Postal Service needs more digital, less regulation: PostalVision 2020

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Postal industry stakeholders said June 15 that digital technologies must be a part of the US Postal Service's future, and that the organization has been burdened by government regulations.

“Digital is going to be an essential part of the Postal Service going forward,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, speaking on a panel at the PostalVision 2020 Conference in Arlington, Va. However, he added that the USPS should not be prevented by regulation from “moving into the digital age.”

Stroman noted that the USPS has launched applications for various mobile devices and offered discounts for marketers that use quick response codes.

David Williams, the USPS' inspector general, said the organization was unprepared for the impact of digital and online technologies. He also noted that legislation has restricted the Postal Service from serving as an innovator.

“I keep thinking of those Cisco commercials where a child would look at the camera and say, ‘Are you ready?' Well, we were not ready for it,” he said. “We ought to be the epicenter of tremendous change, but instead we've been told ‘Don't change a thing.'”

The Postal Service saw a net loss of $8.5 billion in its 2010 fiscal year, which closed September 30, 2010. It also ran a net loss of $474 million in April, the last month for which it has released financial results.

However, Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, said the Postal Service would be in significantly better financial shape if legislation did not require it to pay billions of dollars per year to prefund its pension obligations.

“Unfortunately, [the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006] placed some high burdens on the Postal Service,” she said. “If you take that money out, the USPS would have been making a profit except for the last few months…We do want to make some changes to that law in terms of the payments required.”

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