Postal Reform — Congress Must Deliver

By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

Postal reform is the rally cry for 2005 in the commercial printing industry. Though it seems the cries are strong only from a select group, as opposed to a unison shout from the industry collective.

In other words, a relatively small amount of people are making a big stink to Congress about the need for reform of the United States Postal Service (USPS), an entity that is still operating under guidelines set in 1971. Guidelines, mind you, established before the onslaught of private sector parcel delivery options and well before the invention of the Internet, both of which have consumed a hunk of USPS volume.

Let us suppose that you, the reader, are not among the masses rallying for postal reform. Ask yourself some basic questions:

Do you provide any mailing services for your customers?

If not, does what you produce still end up in the mail stream?

Commercial printers do not exist in a vacuum. Even if mailing is not your thing, a lack of meaningful postal reform could have dreadful consequences for your customers and suppliers.

Nearly Half Hits the Mail

The PIA/GATF estimates that roughly 45 percent of the dollar volume of printing ends up in the mail stream. That amounts to about $72 billion in annual printing shipments delivered through the USPS. Ronnie Davis, PIA/GATF chief economist, has factored a scenario where the proposed 5.4 percent postal increase could mean a reduction in mail-related printing shipments of half that amount, 2.7 percent, which would equal a $1.9 billion reduction in printing shipments over a 12-month period.

The 5.4 percent increase requested by the USPS to the Postal Rate Commission—which would likely take effect in 2006—could pale in comparison to future hikes. And the increase doesn’t even reflect a rise in the cost of doing business.

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