PRC to Study Online FilingThe Postal Rate Commission may allow mailing groups and direct marketers to file documents with the commission regarding rate cases or any other formal proceedings electronically.
The PRC has issued a notice soliciting comments on the concept, and the commission will hold an open meeting on the subject July 11 at its offices in Washington.
Groups representing mailers -- such as the Direct Marketing Association and the Association of Postal Commerce -- and large direct marketing firms involved in U.S. Postal Service rate cases file opinions, motions, arguments and rebuttals with the PRC during the proceedings.
Traditionally, participation in a rate case can be expensive. For example, when a party files a document with the commission, that participant has to file a copy to every party within a proceeding.
"Participants have to make copies of [the document], they have to be mailed to everybody, and there is a tremendous amount of paperwork and paper and postal costs that go into it," said Steven Sharfman, a PRC spokesman.
If online filing is offered, substantial preparation costs will be avoided, and participants will be able to operate more efficiently, the PRC said. In addition, any confusion over service dates will be avoided, and participants will have access to documents sooner.
While Sharfman could not say whether filing online would encourage more participants to take part in a rate case, he said, "It will make it a lot less expensive ... and costs are always a concern, and for those people who'd like to participate, we'd like to make it as inexpensive as it reasonably can be."
The PRC also expects to benefit from the program. For example, allowing parties to file online will eliminate the need to scan and character-read each filing. As a result, filings can be posted on the Web site more promptly.
Filing online will not be mandatory, and the idea is consistent with governmentwide initiatives to allow for the electronic filing and storage of documents, the PRC said.