Live From the ACMA Forum: Potter Predicts Five-day Mail Delivery Will Be Reality

Washington—U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter told attendees this morning at the second annual National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum that he is convinced his proposal for five-day mail delivery will become a reality.

When Potter proposed five-day mail delivery in January, many politicians and catalogers were shocked. “I know a lot of people thought I was out of my mind bringing this up,” Potter said. “Some thought it was political suicide.”

But Potter said that he viewed the concept as proper stewardship. “Raising rates isn’t the way to go at this. It would drive more volume away. Delivery is something we’re going to have to change if we’re going to live with this lower volume.”

In 2000, an average of 5.9 pieces of mail was delivered to every stop, every day, Potter said. That average figure has now dropped to 4.7. “We’re going to continue to take cost out within the constraints of our collective bargaining agreements.”

Potter’s contention that a move to five-day mail delivery is inevitable received some support on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA)— chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia Subcommittee—addressed the issue during a subcommittee hearing titled, “Nip and Tuck: The Impact of Current Cost Cutting Efforts On Postal service Operations And Network.”

“The Postmaster General has discussed the possibility of moving to a five-day mail delivery schedule, and we may be at or near the point where we need to seriously consider this option, by researching associated savings and service impacts,” Lynch said. “I understand that this is not a decision that will be made lightly.”

Lynch added: “Despite plans to cut costs this year by $5.9 billion, postal officials still anticipate losing a total of $6.4 billion by year’s end—primarily due to the recession and its negative impact on mail volume.”

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