Postal Commission Recommends Changes to USPS

Washington–The Bush Administration’s commission on the U.S. Postal Service on July 16 issued a number of preliminary recommendations on the future of mail service in the U.S. “There was a genuine effort on the commission’s part to make sure its audience understood that its ideas are to help sustain the Postal Service as a self-supporting industry,” said Gene Del Polito, president of the Arlington, VA-based Association For Postal Commerce, who was in attendance at the proceedings.

Del Polito, postal consultant Ed Gleiman, and Direct Marketing Association senior vice president, government affairs Jerry Cerasale all commented on the partial list of recommendations issued by the commission. The overriding mission of the Postal Service of the future is to provide postal services to all people and communities in the most cost-effective manner with uniform rates where applicable, Del Polito reported. What’s more, the USPS shouldn’t devote its time and energy to noncore activities unless it’s compensated for them.

Other commission recommendations include:

*-The redefinition of the USPS Board of Governors to a private-sector-like postal board that would include three presidentially-appointed members, eight board-appointed members named for their postal expertise rather than political patronage, and the postmaster general, as opposed to the current board of nine presidentially-appointed governors, the postmaster general, and the deputy postmaster general. While terms would be limited to three years with renewals allowed, postal board members would be forced to retire once they reach 70.

*-As for the governance of the USPS of the future, a board of directors should be transformed into a corporate-style board, Gleiman reported. The new board would start with a clean slate, compensation changed, and the appointment process changed. Limits on capital spending would be repealed.

*-The independent agency that gives a final recommended decision on all postal rate matters would transform to the Postal Regulatory Board. Instead of preapproving postal rates prior to implementation, the board would review the agency periodically, regulate noncompetitive postal services in an after-the-fact manner unless the rates proposed by the USPS exceed a certain given limit. Otherwise, the USPS would be able to change rates on its own.

*-The commission recommends an increase in private-sector partnerships to maximize the use of the private sector for delivery while using the USPS’s core first- and last-mile delivery competency, Cerasale reported. “If you can do it cheaper and more efficiently in the private sector,” he said, “contract it out while leveraging that first and last mile of delivery.”

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