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Industry Alert from ACMA
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November 8, 2010

Industry Alert: USPS Petitions Court to Expedite Appeal of Exigency Rate Case
Dear Catalogers, Suppliers & Others With Catalog Interests:

As we anticipated, on Nov. 3, the USPS asked the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit to expedite its consideration of the USPS appeal of the decision in the exigency postal rate case. This is the latest development of what initially started as an expected 12%+ increase in catalog postage rates.
In sum, here is the USPS’s requested schedule for the appeal, which we understand the PRC did not object to and the Court has already approved:

    * The Postal Service’s opening brief and joint appendix will be due Nov. 23, 2010.
    * Briefs of intervenor(s) aligned with the Postal Service, if any, will be due that same day.
    * The PRC’s response brief will be due Jan. 14, 2011.
    * Briefs of intervenor(s) aligned with the PRC, if any, will be due that same day.
    * The Postal Service’s reply brief will be due Jan. 28, 2011.
    * The parties also stipulate that no motions for extensions of time will be filed by any party.

Resolving this matter quickly is in everyone’s interest, as the USPS notes in its filing:
The injury caused by delay in this case is manifest: Until it is finally resolved whether and to what extent the Postal Service may raise prices in response to the volume decline, the Postal Service, Congress, and others will not have a clear picture of the Postal Service’s financial predicament. Therefore, they will not be able to plan effectively to determine what measures will have to be implemented before the Postal Service becomes unable to meet its financial obligations on Sept. 30, 2011.

Approximately 11 months remain in which the Postal Service and the political branches can decide how to address this looming financial crisis. To do so rationally and efficiently, they need to know whether the proposed price increase will be permitted under the safety valve that existing law is supposed to provide. If the Postal Service is forced to assume a worst-case scenario in which no price increase will be permitted, it will have to evaluate which expenditures will be reduced or eliminated, even though the largest expenses are legally or contractually fixed amounts. Additionally, commercial mailers may be inhibited in planning their budgets and mailings for 2011 if there is uncertainty about prices or the Postal Service’s ability to maintain its delivery standards beyond September 2011.
As mentioned previously, ACMA has been monitoring this closely. We will file a brief in support of the PRC decision, joining with others as the court requires. We expect most participants of the Affordable Mail Alliance, the ad hoc organization that had much to do with the Postal Rate Commission’s rejection of the case, will again step up to address this challenge.
P.S. to ACMA members: We will be updating our forecast on what to budget for postage for 2011 shortly. Please look for information later this week.
Hamilton Davison
President & Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association
Direct: 401-529-8183    

Published: 11/08/11