Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

New dashboard on the PRC Advisory Opinion on the change in service standards

Steve Hutkins from Save the Post Office. As you can see, postal service delivery would lengthen from a maximum of 3 – day delivery to 4 and 5-day delivery service for First Class mail and Periodicals.

The impact of the changes in delivery would would slow approximately 20.7 billion pieces of First Class Mail, or about 39 percent of FCM volume (see chart below).

The Postal Service has requested an Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission concerning its plan to relax service standards on First Class mail and Periodicals. We started a new website page that provides easy access to the PRC’s docket (N2021-1), as well as some charts, tables, and blog posts about the proposal.

You can find the page here; it’s also a tab, N2021-1, in the main menu above.

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office continues with the documentation of issues and occurrences at the USPO. Steve presents a good take-down of what DeJoy’s plan is going forward. He is predicting a 3.6% increase on top of a CPI increase.

There are two alternatives being presented, the Base case and the “Delivering for America” Case. The “Delivering for America” Case uses the new rate authority to make its calculations (Figure 35, p. 51). It projects that revenues in 2030 will fall to $37.2 billion (as opposed to $32.2 billion in the Base Case). I am duplicating what is in Steve’s Report. Best if you read it for yourself.


What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases, Steve Hutkins, Save The Post Office

The mailers were probably disappointed that the Postal Service’s new 10-year plan released yesterday, “Delivering for America,” did not reveal how big of a rate increase the Postal Service intends to make using the new authority it was granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission. While they wait in suspense, here’s a guess: 3.6 percent.

We already know that the calculations the Postal Service submitted to the PRC in February indicate the hike could be as large as 5.56 percent (on top of the CPI increase), but the new system allows some of the rate authority to be banked for future years, so the increase could be smaller. And that is just what the following analysis suggests.

This analysis is based on two tables and a couple of comments that appear in the 10-year plan. The tables show revenue and expenses under two scenarios, a base case using the status quo and an alternative that uses the revenue and cost savings under the Delivering for America plan. The tables contain numbers for projected volumes and revenues over the next ten years that can be used to estimate what the Postal Service is planning for future price increases under the new rate authority.

Save The Post Office’s Service Performance Dashboard

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office

Save The Post Office’s Service Performance Dashboard provides easier access to recent performance reports shared by the Postal Service with the Postal Regulatory Commission, Congress, the courts (as part of litigation involving mail delays), and FOIA requests. This capability is not readily available today.

NB: This is not an official USPS website.

Charted First Class Service Performance March – Dec. 2020

"Save the Post Office" launches new Service Performance Dashboard

Definitions

“Save the Post Office” launches new Service Performance Dashboard

Save The Post Office‘s, Steve Hutkins

With all the attention to delivery delays over the past several months and the Postmaster General’s plans to relax delivery standards — as well as calls for more transparency about postal operations — this seems like a good time to launch a Service Performance Dashboard.

The Postal Service itself publishes a useful service performance dashboard, but it shows only quarterly performance scores, and it just goes back a year. The Postal Service has also started a second dashboard that uses its new organizational structure of divisions and regions, but at this point it only shows FY2021 Q1.  For more detailed reports, you need to dig around in the website of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and the reports there usually need to be downloaded in order to see them. Some of the PRC’s reports, like those requested recently from the USPS as part of the annual compliance review (discussed in this post), are almost impossible to find if don’t know where to look.

51st anniversary of the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history

Steve Hutkins: This week marks the 51st anniversary of the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history: The Great Postal Strike of 1970

March 18th marks the day fifty-one years ago when postal workers walked off the job in New York City in what soon became the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history. Last March we posted this article by postal historian Phil Rubio, author of Undelivered: From the Great Postal Strike of 1970 to the Manufactured Crisis of the U.S. Postal Service.

The article is as good as ever, so Save the Post Office is posting it again this year.


For eight days in March 1970, over 200,000 postal workers staged an illegal “wildcat” strike — the largest in United States history — for better wages and working conditions. Picket lines started in New York and spread across the country like wildfire. Strikers defied court injunctions, threats of termination, and their own union leaders.

In the negotiated aftermath, the U.S. Post Office became the U.S. Postal Service, and postal workers received full collective bargaining rights and wage increases, all the while continuing to fight for greater democracy within their unions. Using archives, periodicals, and oral histories, Philip Rubio shows how this strike, born of frustration and rising expectations and emerging as part of a larger 1960s – 1970s global rank-and-file labor upsurge, transformed the post office and postal union.

In this post, Dr. Rubio writes about the importance of commemorating the nationwide postal wildcat strike on the day of its fiftieth anniversary. You can also read his 2015 blog post, which includes a more detailed account of the strike, here.

The Postal Service wants to slow down the mail, Congress says not so fast

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office continues his dialogue on planned changes to USPS operations with one change amongst the others resulting in later deliveries of first class mail. The Washington Post was the first to report on this change as well as other changes. You may be able to catch portions of Louis DeJoy’s planned changes at other sources as well.

The Postal Service wants to slow down the mail, Congress says not so fast

Congressional Action:

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has just posted a discussion draft of postal reform legislation in advance of Wednesday’s hearing with Postmaster General DeJoy and the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Ron Bloom. The draft has three main sections — one about creating a Postal Service health benefits program that includes Medicare, one on reforming the Retiree Health Benefit Fund obligation, and a third on service standards for on-time delivery.

The section on service standards comes first, and it is obviously a response to all the problems with poor service over the past seven months. It includes more stringent service performance reporting than currently shared with the Postal Regulatory Commission and the public, a tougher line on what happens when the Postal Service fails to meet the standards, and changes to the PRC’s advisory opinion process for reviewing a change in standards (including a report to Congress). The draft legislation concludes this section as follows:

“The United States Postal Service may not revise the service standards for market-dominant products in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act in a manner that lengthens delivery times before the date on which the report required by subsection (c) is submitted to Congress.”

The Committee’s meeting on Wednesday (24th) is clearly going to address the past problems with service performance and what to do about them moving forward. (There’s more about the delays here.) It’s also clear that the Committee is aware of the Postmaster General’s plans to change service standards, as was reported recently in a great scoop by the Washington Post, and the Committee wants to head the PMG off at the pass.

Back to the Future: The USPS, PRC, and Mailers revisit the meaning of PAEA

Steve Hutkins at Save the Post Office

Continued discussions between the mailers who are faced with higher rates, PMG Louis DeJoy, and Congress. The mailers are in court as we read Steve’s excellent review of what is taking place.

Also, PMG DeJoy has plans of increased prices for mailers also includes slower service and higher prices for First Class mail. The February 12th edition of the Washington Post exposed the PMG plans to increase prices for First Class Mail and slower deliveries of First Class Mail going from 2 days to 3 to five days. More information can be found at WaPo or truthout.

Back to the Future: The USPS, PRC and Mailers revisit the meaning of PAEA

Earlier this week a group of mailers’ associations continued their effort to convince the DC Circuit Court to stop the Postal Service from increasing rates under the new authority it was recently granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The Postmaster General has told the mailers that another rate increase, based on the new authority, is “imminent.” The exact size of the increase has not yet been revealed, but the Postal Service’s calculations indicate it could be as large as 5.56 percent. Market Dominant revenues in 2020 were about $42 billion, so a full increase could mean $2.3 billion in additional costs for mailers.

In December, the Mailers filed appeals on the PRC’s order approving the new system in the DC Circuit. On January 27, 2021, they proceeded to file a request for a stay seeking to prevent the order from being implemented while the court heard the appeal. On February 8, the Commission filed its brief opposing the request for a stay, and the Postal Service filed its own opposition as well. On Tuesday of this week (February 16), the Mailers filed their reply. (For more background about the case, see this previous post and this one too.)

The Explanation for the 2020 Mail Delay? Louis DeJoy

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office, The 2020 Mail Delays: Stats & Charts

Preface

The inventor of MRPII, Oliver Wight, coined a term for management deliberately obstructing the implementation of MRPII calling them “Cement Heads.” In Louis DeJoy’s case, rather than work with today’s postal system; DeJoy is deliberately sabotaging it with his changes. The end result will lead to its demise and subsequent takeover by private enterprise.

Having been on the manufacturing side for decades, I found understanding a present process is necessary in order to implement changes to improve operations. DeJoy has no intention of understanding anything and he uses change to promote the destruction of the USPS. He is trump’s paid assassin.

The following charts, graphs, and commentary by Steve Hutkins defines problems in USPS functionality as measured by data. The data points in a direction needing to be further analyzed to determine whether the direction chosen by DeJoy is leading to the destruction of the USPS. I believe it does.


Annual Compliance Review – Steve Hutkins

The Postal Regulatory Commission’s annual compliance review ordinarily focuses on postal rates, but this year, due to widespread reports of mail delays over the past several months, the Commission has been scrutinizing on-time service performance. Over the past few weeks, the Commission and its newly appointed Chairman have filed a number of information requests seeking data from the Postal Service about the scope and causes of delays.

According to the service performance data provided by the Postal Service, the delays began at a modest level in March 2020 when the pandemic started, deepened noticeably in July when the Postal Service implemented cost-cutting operational changes, improved modestly in the fall, and then got much worse in December with the holiday mail crush.

As for the causes of the delays, the Postal Service has blamed COVID — the surge in packages, employee availability problems, more dependence on surface transportation because of a lack of available space on aircraft, and so on. It has also cited bad weather, the need to prioritize election mail and other factors. The Postmaster General has acknowledged that operational changes made in July caused delays, but the Postal Service says the system adjusted to these changes in a matter of weeks and they were not a factor in the delays that followed.

How the Pandemic could lead to a big USPS price hike

Angry Bear has been featuring the words of Steve Hutkins and Mark Jamison for a good bit of time now. They are the go-to people outside of the USPS on issues associated with it and the Congress which impacts it. We exchange emails and stories from time to time.

Save the Post Office is edited and administered by Steve Hutkins, a retired English professor who taught place studies and travel literature at the Gallatin School of New York University.


Expected Rate Increases Beyond CPI

On November 30, 2020, the Postal Regulatory Commission issued a 484-page order revising the rate system for Market Dominant products. Under the new system, the Postal Service will be able to raise rates beyond the Consumer Price Index, which it was prevented from doing (aside from the provision for an exigent increase) by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. (See this previous post for more about the order.)

Last week, the Postal Service gave the PRC its calculations for the two new authorities crafted by the Commission. The Notice of Calculations of Future Rate Authorities indicates that the density-based rate authority will be 4.5 percent, and the retirement-based rate authority will be 1.06 percent, for a total of 5.56 percent.

Those potential increases are on top of the approximately 1.8 percent increase for First-Class Mail and 1.5 percent increase for other categories the Postal Service has already proposed for 2021. If the Postal Service were to exercise its full rate authority, the total increase would thus be over 7 percent. The new system also gives the Postal Service authority for an additional 2 percent increase for products that don’t cover their attributable costs.

Processing Center Percentages are “Not” On Time Delivery Percentages

Steve Hutkins of Save the Post Office has been live blogging and providing updates to the 12 federal district court cases filed. In the November 6, 2020 Update Steve discusses the delivery updates being filed in court and which are being used by some news outlets to show the USPS has been delivering ballots late and not on Election Day. Steve cautions against the use of this data as actual delivery dates are different than processing dates.

November 6, 2020 Update

The Postal Service’s daily reports on service performance, election mail, and late/extra trips (submitted as part of the Joint Order from the courts in RichardsonVote Forward, and NAACP) can be found here.

Steve Hutkins: One note about these daily reports on election mail. Some news reports are looking at these reports and misinterpreting the data and saying things like this:

“The data based on scans of ballot envelopes that were filed in Sullivan’s court Wednesday suggested that in South Florida, just 85.12% of the mail-in-ballots were delivered on Election Day and in central Pennsylvania, just 61.3% of the mail-ballots in the postal system were delivered on time both of which were based on the scan data in the court filing shown. In Philadelphia, slightly more than 66% of the mail-in ballots had been delivered on Election Day. In Atlanta 82.2% percent of the mail-in ballots were delivered on Election Day, the court filing shows.”

The daily numbers being reported do not indicate how much of the mail was delivered on time, i.e., within the service standard of two or three days. These numbers are  processing  scores, i.e., the percent of the ballots that went through the processing network on time. They do not encompass;

the “first mile” (the step between a voter dropping a ballot in the mail and its arrival at a processing center) or the “last mile” (from post office to letter carrier to destination).