Live from the National Postal Forum: next postage increase nudged back

Boston–Depending on how you define “well into,” you may have reason to be encouraged about postal rates. In speeches at the National Postal Forum here on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24, Postmaster General Jack Potter promised that because the U.S. Postal Service has been able to cut its fiscal year loss to less than $1 billion, “there will be no general rate hike until well into 2004.”

Potter also announced that the USPS has begun implementing its Confirm delivery tracking service on a subscription basis. Confirm uses Web-based data technology to enable mailers to find out the status of their mailings as they go through their processing systems.

“I am convinced customers will find a number of new uses we haven’t even thought about yet,” Potter said. Confirm’s key feature is its ability to enable postal operations managers to isolate operational problems and act to improve service and deliverability predictability.

Potter also laid out his goals for the USPS for 2003. They include the agency’s continued push to work with the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) on alternatives to the postal ratemaking process. As part of the effort, the agency inked a deal last week for its first negotiated service agreement (NSA). This week, the USPS will file a second proposal with the PRC that will offer small-circulation periodicals a means of achieving work-sharing discounts akin to those of larger magazines.

In a general session on Sept. 24, postal governor David Fineman emphasized the positive outcome of the most recent failed efforts to push postal reform in Congress.

“Even though there was a distressful situation where we didn’t get the legislation,” Fineman said, “we engaged people who will get into public policy debate on universal service, and hopefully we’ll get some kind of legislation in the near future. We work within an antiquated legislative system that doesn’t make any sense. Still, we were able to cut jobs last year, and next year, we’ll make hard decisions on transformation.”

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