By KARLA POMEROY
Postal customers received notice earlier this week that the U.S. Postal Service will be conducting new studies in its efforts to find ways of cutting costs.
The Postal Service is also exploring whether or not to change service standards, specifically with first-class and periodicals. According to information on the website, http://about.USPS.com/news/facility-studies/welcome.htm, “The principal impact of the proposal, if adopted, would be to eliminate the expectation of overnight services.”
Current service standards for first-class mail are delivery in one to three days and one to nine days for periodicals. Under the proposal being considered, the service standard would change from two to three days for first-class and two to nine days for periodicals. Overnight would still be available through Express Mail and the potential of overnight with Priority Mail.
“Customers will likely no longer receive mail the day after it is mailed. In all likelihood this change will go relatively unnoticed by the average customer,” the USPS said in a statement on its website.
The USPS will be publishing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, making the process open for public comment.
According to the release from the USPS, the Postal Service is opting for the advanced notice because it is a more formal effort to solicit input from the public at an early stage of the process so that customer considerations can be factored into proposals for changes in service standards.
U.S. Postal Service Western Region spokesperson Al Desarro said the earliest changes will be made will be February next year. He said the advanced notice will not be published in the Federal Register until November.
The Postal Service will also submit a request to the Postal Regulatory Commission. This is anticipated to be submitted in late October, according to a release.
According to the draft advanced notice, the USPS outlines impacts of the proposal, which include:
•The reduced availability of locations at which drop ship discounts may be applied could require changes to commercial mailers’ transportation networks. For national mailers, this could result in cost savings, given that they would transport mail to fewer locations. For regional and local mailers, the reduced availability of business mail entry units and drop ship locations could cause additional costs, if they have to transport mail over longer distances.
•Commercial mailers who use products that have zone-based pricing may experience price changes, if the locations at which they currently enter mail are eliminated and the nearest available locations are within different 3-digit ZIP Codes.
•Commercial mailers of First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail who seek to have their mail reach recipients on specific delivery days may have to restructure their production cycles to align with the changed critical entry times and reduced number of entry points.
•While some commercial mailers could effectively maintain same-day processing and overnight delivery by restructuring their production cycles to align with the changed critical entry times, this would not be possible for retail First-Class Mail customers, because mail pieces dropped off at blue collection boxes and other retail collection points before 8 a.m. would not be collected and transported to processing locations in time for same day processing.
•The longer processing windows could enhance the reliability of the Postal Service in meeting the revised service standards.
According to the letter to postal customers, the U.S. Postal Service will be conducting an “Area Mail Processing” study of mail processing facilities to determine whether consolidation of some operations is appropriate.
The Postal Service has already conducted studies on several process facilities in Wyoming, including Worland. According to a press release, a review of the Worland AMP was completed in July.
According to the release, “The proposal recommends transferring all mail processing operations from the Worland Customer Service Mail Processing Service to Casper. The proposal, which has a projected annual savings of $39,629, with one-time costs of $13,400, has been approved and implementation is expected to be complete next month.
The Gillette AMP was also studied and will be transferred to Casper as well for an annual savings of $83,733 and one-time costs of $298,708. Also transferring to Casper is Riverton with an annual savings of $124,385 and the Sheridan AMP for an annual savings of $43,469.
The Postal Service continues to look at closing several post offices including Hyattville, Otto and Emblem.
Desarro said no official public meetings have been set for the three communities. He said the USPS will first send out a survey to the mail customers in those areas, then set public meetings. The entire study will take about five to six months of gathering input before a decision is rendered.
A community meeting regarding the post office in Hyattville has been set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Hyattville Community Center.
Desarro noted that President Barack Obama has come out in support of five-day delivery to help with the USPS financial crisis. He said any change in delivery days would have to be approved by Congress.