Postal Issues:

The Department of State's International Postal Responsibilities

T-GGD-00-63: Published: Mar 9, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 2000.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed how the Department of State has implemented its responsibilities for U.S. policy regarding U.S. participation in the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

GAO noted that: (1) State assumed primary responsibility for U.S. policy on UPU matters in October 1998 from the Postal Service; (2) State has made progress in implementing its UPU responsibilities by taking steps to consult with the Postal Service, other federal agencies, postal users, private providers of international postal services, and the general public; (3) in addition, State clearly signaled changes in U.S. policy on issues related to UPU reform; (4) this progress was notable because State assumed its expanded responsibilities for the UPU less than a year before the UPU Congress met in August and September 1999 to update binding agreements governing international postal service; (5) while GAO recognizes the progress made by State in its first year of responsibility for UPU matters, GAO also identified opportunities for the Department to improve its process for developing U.S. policy on these matters and the institutional continuity and expertise of its staff working in this area; (6) GAO identified some shortcomings relating to the timing and notification for public meetings, and the distribution of documents discussed at these meetings, that may have limited the opportunities for stakeholders to provide meaningful input; (7) GAO also found that State's policy development process on UPU matters resulted in little public record of agency or stakeholder positions, which may make it difficult for Congress and others to fully understand the basis for U.S. policy positions; and (8) further, staff turnover made it more difficult for State to develop the institutional continuity and expertise to fulfill its leadership responsibilities.

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