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Accruals. Revenue and expenses that are recorded as they occur, even though they may not have actually been paid.

Amortize. To reduce the value of an asset through regular charges to income over time; or to write off expenses by prorating them over a period of time.

Appropriation. Public funds set aside by Congress for a specific purpose.

Asset. An economic resource that is expected to be of benefit in the future.

Capitalize. To treat an expenditure as an asset; or to compute the present value of a future payment that will be paid over a period of time.

Cautionary Statements. Statements contained in Management’s Discussion and Analysis that represent our best estimate of the trends we know about, the trends we anticipate, and the trends we think are relevant to our future operations.

Contingent Liability. A potential liability that is contingent on a future event.

Contribution. The difference between the revenue from a class of mail and that class’s volume-variable costs. For example, if a class of mail has revenue of $1.5 billion and volume-variable costs of $1 billion, its contribution is $500 million, which means that this class of mail covers its costs and contributes $500 million to the common costs of all mail services.

Delivery Confirmation. A special service that provides the date of delivery or attempted delivery for Priority Mail and Standard Mail parcels, Bound Printed Matter, and Library Mail.

Depreciate. To periodically reduce the estimated value of an asset over the course of its useful life.

Direct Mail. A form of advertising often employed by businesses to reach targeted groups of potential customers by mail.

Enhanced Carrier Route. A subclass of Standard Mail for mailpieces weighing less than 16 ounces and prepared in carrier route sequence.

Equity. The difference between the value of all assets less all liabilities.

Express Mail. The Postal Service’s premium delivery service, providing guaranteed overnight delivery for documents and packages weighing up to 70 pounds. Both domestic and international services are offered.

First-Class Mail. A class of mail including letters, postcards, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection. This service is required for personal correspondence, handwritten or typewritten letters, and bills or statements of account.

Fiscal Year. As used in the financial section of this report, the Postal Service fiscal year, which is the 12-month period during which the Postal Service keeps accounts, beginning Oct. 1 and closing Sept. 30.

Fixed Asset. Any tangible property such as buildings, machinery and equipment, furniture, and leasehold improvements.

Forever Stamp. A stamp that once purchased is good for mailing one-ounce First-Class letters anytime in the future — regardless of price changes.  It was introduced in 2007.

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The rules and procedures of accepted accounting practice as defined by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Impaired Asset. When the market value of an economic resource has been permanently lowered below the recorded value of the asset.

Inspector General. The Inspector General is appointed by and reports directly to the Governors of the Postal Service and is independent of postal management. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) primarily investigates and evaluates programs and operations of the Postal Service to ensure the efficiency and integrity of the postal system.

Intelligent Mail. Products and services or a strategy used to describe products and services that use machine-readable codes, such as barcodes, to uniquely identify mail. This enables large mailers to follow the progress of their mail through the many stages of processing all the way to delivery.

Leasehold. An asset that gives the Postal Service the right to use property under a lease.

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