Potter to Mailers: Promote Your Industry

In his keynote address to attendees of the National Postal Forum in Washington on Sept. 20, Postmaster General Jack Potter said the best thing mailers can do to help keep postal rates in check is to keep mail volumes up by promoting the use of print mail to the masses. “Think bold, take bold action and let’s build the business together,” he said, encouraging the audience to communicate “the real value in the mail” to consumers.

On its end, the USPS has done its part, Potter claimed, referring to the agency’s trimming of $8.3 billion in expenses during the past three years and bringing down its labor force–through attrition–to a little less than 708,000 employees, the lowest headcount since 1984. He added, however, that today the USPS is delivering 65 billion more pieces of mail annually to 48 million more addresses.

Potter conceded that the USPS has been able to keep its costs in line thanks to legislative relief last year to temporarily correct the agency’s civil service retirement system payments to avoid continued overfunding in the future. That measure has been largely responsible for holding rates in place since 2002. And he reiterated a promise he made two years ago to hold postal rates steady until 2006.

But if Congress doesn’t make permanent the law that requires that postage-generated revenue be placed in an escrow account for federal budgeting, Potter cautioned that “then we’re looking at a double-digit percent increase in 2006,” he said compared to a single-digit increase.