that attributes all costs to the products and functions that impose them. Package volumes are expected to grow 5-6 percent each year through 2017. But package shipping will not save but rather sink the Postal Service if it can't get the business and finances right. By law, USPS' package delivery services must pay their own way. Federal law requires that the agency can't use revenue from its letter mail business — where it has a legally granted monopoly — to subsidize its package business. But USPS' outdated accounting system makes it impossible to figure out whether the agency is following that mandate. And the Postal Service is behaving exactly the way you would expect a government monopoly competing with the private sector to behave.
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