Five Day Delivery Is In The Mail

A proposal to reduce mail delivery to five days a week took another step closer to reality this week, with a Web site announcing details coming soon. The United States Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors approved management’s request to move forward with its five-day delivery proposal and to file a request for an advisory opinion with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on March 30.

A Web site to provide customers with the details of the proposal will include a special section telling business mailers how to manage a change in delivery. The site can be accessed at http://www.usps.com/communications/five-daydelivery

The five-day delivery proposal is part of a larger plan, “Delivering the Future,” announced March 2, which includes legislative and regulatory changes needed to give the Postal Service the flexibility to make necessary business decisions in a timely manner, including the prefunding of retiree health benefits, pricing and delivery frequency.

In a survey by The NonProfit Times last spring, nearly 88 percent of the 729 charity executives who responded said cutting Saturdays would hurt the organizations least, followed by Wednesday (5.3 percent) and Tuesday (4 percent). Nonprofit executives said cutting Monday delivery would hurt the most with 67.1 percent, followed by Friday (15.8 percent) and Tuesday (9.3 percent).

Two of the plan’s key proposals require Congressional action: a restructuring of the payment schedule the Postal Service is required to make to prefund retiree health benefits, and the elimination of existing language mandating mail delivery six days a week.

“The Postal Service’s financial condition is dire, and projections show it’s just going to get worse,” said Tony Conway, executive director of the Alliance for Nonprofit Mailers (ANM). “It’s a start toward getting USPS back to the point where it might be solvent going forward,” he said.

Projections indicate mail volume will continue to fall and revenue will continue to decline, Conway said. “The cost structure is just way to big for amount of money they bring in,” he said. Cutting Saturday delivery is projected by the USPS to possibly save more than $3 billion.

With no Saturday delivery, nonprofits using standard mail with a range of delivery days of Thursday to Saturday might have to alter their schedules, Conway said, but otherwise, disruption to fundraising mail might be minimal. The threat that’s most prevalent for nonprofits is a looming postage hike early next year, which could especially target nonprofit mail.

USPS Vice President Sam Pulcrano has been leading an internal five-day delivery task force. He told the board that the task force has spent the past several months seeking stakeholder input and refining the proposal to address mailer concerns. Extensive market research has been conducted and Postal Service findings have been consistent with most national polls that have shown that the American people would approve of a five-day delivery schedule if it would ensure a viable Postal Service well into the future.

According to USPS, a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted earlier in the month showed support for five-day delivery across all age groups from 58 percent in the 18-34 bracket to 73 percent among those 55 or older. An earlier Gallup poll showed that 69 percent of all Americans were agreeable to a five-day schedule if it meant stable stamp prices and a Rasmussen poll showed 66 percent in favor if it would help maintain financial stability for the Postal Service.

Other key elements of the proposal which will be detailed in the filing with the PRC include street delivery and blue box collections eliminated on Saturdays, Express Mail service continuing seven days a week, Post Offices currently open on Saturday remaining open, P.O. Box accessibility continuing and bulk mail and drop shipments continuing to be accepted at facilities that are currently open.