Last month, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a new bill addressing the US Postal Service. That bill, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021, is now eligible for a floor vote on the US House of Representatives. An identical version of the bill was introduced in the Senate last month, as well.
The Postal Service Reform Act is notable for businesses that utilize printing and mailing services for several reasons. At its core, the bill will provide better support for the USPS employees we rely on every day while also keeping mailing operations throughout the country moving more efficiently and reliably. If passed, this bill would mark the first major postal overhaul from Congress in 15 years.
If you plan to use printed materials and printed mail in the future, there’s a few details you should know about the Postal Service Reform Act and how might it affect your mailings. We’ll help break down the most important elements for you below.
What Does the Bill Say?
According to the Washington Post, the Postal Service Reform Act is a bipartisan bill that aims to lighten the financial strain on the USPS, better support postal employees, and improve the agency’s accountability for mail delivery. It also involves internal agency changes in terms of health benefits, which we won’t get into the details of here. These changes proposed by the bill could save the USPS $30 billion in the next ten years.
Under the Postal Service Reform Act, users’ mailing experience should improve as well. The bill introduces streamlined six-day standard delivery and five-day first-class delivery to set reasonable expectations that the agency can still often outperform. The USPS also plans to implement an online mail delivery dashboard to allow individuals to track on-time deliveries by Zip code. With these adjustments, the USPS could start improving its reputation, which has been under fire for the last year.
How Will It Affect Me?
If you were one of the many individuals or businesses sending a higher-than-average mail volume last year, you may have noticed delays on some of your packages. According to the USPS, package volume was up by close to 20 percent during the 2020 fiscal year. The Postal Service Reform Act, along with a 10-year plan outlined by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, will look to improve on-time deliveries by changing the first-class delivery deadline to five days. The USPS would still likely deliver 70 percent of first-class packages by its current three-day deadline, but the remaining 30 percent could take four or five days. This change should help mailers better plan when to drop off packages and ensure their deliveries arrive on time (or even early).
However, the bill does not address the postal rate increases proposed in DeJoy’s 10-year plan. A number of printers, including those that are a part of PRINTING United Alliance, worry that significant price increases will discourage individuals and businesses from utilizing printed mail. According to Illinois Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, increased postal rates are often correlated with drops in mail volume, and could ultimately hurt small businesses that rely on direct mail through USPS.
There’s no doubt, though, that the USPS is in desperate need of more financial stability. The agency has been in nearly $200 billion in debt for years, thanks to steadily declining mail volume and prepaid retiree benefits required by the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. Kentucky Representative James Comer has said the modifications introduced by the Postal Service Reform Act “will help put USPS on the road to fiscal stability, make it more efficient and sustainable for generations, and ensure continued service to the American people.”
The future of the printing and mailing industries are seemingly looking up. In the coming months, be sure to keep up with news on the Postal Service Reform Act, as both the House of Representatives and Senate are set to vote on the bill soon.