December 31, 2015
Earlier this week the Postal Service submitted its FY 2015 Annual Compliance Report (ACR) to the Postal Regulatory Commission. Over the next few weeks, the Commission will review the report, request more information, give stakeholders an opportunity to comment, and then, sometime in March, issue its own Annual Compliance Determination (ACD) report. (The USPS ACR is here; last year’s PRC ACD report is here. Most of the ACR documents referenced in this article can be found on Google Drive, here.)
The main goal of this process, as described in 39 U.S.C. § 3652, is to “analyze costs, revenues, rates, and quality of service” in order to ensure that all postal products have complied with the law. In particular, the compliance review in intended to determine if each product is covering its attributable costs so that one product doesn’t subsidize another.
The 2015 ACR runs to 73 pages, plus 42 library references available to the public and 29 others that are nonpublic. It’s a huge amount of material — and the Commission will ask for still more — but almost all of it is about costs, rates, and revenues.
In order to satisfy the statute’s requirement about “quality of service,” however, the ACR contains a brief section (pp. 56-62) about service performance (delivery speed), customer satisfaction, and customer access to postal services (e.g., the number of post offices closed and suspended, wait time in line, etc.).
It looks as though not a lot has changed over the past year with respect to customer access, and there’s some happy news to report. As in FY 2014, there were no post office discontinuances in FY 2015, and compared to last year, fewer emergency suspensions took place and fewer blue collection boxes were removed from the street due to low volumes.
On the other hand, the ACR shows that the average wait time in line at the post office has increased for the first time in a few years, and on-time service performance for delivery has declined from last year. Perhaps as a result, customer satisfaction has dropped for a second year…..
…After receiving the ACR this week, the PRC published Order No. 2968 initiating the proceedings for the compliance review. The Commission is now soliciting comments from the public “on the cost coverage matters the Postal Service addresses in its filing; service performance results; levels of customer satisfaction achieved; and such other matters that may be relevant to the Commission’s review.” Comments are due by February 2, 2016.