With neither of the committee-approved postal reform bills scheduled for consideration by the full House or Senate as of Oct. 7, Direct Marketing Association president/CEO John Greco declared in an Oct. 8 e-mail alert to members that postal reform this year “appears very unlikely” as the 108th Congress winds down.
Of almost equal concern is the size and scope of the next postal rate increase. The USPS plans to open up a postal rate case during the first quarter of next year with the idea of increasing postage in all mail classes in January 2006, which would be the first rate hike in 3-1/2 years. Greco stated that mailers should urge their congressmen to address the USPS’s problem pertaining to its Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) escrow account requirement before it files for the rate increase next year.
The CSRS escrow is expected to represent a $3.5 billion liability for the USPS next year; if it’s not adjusted appropriately, the agency will have to add another 5.4% to whatever rate hike it seeks, propelling the expected increase from single- to double-digits. Correcting the CSRS problem should amount to a two-year elimination of the escrow, Greco’s statement said. Congress adjourns on Oct. 8, but may return after the Nov. 2 election and again after Thanksgiving.
Greco notes that the legislative process for postal reform can pick up where it left off early in the 109th Congress since both bills were passed through their respective committees. “Our industry,” his message said, “is now closer than it has ever been to passing [postal reform] legislation.”