U.S. Postal Service:

Postal and Telecommunications Sector Representation in International Organizations

GGD-99-6BR: Published: Oct 29, 1998. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 1998.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on U.S. representation in two international organizations: (1) the Universal Postal Union (UPU); and (2) the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

GAO noted that: (1) differences in the roles of government agencies in U.S. international policy development for the postal and telecommunications sectors were related to the agencies' roles and responsibilities as defined under the law; (2) some agencies had specific, legally defined postal or telecommunications responsibilities, while others had legally defined responsibilities that were not sector specific; (3) other involved government agencies did not have issue or sector-specific responsibilities; (4) in addition, the roles of private-sector participants in policy development differed between the two sectors; (5) in the telecommunications sector, in which private-sector participants are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, participation in the U.S. international policy development was more formal; (6) in the postal sector, private-delivery companies are not regulated, and private-sector participation was more informal; (7) differences in legal requirements also contributed to differences in the formalization of the processes used to develop U.S. policies for international postal and telecommunications issues; (8) under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the advisory committee was required to meet certain statutory requirements and documentation; (9) the process for developing U.S. policy for international postal issues was more informal, and generally involved holding ad hoc briefings with interested parties; (10) in the telecommunications sector, private service providers have been included as part of the U.S. delegations to both the supreme and permanent bodies, but this was not the case in the postal sector; (11) delegations to both the UPU and ITU supreme bodies generally included a head of delegation, deputy head(s), and members, but they differed in composition; (12) both international organizations have grappled with adapting their organizations' structures to the evolving competitive postal and telecommunications environments, which have seen rapid changes in the roles of public and private-service providers; (13) in the postal sector, the distinction between public- and private-service providers is becoming more blurred as several foreign postal administrations have recently acquired or developed partnerships with private delivery companies; and (14) the UPU is reviewing its organizational structure and is to consider proposals at the next UPU Congress that include a consultative status for international nongovernmental organizations.

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