Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) proposed on Dec. 4 a $875 million appropriation for the U.S. Postal Service from a defense appropriations bill working its way through the Senate. The Direct Marketing Association quickly voiced its support for Byrd’s proposition. “The cost of mail sanitization should not be borne exclusively by postal rate payers,” DMA president/CEO Bob Wientzen said in a statement. “It’s a national security and national commerce issue, which should be paid for by the national government.”
In other USPS news, the agency formally reported a $1.7 billion loss for its fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The USPS blamed the loss on light mail volume due to the sluggish economy this year, as well as on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. During the final three weeks of the USPS’s fiscal year, mail volume plunged more than 800 million pieces.
And President Bush on Nov. 30 announced that he plans to name Postal Rate Commission (PRC) vice chairman George Omas as chairman of the postal oversight body. Omas has been a postal rate commissioner since 1997. Omas was instrumental in starting a dialogue in October between the U.S. Postal Service and rate case “intervenors” to consider turning current postal rate case into a “settlement agreement” that could be wrapped up by the end of the spring rather than next fall. But as of Nov. 30, no decision had been reached. The USPS rate case attorney that day filed his fourth report with the PRC, noting that although a preliminary draft stipulation and agreement has been circulated to all participants, and comments and suggestions had been received, the USPS “is continuing to discuss pertinent issues with certain parties. Based on these developments, the Postal Service continues to believe that settlement among a substantial number of participants is possible.”