When it comes to postal products that don’t cover their costs, the U.S. Postal Service finds itself in a no-win situation. The law that governs the U.S. Postal Service, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), requires the Postal Service to make sure all products cover their direct costs. But it also caps the price increase on market-dominant mail classes at the increase in inflation.
The U.S. Postal Service’s governing body, the Board of Governors, voted this week to request permission to raise postage prices above the inflation-based price cap to generate $2 billion in revenue in 2014. It is asking the regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), to allow the Postal Service to raise the price of a stamp by 3 cents (to 49 cents), which is 2 cents more than the annual inflationary increase. Prices on other single-piece and commercial mail products would also increase.
In an effort to reduce costs, the U.S. Postal Service has proposed cutting delivery service to five days per week by eliminating Saturday delivery. For a moment, let’s ignore the argument over whether the delivery days should be cut to five to ask another question: is Saturday the right day to cut?
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"]L[/dropcap]ast Thursday the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) issued its advisory opinion on the U. S. Postal Service’s proposal to switch to five-day delivery. Following a year-long analysis, the PRC voiced concerns with the request, questioning the potential savings, the impact on service, and the effect on communities, especially in rural areas. However, the Commission was unable to reach a consensus and did not issue an opinion to endorse or reject the proposal to cut Saturday delivery.
It’s that time of year again. Those of us helping on the Office of Inspector General blog have come up with a list of the top 10 postal stories for 2010. Tell us about any stories we missed and add whatever comments you think appropriate. In particular, we would like to get your input on the top story, so take a minute and vote in the poll below.
10. OSHA Fines the Postal Service – At plants across the country, the Postal Service receives sizeable fines for electrical hazards.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the Postal Service to measure service performance and report to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The PAEA directs that external measurement systems be used for evaluating the Postal Service’s mail delivery performance unless alternate systems have been approved by the PRC. The PRC reviews this data to ensure that delivery performance does not deteriorate under the current rate setting process and to assess customer satisfaction.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) ushered in a new regulatory structure for the U.S. Postal Service. One key element was a price cap on market dominant products. (Most of the Postal Service's products are market dominant.) This means that price increases for market dominant products are capped by the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
In a time when everyone is examining the dollars and cents of the postal business, people have a tendency to overlook the bigger picture: the greater role of the Postal Service in modern society. With that in mind, the Postal Regulatory Commission requested the Urban Institute to study the Postal Service. The focus was not a traditional look at the business but a study of the benefits of the Postal Service and its infrastructure to the American population.
As the Postal Service examines its business model and contemplates changes meant to increase its efficiency, Congress’s role in postal operations has captured public attention. A prime example is the Postal Service’s recent efforts to trim its retail operations. As a cost cutting initiative, on July 2, 2009, the Postal Service filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission a list of Post Office stations and branches it was considering closing. After the filing, many entities questioned the Postal Service’s authority to close these facilities. An article published on the U.S.