The Task Force report on the United States Postal System released this week by the U.S. Department of the Treasury does not recommend privatizing the postal service.
According to treasury and postal service officials, privatization was opposed by business groups and unions representing postal workers because it could have undermined the agency's mission to serve rural areas of the country. The task force did conclude that the Post Office should operate more like a private business in some ways, including having the "authority to charge market-based prices for both mail and package items."
Currently, the agency is limited in how quickly it can raise rates, among other restrictions imposed by Congress that prevent it from adapting to a steady decline in the volume of first-class mail.
The task force recommends the Post Office retain uniform prices for "essential services" like shipments of pharmaceuticals and government notices, to every address in the country with the authority to charge more for "commercial services," including advertising mail and shipments of items purchased online.
TPA's Postal Consultant Joel Allis said the report is extremely well researched and presented.
"It includes great history, backgrounds and trends, and makes realistic, common sense arguments and recommendations," he said. "It left out a few things I thought should have been included but the report is very comprehensive."
Allis also noted the task force report does not support privatization.
"In fact, it concludes that privatization is not an option and recommends more third party involvement," he said.
Other points Allis noted about the report were:
• Universal Service should be legislatively defined and the report suggests that frequency of delivery should depend in part on cost.
• Mail should pay at least its direct cost, and rates should be profit-driven instead of volume-driven.
• While periodicals are not specifically mentioned, there will be pressure to increase rates. Allis said he would research that aspect more thoroughly.
"In short, I was very impressed with the report," Allis said. "The topics of concern are Universal Service and rates, but we already knew that. I’ll provide additional information and comments as I can digest and research certain topics."
Allis invited TPA members to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with their questions or comments.
To see the "Findings and Recommendations" section of the report, click here.
To read Treasury Department's announcement with a brief outline of the recommendations, click here.
To read the full report, click here.