chapter 2
postal operations
Previous Page page 79 of 108 Next Page

includes the digital signing of a Microsoft Office (MS) Word document using digital certificates; electronic content sealing and time/date stamping with the USPS Electronic Postmark; and the ability to subsequently verify a MS Word document's validity, authenticity, and integrity.

K. Pricing and Classification

1. Negotiated Service Agreement

     An historic milestone in the evolution of postal pricing occurred with the approval by the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) on May 15, 2003, of the first-ever filed negotiated service agreement (NSA). The agreement is with Capital One Financial Services Corporation and was implemented on September 1, 2003. (This is discussed more fully in Chapter 1, Section D, Postal Cost Apportionment and Postal Ratemaking Developments, Item 1.) The agreement combines discounts on incremental volume with cost-saving opportunities that will result in value to both Capital One and the Postal Service. NSAs enhance traditional pricing strategies by allowing the Postal Service to negotiate business opportunities with individual customers within the current regulatory framework. The Postal Service is continuing to discuss NSAs in two areas: (1) with customers "similarly situated" to Capital One, and (2) with customers from a range of firms in different industries that would qualify for concepts being developed for new baseline NSAs. The PRC issued a proposed Rule on August 27, 2003, that discusses how it would handle NSA filings in the future. A final Rule had not been issued by the end of 2003.

2. Domestic Mail Manual Redesign

     In addition to changing the process of developing and implementing new prices, the way in which those prices, rules and standards are communicated is also changing. The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), long the final reference authority for explaining mailing

standards and communicating rates, is undergoing a dramatic change. This change is designed to present mailing standards and rates in the ways a customer thinks about or makes a decision about mail. Recognizing that customers have different needs and varying levels of experience with mailing, the Postal Service is designing a new DMM series of four volumes targeted to novice mailers, experts, decision makers, and implementers.

     In late 2002, DMM 100, A Customer's Guide to Mailing, was introduced to retail customers. A new Spanish version of the DMM 100 was published and distributed to field offices in September 2003. The DMM 200, A Guide to Mailing for Businesses and Organizations, intended for small- to medium-volume mailers, was shipped to postal facilities in July 2003 and to all new mailing permit holders in September 2003. It will be followed by the DMM 300, containing codified mailing standards, and the DMM 400, a supplemental technical guide. The new DMM series is being redesigned with the help of Carnegie Mellon University, recognized as a world leader in usercentered design.

3. Omnibus Rate Case and Review of Phased Rates

     As a result of the recent change in legislation affecting Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) retirement funding obligations, the Postal Service does not expect to implement a change in general rates before 2006. In the interim the Postal Service will work with customers, industry associations, and other stakeholders to explore ways to meet customers' expressed desire for smaller, more predictable rate changes. During the summer of 2002, the Postal Service and the PRC jointly sponsored a twoday public summit on postal ratemaking, which included discussion of the prospects for "phasing" the next omnibus postal rate case. Phasing would result in the implementation of a rate change in a series of steps rather than in a single change. In exploring the potential for phased rates the Postal Service conferred with customers and

Chapter 1 Compliance with Statutory Policies Introduction

Chapter 2 Postal Operations
  1. Public Perceptions, Customer Outreach, and Mailer Liaison
  2. Products and Services
  3. International Mail
  4. Mail Volume and Service Performance
  5. Mail Distribution
  6. Delivery Unit Operations
  7. Stamp Services
  8. Licensing Program
  9. Service and Market Development
  10. Retail Programs
  11. Pricing and Classification
  12. Technology
  13. Intelligent Mail
  14. Financial Management
Chapter 3 Financial Highlights

Chapter 4 2003 Performance Report and Preliminary 2005 Annual Performance Plan