The Postal Regulatory Commission has recently issued an exhaustive analysis over a year in the making of the "Universal Service Obligation", or USO, which defines the meaning and scope of universal service. And those findings are very good news for both shippers and their customers. The entire 250+ page report is now available online at www.prc.gov.
The PRC identified seven key components of Universal Service:
1. Geographic scope-should service to rural areas, APO/FPO military areas, and US Territories be included under the USO mandate?
2. Range of products-are all of the current mailing and shipping services included, or just those defined as Market Dominant, which have little or no competition?
3. Access to postal facilities-should smaller, community post offices be retained?
4. Delivery frequency-should six day per week delivery continue?
5. Prices/affordability-Should shippers pay more for deliveries to customers in rural and remote areas?
6. Quality of service-are service standards and time-in-transit relevant under the USO?
7. Users' rights-what specific rights do customers have under the USO?
Here are the findings-virtually all of them positive-as they relate to shipping:
· Parcels, not just letters and flats, are a core component of the USO, and are protected by that mandate.
· Both Market Dominant Products (including single piece Parcel Post, Standard Parcels, and Bound Printed Matter) and Competitive Products (Priority, Express, Parcel Select and Parcel Return Service) are covered-and protected-under the USO. Some had argued, unsuccessfully, that only Market Dominant products be included in the USO. Great news for shippers.
· International shipping, not just domestic offerings, are included in the USO.
· The competitive advantage of six day per week delivery of mail-and parcels-parcels will be continued.
· Service to members of the military-APO and FPO addresses, will be maintained, and at domestic rates.
· Under Universal Service Obligation rural locations, US Territories and other hard-to-reach areas will be maintained, and at domestic rates.
PRC Spotlights Parcels as Vital to Future of USPS
The PRC has shown an increased awareness and interest in packages as of late li> not surprising, since package shipping is one of the bright spots for growth potential in the future. In fact, Commissioner Ruth Goldway is often in attendance at shipping industry events such as the Parcel Forum and the National Postal Forum, speaking about the importance of shipping to the future of the Postal Service. Goldway is also co-founder of the influential industry networking organization Women in Logistics and Delivery Services Council (shedelivers.org). We spoke to Ms. Goldway to get her take on USO as it relates to Parcels: "After hearing from a wide cross-section of interested parties, the Commission concluded that the USO works well when implemented in a flexible fashion and has contributed greatly to the country's economic growth," said Goldway. "We took special consideration of the legislative mandate that requires the post to "bind the nation together" and agreed that package delivery is an essential part of the service that the USPS provides. Further, the Commission cautioned the Congress regarding the impact of the current financial downturn on the USPS and called for ongoing review to ensure the future of the USPS."
The PRC is open to comments and feedback through February 17th at email@example.com Depending on feedback received; the commission may issue a supplemental report.
Doug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 503-784-2421.