Live From the ACMA Forum: So Long, Saturday Mail Delivery?

Washington–The U.S. Postal Service has reached a pivotal juncture, said Dan Blair to attendees Thursday at the ACMA’s first National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum: “We are at a crossroads right now with volume.”

Blair, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, acknowledged various issues related to mail volume. A big one: The House Appropriations Committee approving an amendment from Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) that would require the USPS to study the cost effectiveness and fuel consumption of a five-day delivery system and consumer demand for Saturday postal mail.

Kingston said in a June 26 press release he’s been trying to get the postal service to end Saturday delivery for years. “It’s a perfect example of government waste that is driving up the price at the pump,” he said.

“I can’t think of the last time I got anything but a bill in the mail and, frankly, those can wait until Monday. Now my kids get all of their bills by e-mail,” Kingston said. “What other way can the government immediately save 20.8 million gallons of gas thereby reducing consumption and gas prices?”

Blair said there are definitely questions surrounding Kingston’s proposal, including the delivery of time-sensitive documents and the potential impact on commerce. “Five-day delivery is being considered as the USPS struggles to break even or make a profit,” Blair noted. “For some mailers, predictability and reliability is essential.”

Some attendees asked Blair if realigning the national postal network, including approximately 37,000 post offices, is doable. “At the heart of it, it’s a political issue,” he said. “No Congressman wants to see a post office close in his or her district.”