PMG Urges Mailers to Get Involved in Postal Transformation

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WASHINGTON -- Postmaster general John E. Potter told attendees at the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting yesterday that they need to get involved in postal reform and transformation.

"There is a window of opportunity here to work with folks on [Capitol] Hill and to work with the administration to get some changes," he said, "and I encourage all of you to stay active and participate in those ongoing efforts."

A reform bill is scheduled for mark-up May 22, said Potter, who recently met with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who is involved in the legislation. The bill "is a very important bill."

Besides keeping track of legislative issues, Potter also said there are more immediate changes the U.S. Postal Service can do -- as outlined in its transformation plan -- and urged mailers to get involved in these decisions as well.

Potter also mentioned the May 28 rate summit, which is designed to be a series of meetings where mailers and the USPS can discuss rates and figure out how "we can better make the rate process work."

"If you are silent, if you don't participate in the rates process, if you don't participate in the transformation plan, then the voices that are heard will be of one, and those voices don't change," he said. "It's up to you what we do, [and] I want you to understand that there is a lot on the table right now."

Regarding changes, Potter said he has a couple of passions, including flats.

"I still truly believe that we have to take costs out of flat preparation," he said, suggesting the best way to do that is to eliminate the 5-digit presort. This would essentially force mailers to sort their mail down to the 3-digit presort so it can be sorted on machines.

"If you eliminated [the 5-digit presort], I'd get what I want, which is 3-digit bundles of mail," he said. "It costs us more money today to undo the packaging that we have you do in order to feed the machines than it does to sort the mail. You spend a lot of money building bundles, and we spend a whole lot of money opening up those bundles."

In general, mailers and postal officials at MTAC were intrigued with the concept. One mailer also wondered if there would be any flat automation discounts to help encourage the creation of three-digit bundles.

USPS chief financial officer Richard Strasser warned attendees not to "make any changes to your operation just yet" because the idea is only in the discussion stage.

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