AED: The Big Postal Issue That Needs More Attention For all the political controversy surrounding the U.S. Postal Service in recent months, there is one issue on which Democrats, Republicans and Independents should be able to come together: the need to better track packages from overseas so that opioids ...
Congressional Inaction Means Postal Service Collapse The U.S. Postal Service and the Trump Administration make for a pair of strange bedfellows, but they agree on this: without major Postal Reform action soon, the U.S. Postal Service could face a liquidity crisis. This will not only disrupt the Postal Se ...
Saving the Postal Service Requires Getting the Details Right Change is frequently a difficult experience for many people, no matter how necessary or worthwhile they believe it to be. This is certainly proving to be the case with the future of the U.S. Postal Service, one of our most visible, and treasured, American government institutions. The need for change is well documented and easily recognized. The Postal Service announced a $5 billion operating deficit last year, raising its total, cumulative losses to over $62 billion since 2007. This vast debt burden amounts to roughly $250 for every American adult, with no solution in sight.
Needed International Mail Reforms Inch Forward At the 26th Universal Postal Congress this fall, member countries voted to institute a new payment system for letters and small packages shipped by international mail. The Congress, which concluded October 7 in Istanbul, approved changes to the system known as Terminal Dues, by which postal operators exchange payment for outgoing international mail according to established schedules that put countries into different groups.
International Postal Update — October 2016 The Universal Postal Union, the governing organization for international mail, concluded its Istanbul Congress with modest revisions to its pricing system for shipments between designated postal operators. Member countries approved pricing changes to this system, known as Terminal Dues, which will increase heavily discounted rates for shipping small packages from China and other designated developing countries to the United States and other industrialized nations. The new, above-inflation price increases, and other price changes, will be in place from 2018-2022.
Postal Trendwatch – September 2016 Mail Use Study Illustrates Postal Service’s Shifting Role. Declines across categories of mail continue to cause gradual shifts to the U.S. Postal Service’s role in Americans’ everyday lives, according to data from the Service’s most recent Household Diary Study. Letter mail sent by households saw the steepest declines, hastening subsequent changes to the economics of the Postal Service’s business, because that product had previously posted the agency’s strongest transactional profits.
The U.S. Postal Service, a National – and Constitutional – Treasure The Lexington Institute’s Don Soifer has done some in-depth pieces on the U.S. Postal Service, including a recent one on the financial picture at USPS. I appreciate the opportunity to provide some additional perspective and information about this American treasure, which is based in the Constitution, is consistently rated the public’s most-trusted federal agency and delivers 47 percent of the world’s mail.
World’s Postal Leaders Scrutinize Reform Proposals From September 20 to October 7, postal officials from across the globe will gather in Istanbul, Turkey, to shape the future of the sector. The Universal Postal Union, the specialized United Nations agency for the postal sector, convenes a Universal Postal Congress every four years to set rules for international mail exchanges. The UPU will use the Istanbul World Postal Strategy as its roadmap for the work cycle from 2017-2020. The UPU says that this strategy centers on three goals: improving the interoperability of network infrastructure, ensuring sustainable and modern products, and fostering effective market sector functioning. The 2006 federal Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act mandates “unrestricted and undistorted competition” between national posts and private delivery companies and prohibits entering international agreements where competitive preference is given. It also requires making a clear distinction between governmental and operational responsibilities and assigns responsibility for foreign policy related to international postal and delivery services to the Secretary of State.
Practices of the U.S. Postal Service That Imply Anti-Competitive Behavior: Historical Parallels and Remedies Across Other Regulated Sectors As have previous government monopolies, the U.S. Postal Service has been engaging in a pattern of business practices that appear anti-competitive, leveraging postal law to enable it to gain impermissible advantages over the private sector at the expense of consumers. It is not unusual for government monopolies to utilize their monopoly advantages to compete in services already offered by the private sector. The regulator of the monopoly is normally charged by statute with preventing such abuses. Consumers of the Postal Service’s monopoly products and services have recently been required to pay increased costs, in terms of higher prices and clearly reduced quality of service. Other indicators, including cost coverage and service quality measures, also point to increased costs charged to monopoly consumers compared with consumers of competitive products.
Quick Reference to the U.S. Postal Service The U.S. Postal Service is an independent federal agency that must deliver mail to all Americans according to a standardized pricing schedule. Despite a legally guaranteed monopoly on non-urgent mail and exclusive rights of access to Americans' mailboxes, USPS has struggled financially since the mid-2000s. Postal Service activities are predominantly financed through revenue from the sale of mail and postal services. Proceeds from borrowing, interest from investments, and limited appropriations from Congress for specific functions also provide additional revenue. In the first quarter of 2016, USPS posted its first operating profit in five years. But the agency's accounting practices are notoriously opaque to the public, obsfucating persistent financial and operational concerns that would be considered highly problematic in other sectors. The quarterly profit is widely viewed as an anomalous product of an accounting change to workers' compensation expenses tied to interest rates and a temporary "exigent" increase in rates provided by Congress as short-term fiscal relief. Federal legislation passed in 2006 imposes a price cap tied to the Consumer Price Index for all classes of mail within the postal monopoly (but not for competitive products).