Browsing: U.S. Postal Service

Postal Regulatory Commission balks at speeding review of USPS downsizing plans

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There’s some moderately big news out of the Postal Regulatory Commission, which has denied the U.S. Postal Service’s request for fast-track review of plans to weaken first-class service standards and close  up to approximately 250 mail processing plants. Last month, USPS lawyers had asked the commission to issue a legally required advisory opinion by mid-April. But in a Tuesday order, the PRC said “the complexity of the case appears to justify the schedule as issued.” Under that timetable, the commission won’t release the opinion until late July at the earliest. Long story short, this is bad news for postal leaders…

Postal Service's FOIA position termed "bizarre."

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Between crumbling finances, tense relations with Congress, and three major labor contracts still to hammer out, you might think the U.S. Postal Service has better things to do than pick an open records fight with another government agency. Not according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. In a federal lawsuit filed this month, the commission charges the Postal Service with  “improperly” claiming exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act to withhold information needed to show that a former elected official broke the law. To underscore its displeasure, the commission also put out a a news release in which Chairwoman Ann Ravel…

IG: Postal Service usually had valid business case for past mail plant mergers

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You can’t call this a game-changer, but the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general is offering some indirect support for the mail carrier’s plans to close more than half of its mail processing plants. In a newly released round-up, the IG’s office pulled together audits of 32 previous area mail processing consolidations and found that 31 had a valid business case. Those business cases “were supported by adequate capacity, increased efficiency, reduced work hours and mail processing costs, and improved service standards,” the roundup says. The IG’s office did note, however, that four of the 31 consolidations were poorly executed and…

U.S. Postal Service ranked tops (yes, you read that right)

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At the end of a dismal year for the U.S. Postal Service, let’s end on an upbeat note: For all its problems, the nation’s mail carrier is the best-performing among those of major industrialized countries. That’s the judgment of Oxford Strategic Consulting, a British firm that recently took a look at the operations of 19 national posts, including those of Great Britain, China, India and Japan. When it came to delivering letters and other mail, the U.S. Postal Service averaged almost 269,000 pieces per delivery employee last year, far ahead of runner-up Australia Post, where the average was about 167,000 pieces, the Oxford study found. The…

Why the Postal Service's halt to plant and P.O. closings may not mean much

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So, how big a deal is the U.S. Postal Service’s freeze on closings of post offices and mail processing plants? Less than you might think, perhaps. No doubt, today’s abruptly announced moratorium was made under mounting political pressure from Capitol Hill Democrats. “Cave-in” was how Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Dennis Ross, R-Fla., described it in a news release. But the long-term consequences for the Postal Service’s downsizing plans won’t necessarily be that pronounced. Last week, for example, a USPS spokeswoman told Federal Times that processing plant closings would start in April at the earliest. The five-month freeze would push…

Postal Service seeking to raise stamp prices

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Better start stocking up on your first-class “Forever” stamps because they will likely cost a penny more in January, under a U.S. Postal Service regulatory filing today. The proposed increase to 45 cents is part of a package that would boost the price of a postcard from 29 cents to 32 cents and also raise the cost of sending international letters, standard mail and periodicals, the agency said in a news release. (For a fuller rundown, check out this fact sheet.) Under a 2006 law, the Postal Service can raise rates relatively easily as long as the cumulative increase doesn’t…

Letter carriers union looks to Wall Street for help with "pro-growth" postal plan

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The National Association of Letter Carriers announced today that it is hiring the Lazard Group investment bank, along with former presidential adviser Ron Bloom, to help develop “a viable long-term,  pro-growth business plan for the Postal Service,” according to a news release. Bloom, who also comes out of the financial sector, is no stranger to troubled enterprises, having worked as President Obama’s “car czar” during the bailout of the auto industry. He went on to serve as assistant to the president for manufacturing policy, but recently left his White House post for family reasons, according to news reports. Bloom also has long-standing…

Postal Service's 2011 losses narrow (but only because of a gimmick)

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If only on paper, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial condition has just shown some stunning improvement. That’s because Congress pushed back a $5.5 billion retiree health care payment originally due last Friday (i.e., Sept. 30) until Nov. 18, according to short-term spending legislation approved in the last week. Sept. 30 was the final day of fiscal 2011, for which the Postal Service had been predicting a total loss of about $10 billion, in part because of that legally required retiree health care obligation.  With that payment now delayed until November, the expected 2011 deficit plummets to $4.5 billion. Of course, the…

New Postal Service ads cite old-fashioned benefits

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Say this for snail mail: it’s never been victimized by a computer hacker. That, in essence, is the point of a new U.S. Postal Service television advertising campaign that seeks to make a virtue of the mail’s retro qualities. “This is how people and business connect,” runs the voiceover in one ad as the video shows a jaunty letter carrier on her rounds. “Feeling safe and secure that important letters and information don’t get lost in thin air or disappear with a click, but are delivered from person to person.” Take that, Internet. The two commercials, aimed at boosting businesses’ use of the…

Living people to be pictured on postage stamps and other USPS news

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Once again, there’s so much happening with the U.S. Postal Service that it seems simplest to package (no pun intended) the latest developments together. Here goes: 1) In that rare bit of news that doesn’t revolve around the mail carrier’s cratering finances, the Postal Service today announced that it’s changed a long-standing policy so living people can be depicted on postage stamps. Under the previous guidelines, an individual had to be dead for at least five years to be so honored; starting next year, Americans “will see acclaimed musicians, sports stars, writers, artists and nationally-known figures” on stamps while they’re…

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