DMA Opposes Presidential Postal Commission

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The Direct Marketing Association came out yesterday against several proposals by various mailing organizations to develop a Presidential Commission on Postal Service.

The organization said such a commission would simply be studying an issue that has already been a topic of much analysis on Capitol Hill over the past five years. Instead, the DMA is calling for the immediate reintroduction of existing postal reform legislation.

Specifically, it is calling on Congress to revisit the Postal Modernization Act of 1999, which did not make it to the floor in the 106th Congress. This bill would modernize the legislative and regulatory environment that surrounds the postal service. The bill would also give the postal service the business flexibility to compete in the rapidly changing communications and delivery environment.

The creation of a presidential commission is one of several topics that senior postal managers and the USPS' Board of Governors will discuss at a strategic planning retreat scheduled to follow the board's next monthly meeting on March 5-6.

"I don't know how tactical we will be able to get in this board meeting, but a commission is one of the options the board may want to consider promoting," said Deborah Willhite, senior vice president of public affairs at the USPS. "But what the interest is on this subject in the White House, we are not sure."

Willhite said the USPS is trying to gauge President Bush's interest.

"If the president did focus on this, then I think it would be very beneficial," she said.

The postal service's current operation as a quasi-governmental agency was a result of a presidential commission formed in the 1970s, Willhite said.

Other topics to be discussed at the retreat, she said, will include "the postal service's flexibility in pricing products, labor and investments and also the postal service's need to be regulated more along the lines of a private institution versus a government institution."

Mailing associations have also expressed interest in the executive branch becoming involved in postal reform.

The Association for Postal Commerce sent a letter Feb. 16 to Andrew H. Card, Bush's chief of staff, stating that the "time has come for a presidential commission to study and make recommendations on the future organization and function of an American postal system."

The letter also said that an "extraordinary effort will be required to save the viability" of the postal service and that the effort will require the president's leadership "to focus lawmakers on postal legislative reform."

The Mailers Council, a consortium of large mailers, recently sent a letter to the White House asking for a meeting to discuss the state of the USPS. The council, however, said its goal was not to ask the president to take any specific action but instead to educate the administration about how much the USPS affects American business.

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