The Postal Act of 2006 requires the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to submit a report to the President and Congress on universal postal service and the postal monopoly in December 2008. This report must include the scope of universal service and the postal monopoly under current law, the scope likely required in the future to meet the needs of the American public, and any recommended changes. The Act requires the PRC to consult with and solicit written comments from the Postal Service. The GAO is also required by 2011 to make a broad range of recommendations and to include experiences of other countries.
The enclosed report, “United States Postal Service Report on Universal Postal Service and the Postal Monopoly” represents an important part of our written comments to inform a dialogue which, given the current economic landscape, may need to take place sooner rather than later.
The Postal Service’s universal service obligation (USO) is broadly outlined in multiple statutes and encompasses multiple dimensions: geographic scope, range of products, access to services and facilities, delivery frequency, affordable and uniform pricing, service quality, and security of the mail. While other carriers claim to voluntarily provide delivery on a universal basis, the Postal Service is the only carrier obligated to provide all the various aspects of universal service at affordable prices.
Surveys and hearings indicate that the American public and mailing industry do not want any changes at this time. Compared to other posts, the Postal Service provides a high level of service and does so at low, affordable prices.
Due to declining mail volumes, increasing alternatives to the mail, and higher energy prices, the Postal Service and the mailing industry as a whole are under financial stress. The Postal Service needs flexibility to be increasingly responsive in serving Americans into the future as circumstances continue to change.
A rigidly defined USO would unduly restrict the Postal Service and ultimately harm the American public and businesses. In addition, the postal monopoly (including the Private Express Statutes and mailbox access rule) must be preserved since it is the current funding mechanism to ensure the American public continues to receive affordable, universal service. Any potential change to the monopoly will concurrently require implementation of new USO funding mechanisms.
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