Postal Affairs Update, February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

The Postmaster General is expected to release the USPS 10-year strategic plan in the coming days. Joel Quadracci is scheduled to testify before Congress on postal reform. Delivery performance has improved, though a winter storm affects in-home dates across the country.

Quad’s Postal Affairs team remains committed to keeping you up to date and informed. As a significant mailing industry partner, we are in a unique position to provide clear and accurate information regarding the state of the USPS and suggest best practices during this time. Please notify the Quad Postal Affairs team if you become aware of any changes, questions or something new related to how the USPS is reacting to the pandemic. We will investigate and update all. Please send inquiries to the Quad Postal Affairs Distribution list (Postal Affairs – Team) or ask your Quad representative.

Here are key developments since our last update:

USPS strategic planning

The industry expects Postmaster General DeJoy to release a 10-year strategic plan in the coming days. While we don’t know the full scope of the plan, Quad’s Chairman, President and CEO Joel Quadracci is set to testify before Congress at a House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee hearing on postal reform. The February 24 event will also include testimony from PMG DeJoy, new Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom, Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb and American Postal Workers Union President Mark Diamondstein.

The hearing will focus on the state of the USPS’s finances and how the Postal Service impacts the economy — specifically the nation’s mailers. Joel will discuss the industry and its need to have the USPS operate as an efficient and cost effective partner while we work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This is an opportunity for Quad to voice concerns on behalf of our customers with an audience of legislators who can help guide the future of the Postal Service. It will be livestreamed, then available on demand.

Additionally, Quad is a signatory for a legal “stay” on the implementation of new USPS rate authority until all other options are explored. This stay would give stakeholders more time to offer input for decisions that could hurt the Postal Service’s largest customers — and the Postal Service itself. Rebuttal comments to USPS and Postal Regulatory Commission objections to the stay will be posted later this week.

Leadership changes at the PRC and Board of Governors likely won’t alter the current trajectory. But we know that those at the top do listen to industry concerns. Contact Quad to learn how you and your business can get involved with legislative efforts to positively shape postal reform.

Delivery performance

We continue to see improvement in Marketing Mail’s movement through processing. The USPS has moved it more quickly in each of the past few weeks, though a few facilities remain that are delayed 3-5 days beyond Service Standard. But it’s good news that we no longer see the extreme delays of December and January.

First Class mail remains a concern, as only an average of 50% has been delivered to addresses by Day 3 after the drop. The Service Standard states that 94% should be in-home at that point. As other classes of mail show improvement, the poor movement of First Class mail is confusing. Quad continues to seek answers from the USPS as to why this is happening and what they’re doing to correct it. They’ve only communicated that sick leaves still impact service, though those occur at lower than in December and January.

The winter storm that’s swept across much of the country will affect in-home dates, especially in Texas and the Southeastern U.S. See the USPS service alerts page for the latest details.

Postal volume

Mail volume for Q1 compared to previous year (USPS fiscal year begins in October)

  • Total: Down 3.2%
  • First Class: Down 4.1%
  • Marketing Mail: Down 3.9% (number reflects sharp increase in political mail)
  • Packages: Up 25%
  • Periodicals: Down 14.9%