By Jessica Dauer Lowrance
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2017: THE YEAR AHEAD
There was an air of uncertainty as we kicked off the new year, but here’s our best guess as to what 2017 holds for the postal industry.
t the end of 2015, I wrote an article that was an attempt to help the postal industry plan for what would be in store for 2016. One year later, I am attempting the same feat as I look into a very cloudy postal crystal ball. Many of the same challenges we faced last year still exist today. If you were to ask any member of the postal community what was on his or her wish list for 2017, I believe it would be the same three things that were on the 2016 wish list. The first would be postal reform, which, to date, has not happened since 2006, even though a tentative deal was made between some of the major stakeholders in the industry. The second would be consistent, predictable delivery of postal products. Most of the industry would tell you that predictability trumps speed every time. It does not matter how fast 28
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or slow something was delivered, but was it on time? The third and final wish would be predictable, stable price changes. This last wish is the hardest to grant in 2017 with the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) 10year review of the system of regulating rates and classes for market dominant products. So what does 2017 hold in store for the postal industry? Even in face of the all the uncertainties, three things are evident: 1. A new president has been elected. There will be new leadership and committee members within key Senate and House committees. Education efforts for these new members will need to take place in order for any postal reforms to occur. 2. The PRC will have to determine whether or not the current system of regulating rates and classes for Market Dominant products is sufficient or if changes are needed on how the Postal Service sets it prices.
3. Individuals and businesses will continue to use postal services for business communication and commerce. Postal products will continue to be delivered to the best of the Postal Service’s ability. Although the challenges we face in the first part of 2017 are no different than 2016, the postal industry must not lose focus. With so many changes happening so quickly, it will be way too easy to get caught up with one issue and let others slip by. Resource constraints plague every company, and most of the time, it is hard to see past the immediate issues. I often have joked with PostCom members that for the past year, I’ve felt like a firefighter that was constantly working to put out the many postal fires around me. Every issue demanded immediate attention and focus, so any strategic thinking or planning was put on hold while I dealt with each fire. Throughout all of last year, I learned that joining forces with other postal stakeholders gave greater credence to my cause. The more groups that felt the same way, the greater the voice and breadth the issue took. More got done in educating the Postal Service, Congress, and the PRC in 2016 than any other year.