Mailers Council calls on USPS board to avoid another rate case

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The Mailers Council last week called on the U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors to avoid filing another rate case under a 1970 statute.

In a statement, Robert E. McLean, executive director of the council, reiterated what Dan Blair, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, said at the March 13 USPS/PRC regulatory summit when he discussed whether to file another rate case.

"Recently, PRC Chairman Dan Blair suggested that the Postal Service should look to the future regarding postage rate increases, asking, 'Does it make sense to litigate an omnibus rate case at the same time everyone is trying to develop a new system?' Mr. McLean said in the statement. "We believe it does not make sense and strongly encourage the Postal Service to avoid another rate case under a statute approved in 1970. A rate case filed during or immediately after the current rate case will give many mailers an incentive to leave a Postal System that is continually changes its prices and rules -often with inadequate time to prepare for them."

Mr. Blair had said that in the recently completed rate case, the USPS filed testimony from dozens of witnesses and responded to thousands of discovery requests from interveners.

He asked whether it made sense, then, for Postal Service pricing and marketing executives - the same people who should be exploring how best to use pricing flexibility - to be spending their time justifying rates under the old system. He also said that deciding an omnibus rate case requires a huge commitment of time from commissioners who are also responsible for important new duties under the legislation.

"Last December Congress passed and President Bush signed into law HR 6407, now Public Law 109-435, postal reform legislation that created a new system for raising postage rates," Mr. McLean said. "Although the bill and the many new rules it includes is now in effect, it allows the Postal Service to file one more rate case under the system established in the now-outdated legislation implemented 35 years ago. We encourage the Postal Service's Board of Governors to avoid such a costly and difficult rate case and to publicly state its intention to raise rates going forward only under the new process."

The Mailers Council is a coalition of corporations, nonprofit organizations and major mailing associations. The Mailers Council believes that the USPS can be operated more efficiently, supports efforts aimed at lowering postal costs and has the ultimate objective of containing postal rates without compromising service.

"The need for this new rate-setting process was the reason why the Mailers Council, whose members represent more than 70 percent of all mail in this country, began encouraging passage of postal reform legislation more than a decade ago," he said. "It is also a fundamental reason why Congress and the White House approved [the postal reform bill]. Today we have a new process that can achieve reasonable, more predictable rate increases, without spending hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation as mailers did under the old process."

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