Mail and marketing groups launch online forum on Postal Service's future

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A coalition of postal, mailing and marketing groups launched a Web forum on December 1 to bolster discussion about the state of the US Postal Service and how the federal agency can maintain its relevance in the future.

The goals of are to explore the evolution of the USPS as part of the nation's economic and communications infrastructure and to create an exchange of ideas about the industry, without consideration to professional affiliations. The Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), the Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association and the Envelope Manufacturers Association launched the site with the support of the Direct Marketing Association and Direct Communications Group.

The portal contains reports and papers by external authors and conference presentations from a number of industry experts.

“It's an initiative I've discussed with several of my colleagues, that there needed to be a place where people could present ideas and have them discussed, criticized and built upon without having to worry about speaking on behalf of anyone they specifically represented,” said Gene Del Polito, president of PostCom. “There are a lot of creative people out there who spend a lot of time thinking about the postal service, and their thoughts might be spoken more freely and openly if given a place like the Postal Journal, where they can present ideas to their colleagues without having to say, ‘This is the association I work for.'”

Del Polito added that the forum, open to anyone, will not act in support of any positions.

“There is not going to be any lobbying,” he said.

Ken Garner, president and CEO of the Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association, said that the USPS' financial state – the agency reported a $3.8 billion net loss for the 2009 fiscal year – was an impetus for the site's creation.

“You have an agency that, if it were not for some relief attached to HR 22, would have lost $7 billion last fiscal year,” he said. “Whether we like it or not, the agency is necessary for the survival of MFSA and its members, and so any time you have financial hemorrhaging like this going on, you have to be concerned.”

Congress allowed the USPS to delay $4 billion in retiree payments earlier this year.

Alan Robinson, president of Direct Communications Group and an author of one of the papers featured on the site, said that the portal's goal is to make the USPS “a viable entity for the next decade, and not just the next year.”

Jerry Cerasale, SVP of government affairs at the DMA, said that the USPS “is a valuable communications and advertising channel for our members, and we need the USPS to continue to be valuable.”

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