NOV/DEC 2011

FRONT PAGE WHAT'S UP INSIDE SCOOP
KEEPING POSTED SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS INFO@USPS

FRONT PAGE

USPS ENDS YEAR WITH $5.1 BILLION NET LOSS

MAIL VOLUMES CONTINUE TO DECLINE

Photo: CFO Joe Corbett briefs the media on the Postal Service’s end-of-year financials.

CFO Joe Corbett briefs the media on the Postal Service’s end-of-year financials.

The Postal Service ended fiscal year 2011 with a net loss of $5.1 billion. This year-end loss would have been approximately $10.6 billion had it not been for passage of legislation that postponed a congressionally-mandated payment of $5.5 billion to pre-fund retiree health benefits.

Total 2011 mail volume declined by 3 billion pieces, or 1.7 percent, from 2010. First-Class Mail — the Postal Service’s largest and most profitable product — continued its decline from $34.2 billion in 2010 to $32.2 billion in 2011. The 5.8 percent drop far outweighed continued growth in the Postal Service’s more competitive products, packages and Standard Mail.

Shipping Services revenue, which includes Priority Mail and Express Mail, increased $530 million in 2011 (6.3 percent). The increase in Shipping Services revenue was driven by strong growth in the Parcel Select and Parcel Return Services, due to increased package mailings, as customers continued to use the Internet more often to purchase products. Revenue from Standard Mail increased by $495 million (2.9 percent) on a volume increase of 2 billion pieces (2.6 percent).

Other 2011 financial results include:

  • Operating revenue of $65.7 billion compared to $67.1 billion in 2010
  • Operating expenses of $70.6 billion compared to $75.4 billion in 2010

Click here for complete financial results.

TAKE A SECOND LOOK

PMG ASKS CONGRESS TO RECONSIDER REFORM BILLS

Photo: PMG Pat Donahoe at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
PMG Pat Donahoe at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

In a speech delivered Nov. 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, PMG Pat Donahoe encouraged Congress to step back and take a second look at postal reform legislation as currently drafted in the House and Senate.

In his first public comments on postal reform packages, Donahoe argued for providing the Postal Service with a more flexible business model that would allow the Postal Service to quickly implement cost-cutting measures.

“Unfortunately, both bills have elements that delay tough decisions and impose greater constraints on our business model,” said Donahoe. “Taken as they are, they do not come close to enabling cost reductions of $20 billion by 2015 — which they must do for the Postal Service to return to profitability.”

The PMG said either bill would provide at best one year of profitability, and at least a decade of steep losses. “However, by taking the best of the House and Senate approaches, Congress can provide the Postal Service with the legal framework and the business model it needs,” he said.

Donahoe expressed his gratitude for the strong leadership and engagement of the Congress and the Obama Administration in advancing reform legislation. He also expressed confidence that aneffective solution would be enacted.

The Postal Service is seeking changes in the law that would give it authority to: determine delivery frequency; develop and price products quickly; control its healthcare and retirement costs; rapidly realign mail processing, delivery and retail networks; operate under a streamlined governance model; and leverage its workforce with greater flexibility.

WHAT’S UP

EXPRESS MAIL FLAT RATE BOX TO DEBUT

Photo of Express Mail Flat Rate Boxes.
Express Mail Flat Rate Boxes

Starting Jan. 22, the Postal Service’s customers will be able ship a box of any weight up to 70 lbs. for overnight delivery anywhere in the country for one price. That’s when the Express Mail Flat Rate Box debuts and new Shipping Services prices take effect.

The new box, priced at $39.95 for domestic mailing, will be available to customers who need overnight service for items too large for an Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope.

“The introduction of the Express Mail Flat Rate Box leverages the success of our Priority Mail Flat Rate advertising campaign and further positions the Postal Service as the best value in the shipping business,” said Paul Vogel, president and chief Marketing/Sales officer.

Other Express Mail service changes include lower retail prices for half- and one-pound packages and commercial packages to local and close-in areas. The new retail price for the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope will be $18.95.
The overall price change for all Shipping Services is 4.6 percent, with Priority Mail prices increasing by an average of 3.1 percent and Express Mail prices increasing by an average of 3.3 percent. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will review the prices before they become effective on Jan. 22 — the same day Postal Service Mailing Services prices take effect.

New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail flat-rate products are:

  • Small box: $5.35
  • Medium box: $11.35
  • Large box: $15.45
  • Large APO/FPO/DPO box: $13.45
  • Regular envelope: $5.15
  • Legal-size and padded envelope: $5.30

STANDARDS FOR FOLDED SELF-MAILER PUBLISHED

The Postal Service appreciates the effectiveness of a creative mailpiece campaign that drives consumer response — as well as the machinability of mailpieces on postal processing equipment that claim automation prices.
Standards for folded self-mailer and unenveloped style letters were finalized and published in the Federal Register on Dec. 01, 2011.

The updated standards:

  • Provide options for emerging designs and contain costs.
  • Reduce confusion and inconsistent rulings at acceptance.
  • Reduce appeals to the Pricing and Classification Service Center and expedite production to meet mailing timelines.
  • Level the playing field for all mailers, whether small, medium or large.
  • Reduce damage to mail, machine jams and subsequent diversion from letter automation in order to contain costs.
  • Improve machinability, improves visibility.

Collaboration with the mailing industry helped to produce the final standards that balance innovation of mailpiece designs with machinability. Please click here to read the entire Federal Register final rule. There is also "Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material" that can be accessed via the Folded Self-Mailer home page located on RIBBS. The reference material contains diagrams and graphics of sample design formats to illustrate the revised standards.

Although these revised standards are not required until Jan. 05, 2013, we encourage mailers to begin using the requirements immediately.

USPS RETURNS SOLUTIONS LAUNCHED AT RETAIL

The Postal Service recently launched its returns solutions at retail. It’s another step in the effort to position itself as the go-to shipper for e-commerce shoppers and merchants.

Point-of-service (POS) systems and Self-Service Ship and Mail Centers (Automated Postal Centers) now support domestic mail options for USPS Returns. The products include: Priority Mail Return Service, First-Class Package Return Service and Ground Return Service.

Now, when a customer brings a returns package to a POS location or APC, the Postal Service can match the destination merchant as part of the retail transaction and provide tracking on the package. This will help the Postal Service grow its “ROYO” (Return on Your Own) business with customers who don’t use merchant-provided return shipping labels.

Consumers returning merchandise and purchasing postage at retail will also receive free package tracking. Each returns shipping label features an Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb), allowing for enhanced in-bound tracking and package visibility for the destination merchant.

The new set of returns solutions at retail follows the recent launch of a flexible “cloud-hosted” label printing tool that seamlessly integrates with most shipping software systems. The tool allows merchants to include an IMpb returns label with the original shipment, provide consumers with a simple way to print labels online, or send a label electronically to consumers by email.

Existing Priority Mail packaging or envelopes can be used for Priority Mail Return Service. By leveraging its retail presence, the new set of returns solutions is now well-positioned to allow the Postal Service to compete more effectively for the package business.

NOT HOME? WE’LL HOLD IT FOR PICKUP FOR YOU

Expect to see more Hold For Pickup packages this holiday shipping season. Previously available only for Express Mail items, the Hold For Pickup service was expanded earlier this year to include Priority Mail Service (except Critical Mail), First-Class Mail Package Service, Parcel Select Mail (barcoded nonpresort only) and Parcel Select Regional Ground packages.

With the Hold For Pickup service, customers can request a package be held at a Post Office they designate for pickup. The Postal Service will hold packages up to 15 calendar days ― five calendar days for Express Mail items. It’s not available for international or Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office destinations.

The expanded Hold For Pickup options are available to commercial customers and online customers through Click-N-Ship or PC Postage vendors. The Hold For Pickup service may be combined with Delivery Confirmation, Insured Mail, Signature Confirmation, and Adult Signature Required and Adult Signature Restricted Delivery.

Express Mail Service Hold For Pickup is the only option available for purchase by retail customers; however, customers can mail prepaid Hold For Pickup packages at a retail counter. Street delivery is not available for this service.

The Hold For Pickup service provides customers with the convenience of picking up packages on their schedules, and the assurance that they are protected and in a safe environment, especially during the holiday shipping season.

For more information on Hold For Pickup, see Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 508.7.

2011 HOLIDAY MAILING DEADLINES

Photo of packages on door step ready for pickup.

The Postal Service — the “Official Shipper of the Holidays” — has released its suggested mail-by dates to make sure packages, cards and letters reach their intended destination in time for this year’s holiday festivities.

“We suggest holiday shippers both in and outside the country use one of our Priority Mail products to send gifts and good wishes,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. “The Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes come in a variety of sizes and are always free. Remember — ‘if it fits it ships’ for a low flat rate.”

Last-minute shoppers who need to send holiday packages to locations in the U.S. have until Dec. 22 — the deadline for Express Mail packages. Click here for a list of this year’s holiday shipping deadlines.

MOVING BEYOND FASTFORWARD®

Effective Oct. 1, 2012, the FASTforward service will no longer be a viable option to satisfy the Move Update requirement, leaving existing FASTforward licensees, many of whom are presort mailing bureaus, to seek other alternatives to meet the Move Update requirement within the Optical Character Reader (OCR) environment.

FASTforward licensees wanting a smooth transition to using another approved Move Update option within the OCR environment can use the National Change of Address Link (NCOALink) Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) service offering. This solution, which is similar to the FASTforward system, approves the use of NCOALink data on Multiline Optical Character Readers (MLOCR) to update and spray change-of-address (COA) information on mailpieces prior to submission to USPS.

The NCOALink MPE solution allows mailers to process their mailpieces against the Postal Service national COA database, which provides current address information for customers who have filed a COA order. The NCOALink Product is a secure dataset of approximately 160 million permanent USPS COA records. NCOALink MPE Data User Licensees receive an 18-month data file on a weekly basis. This solution improves mail deliverability by providing mailers with current, standardized, delivery point system (DPS) addresses for individual, family and business moves.

For more information about the NCOALink MPE, contact the National Customer Support Center, Licensing and Certification, at NCOAlink@usps.gov or call 800-331-5746.

In addition to the NCOALink MPE Solution, the Postal Service has the following options available to help meet the needs of mailers to satisfy the Move Update requirement:

  • NCOALink Service (List Processing)
  • ACS™/OneCode ACS® Service
  • Ancillary Service Endorsements
  • Alternative Methods (First-Class Mail only)

Click here for the specific details.

TWO NEW INDUSTRY MEMBERS FOR PCCAC

PCC logo.

The Postal Customer Council Advisory Committee (PCCAC) welcomes two new industry members ― Naomi Quiram, Director of Print and Mail Services, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Lawrence Chaido, Managing Director, TransGlobal Consultants, N.A. Ltd.. They will replace outgoing members Tracey Dunlap and Art Gerckens. The PCCAC, the oversight body for councils across the nation, is comprised of four industry members and four postal members.

Quiram has served the South Central Minnesota PCC as the founding industry co-chair and has overseen the Education and the Communication and Membership Committees since 2007. She has presented at the annual Midwest Mailing Forum and also at several National Postal Forums.

Quiram has been instrumental in implementing new ideas to increase membership, such as the ‘Pay it Forward’ program, which allows members who have attended a South Central Minnesota PCC education event to bring a guest to the next educational session with their paid registration at no charge. She helped develop a marketing program to fit all businesses.

“Every PCC has it own personality,” said Quiram. “A ‘cookie cutter’ approach cannot be successful in a rural PCC. We work one-on-one and personally contact our members.”

Quiram, an advocate for small PCCs and small-to-medium mailers, says there’s a need to increase participation and visibility among this group throughout the country. She will chair a subcommittee to address this issue.

Lawrence Chaido has spent more than 19 years working with the PCC in Akron-Canton and Cleveland, OH, where he served in various capacities and offices, including as an Executive Board member. During that time, Chaido twice received the William Aylward Award, which is presented each year to the industry member providing the most service to the PCC and membership.

In 2003, Chaido was elected to the Greater Cleveland PCC’s Executive Board and served as industry vice-chairman. He still is a member of this PCC. He was instrumental in expanding the educational program through an op-com committee within the PCC. The expansion included ‘super-sessions’ given by USPS Headquarters executives and monthly education seminars on important mailing and community issues. The seminars featured USPS executives from district, area and headquarters as well as industry executives from the private sector. Chaido will chair the PCCAC’s education subcommittee for 2012.

He says PCCs are important partners in shaping the future of the Postal Service. “Education and communication are key elements in making the PCC viable and able to see us through the challenges ahead.”

POST OFFICE LOCATOR RECEIVES A MAKEOVER

Photo: screen capture of Post Office Locator on usps.com.
Post Office Locator

The usps.com Post Office Locator received a makeover — making it more eye-catching and easier to use. It’s available now on the Postal Service’s website.

Users now can enter a ZIP Code or city and state and select the type of service they want. They then can choose which kind of facility they want to visit, including Post Offices and Approved Postal Providers, and get the results within a 100-mile radius displayed on an interactive map.

The new Post Office Locator was built from scratch and uses the Facilities Data Base to help customers find postal facilities. There will be continued improvements and updates for usps.com throughout fiscal year 2012. Click here to learn more about the new website and its capabilities.

FYI

Registration for the 2012 National Postal Forum is now open. Take this opportunity to register early and secure your hotel room for the Forum being held in Orlando, Florida – April 1 – 4, 2012!!!

If you have any questions, please contact NPF at 703-218-5020 or info@npf.org. INSIDE SCOOP

Inside Scoop graphic: Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are perfect for shipping gifts.

KEEPING POSTED

  • National Postal Forum, April 1 – 4, 2012 Orlando, FL
  • National PCC Day, September 19, Atlanta, GA

INFO@USPS

YOUR LINKS TO MAILING RESOURCES

U.S. Postal Service: usps.com
National PCC Network: usps.com/pcc
RIBBS: ribbs.usps.gov
Questions? Comments? Send an email to pccinsider@usps.gov
Sign up for PCC Insider at usps.com/pcc, select “PCC Insider Registration”
PCC Insider online archives
PCC Management Insights online archives

SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS

NEW CO-CHAIR FOR THE PCCAC

Theresa Peterlein will assume the role of National Industry Co-Chair for the Postal Customer Council Advisory Committee (PCCAC). She is succeeding Tracey Dunlap. Peterlein, president of Peterlein Consulting, joined the PCCAC in 2009 and has served as chair for the Communication/Networking Committee. She has been actively involved with the Mid-Michigan PCC since 2002 and currently serves as industry co-chair.

“I am passionately committed to PCCs and believe in their ability to be a hub for mailers to receive timely information, as well as network and share ideas,” says Peterlein. Her passion and conviction are evident in all that has been accomplished by the Mid-Michigan PCC and the PCCAC. She was chosen ‘2010 Industry Member of the Year’ and Mid-Michigan PCC won the “2009 PCC of the Year Small Market” and the “2010 PCC Mentor of the Year.”

Peterlein has been active as a speaker at several National Postal Forums and teaches the Mail Design Professional Program for PCCs across the country. During her last two years on the PCCAC, the Communication/Networking Committee held a series of webinars with all the local PCCs to address various common issues. As a result of the webinars, there have been changes in communication and education outreach efforts. The Postal Service has provided videos and is in the process of developing a PCC Sponsor Program to give PCCs one-on-one assistance with their yearly goals.

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