Sunday, December 6, 2009

National Conversation on the Future of Mail

The Postal Regulatory Commission has recently posted on its website the text of a letter that Chairman Ruth Goldway sent to 162 organizations asking for input for what she calls a "national conversation on the future of mail and hardcopy communications in the United States and how changes currently underway may affect your members." (The entire letter and the list of organizations contacted is included at the end of this post.)

She asks for input in three separate areas:
  1. The Postal Service's effort to close stations and branch Post Offices;
  2. A new PRC study the Commission is initiating "on the present and future role of mail in American society and the societal impact of the existence of the postal system;" and
  3. The Postal Service's proposal to reduce the number of delivery days from 6 to 5.
In her letter, she notes that input into the first and third areas should come within established Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) proceedings. The PRC actions in these two items follow standard legal requirements when the Postal Service makes changes in service.

The second item is new and is not in response to any action taken by the Postal Service nor is it a mandated study required by the PAEA. This should be a significant effort as if done right. It could provide a reasonable picture of the range of possible demands on the postal system, including both physical and digital delivery of documents as well as the delivery of parcels both five and ten years hence. That time frame is important given both the speed of legislation, organizational change, and regulatory change will likely result in a new business model and regulatory framework taking between five and ten years to implement.

Most likely, the PRC will use the information that the organizations contacted provide as the basis for its testimony before Congress on the PRC's view of what the Postal Service's future business model and regulatory framework should be. The organizations that the PRC contacted should look at this request as their first chance to frame the record that Congress will use to develop the new business model and regulatory framework for the Postal Service.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


In December 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act became law, changing the nature of government regulation over postal service in America. Under the Act, the U.S. Postal Service was given more flexibility in setting rates, entering into special postal service contracts, and offering new products. However, in exchange, the Service was also required to provide greater transparency for the public in areas such as financial reporting and service performance measurement. In addition, the renamed Postal Regulatory Commission was granted increased regulatory responsibility over the Postal Service.

Within our regulatory framework, I would like to encourage a national conversation on the future of mail and hardcopy communications in the United States and how changes currently underway may affect your members. (emphasis in original)

As you are probably aware, the Postal Service faces serious financial challenges. For some time, consumer shifts toward electronic communications and online bill payment have resulted in gradual declines in First Class mail volume. The current economic downturn has greatly exacerbated the problem, causing substantial, across-the-board mail volume declines.

The Postal Service has responded by downsizing their workforce and operations, reducing the number of facilities, eliminating a large fraction of mail collection boxes, altering delivery routes, and proposing further changes that could potentially have a significant impact on its customers and service nationwide. The Commission seeks your views on what these changes mean for you, your members and our nation.

Your input would be most helpful in the following three areas:

First, the Commission requests comments on a recent Postal Service proposal to consider whether the closing of station and branch post offices throughout the nation will result in a substantial nationwide change in postal service, and if so, whether that change would be in compliance with applicable laws. This includes a review of issues such as the public communication process and appeal rights for affected customers where a final determination has been made to close an office.

The Postal Service recently provided the Commission with an initial list of several hundred offices that it is reviewing for possible closure. These offices are located in metropolitan regions throughout the nation.

The Commission welcomes information on what effect such changes might have on your members and our nation’s mail service. The list of offices being reviewed and the public records on this proceeding can be found at our website ( under Docket N2009-1 – Station and Branch Optimization and Consolidation Initiative.

Second, we would welcome your thoughts on a study the Commission is initiating on the present and future role of mail in American society and the societal impact of the existence of the postal system. Your perspective and insights would be very much appreciated.

Finally, the Postal Service will likely seek an advisory opinion from the Commission on a proposal to decrease mail delivery service by one day a week, from the current six-day-a-week service to five-day delivery. If and when this occurs, we will solicit public comments and hope that you and your members will transmit your views on this proposal and its impact.

Please note that last year, at Congress’s request, the Commission completed a study of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), which assesses the level of postal services required to be provided in this country. The final report and the appendices are available on the left hand column on the home page of the Commission’s website

Your unique perspective is valuable to the PRC in carrying out its responsibilities. We will provide you with whatever documents we have available and assist your staff in understanding the Commission review process. If you have any questions on the most appropriate way to participate in this dialogue and to submit comments in any of the Commission dockets, please contact the Commission’s Public Affairs and Government Relations office. Contact information is below.

Ruth Y. Goldway
Postal Regulatory Commission

Postal Regulatory Commission
Public Affairs and Government Relations Office
Attn: Ann Fisher, Director
901 New York Avenue NW #200
Washington, DC 20268

Phone: 202-789-6800
Fax: 202-789-6886

Initial Stakeholder Contact List

  1. Access Technology Association
  2. Aricultural Circulation Association
  3. Alliance of Independent Store Owners & Professionals
  4. Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers
  5. American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
  6. American Association of Retired Persons
  7. American Association of Retirement Communities
  8. American Association of State Colleges and Universities
  9. American Association of University Administrators
  10. American Bankers Association
  11. American Booksellers Association
  12. American Business Media
  13. American Catalog Mailers Association
  14. American Chamber of Commerce
  15. American Council of the Blind
  16. American Council on Consumer Interests
  17. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  18. American Hospital Association
  19. American Institute of Philanthropy
  20. American Library Association
  21. American Medical Informatics Association
  22. American Public Health Association
  23. American Real Estate and Urban Economic Association
  24. American Seniors Housing Association
  25. American Association of Museums
  26. Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
  27. APPA (The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers)
  28. American Postal Workers Union
  29. Assisted Living Federation of America
  30. Associated Mail & Parcel Centers
  31. Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
  32. Association for Mail Electronic Enhancement
  33. Association for Postal Commerce
  34. Association of American Colleges and Universities
  35. Association of American Publishers
  36. Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  37. Association of Fundraising Professionals
  38. Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
  39. Association of Public Television Stations
  40. Association of Small Foundations
  41. Authors and Publishers Association
  42. Blinded Veterans Association
  43. Braille Authority of North America
  44. Check Payment System Association
  45. Citizens Against Government Waste
  46. City & Regional Magazine Association
  47. Coalition of Religious Press Associations
  48. Consumer Federation of America
  49. Continuity Shippers Association
  50. Council of State Community Development Agencies
  51. Council for Affordable and Rural Housing
  52. Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
  53. Council of State Chambers of Commerce
  54. Council of State Governments
  55. County Executives of America
  56. Custom Publishing Council
  57. Direct Marketing Association
  58. DMA Nonprofit Federation
  59. Edison Electric Institute
  60. Electronic Funds Transfer Association
  61. Envelope Manufacturers Association
  62. Executives Council for Community and Economic Research
  63. Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America
  64. Financial Services Roundtable
  65. Florida Gift Fruit Shippers Association
  66. Fulfillment Management Association
  67. IDEAlliance
  68. Independent Charities of America
  69. International Association of Audio Information Services
  70. International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers
  71. International Downtown Association
  72. International Economic Development Coun.
  73. International Municipal Lawyers Association
  74. International Mailers' Advisory Group
  75. International Rural Sociology Association
  76. Lexington Institute
  77. Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association
  78. Magazine Publishers of America
  79. Mail Contractors Association
  80. Mail Order Association of America
  81. Mail Order Gardening Association
  82. Mail Systems Management Association
  83. Mailers Council
  84. Major Mailers Association
  85. National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
  86. Nation Institute
  87. National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
  88. National Association of Consumer Advocates
  89. National Association for Printing Leadership
  90. National Association of Advertising Distributors
  91. National Association of College and University Mail Services
  92. National Association of Consumer Agency Administration
  93. National Association of Counties
  94. National Association of County and City Health Officials
  95. National Association of County Recorders Election Officials & Clerks
  96. National Association of Election Officials
  97. National Association of Independent College and Universities
  98. National Association of Letter Carriers
  99. National Association of Perishable Shippers
  100. National Association of Postal Supervisors
  101. National Association of Postmasters of the United States
  102. National Association of Presort Mailers
  103. National Association of Realtors
  104. National Association of State Administrators and Supervisors of Private Schools
  105. National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates
  106. National Association of Towns and Townships
  107. National Association of Working Women
  108. National Black Chamber of Commerce
  109. National Catholic Development Conference
  110. National Congress for Community Economic Development
  111. National Consumers League
  112. National Council of Local Human Service Administration
  113. National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
  114. National Council on the Aging
  115. National Family Business Council
  116. National Federation of Independent Business
  117. National Fraternal Congress of America
  118. National Governors Association
  119. National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry
  120. National Industrial Transportation League
  121. National League of Postmasters of the United States
  122. National Newspaper Association
  123. National Postal Mail Handlers Union
  124. National Postal Policy Council
  125. National Retail Federation
  126. National Rural Letter Carriers' Association
  127. National Small Business Association
  128. National Small Business United
  129. National Star Route Mail Contractors Association
  130. Nationwide Alternate Delivery Alliance
  131. Netflix
  132. Newspaper Association of America
  133. 9to5, National Association of Working Women
  134. Offering Envelope Association
  135. Parcel Shippers Association
  136. Periodical Publications Association
  137. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
  138. Printing Industries of America
  139. Public Broadcasting Management Association
  140. Public Citizen
  141. Public Library Association
  142. Recording Industry Association of America
  143. Red Tag News Publications Association
  144. Saturation Mailers Coalition
  145. Small Business Council of America
  146. Small Business Legislative Council
  147. Specialized Information Publishers Association
  149. The Association of Boarding Schools
  150. The Association of Educational Publishers
  151. The Media Institute
  152. United Amateur Press Association of America
  153. United Farm Workers of America
  154. United States Chamber of Commerce
  155. United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  156. United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees)
  157. Urban Affairs Association
  158. Urban Financial Services Coalition
  159. Urban Land Institute
  160. Urban Libraries Council
  161. Writers Guild of America, East
  162. Yellow Pages Association

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask the PRC to visit my office slated for closing in South Camden New Jersey. I ask you to please meet the customers who pratically beg me to keep this office open. The bottom line is you will be hurting the city's people by asking them to use public transportation to pay their bills! The other alternative is drive and pay meters to park. Think about it PRC, this is nothing but a DIS-SERVICE to the public. Unfortunately this can be a high crime rate area. Is this fair to the elderly who don't have a computer and rely on us? Stop by before you decide!