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Postal public forum to define workshare rates

The US Postal Service has announced a public forum on August 11 at 1 PM to discuss work share discount methodologies in First-Class Mail and Standard Mail.

On July 7, the USPS filed a request with the PRC to change the analytical methods used for periodic reporting for revenue, piece and weight estimates for bulk mail categories. The current method is to combine data from two sources to fashion Revenue, Pieces, and Weight (RPW) estimates for the various categories of bulk mail. It combines census data recorded by its PostalOne system, which reflects automated office activity, with data found on postage statements that are taken from a probability sample of non-automated offices.

The new proposal takes the universe of offices, and stratifies it according to size. It then imputes the incidence of mail characteristics for a given product found in automated offices in a particular size stratum. The Postal Service calls this its “modeling” approach – claiming it is more accurate than the current approach.

Deadline for initial comments is July 29. Mailers can submit comments electronically via the Commission’s Filing Online system at www.prc.gov.

Also under discussion on August 11 will be be public comments made in March regarding the underlying reasoning for discounts on First-Class and Standard Mail. Commenters came out in support and disapproval of several traditional benchmarks used to quantify the costs avoided by various mail characteristics associated with workshare discounts. Stamps.com proposed that a “Qualified PC Postage” mail category be established to reflect the reduced costs that would accompany single-piece First-Class Mail to which the mailer has applied CASS-certified software and a full-service Intelligent Mail Barcode. The Postal Regulatory Commission determined that because many of the issues are mutually dependent, such as the definition of individual products vs. group rates, a public forum is necessary to consider issues in a group discussion.

Key issues to be discussed are whether the users of single-piece First-Class Mail are entitled to special protection under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, and what that protection would be.

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