Appeals Court reaches mixed decision on USPS/PRC IMb dispute

The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit today handed down its decision in the lawsuit brought by the US Postal Service against the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) over the PRC’s attempt to regulate new Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) rules. Mailers had claimed that the regulations increased their costs, and therefore were price increases that needed to be counted against the postal service’s rate cap for “Market Dominant” services. The PRC sided with the mailers, so the USPS appealed to the Court, claiming that the law clearly prohibited the PRC from “characterizing mail preparation requirements as changes in rates.”

Today’s decision rejects the postal service’s claim, finding the law “ambiguous” on that point. But while the Court found that the PRC could determine that a change in the rules amounted to a rate hike, “The standard enunciated by the Commission to determine when requirements changes are ‘changes’ in rates” seems boundless and, thus, unreasonable; and the Commission’s inconsistent application of the standard in this case proves the point.” The Court went so far as to find that “The Commission’s judgment in this case ‘lacks any coherence. We therefore owe no deference to [the Commission’s] purported expertise because we cannot discern it. We therefore remand the case to the Commission to enunciate an intelligible standard and then reconsider its decision in light of that standard.”

The entire decision is available here (.pdf file).

PRC Approves USPS Price Adjustments for Certain Market Dominant Products

prcWashington, DC – Today the Postal Regulatory Commission issued Order No. 2472 approving the Postal Service’s price adjustments for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services. The prices are scheduled to take effect May 31, 2015. In Order Nos. 2378 and 2398, the Commission remanded the price adjustments for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services to the Postal Service for non-compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

In today’s order, the Commission approves the Postal Service’s revised price adjustments and classification changes, which now comply with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. In addition, the Commission directs the Postal Service to propose several methodologies relating to changes approved in Order No. 2472. The Commission approves several changes to workshare discounts and the Mail Classification Schedule in Order No. 2472, some of which necessitate the development of methodologies to be used in data reporting. The Commission directs the Postal Service to file the following within 90 days:

  • The Postal Service is directed to file a proposed methodology for determining the costs avoided for the Presorted FSS workshare discounts.
  • The Postal Service is directed to file a proposed methodology for determining the costs avoided for the 5-digit pallet presort Standard Mail Carrier Route flats workshare discount.
  • The Postal Service is directed to file a proposed methodology for determining the bottom-up costs for the new Periodicals Mail Carrier Route bundle and container entry options.

The Commission’s regulations require that the Postal Service use accepted analytical principles in its data reporting to the Commission. 39 C.F.R. part 3050.

The Commission’s complete analyses of the Postal Service’s Market Dominant price adjustments for fiscal year 2015 are located at www.prc.gov in Docket No. R2015-4.

USPS to delay April 26 rate adjustments

The US Postal Service announced today that it will hold off on rate adjustments scheduled to take effect on April 26. The adjustments, which involve First Class Mail, Special Services and Competitive Products, have already been approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission. Rates affecting Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services, however, have not been approved, after the PRC twice rejected USPS rate requests for those classes of mail, saying they were “riddled with errors”, and failed to comply with the law.

The USPS says it doesn’t want to burden customers with multiple implementation dates for different classes, and will set a new date for implementation once it manages to sort out the faulty submissions. It did not offer an estimate of how long that might take.

PRC Again Remands Price Adjustments Back To USPS: Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services Products Affected

prcWashington, DC – For the second time in this case, the Postal Regulatory Commission returned a Postal Service proposal to adjust rates for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services.

In Order No. 2378 issued on March 6, 2015, the Commission remanded the rates for these classes of mail so that the Postal Service could provide additional information and justifications, correct errors, and fulfill applicable legal requirements. The Commission held that the Postal Service needed to address several deficiencies, including unequal Standard Mail nonprofit and commercial discounts, improperly justified Standard Mail worksharing discounts with passthroughs above 100 percent, and improperly calculated billing determinant adjustments for all three classes.

In the order issued today, the Commission finds that the Postal Service has not adequately addressed the concerns described in Order No. 2378 and has failed to demonstrate that the proposed rates comply with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. As a result, the Commission again returns the proposed rates and directs the Postal Service to provide information demonstrating that they conform to the law.

Once the Postal Service files a response to the Commission’s order, the public will have 7 days from the date of that filing to comment on the revised proposal.

The Commission’s complete analysis of the Postal Service’s revised price adjustments for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services can be found in Order No. 2398, under Docket No. R2015-4.

Return to Sender: PRC tells USPS to try again on rate adjustments

prcThe Postal Regulatory Commission has told the US Postal Service that it can’t approve and certify the rate adjustments for market-dominant services scheduled to take effect next month. The PRC, in an order issued today, gave the USPS until next Thursday, March 12, to file an amended rate adjustment notice. Continue reading