The mailing industry got two lumps of coal in our holiday stocking this year in terms of key postal issues we’re facing. The first came when the 213th Congress adjourned without addressing the need for comprehensive postal reform legislation. We got the second when the Senate wrapped up business without confirming any of the six nominees to the USPS Board of Governors, leaving the board without a quorum to conduct business. Keep in mind – approving just one of the nominees would have restored the quorum. (Maybe we should have written to Santa asking him to bring us a financially stable Postal Service. We might have had better luck.) The only small holiday present we got this year was Senate confirmation of Nanci Langley and Tony Hammond to the Postal Regulatory Commission, bringing that body back to full strength, after more than a year with only three of its five seats filled.
But it’s the holiday season, which means even mailers are feeling cheerful and optimistic, so let’s lift a glass of eggnog and take a look at what this all means and where we stand on several other postal issues:
Board of Governors
Before losing its quorum, the board voted in November to create a temporary emergency committee composed of the active governors to take the helm of the agency if the board lost its quorum. The temporary emergency committee would have all “powers needed to provide for continuity of operations.” According to a notice published in the Federal Register, “The resolution clarifies that the inability of the board to constitute a quorum does not inhibit or affect the authority of the governors then in office to exercise those powers vested solely in the governors.”
Postal Service Financial Condition
The Postal Service was off to a strong start in FY2015, reporting October income of nearly $6.4 billion, 8.4% more than October last year. Driven by election mailings, Standard (advertising) Mail volume was up a whopping 13.1% compared to last year.
Still no word from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that will determine the future of the exigent postage rates that were imposed in January, although the decision is expected before the end of the year. As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Postal Service won’t pursue a CPI-based rate increase in January, but indications are an increase may be coming in late March or early April. Based upon inflation figures released earlier this week, it could average about 1.97%.
USPS Network Optimization (Phase 2)
The omnibus spending bill that passed Congress earlier this week encourages (but does not require) the Postal Service to complete required analysis before pursuing further plant consolidations. USPS management had previously said that short of an outright prohibition from Congress, they would proceed with the next phase of network rationalization as scheduled in early 2015. However, the spending bill does continue the requirement that the Postal Service deliver mail six days a week.
Thanks for following our periodic postal updates here at SpeakingDIRECT. We’ll be back in 2015 with more news about postal happenings. Here’s to even more successful direct mail in the New Year!
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