Postal Service Reform:

Issues Relevant to Changing Restrictions on Private Letter Delivery

GGD-96-129A: Published: Sep 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the effects of certain statutory restrictions on private letter mail delivery.

GAO found that: (1) the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) believes that private express statutes are necessary to protect its mail volume and revenue base; (2) it is difficult to enforce the statutes due to complaints from mailers and competitors; (3) USPS has not initiated any audits to determine mailer compliance since 1994; (4) USPS has issued regulations suspending the statutes to allow private firms to deliver urgent and international mail; (5) there is considerable debate as to whether USPS is the only organization capable of providing efficient and economical mail service; (6) USPS competitors account for more than 85 percent of all U.S. domestic expedited letter and parcel delivery revenues; (7) four USPS competitors could deliver USPS priority mail if given the opportunity; (8) private delivery firms are increasing their capacity to deliver USPS third-class mail by participating in national alliances that broaden their delivery networks; (9) several countries encourage private delivery firms to enter into agreements with postal administrations to increase mail delivery competition; and (10) USPS needs to determine how changes in private express statutes will affect universal mail service and postal rates.

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