PRC Set to Advise On Five-Day Delivery

Talk of five-day mail delivery has permeated the postal world since former U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter proposed it in 2009. Now, the Postal Regulatory Commission is about ready to issue an advisory opinion on the proposal to Congress.

According to the U.S. Postal Service’s five-day mail delivery proposal, letter carriers would stop delivering mail to U.S. homes and businesses and picking up mail from blue collection boxes on Saturdays. But post offices would stay open on Saturdays, and mail would be delivered to post office boxes.

It’s hard to say exactly when the PRC’s advice on eliminating Saturday postal delivery will reach Congress, though. “The commission is working overtime to resolve both the complex technical and policy aspects of this case,” says PRC chairman Ruth Goldway. “We expect to produce our advisory opinion shortly.”

The lengthy and arduous process began on March 30, 2010 when the Postal Service requested an advisory opinion from the PRC. “In my 13 years serving on the commission, this has been the most difficult and multifaceted issue I have been asked to address,” Goldway says.

During the advisory opinion process, the PRC conducted an on-the-record, public inquiry into the Postal Service’s proposal and provided a forum for all interested parties to participate.

Goldway says the scale and scope of the issues presented posed the most difficult aspect of the advisory opinion process.

“The potential impact of the proposal on the future of universal mail service for the nation and on the continued viability of the U.S. Postal Service has made this a very challenging undertaking,” she says.

Eliminating Saturday mail delivery would save the USPS $3.1 billion in the first year, and as much as $5.2 billion by 2020. Federal law has mandated a six-day mail delivery schedule since 1983, and Congress still needs to lift the restriction before five-day mail delivery could happen.

Goldway says the Postal Service’s five-day delivery plan is just one part of a multi-pronged approach for the future that includes reducing its workforce, adjusting its operations, closing facilities and seeking changes to its statutory charter.