As 2020 quickly comes into view, the upcoming year has been well primed for a busy year of postal activity for the mailing industry.
January 2020 Price Change: The first item on deck is the annual price change which will go into effect on January 26, 2020. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has provided the required approvals for the new prices to go into effect. The PRC did find a compliance issue related to the First Class proposed prices which were quickly addressed by reducing the increase to the 5-digit automation price. With that change, everything is set to proceed on schedule.
PMG Retirement: Immediately following the annual price increase will be the official retirement of the Postmaster-General (PMG) Megan Brennan on January 31, 2020. She has been serving as the PMG for four unprecedented years. The Postal Service is supposed to have nine Board of Governors (BOG) that provide leadership and guidance along with the PMG and Deputy PMG. For an extended period of her tenure, there was no active BOG because their terms of service had all expired and the Senate had not confirmed any new members. As we head into 2020, the BOG’s are back to having an official quorum with five of the nine positions filled. This is critically important as the BOG’s are tasked with selecting the next PMG. There is a fair amount of speculation that the next PMG will be selected from outside of the Postal Service. That hasn’t happened in 28 years; the last PMG to be selected from outside the Postal Service was Marvin Runyon who was selected as PMG back in 1992.
PAEA Driven 10 Year rate Review: Another important industry issue that has recently resurfaced is the 10-year rate review. The process officially started in December of 2016 and was part of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) that was passed by Congress in December of 2006. The law required the PRC to review PAEA 10-years after it went into effect to determine if the new rate-setting process was working for the Postal Service and meeting the objectives and factors defined in PAEA. If there were any items identified that were determined to not be working, the PRC was to make any needed changes to fix the identified items. One of the more controversial issues related to this 10-year review is the existing requirement that the Postal Service is not allowed to raise prices more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI). When the 10-year review originally kicked off, extensive comments were provided to the PRC from the Postal Service, Postal Unions, the Mailing Industry, and consumers. This 10-year PRC rate review has been in-progress for 3-years now. On December 5, 2019, the PRC announced it was revising its previous proposal. The filing was 354 pages long and comments are due by February 3, 2020, and reply comments by March 4, 2020. It is expected that there will be another round of robust comments that will be provided to the PRC by all parties that have been involved in this 10-year review.
Are you Ready for Seamless: If you are a Full-Service mailer and have not yet migrated to Seamless Acceptance, then this is an item that needs to be on your 2020 “To-Do” list. The Postal Service has stated that they have a goal of moving all Intelligent Mail Barcode Full-Service mailers to Seamless Acceptance by 2021. The mailing industry is still waiting on the formal notification, but expectations have been set in discussions that have been taking place between the Mailing Industry and the Postal Service. Is your company ready to make that move? Seamless Acceptance is a Postal Service program that has been available to mailers for several years now. The Seamless Acceptance Fact Sheet and Guide to Postage Assessments have been largely unchanged in the past two years which is an indication that the program has been successfully deployed and is working for the early adopters. If you haven’t done anything with Seamless Acceptance, the first step is to move to Seamless Parallel, this will activate the Seamless part of your Mailers Scorecard and you can start getting visibility into any possible issues before officially switching. Most mailers have to spend some time working through issues related to undocumented errors.
Year 2020 Promotions: The mailing promotions for 2020 are going to be the same as the promotions that were run in 2019. Mailers should plan on updates to the eligibility requirements for each of the promotions. Those discussions with the Mailing Industry take place in MTAC User Group #8. If you plan to participate in promotions, but are not part of this user group, it is highly recommended that you join to make sure you are aware of all the eligibility requirements to participate.
July 2020 Price Change: If you are an international mailer, there will be a second price change that will need to be on your 2020 schedule. On July 1, 2020, the Postal Service will be implementing their new self-declared rates that were approved by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) on September 25, 2019.
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