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Mail Delivery Standards Called Outdated

July 28, 2006|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service frequently cannot give customers an accurate estimate of when their mail will be delivered, a government report said Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office said the Postal Service's delivery standards were out of date, leaving those shipping bulk mail, parcels and other items wondering whether it would arrive on time.

"According to the Deputy Postmaster General, some Priority Mail delivery standards call for on-time delivery of Priority Mail in two days, but it is often physically impossible for USPS to meet these standards when that requires moving the mail across the country," the report said.

Priority Mail is touted by the Postal Service as one of its fastest options.

The Postal Service also lacks statistics and data to fully track its own performance and doesn't keep the public informed of how it is doing, the investigative arm of Congress said in its 124-page report.

Postmaster General John E. Potter, in a statement attached to the GAO report, said his agency was focusing more on customer service and posted on the Internet its performance in delivering three categories of mail.

Updating delivery standards would boost costs that "would have to be offset by appropriate price adjustments," Potter said of the GAO's recommendation.

Congress recently passed legislation to reform the Postal Service, an independent federal agency. In December the service reported that it had ended the year debt-free after struggling for 34 years to balance its budget. Between September 2004 and September 2005 it delivered a record 212 billion pieces of mail.

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