A redesign of usps.com — named one of the top four federal Web sites by the Brookings Institution — makes it easier than ever to find the right solution for any mailing or shipping need. Customers can go online to use Click-N-Ship and PC postage, find and pay for a Post Office Box, schedule a package pickup, including parcels being returned, and apply for a permit for Business Reply Mail.
In this election year, “no excuse” voting by mail was more popular than ever as the Postal Service provided reliable service and delivery for time-sensitive ballot mail. Currently 28 states allow voting by mail, with more planning to pass similar legislation. Nearly half of California’s registered voters cast their ballots through the mail, and Oregon votes entirely by mail. The Postal Service provided detailed information for state and county election officials online at usps.com/electionmail, and a comprehensive training program, Election Mail: Tips, Tools, and Tactics for Successful Mailing, was designed to be presented at state conferences, association conferences, or Postal Customer Council meetings. Topics include address quality, software tools to reduce undeliverable mail, mailpiece design, tracking, and centralized payment options. The Postal Service also worked closely with the Department of Defense to deliver absentee ballots to members of the armed forces serving abroad.
Field testing continued on the Flats Sequencing System (FSS) — equipment that automatically sorts and sequences large envelopes, magazines, catalogs, and circulars into the order that they are delivered by carriers, improving efficiency. FSS technology will dramatically reduce manual handling of flat mail, resulting in more consistent service and lower processing and other costs. Full deployment is set to start in late 2009 after testing is completed.
The Postal Service established a new office of Sustainability to coordinate multiple programs that will ensure the Postal Service remains an environmental leader. The Postal Service remains the nation’s only shipping company to achieve Cradle to Cradle certification for many of its packaging materials. This certification, which means more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon emissions are prevented annually, has been expanded to include product display materials in Post Offices. The Postal Service continues to lead the way in energy conservation and recycling, and continues to introduce services to help its customers go green. Customers can use usps.com and their postal carriers to deliver stamps and free packaging to their doors, and to collect their outgoing mail and packages, helping them save gas, money, and time.
For the fourth year in a row, the Postal Service was rated as the government agency most trusted to safeguard personal information, according to a national privacy trust study by the Ponemon Institute.
And, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, 89 percent of survey participants had a positive view of the Postal Service, highest among a dozen federal agencies. It is not surprising that Americans hold the Postal Service in high regard. Every year dedicated employees deliver extraordinary service in difficult circumstances. In the aftermath of wildfires in the West and tornadoes in the South, after hurricanes pounded the Gulf Coast and moved up the Eastern seaboard, employees rose to the challenge and kept the mail moving. Every day, in every community, employees provide assistance to ill and injured customers in the course of performing their duties.
This year the Postal Service issued Vision 2013, its new five-year strategic plan for 2009-2013. Vision 2013 builds upon the successes of the Postal Service’s Strategic Transformation Plan, which helped guide multiple improvements in service, efficiency, and workplace conditions. With Vision 2013, the Postal Service commits to continuing this progress. It acknowledges that customers are hard-pressed by current economic conditions and that service improvements and cost reductions remain crucial. Vision 2013 also offers a broad perspective of what it will take to succeed in the future, and describes a number of strategies to keep mail relevant and grow by adapting to changing customer needs.
Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act
On December 20, 2006, the President signed the Postal Act of 2006. The law represents the most sweeping legislative change to the postal system since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. It modernized price regulation and service standards, increased the authority of the PRC, required a variety of reports and evaluations, required compliance with portions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and accelerated the funding of Postal Service retiree health benefits. Additionally, it ended the previously mandated break-even business model and allows for profit-or-loss, encouraging retained earnings to be reinvested into the business.
The law divided postal products into market dominant and competitive categories with increased pricing flexibility for both. The market dominant category — referred to as mailing services in this document — includes First-Class Mail, Periodicals, Standard Mail, Special Services, and Package Services (other than Bulk Parcel Post), and Single-Piece International Mail. The law limits price increases for mailing services, at the class level, to the annual rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The competitive category includes shipping services — Priority Mail (domestic and international), Express Mail (domestic and international), domestic Bulk Parcel Post and Bulk International Mail. There is no price cap on shipping services price increases. However, the law does require that shipping services cover their attributable costs, are not subsidized by mailing services, and make an appropriate contribution to institutional costs.