USPS Releases 10-Year Strategic Plan: Printing, Packaging and Mailing Overview
The U.S. Postal Service released its long-anticipated 10-year strategic plan this week and it’s a decidedly mixed bag for the commercial mailing sector, a supply chain that includes print and packaging, and one in 2019 that generated an estimated $1.6 trillion in sales. The 40-page “Delivering For America” plan outlines the vision of Postmaster General (PMG) Louis DeJoy and the current USPS Board of Governors, and calls for “a new business model and reorientation of the Postal Service’s management, network and processes.” (The full plan and an “at a glance” summary are available here (PDF) and here (PDF).)
At first blush, there are certainly some positive, necessary changes in the plan, such as improving environmental stewardship by modernizing the USPS delivery fleet and an increased focused in diversity, equity and inclusion. Notably, the plan calls for key legislative reforms in alignment with PRINTING United Alliance’s and the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service’s advocacy priorities, specifically:
- requesting Congress require the integration of Medicare with postal service-specific employee health insurance plans in order to reduce benefits costs, and
- requesting Congress eliminate the postal employee retiree pre-funding obligations passed in 2006 that have hamstrung USPS’ financial performance for years.
It’s worth stating that postal employee unions also support these two legislative reforms and that any postal reform bill in 2021 will likely include these elements. The plan also requests that the Biden Administration use its authority to correct what the mailing industry has long considered to be an unfair allocation of CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) benefit funds, addressing a controversial Office of Personnel Management accounting structure and returning those funds to USPS for operational use. PRINTING United Alliance and its coalition partners support this change as well.
However, the most controversial piece of the plan for the commercial mailing economy is at the tail end of the document (page 39) and calls for implementation of new pricing authorities. It would essentially continue to gut the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-tied rate caps legislated in the last major postal reform bill (PAE Act of 2006). The mailing industry has already communicated severe heartburn over the Postal Regulatory Commission’s 10-year rate review that created new rules to allow market-dominant prices to be set at above-CPI increases.
As is often the case in which new government spending policies are “paid for” by business tax increases, the “Delivering for America” plan will seek to fund its initiatives partly on the backs of the commercial mailing sector in the form of postal rate increases.
PRINTING United Alliance and its allies are committed to urging a second PRC review, particularly if the legislative and administrative reforms move forward and enhance the USPS’ current financials, as well as to mitigating painful rate increases that could be a reality in the not-too-distant future. Additional printing and packaging industry analysis and proposals related to the pricing authority section of this plan are forthcoming.
One potential game changer: President Biden has nominated a trio of new members to the USPS Board of Governors and those three individuals are awaiting Senate confirmation. Technically, a newly composed, fully-seated Board could redirect this plan and its left-leaning majority would have the power to replace PMG DeJoy, a Trump Administration appointee. In fact, some Congressional Democrats are seeking to pressure President Biden to replace the entire Board of Governors with his own appointees. At his appearance last month before the full House Committee on Oversight Committee hearing, however, DeJoy was fired up to both retain his position and to push through his strategic plan. As he defiantly told lawmakers, “Get used to me.”
Lisbeth Lyons is the Vice President, Government & Political Affairs at PRINTING United Alliance, the largest, most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States. PRINTING United Alliance members have exclusive access to preeminent education; training; workshops; events; research; governmental and legislative representation; safety and environmental sustainability guidance; and resources from the leading media company in the industry – NAPCO Media.
In this article, Lisbeth addresses the US Postal Service’s “Delivering for America” plan. More information about delivery and logistics policy can be found at www.sgia.org or reach out to Lisbeth should you have additional questions specific to how these issues may affect your business: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To become a member of PRINTING United Alliance and learn more about how PRINTING United Alliance subject matter experts can assist your company with services and resources such as those mentioned in this article, please contact the Alliance membership team: 888-385-3588 / email@example.com.
Lisbeth Lyons is Vice President, Government & Political Affairs, PRINTING United Alliance, the largest, most comprehensive graphic arts trade association in the country. With more than 20 years of experience representing the voice of business on Capitol Hill, Lisbeth advocates for public policies that protect and advance the economic future of the printing and packaging industry. She oversees PRINTING United Alliance’s legislative, political, and grassroots advocacy initiatives, and has served in executive leadership of multiple successful advocacy campaigns, such as Coalition for Paper Options, Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, and Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers Coalition.
Prior to representing PRINTING United Alliance, Lisbeth served in similar roles at Printing Industries of America, US Telecom, and the National Federation of Independent Business. She also spent three years as a K-12 teacher in the Chicago Public Schools system, where she was on the forefront of urban education reform in the mid-1990s.
Lisbeth is Midwestern born and bred, having grown up in the St. Louis metropolitan area and attended college at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, before starting her career in Washington, DC. She holds a B.A. in English/Sociology and a professional graduate certificate from The George Washington University School of Political Management. She lives in the historic Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC.
An avid leader and learner in professional development, Lisbeth was a founding member of the Government Relations Leadership Forum, and is an active participant in organizations such as Council of Manufacturing Associations, Women in Government Relations, and National Association of Business PACs, among others. Lisbeth is often a featured speaker at premier industry conferences; she has spoken to Boards of Directors, corporate executive management teams, and state and regional trade associations across the country from coast to coast.