Mailers' Task Force Outlines Postal Improvements; Potter Urges Reform

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The Mailing Industry Task Force outlined several initiatives yesterday at the Spring National Postal Forum in San Diego designed to enhance U.S. Postal Service offerings to customers and reduce postal costs. Meanwhile, postmaster general John E. Potter told attendees that universal mail service is in jeopardy unless there is a fundamental restructuring of the agency.


The initiatives include a pilot track and trace solution, a USPS self-service retail pilot offering round-the-clock access and enhanced merchandise return, new credit and financing options, submission of a Federal Register notice to enhance address quality and a world-class network integration model.


With the goal of unifying the industry and emphasizing the mail's role in the economy, the industry -- apart from the USPS -- created an advertising campaign that debuts this week in San Diego. It will then run in target cities around the nation.


The task force is led by a steering committee of senior executives representing all segments of the mailing industry. It is co-chaired by Pitney Bowes chairman/CEO Michael J. Critelli and USPS deputy postmaster general John Nolan.


It also was announced that the USPS has collaborated with mailing industry leaders and training experts in the development of an executive mail center manager program.


The program contains nine content areas: people management; sales and marketing; mail center operations; mail center safety and security; mail center finances; planning and managing technology; plans and policymaking; resource planning; and quality management. The one-week residential program includes a final exam and is open to mail center professionals with at least three years of management or supervisory experience.


Potter said a blueprint for change is already on the table -- the transformation plan he submitted to Congress earlier this month. The plan offers recommendations for fundamental long-term legislative reform, while addressing more immediate steps the USPS can take to reduce costs and foster growth, such as closing unprofitable post offices and creating pricing flexibility.


"It's about you and the 9 million other people who work in the nation's $900 billion mailing industry," he said. "It's about connecting people -- preserving a national universal mail service that connects 280 million people, 125 million households and 10 million businesses. … We need the help of our policy makers to legislate postal reforms. If they cannot reach consensus on a business model for the postal service, then we will have allowed a valuable national asset to erode and ultimately fail and be wasted."


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