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Full eagle logo from 1970 to 1994
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United Statesmarker. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. Within the United States, it is commonly referred to as the "Post Office", "Postal Service", or "U.S. Mail".

Though postal services have existed on American territory before the United States's establishment, the USPS's first incarnation was established by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphiamarker in 1775 by decree of the Second Continental Congress. The Post Office Department was created from this in 1792 as part of the United States Cabinet, its current form in 1970 under the Postal Reorganization Act.

Since its reorganization into an independent organization, the USPS has become self-sufficient and has not received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s. The decline of mail volume due to increased usage of e-mail has forced the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to maintain this financial balance.

Employing 656,000 workers and 260,000 vehicles, it is the second-largest civilian employer in the United States (after Wal-Martmarker) and the operator of the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world. The USPS is obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. Conversely, it has exclusive access to U.S. mail boxes and non-urgent letters. It receives competition from email and package delivery services.

History

Running pony logo used by the U.S.
Post Office Department before the creation of the USPS


The first postal service in America arose in February of 1692 when a grant from King William & Queen Mary empowered Thomas Neale "to erect, settle and establish within the chief parts of their majesties' colonies and plantations in America, an office or offices for the receiving and dispatching letters and pacquets, and to receive, send and deliver the same under such rates and sums of money as the planters shall agree to give, and to hold and enjoy the same for the term of twenty-one years."

The United States Post Office (U.S.P.O.) was created in Philadelphiamarker under Benjamin Franklin on July 26, 1775 by decree of the Second Continental Congress. Based on the Postal Clause in Article One of the United States Constitution, empowering Congress "To establish post offices and post roads," it became the Post Office Department (U.S.P.O.D.) in 1792. It was part of the Presidential cabinet and the Postmaster General was the last person in the United States presidential line of succession. In 1971, the department was reorganized as a quasi-independent corporation of the federal government and acquired its present name. The Postmaster General is no longer in the presidential line of succession.

The Post Office Department was enlarged during the tenure of President Andrew Jackson. As the Post Office expanded, difficulties were experienced due to a lack of employees and transportation. The Post Office's employees at that time were still subject to the so-called 'spoils' system, where faithful political supporters of the executive branch were appointed to positions in the post office and other government corporations as a reward for their patronage. These appointees rarely had prior experience in postal service and mail delivery. This system of political patronage was replaced in 1883 after passage of the Pendleton Act (Civil Service Reform Act).

Once it became clear that the postal system in the United States needed to expand across the entire country, the use of the railroad to transport the mail was instituted in 1832. Railroad companies greatly expanded mail transport service after 1862, and the Railway Mail Service was inaugurated in 1869. Rail cars designed from the start to sort and distribute mail while rolling were soon introduced. RMS employees sorted mail 'on the fly' during the journey, and became some of the most skilled workers in the postal service. An RMS sorter had to be able to separate the mail quickly into compartments based on its final destination, before the first destination arrived, and work at the rate of 600 pieces of mail an hour. They were tested regularly for speed and accuracy. The advent of rural free delivery in the U.S. in 1896 and the inauguration of parcel post service in 1913 greatly increased the volume of mail shipped nationwide, and motivated the development of more efficient postal transportation systems.

On August 12, 1918, the Post Office Department took over air mail service from the U.S. Army Air Service (USAAS). Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger appointed Benjamin B. Lipsner to head the civilian-operated Air Mail Service. One of Lipsner's first acts was to hire four pilots, each with at least 1,000 hours flying experience, paying them an average of $4,000 per year. The Post Office Department used mostly World War I military surplus de Havilland DH-4 aircraft. During 1918, the Post Office hired an additional 36 pilots. In its first year of operation, the Post Office completed 1,208 airmail flights with 90 forced landings. Of those, 53 were due to weather and 37 to engine failure. By 1920, the Air Mail service had delivered 49 million letters. Domestic air mail became obsolete in 1975, and international air mail in 1995, when the USPS began transporting First Class mail by air on a routine basis.

The Post Office was one of the first government departments to regulate obscene materials on a national basis. When the U.S. Congress passed the Comstock laws of 1873, it became illegal to send through the U.S. mail any material considered obscene, indecent or which promoted abortion issues, contraception, or alcohol consumption.

The Postal Reorganization Act signed by President Richard Nixon on August 12, 1970, replaced the cabinet-level Post Office Department with the independent United States Postal Service. The Act took effect on July 1, 1971.

Current operations

USPS service delivery truck
The United States Postal Service employs some 656,000 workers, making it the second-largest civilian employer in the United States (excluding the federal government) following only Wal-Martmarker. In a 2006 U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker decision, the Court noted: "Each day, according to the Government’s submissions here, the United States Postal Service delivers some 660 million pieces of mail to as many as 142 million delivery points." The USPS operates 32,741 post offices and locations in the US. In August 2009 the Postal Regulatory Commission put forward a preliminary list of about 1000 it is considering closing to save money. Its employees deliver mail at an average yearly cost of $235 per residence as of 2009.

The USPS operates the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world, with an estimated 260,000 vehicles, the majority of which are the easily identified Chevrolet/Grumman LLV (Long-Life Vehicle), and the newer Ford/Utilimaster FFV (Flex-Fuel Vehicle), originally also referred to as the "CRV" (Carrier Route Vehicle), as shown in the pictures below. In an interview on NPR, a USPS official stated that for every penny increase in the national average price of gasoline, the USPS spends an extra $8 million to fuel its fleet. This implies that the fleet requires some 800 million gallons (3.03 billion liters) of fuel per year, and consumes an estimated fuel budget of $2.4 billion, were the national gasoline price to average $3.00. Some Rural Letter Carriers use personal vehicles. Standard postal-owned vehicles do not have license plates. These vehicles are identified by a seven digit number displayed on the front and rear.

Competition from e-mail and private operations such as United Parcel Servicemarker and FedEx has forced USPS to adjust its business strategy and to modernize its products and services. First Class mail volume (which is protected by legal monopoly) has declined 22% from 1998 to 2007, due to the increasing use of e-mail and the World Wide Web for correspondence and business transactions. In 2008, a general economic slowdown also affected mail volumes, especially advertising. Lower volume means lower revenues to support the fixed commitment to deliver to every address once a day, six days a week. In response, the USPS has increased productivity each year from 2000 to 2007, through increased automation, route re-optimization, and facility consolidation.

The domain usps.com attracted at least 159 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com survey.

The Department of Defense and the USPS jointly operate a postal system to deliver mail for the military; this is known as the Army Post Office (for Army and Air Force postal facilities) and Fleet Post Office (for Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard postal facilities).

Governance and organization

The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service sets policy, procedure, and postal rates for services rendered, and has a similar role to a corporate board of directors. Of the eleven members of the Board, nine are appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate (see ). The nine appointed members then select the United States Postmaster General, who serves as the board's tenth member, and who oversees the day to day activities of the service as Chief Executive Officer (see ). The ten-member board then nominates a Deputy Postmaster General, who acts as Chief Operating Officer, to the eleventh and last remaining open seat.

The USPS is often mistaken for a government-owned corporation (e.g., Amtrak), but as noted above is legally defined as an "independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States," ( ) as it is wholly owned by the government and controlled by the Presidential appointees and the Postmaster General. As a quasi-governmental agency, it has many special privileges, including sovereign immunity, eminent domain powers, powers to negotiate postal treatiesmarker with foreign nations, and an exclusive legal right to deliver first-class and third-class mail. Indeed, in 2004, the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker ruled in a unanimous decision that the USPS was not a government-owned corporation, and therefore could not be sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act. The U.S. Supreme Court has also upheld the USPS's statutory monopoly on access to letterboxes against a First Amendment freedom of speech challenge; it thus remains illegal in the U.S. for anyone other than the employees and agents of the USPS to deliver mailpieces to letterboxes marked "U.S. Mail."

The Postal Service also has a Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee and local Postal Customer Councils, which are advisory and primarily involve business customers.

Universal Service Obligation and monopoly status

Article I, section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution grants U.S. Congress the power to establish post offices and post roads. The Federal Government has interpreted this clause as granting a de facto Congressional monopoly over the delivery of mail. According to the government, no other system for delivering mail - public or private - can be established absent Congress's consent. Congress has delegated to the Postal Service the power to decide whether others may compete with it, and the Postal Service has carved out an exception to its monopoly for extremely urgent letters.

The mission of the Postal Service is to provide the American public with trusted universal postal service at affordable prices. While not explicitly defined, the Postal Service’s universal service obligation (USO) is broadly outlined in statute and includes multiple dimensions: geographic scope, range of products, access to services and facilities, delivery frequency, affordable and uniform pricing, service quality, and security of the mail. While other carriers claim to voluntarily provide delivery on a universal basis, the Postal Service is the only carrier with the obligation to provide all the various aspects of universal service at affordable rates.

Proponents of postal service monopoly claim that since any obligation must be matched by the financial capability to meet that obligation, the postal monopoly was put in place as a funding mechanism for the USO, and it has been in place for over a hundred years. It consists of two parts: the Private Express Statutes (PES) and the mailbox access rule. The PES refers to the Postal Service’s monopoly on the delivery of letters, and the mailbox rule refers to the Postal Service’s exclusive access to customer mailboxes.

Proponents of postal service monopoly further claim that eliminating or reducing the PES or mailbox rule would have an impact on the ability of the Postal Service to provide affordable universal service. If, for example, the PES and the mailbox rule were to be eliminated, and the USO maintained, then either billions of dollars in tax revenues or some other source of funding would have to be found. As the operating environment of the Postal Service continues to change, additional flexibilities will likely be necessary to fulfill the USO.

However, several professional economists advocate the privatization of the mail delivery system, or at least a relaxation of the monopoly that currently exists. Rick Geddes argued in 2000:
  • First, basic economics implies that rural customers are unlikely to be without service under competition; they would simply have to pay the true cost of delivery to them, which may or may not be lower than under monopoly.
  • Second, basic notions of fairness imply that the cross-subsidy should be eliminated. To the extent that people make choices about where they live, they should assume the costs of that decision.
  • Third, there is no reason why the government monopoly is necessary to ensure service to sparsely populated areas. The government could easily award competitive contracts to private firms for that service.
  • Fourth, early concerns that rural residents of the United States would somehow become isolated without federally subsidized mail delivery today are simply unfounded. ... Once both sender and receiver have access to a computer, the marginal cost of sending an electronic message is close to zero.
However, as the recent notice of a termination of mail service to residents of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness indicates, mail service has been contracted to private firms such as Arnold Aviation for many decades. KTVB-TV reported:
'"We cannot go out every week and pick up our mail....it's impossible," said Heinz Sippel. "Everyone get their mail. Why can't we?" said Sue Anderson. Getting mail delivered, once a week, by airplane is not a luxury, it's a necessity for those who live in Idaho's vast wilderness -- those along the Salmon and Selway rivers. It's a service that's been provided to them for more than half a century -- mostly by Ray Arnold of Arnold Aviation.


The decision was reversed; U.S. Postmaster General John Potter indicated that acceptable service to backcountry customers could not be achieved in any other fashion than continuing an air mail contract with Arnold Aviation to deliver the mail."

The Postal Act of 2006 required the PRC to submit a report to the President and Congress on universal postal service and the postal monopoly in December 2008. The report must include any recommended changes. The Postal Service report supports the requirement that the PRC is to consult with and solicit written comments from the Postal Service. In addition, the Government Accountability Office is required to evaluate broader business model issues by 2011.

On October 15, 2008, the Postal Service submitted a report to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on its position related to the Universal Service Obligation (USO). It said no changes to the USO and restriction on mailbox access were necessary at this time, but increased regulatory flexibility was required to ensure affordable universal service in the future.

Obligations of the USO include uniform prices, quality of service, access to services, and six-day delivery to every part of the country. To assure financial support for these obligations, the postal monopoly provides the Postal Service the exclusive right to deliver letters and restricts mailbox access solely for mail. The report argued that eliminating or reducing either aspect of the monopoly "would have a devastating impact on the ability...to provide the affordable universal service that the country values so highly." Relaxing access to the mailbox would also pose security concerns, increase delivery costs, and hurt customer service, according to the Post Office. The report notes:
It is somewhat misleading to characterize the mailbox rule as a “monopoly,” because the enforcement of 18 U.S.C. 1725 leaves customers with ample alternative means of delivering their messages. Customers can deliver their messages either by paying postage, by placing messages on or under a door or a doormat, by using newspaper or nonpostal boxes, by telephoning or emailing, by engaging in person-to-person delivery in public areas, by tacking or taping their notices on a door post, or by placing advertisements in local newspapers. These methods are comparable in efficacy to communication via the mailbox.


The Postal Service said that the USO should continue to be broadly defined and there should be no changes to the postal monopoly. Any changes would have far-reaching effects on customers and the trillion dollar mailing industry. “A more rigidly defined USO would … ultimately harm the American public and businesses,” according to the report, which cautions that any potential change must be studied carefully and the effects fully understood.

During hearings held earlier this year, the PRC also heard from mailers, mailing associations, and postal unions and management associations. Comments generally indicated that changes are not currently needed.

Competitors

FedEx and United Parcel Servicemarker (UPS) directly compete with USPS express mail and package delivery services, making nationwide deliveries of urgent letters and packages. Due to the postal monopoly, they are not allowed to deliver non-urgent letters and may not use U.S. Mail boxes at residential and commercial destinations. These services also deliver packages which are larger and heavier than what the USPS will accept. DHL Express was the third major competitor until February 2009, when it ceased domestic delivery operations in the United States.

A variety of other transportation companies in the United States move cargo around the country, but either have limited geographic scope for delivery points, or specialize in items too large to be mailed. Many of the thousands of courier companies focus on same-day delivery, for example by bicycle messenger.

Alternative transmission methods

The Post Office Department owned and operated the first public telegraph lines in the United States, starting in 1844 from Washington to Baltimore, and eventually extending to New York, Boston, Buffalo, and Philadelphia. In 1847, the telegraph system was privatized, except for a period during World War I when it was used to accelerate the delivery of letters arriving at night.

Between 1942 and 1945, "V-Mail" (for "Victory Mail") service was available for military mail. Letters were converted into microfilm and reprinted near the destination, to save room on transport vehicles for military cargo.

From 1982 to 1985, Electronic Computer Originated Mail was accepted for bulk mailings. Text was transmitted electronically to one of 25 post offices nationwide. The Postal Service would print the mail, and put it in special envelopes bearing a blue ECOM logo. Delivery was assured within 2 days.

Plans

In October 2008, the Postal Service released Vision 2013, a five-year plan required by law starting in 1993.

One planned improvement is the introduction of the Intelligent Mail Barcode, which will allow pieces of mail to be tracked through the delivery system, as competitors like UPS and FedEx currently do.

On May 11, 2009, the price of a First-Class Mail stamp rose to 44 cents. [8135]

2010 census

On July 10, 2009, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utahmarker) introduced H.R. 3167 with the direct support of Chairman Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusettsmarker). H.R. 3167 requires the 2010 United States Census to be conducted in partnership with the United States Postal Service.

After it was estimated that the 2010 Census would require 750,000 temporary employees in order to carry out all associated tasks, the commerce department made the controversial decision to utilize a variety of community organizations, including the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, to gather census data. In committee hearings, Rep. Chaffetz and others expressed serious reservations about the lack of standards offered by the Census to ensure trustworthy and competent partner organizations.

As a potential solution to this issue, it was observed that the United States Postal Service employs a staff of 760,000, just over the estimated labor force requirement. Chaffetz argued that Letter Carriers would be the most qualified individuals to carry out this task and that the plan would provide an additional revenue stream for the USPS during difficult financial times. Chaffetz explained, "It is imperative the American People have the utmost confidence in the collection of Census data. We should not rely upon ACORN to gather Census data. I don’t trust ACORN and neither do the American people. We already have a trusted workforce. This is a common sense business approach. Rather than hire 750,000 new, unknown people, let’s use people and assets already in place. This should save money, help the Post Office in a time of financial need, and give confidence and credibility to the collection of personal information. Postal carriers know the people on their routes, they know how to find them and how to count them. The census is a good example of an inefficient government program with billions of dollars of cost overruns that could immediately become more efficient with this common sense approach using resources already at our disposal."

Law enforcement agencies

U.S. Postal Inspection Service

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the U.S. It was founded by Benjamin Franklin.

The mission of the USPIS is to protect the U.S. Postal Service, its employees and its customers from criminal attack, and protect the nation's mail system from criminal misuse.

U.S. law provides for the protection of mail. Postal Inspectors enforce over 200 federal laws in investigations of crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S. Mail, the postal system or postal employees. The USPIS is a major federal law enforcement agency.

The USPIS has the power to enforce the USPS monopoly by conducting search and seizure raids on entities they suspect of sending non-urgent mail through overnight delivery competitors. For example: according to the American Enterprise Institute, a private conservative think tank, the USPIS raided Equifax offices in 1993 to ascertain if the mail they were sending through Federal Express was truly "extremely urgent." It was found that the mail was not, and Equifax was fined $30,000.

USPS Office of Inspector General

The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Postal Service was authorized by law in 1996. Prior to the 1996 legislation, the Postal Inspection Service performed the duties of the OIG. The Inspector General, who is independent of postal management, is appointed by and reports directly to the nine Presidential appointed Governors of the Postal Service.

The primary purpose of the OIG is to prevent, detect and report fraud, waste and program abuse, and promote efficiency in the operations of the Postal Service. The OIG has "oversight" responsibility for all activities of the Postal Inspection Service.

Addressing envelopes

For any letter addressed within the United States, the USPS requires two pieces of information on the envelope.
  1. Address of the recipient: Placed on the front (non opening) side of the envelope in the center. Generally, the name of the addressee should be included above the address itself. A ZIP+4 code will facilitate delivery.
  2. Postage indication: All parcels must include an indication that postage has been paid. In most cases, this is a stamp, though metered labels are also common. Members of the U.S. Congress, among others, have franking privileges, which only require a signature.
Domestic first-class mail costs 44¢ for envelopes (28¢ for post cards) and upwards, depending on the weight and dimensions of the letter and the class, and the indicia is supposed to be placed in the upper-right corner.

A third, and optional (but strongly suggested) addition is a return address. This is the address that the recipient may respond to, and, if necessary, the letter can be returned to if delivery fails. It is usually placed in the upper-left corner or occasionally on the back (though the latter is standard in some countries). Undeliverable mails that cannot be readily returned, including those without return addresses, are treated as dead mails at a Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgiamarker or Saint Paul, Minnesotamarker.
Sticker promoting ZIP code use.
The formatting of the address is as follows:
Line 1: Name of recipient
Line 2: Street address or P.O. Box
Line 3: City State (ISO 3166-2:US code or APO/FPO code) and ZIP+4 code


Example:
Mr Clifford C Clavin, Jr
112 1/2 Beacon St
Boston MA 02119-2343


The USPS maintains a list of proper abbreviations.

The city and state designations are a redundant safety measure used in the case that the printed ZIP code is illegible or ambiguously written. Since the ZIP code system is such that there is only one street of any name for any ZIP code (ex. there is only one Johnson Street in the 10036 ZIP area), it is possible to exclude the city and state from a mailing label and still have the package delivered, assuming the label is legible.

The formatting of a return address is identical. Though some style manuals do recommend using a comma between the city and state name when typesetting addresses in other contexts, for optimal automatic character recognition, the Post Office does not recommend this when addressing mail. The official recommendation is to use all upper case block letters with appropriate formats and abbreviations, and leave out all punctuation except for the hyphen in the ZIP+4 code. If the address is unusually formatted or illegible enough, it will require hand-processing, delaying that particular item. The USPS publishes the entirety of their postal addressing standards.

Customers can look up ZIP codes on usps.com, and purchase postage if they have an account.

Paying postage

The actual postage can be paid via:
  • Stamps purchased online, at a Post Office, from a stamp vending machine or "Automated Postal Center" which can also handle packages, or from a third party (such as a grocery store)
  • Pre-cancelled stamps for bulk mailings
  • Postal meter
  • Prepaid envelope
  • Shipping label purchased online and printed by the customer on standard paper (e.g. with Click-n-Ship)


All unused U.S. postage stamps issued since 1861 are still valid as postage at their indicated value. Stamps with no value shown or denominated by a letter are also still valid at their purchase price.

The cost of mailing a 1 oz. First Class letter increased to 44 cents on May 11, 2009, but since April 2007, the Post Office has offered a "forever" stamp. This stamp is sold at the first class mail postage rate at the time of purchase, but will always be valid for 1st class mail (1 oz and under), no matter how rates rise in the future. Britain has had a similar stamp since 1989. However, one of the tenets of the Universal Postal Unionmarker is having a single flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world, which is true for Britain (since 1995), but not the U.S.

Postage meters

PC postage

In addition to using standard stamps, postage can now be printed from a personal computer using a system called Information Based Indicia. Authorized providers of PC Postage are:

Endicia provides the technology that allows Click-N-Ship to print postage and Endicia licenses this technology to individual shippers through software applications. Through Pitney Bowes, PayPal account holders can print postage on the site and have the costs deducted from their PayPal account (with no surcharge) or a linked bank account. With either service, the sender may then drop off the parcel at a location accepting parcels or request pick-up at the address of origin.

Other electronic postage payment methods

Electronic Verification System (eVS) is the Postal Service's integrated mail management technology that centralizes payment processing and electronic postage reports. Part of an evolving suite of USPS electronic payment services called PostalOne! , eVS allows mailers shipping large volumes of parcels through the Postal Service a way to circumvent use of hard-copy manifests, postage statements and drop-shipment verification forms. Instead, mailers can pay postage automatically through a centralized account and track payments online.

Beginning August 2007, the Postal Service began requiring mailers shipping Parcel Select packages using a permit imprint to use eVS for manifesting their packages. Currently, the list of USPS "Approved eVS Mailers" includes:

Stamp copyright and reproduction

All U.S. postage stamps issued under the former United States Post Office Department and other postage items that were released before 1978 are not subject to copyright, but stamp designs since 1978 are copyrighted. Following the creation of the United States Postal Service, the United States Copyright Office in section 206.02(b) of the Compendium II: Copyright Office Practices holds that "Works of the U.S. Postal Service, as now constituted, are not considered U.S. Government works." Here, the U.S. Copyright Office has clarified that works of the U.S. Postal Service, of the government of the District of Columbiamarker, or of the government of Puerto Rico are not "works of the U.S. government" and thus are subject to copyright. Thus, postal service holds copyright to such materials released since 1978 under Title 17 of the United States Code. Written permission is required for use of copyrighted postage stamp images.

Service level choices

General domestic services

Domestic postage includes Monday through Saturday delivery (excepting federal holidays) to any address, Post Office Box, or general delivery Post Office in the United States, or any U.S. military mail destination.

The Post Office will not deliver packages heavier than 70 lbs. or if the two largest dimensions (length and width) are greater than 108 inches combined. Other carriers handle packages that do not meet these conditions. Mail sent at a level below First Class will not be forwarded or returned to sender, unless an additional fee is paid; "return service requested" may need to appear on the outside of the item. Deliveries outside the contiguous United States may take longer.

As of May 2007, domestic postage levels for low-volume mailers include:

  • Express Mail - "Overnight Guaranteed" to most locations
    • Sunday and holiday delivery available for additional charge
    • $100 insurance included
    • Flat rate envelope available. Otherwise, variable pricing by weight, size, and ZIP code.
  • Priority Mail - 2 or 3-day service (not guaranteed)
    • Flat rate envelope and boxes (various sizes) available. Otherwise, variable pricing by weight, size, and ZIP code.
  • First Class Mail
    • Fast service (2–3 days) for letters and small packages
    • Flat rate depending on size and weight
      • Cards (up to 5" x 3.5" x .007"): 28¢
      • Letters (up to 11.5" x 6.125" x .25", 3.5 oz.): 44¢ + 17¢ each add'l oz.
      • Large Envelope or Flat (up to 15" x 12" x .75", 13 oz.): 88¢ + 17¢ each add'l oz. Must be rectangular, uniformly thick, and not too rigid.
      • Package/Parcel (Up to 108" length + width, 13 oz): $1.13 + 17¢ each add'l oz.
  • Parcel Post
    • Slowest but cheapest service for packages - uses surface transport
    • 2-9-day service to contiguous U.S., 4–14 days internal to AK/HI/territories, 3–6 weeks between mainland and outlying areas (travels by ship)
    • Variable pricing by weight and ZIP code
    • Free forwarding if receipient has filed change-of-address form, or return if the item is undeliverable
  • Media Mail (formerly "Book Rate")
    • Books and recorded media only
    • No advertising
    • Flat rate pricing by weight only
    • Transit time similar to Parcel Post
    • Cheaper than Parcel Post but only due to increased restrictions on package contents.
  • Library Mail
    • Similar to Media Mail, but cheaper and restricted to academic institutions, public libraries, museums, etc.


Bulk mail

Discounts are available for large volumes of mail. Depending on the postage level, certain conditions might be required or optional for an additional discount:
  • Minimum number of pieces
  • Weight limits
  • Ability for the USPS to process by machine
  • Addresses formatting standardized
  • USPS-readable barcode
  • Sorted by 3-digit ZIP code prefix, 5-digit ZIP code, ZIP+4, or 11-digit delivery point
  • Delivered in trays, bundles, or pallets partitioned by destination
  • Delivered directly to a regional Bulk Mail Center, destination SCF, or destination Post Office
  • Certification of mailing list accuracy and freshness (e.g. correct ZIP codes, purging of stale addresses, processing of change-of-address notifications)


In addition to bulk discounts on Express, Priority, and First Class Mail, the following postage levels are available for bulk mailers:

  • Periodicals
  • Standard Mail (A)
    • Automation
    • Enhanced Carrier Route
    • Regular
  • Standard Mail (B)
    • Parcel Post
    • Bound Printed Matter - Cheaper than Media Mail, for advertising catalogs, phone books, etc. up to 15 lbs.
    • Special Standard Mail
    • Library Mail
    • Nonprofit


Add-on services

Depending on the type of mail, additional services are available for an additional fee:
  • Certificate of Mailing - Proof of the date a package was mailed.
  • Delivery Confirmation - Provides proof of delivery, but no signature is required.
  • Signature Confirmation - Delivery requires a signature, which is kept on file. The online tracking system displays the first initial and last name of the signatory.
  • Return Receipt - Actively sends Signature Confirmation information back to the sender by postcard or emailed PDF (as opposed to merely putting this information into the online tracking system).
  • Insurance against loss or damage, for the value of the goods mailed. Amount of coverage can be specified, up to $5000.
  • Certified Mail - Provides proof of mailing, and a delivery record. Used for serving legal documents and for sending U.S. Government classified information, up to the "confidential" level.
  • Restricted Delivery - Requires delivery to a specific person or their authorized agent, not just to a mailbox.
  • Collect On Delivery (C.O.D.) - Allows merchants to offer customers an option to pay upon delivery, up to $1000. Includes insurance.
  • Special Handling - For unusual items, like live animals.
  • Registered Mail - Used for highly valuable or irreplaceable items, and classified information up to the "secret" level. Registered mail is transported separately from other mail, in locked containers. Tracking is included and insurance up to $25,000 is available.


Postal money orders

Postal money orders provide a safe alternative to sending cash through the mail, and are available in any amount up to $1000. Money orders are cashable only by the recipient, just like a bank check. Unlike a personal bank check, they are pre-paid and therefore cannot bounce. Money orders are a declining business for the USPS, as companies like PayPal and PaidByCash and others are offering electronic replacements through the MasterCard and Visa systems.

From 1911 to 1966, the Postal Service also operated a savings program, not unlike a savings and loan with the amount of the deposit limited.

International services

Formerly, USPS International services were categorized as Airmail (Letter Post), Economy (Surface) Parcel Post, Airmail Parcel Post, Global Priority, Global Express, and Global Express Guaranteed Mail. In May 2007, USPS restructured international service names to correspond with domestic shipping options. Letter post is now First Class Mail International, Airmail Parcel Post was discontinued and replaced by Priority Mail International. Global Express is now Express Mail International. Global Express Guaranteed is unchanged, and Economy Parcel Post was discontinued for international service. The only mailing classes with a tracking ability are Express and Express Guaranteed. One of the major changes in the new naming and services definitions is that USPS-supplied mailing boxes for Priority and Express mail are now allowed for international use. Also, a Priority Mail International Flat-Rate has been introduced, with the same conditions of service previously used for Global Priority. These services are offered to ship letters and packages to almost every country and territory on the globe. Ironically, the USPS provides much of this service by contracting with a private parcel service, FedEx.

On May 14, 2007, the United States Postal Service canceled all outgoing international surface mail (sometimes known as "sea mail") from the United States, citing increased costs and reduced demand due to competition from airmail services such as FedEx and UPS. The decision has been criticized by the Peace Corps and military personnel overseas, as well as independent booksellers and other small businesses who rely on international deliveries.

Military mail is billed at domestic rates when being sent from the United States to a military outpost, and is free when sent by deployed military personnel. The overseas logistics are handled by the Military Postal Service Agency in the Department of Defense. Outside of forward areas and active operations, military mail First Class takes 7–10 days, Priority 10–15 days, and Parcel Post about 24 days.

Airline and rail division

The United States Postal Service does not directly own or operate any aircraft or trains. The mail and packages are flown on airlines with which the Postal Service has a contractual agreement. The contracts change periodically. Depending on the contract, aircraft may be painted with the USPS paint scheme. Contract airlines have included: Emery Worldwide, Ryan International Airlines, FedEx Express, Rhoades Aviation, American Airlines and Express One International. The Postal Service also contracts with Amtrak to carry some mail between certain cities such as Chicagomarker and Minneapolis-St. Paulmarker.

The last air delivery route in the continental U.S., to residents in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wildernessmarker, was scheduled to be ended in June 2009. The weekly bush plane route, contracted out to an air taxi company, had in its final year an annual cost of $46,000, or $2400/year per residence, over ten times the average cost of delivering mail to a residence in the United States. This decision has been reversed by the U.S. Postmaster General.

Sorting and delivery process



Processing of standard sized envelopes and cards is highly automated, including reading of handwritten addresses. Mail from individual customers and public postboxes is collected by mail carriers into plastic tubs. The tubs are taken to a Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC).There are approximately 275 such centers across the United States, which sort mail for a given region (typically a radius of around 200 miles) and connect with the national network for interregional mail.

At the P&DC, mail is emptied into hampers which are then automatically dumped into a Dual Pass Rough Cull System (DPRCS). As mail travels through the DPRCS, large items, such as packages and mail bundles, are removed from the stream. As the remaining mail enters the first machine for processing standard mail, the Advanced Facer-Canceler System (AFCS), pieces that passed through the DPRCS but do not conform to physical dimensions for processing in the AFCS (i.e. large envelopes or overstuffed standard envelopes) are automatically diverted from the stream. Mail removed from the DPRCS and AFCS is manually processed or sent to parcel sorting machines.

In contrast to the previous system, which merely canceled and postmarked the upper right corner of the envelope, thereby missing any stamps which were inappropriately placed, the AFCS locates indicia (stamp or metered postage mark), regardless of the orientation of the mail as it enters the machine, and cancels it by applying a postmark. Detection of indicia enables the AFCS to determine the orientation of each mailpiece and sort it accordingly, rotating pieces as necessary so all mail is sorted right-side up and faced in the same direction in each output bin. Mail is output by the machine into three categories: mail already affixed with a bar code and addressed (such as business reply envelopes and cards), mail with machine printed (typed) addresses, and mail with handwritten addresses. Additionally, machines with a recent Optical Character Recognition (OCR) upgrade have the capability to read the address information, including handwritten, and sort the mail based on local or outgoing ZIP codes.

Mail with typed addresses goes to a Multiline Optical Character Reader (MLOCR) which reads the ZIP Code and address information and prints the appropriate bar code onto the envelope. Mail (actually the scanned image of the mail) with handwritten addresses (and machine-printed ones that aren't easily recognized) goes to the Remote Bar Coding System. It also corrects spelling errors and, where there is an error, omission, or conflict in the written address, identifies the most likely correct address. When it has decided on a correct address, it prints the appropriate bar code onto the envelopes, similarly to the MLOCR system. RBCS also has facilities in place, called Remote Encoding Centers, that have humans look at images of mail pieces and enter the address data. The address data is associated with the image via an ID Tag, a fluorescent Barcode printed by mail processing equipment on the back of mail pieces.

If a customer has filed a change of address card and his or her mail is detected in the mailstream with the old address, the mailpiece is sent to a machine that automatically connects to a Computerized Forwarding System database to determine the new address. If this address is found, the machine will paste a label over the former address with the current address. The mail is returned to the mailstream to forward to the new location.

Mail with addresses that cannot be resolved by the automated system are separated for human intervention. If a local postal worker can read the address, he or she manually sorts it out according to the ZIP code on the article. If the address cannot be read, mail is either returned to the sender (first class mail with a valid return address) or is sent to one of three Mail Recovery Center in the United States (formerly known as Dead Letter Offices, originated by Benjamin Franklin in the 1770s ) where it receives more intense scrutiny, including being opened to determine if any of the contents are a clue. If no valid address can be determined, the items are held for 90 days in case of inquiry by the customer; and if they are not claimed then they are either destroyed or auctioned off at the annual Postal Service Unclaimed Parcel auction to raise money for the service.

Once the mail is bar coded, it is automatically sorted by a Delivery Bar Code System that reads the bar code and determines the destination of the mailpiece to postal stations.

Regional mail is trucked to the appropriate local post office or kept in the building for carrier routes served directly from the P&DC. Out-of-region mail is trucked to the airport and then flown, usually as baggage on commercial airlines, to the airport nearest the destination station. At the destination P&DC, mail is once again read by a Delivery Bar Code System which sorts the items into their local destinations, including grouping them by individual mail carrier.

At the carrier route level, 95% of letters arrive pre-sorted; the remaining mail must be sorted by hand. The Post Office is working to increase the percentage of automatically sorted mail, including a pilot program to sort "flats".

Types of postal facilities



Although its customer service centers are called post offices in regular speech, the USPS recognizes several types of postal facilities, including the following:
  • A main post office (formerly known as a general post office), which is the primary postal facility in a community.
  • A station or post office station, a postal facility that is not the main post office, but that is within the corporate limits of the community.
  • A branch or post office branch, a postal facility that is not the main post office and that is outside the corporate limits of the community.
  • A classified unit, a station or branch operated by USPS employees in a facility owned or leased by the USPS.
  • A contract postal unit (or CPU), a station or branch operated by a contractor, typically in a store or other place of business.
  • A community post office (or CPO), a contract postal unit providing services in a small community in which other types of post office facilities have been discontinued.
  • A finance unit, a station or branch that provides window services and accepts mail, but does not provide delivery.
  • A processing and distribution center (P&DC, or processing and distribution facility, formerly known as a General Mail Facility), a central mail facility that processes and dispatches incoming and outgoing mail to and from a designated service area. (275 nationwide.)
  • An international service center (ISC), an international mail processing facility. There are only five such USPS facilities in the United States, located in Chicago, New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • A sectional center facility , a P&DC for a designated geographical area defined by one or more three-digit ZIP code prefixes.
  • A bulk mail center (BMC), a central mail facility that processes bulk rate parcels as the hub in a hub and spoke network.
  • An auxiliary sorting facility (ASF), a central mail facility that processes bulk rate parcels as spokes in a hub and spoke network.
  • A remote encoding center (REC), a facility at which clerks receive images of problem mail pieces (those with hard-to-read addresses, etc.) via secure Internet-type feeds and manually type the addresses they can decipher, using a special encoding protocol. The mail pieces are then sprayed with the correct addresses or are sorted for further handling according to the instructions given via encoding. The total number of RECs is down from 55 in 1998 to just 5 centers in April 2009. In 2010, there will be just two remaining RECs open, in Salt Lake City, Utah and Wichita, Kansas. More closures will occur as computer software becomes more able to read most addresses, but a few centers are expected to remain open (see Evolutionary Network Development below).


While common usage refers to all types of postal facilities as "substations," the USPS Glossary of Postal Terms does not define or even list that word.

The USPS also operates Automated Postal Centers, which are unattended kiosks that are capable of weighing, franking, and storing packages for later pickup. Similarly, traditional vending machines are available at many post offices to purchase stamps. Due to increasing use of Internet services, as of June, 2009, no retail post office windows are open 24 hours; overnight services are limited to those provided by an Automated Postal Center.

There are approximately 36,000 post offices, stations, and branches in the USPS retail system. Temporary stations are also set up for applying pictorial cancellations.

Evolutionary Network Development (END) program

In February, 2006, the USPS announced that they plan to replace the nine existing facility-types with five processing facility-types:
  • Regional Distribution Centers (RDCs), which will process all classes of parcels and bundles and serve as Surface Transfer Centers;
  • Local Processing Centers (LPCs), which will process single-piece letters and flats and cancel mail;
  • Destination Processing Centers (DPC), sort the mail for individual mail carriers;
  • Airport Transfer Centers (ATCs), which will serve as transfer points only; and
  • Remote Encoding Centers (RECs).


Over a period of years, these facilities are expected to replace Processing & Distribution Centers, Customer Service Facilities, Bulk Mail Centers, Logistic and Distribution Centers, annexes, the Hub and Spoke Program, Air Mail Centers, and International Service Centers.

The changes are a result of the declining volumes of single-piece first-class mail, population shifts, the increase in drop shipments by advertising mailers at destinating postal facilities, advancements in equipment and technology, redundancies in the existing network, and the need for operational flexibility.

Final delivery



Delivery days

Until 1912, mail was delivered 7 days a week. As the postal service grew in popularity and usage in the 1800s, local religious leaders were noticing a decline in Sunday morning church attendance due to local post offices doubling as gathering places. These leaders appealed to the government to intervene and close post offices on Sundays.

As a result of this intervention by the government, U.S. Mail (with the exception of Express Mail) is not delivered on Sunday, with the exception of a few towns in which the local religion has had an effect on the policy; for example, Loma Linda, Californiamarker, which has a significant Seventh-day Adventist population. U.S. Mail is delivered Sunday through Friday, with the exception of observed federal holidays.

Saturday delivery was temporarily suspended in April 1957, due to lack of funds, but quickly restored. On January 28, 2009, Postmaster General John E. Potter testified before the Senate that if the Postal Service is not able to readjust their payment toward the pre-funding of retiree health benefits, as mandated by the Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act of 2006, the USPS would be forced to consider cutting delivery to five days per week during the summer months of June, July & August. However, the universal service obligation and six day delivery are upheld by Congressional language within Appropriations legislation, so a reduction in service would require action from the House and Senate.

On June 10, 2009, the NRLCA was contacted for its input on the USPS's current study of the impact of five-day delivery along with developing an implementation plan for a five-day service plan. A team of postal service headquarters executives and staff has been given a time frame of sixty days to complete the study. The current concept examines the impact of five-day delivery with no business or collections on Saturday, with Post Offices with current Saturday hours remaining open.

Direct delivery vs. customer pickup

Originally, mail was not delivered to homes and businesses, but to post offices. In 1863, "city delivery" began in urban areas with enough customers to make this economical. This required streets to be named, houses to be numbered, with sidewalks and lighting provided, and these street addresses to be added to envelopes. The number of routes served expanded over time. In 1891, the first experiments with Rural Free Delivery began in less densely populated areas.

To compensate for high mail volume and slow long-distance transportation which saw mail arrive at post offices throughout the day, deliveries were made multiple times a day. This ranged from twice for residential areas to up to seven times for the central business district of Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker. In the late 1800s, mail boxes were encouraged, saving carriers the time it took to deliver directly to the addressee in person; in the 1910s and 1920s, they were phased in as a requirement for service. In the 1940s, multiple daily deliveries began to be reduced, especially on Saturdays. By 1990, the last twice-daily deliveries in New York City were eliminated.

Today, mail is delivered once a day on-site to most private homes and businesses. The USPS still distinguishes between city delivery (where carriers generally walk and deliver to mailboxes hung on exterior walls or porches, or to commercial reception areas) and rural delivery (where carriers generally drive). With "curbside delivery", mailboxes are at the ends of driveways, on the nearest convenient road. "Central point delivery" is used in some locations, where several nearby residences share a "cluster" of individual mailboxes in a single housing.

Some customers choose to use post office boxes for an additional fee, for privacy or convenience. This provides a locked box at the post office to which mail is addressed and delivered (usually earlier in the day than home delivery). High-volume business customers can also arrange for special pick-up.

Another option is the old-style general delivery, for people who have neither post office boxes nor street addresses. Mail is held at the post office until they present identification and pick it up.

Some customers receive free post office boxes if the USPS declines to provide door-to-door delivery to their location or a nearby box. People with medical problems can request door-to-door delivery. Homeless people are also eligible for post office boxes at the discretion of the local postmaster, or can use general delivery.

Special Delivery

From 1885 to 2001, a service called special delivery was available, which caused a separate delivery to the final location earlier in the day than the usual daily rounds.

Forwarding and holds

Residential customers can fill out a form to forward mail to a new address, and can also send pre-printed forms to any of their frequent correspondents. They can also put their mail on "hold", for example, while on vacation. The Post Office will store mail during the hold, instead of letting it overflow in the mailbox. These services are not available to large buildings and customers of a commercial mail receiving agency, where mail is subsorted by non-Post Office employees into individual mailboxes.

Employment in the USPS

A Rural Letter Carrier from
The USPS employs more people than any company in the United States except Wal-Martmarker. It employed 790,000 personnel in 2003, divided into offices, processing centers, and actual post offices.

Labor unions representing USPS employees include the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), which represents city letter carriers, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA), which represents rural letter carriers, the National Postal Mail Handler's Union (NPMHU), which represents mail handlers, and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents clerks, maintenance employees, and motor vehicle service workers. While union membership is voluntary, city carriers are organized near 90% nationally.

USPS employees are divided into three major crafts according to the work they engage in:
  • Mail carriers, also referred to as mailmen or mail-carriers are divided into two categories: City carriers, who are represented by the NALC, and Rural Letter Carriers, who are represented by the NRLCA. City carriers are paid hourly with the potential for overtime. City Carriers are also subject to "undertime" on a daily basis. Undertime (extra work fit into your 8 hours) is a tool postal management uses to redistribute and eliminate overtime costs, often based on mail volume projections from the DOIS (Delivery Operations Information System) computer program. City Carrier routes are adjusted and/ or eliminated based on information (length, time, and overall workload) also controlled by this program - much to the chagrin of the city carrier union. Rural carriers are under a form of salary called “evaluated hours”, usually with overtime built in to their pay. The evaluated hours are created by having all mail counted for a period of two or four weeks, and a formula used to create the set dollar amount they will be paid for each day worked until the next time the route is counted.
  • Mail handlers and processors, who prepare mail and parcels for delivery.
  • Clerks, who directly handle customer needs and sort standard and bulk-rate mail. Data Conversion Operators, who encode address information at Remote Encoding Centers, are also members of the clerk craft.


Other non-managerial positions in the USPS include:
  • Maintenance and custodians, who see to the overall operation and cleaning of mail sorting machines, work areas, public parking and general facility operations.
  • Transitional employees (TEs), who are hired for terms up to one year or longer (with contract renewal), are given the same hourly base pay as a Part Time Flexible carrier, but receive no benefits. Transitional employees may be released at any time by the USPS and can be represented by the NALC.


Though the USPS employs many individuals, as more Americans send information via e-mail, fewer postal workers are needed to work dwindling amounts of mail. Post offices and mail facilities are constantly downsizing, replacing craft positions with new machines and consolidating mail routes. A major round of job cuts, early retirements, and a construction freeze were announced on March 20, 2009.

Environmental record

The United States Postal Service has been given the WasteWise Partner of the Year eight times. USPS is also the only shipping/ mailing company in the United States that has received the Cradle to CradleSM certification, which they received in 2007. In order to receive this certification, the company’s products undergo intense reviews in many areas including: the use of renewable energy and efficient water use during production, and strategies for social responsibility, among others.

The USPS is taking more than 500 old postal trucks off of the road and replacing them with newer, larger trucks, which will result in numerous benefits for the environment: (1) decreasing the amount of CO2 emissions by replacing the vintage vehicles with cleaner, more fuel efficient year 2000 vehicles, (2) the use of larger vehicles will reduce the number of miles that USPS vehicles travel. The average fuel economy of the Post Office fleet in 2008 was 10.30 miles per gallon.

In addition to this environmental initiative, the USPS recycles about 2 trillion pounds of plastic, paper, and other materials yearly.

Violence as "Going Postal"

In the early 1990s, widely publicized workplace shootings by disgruntled employees at USPS facilities led to a postal regulation that prohibits the possession of firearms in all postal facilities. Due to media coverage, postal employees gained a reputation among the general public as being mentally ill. The USPS Commission on a Safe and Secure Workplace found that "Postal workers are only a third as likely as those in the national workforce to be victims of homicide at work."

This stereotype in turn has influenced American culture, as seen in the slang term "going postal" (see Patrick Sherrill for information on his August 20, 1986, rampage) and the computer game Postal. Also, in the opening sequence of Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, a yell of "Disgruntled postal workers" is heard, followed by the arrival of postal workers with machine guns. In an episode of Seinfeld, the character Newman, who is a mailman, explained in a dramatic monologue that postal workers "go crazy and kill everyone" because the mail never stops. In The Simpsons episode Sunday, Cruddy Sunday, Nelson Muntz asks Postmaster Bill if has he "ever gone crazy and shot up the place", with a reply of, "The day of the disgruntled postman went out with the Macarena".

However, there have been over thirty acts of postal mass shootings, resulting in death, recorded and investigated by authorities since 1983. The last postal shooting incident occurred in 2006.

In fiction

  • In the 1947 classic film, Miracle on 34th Street, the identity of Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn) as the one and only "Santa Claus" was validated by a state court, based on the delivery of 21 bags of mail (famously carried into the courtroom) to the character in question. The contention was that it would have been illegal for the United States Post Office to deliver mail that was addressed to "Santa Claus" to the character "Kris Kringle" unless he was, in fact, the one and only Santa Claus. Judge Henry X. Harper (played by Gene Lockhart) ruled that since the US Government had demonstrated through the delivery of the bags of mail that Kris Kringle was Santa Claus, the State of New York did not have the authority to overrule that decision.
  • In the TV series Seinfeld, Newman is an employee at the USPS, which is portrayed in the series as a powerful, nefarious organization. He claims that ZIP codes are meaningless; no mail carrier has successfully delivered more than 50% of their mail (a feat he compares to the 3-minute mile); and that several postal workers go on killing sprees because, as he puts it, "the mail never stops." In one episode, Cosmo Kramer is abducted by Post Office security men for running an anti-mail campaign after he realizes the Postal Service has become obsolete.
  • The TV series Cheers featured John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin, a USPS worker and a regular in the bar. Ratzenberger, along with the rest of the show's cast, appears in an induction video for U.S. Postal Services staff.
  • Charles Bukowski published a novel in 1971 about his decade-long employment as a postal worker in Los Angeles. Though it is couched as a "novel," his book "Post Office" is, like all of his fiction and verse, written almost entirely from his own experiences. It does for the Post Office what Ben Hamper did for the automobile industry in his book "Rivethead", offering a behind the scenes glimpse of life on the line.


See also



References

Specific references:
  1. http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/08/news/economy/postal_service/index.htm
  2. Presidential Succession Act of 1947, 3 U.S.C. Section 19
  3. delivery.http://www.classbrain.com/artteenst/publish/article_130.shtml
  4. U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, The Post Office Flies The Mail http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Government_Role/1918-1924/POL3.htm
  5. Dolan v. United States Postal Service, .
  6. United States Postal Serv. v. Flamingo Indus. (USA) Ltd., .
  7. United States Postal Serv. v. Greenburgh Civic Ass'ns, .
  8. http://www.usps.com/strategicplanning/cs08/chpt2_pg10.htm
  9. Geddes, Rick. "Do Vital Economists Reach a Policy Conclusion on Postal Reform?" (April 2004). [1]
  10. Neither Snow nor Sleet... Can Dampen This Monopoly Rick Geddes from the Hoover Institution talks about rural subsidies
  11. Postal Service to renew Idaho backcountry mail route Alyson Outen, KTVB-TV, April 10, 2009
  12. Idaho delegation gets reversal on backcountry mail delivery decision
  13. http://www.usps.com/postallaw/universalpostalservice.htm
  14. Telegraph
  15. V-Mail
  16. ECOM
  17. http://www.usps.com/strategicplanning/vision2013.htm
  18. Government Performance and Results Act 0f 1993, P.L. 103-62, ([2])
  19. A Customer's Guide to Mailing
  20. USPS list of abbreviations
  21. USPS postal addressing standards
  22. http://www.usps.com/all/postagepayoptions/welcome.htm
  23. http://www.usps.com/send/postagepermitimprintsandmeters/precancelledstamps.htm
  24. Postal Rates Set to Go Up on May 14. March 20, 2007.
  25. New Prices Coming May 12, 2008
  26. Advanced Preparation and Special Postage Payment Systems - Manifest Mailing System - Electronic Verification System
  27. USPS Memo To Mailers - August 2006 "Making It E-Easy For High-Volume Shippers"
  28. Approved USPS eVS Mailers
  29. Mail$ALL USPS FAQ - Domestic Classes of Mail Estimated Delivery Time
  30. http://www.usps.com/all/insuranceandextraservices/welcome.htm?from=household&page=insuranceandextras
  31. Executive Order No. 10501
  32. http://www.usps.com/send/waystosendmail/extraservices/registeredmailservice.htm
  33. USPS - Domestic Money Orders
  34. http://www.usps.com/postalhistory/_pdf/PostalSavingsSystem.pdf
  35. USPS International Mail Manual, Issue 35
  36. USPS - First Class Mail International
  37. USPS press release, 8 June 2004, Release No. 40, FEDEX TO DELIVER PREMIUM POSTAL INT'L SERVICE, retrieved 10 October 2007
  38. USPS International Mail - Frequently Asked Questions, retrieved 10 October 2007
  39. USPS FAQ - Mailing to military personnel
  40. Air mail route grounded for Central Idaho backcountry, an April 2009 article from The Idaho Statesman
  41. Idaho delegation gets reversal on backcountry mail delivery decision, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Representative Walt Minnick press release, May 7, 2009
  42. http://www.allbusiness.com/marketing/direct-marketing-direct-mail/316648-1.html
  43. http://www.usps.com/strategicplanning/cs08/chpt4_pg46.htm
  44. Glossary of Postal Terms
  45. http://www.usps.com/alternateaccess/selfserve.htm
  46. Chicago's 24-Hour Postal Service Comes To An End by Cheryl Corley. All Things Considered, National Public Radio. 5 June 2009.
  47. http://www.usps.com/strategicplanning/cs08/chpt4_pg38.htm
  48. http://www.lunewsviews.com/consolidations.htm
  49. About.com, "Sunday Mail Service in a Christian Nation", Austin Cline, 19 February 2006, retrieved 10 October 2007
  50. "The United States Postal Service: An American History 1775 – 2006".
  51. USPS - Express Mail Delivery Chart, retrieved 10 October 2007
  52. http://www.historyorb.com/events/april/13 and http://www.historyorb.com/events/april/15
  53. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/federal-diary/2009/01/postmaster_proposes_a_cutback.html
  54. City Delivery
  55. Deliveries per Day
  56. USPS - Home Delivery
  57. USPS FAQ - Caller Service, multiple pickups for a fee
  58. USPS FAQ - Firm Holdout Service, free pickup once a day
  59. USPS FAQ - Do I qualify for free box service?
  60. USPS FAQ - Hardship / Medical Problems
  61. USPS FAQ - Mail service available for the homeless
  62. USPS FAQ - Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA)
  63. http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/20/post.office.cuts/index.html
  64. http://inventorspot.com/articles/the_postal_service_goes_greener_12792 Iventorspot Retrieved May 12, 2008
  65. http://www.bell-inc.com/about/news_detail.lasso?id=44 Bell Incorporated Retrieved May 12, 2008
  66. http://www.epa.gov/ProjectXL/usps/ EPA Retrieved May 13, 2008
  67. http://www.usps.com/strategicplanning/cs08/chpt4_pg44.htm
  68. USPS Commission on a Safe and Secure Workplace, 31 January 2006, retrieved 10 October 2007


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