Who leaked CSAC working list of U.S. stamp subjects?

By Charles Snee

Last week, we reported that The Washington Post had obtained a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee working list of United States stamp subjects for the years 2014-16 and beyond.

The Post published the list online Feb. 20, and our initial take on the list appeared on Linns.com that same day.

On Feb. 21, we published on Linns.com Linn’s senior editor Jay Bigalke’s extensive report on the contents of the list. That story then appeared in the print edition of the March 10 Linn’s, which went live on Linns.com Feb. 24.

Up to this point, however, we’ve been unable to answer a central question: Who leaked the list to the Post in the first place?

The deliberations of the CSAC, both oral and written, are not for public consumption. This allows the committee to function without pressure from individuals and groups who might want to influence its decisions.

But no organization is absolutely secure from communication breaches, and sometimes a tantalizing tidbit or two gets out.

The Feb. 20 Post story by Lisa Rein prominently mentions USPS executive director for stamp services Susan McGowan, who “said the new emphasis on pop-culture was a decision ‘we hope will bring new eyeballs’ to the stamp program and ‘keep the American public engaged.’”

McGowan’s upbeat remarks suggest that the Postal Service might have intentionally leaked the list to the Post as a smart marketing effort: to test the waters on the popularity of future issues and to gauge collectors’ and public opinion. If so, that’s creative thinking.

Another possibility is that the leak was internal, but outside USPS management circles.

A source familiar with internal CSAC deliberations tells me that while the source of the leak is uncertain, if it was internal the leaker was certain to have a motive for doing so.

“I don’t know who leaked the list,” the source said. “It could be someone internal to the Postal Service, but not necessarily a member of stamp services.

“There are motives behind any leak. If it is internal, who’s benefitting from the leak? Was the leak meant to embarrass or get back at someone?”

From where I sit, the Postal Service and stamp collecting are certainly benefitting from the leak, because a major national paper brought attention to the nation’s stamp program. And curiosity about upcoming subjects might give rise to some new collectors.

It’s harder to see how this particular leak might be seen as a form of retribution or embarrassment.

Leaks and their sources aside, the list is now public knowledge, which means that some of the wind in the Postal Service’s advance publicity sails has been knocked out for the next several years.

On the other hand, it’s a near certainty that there will be some surprise issues in the coming years that did not find their way onto the list. Time will tell.
Linn’s, Scott have a Facebook page

At long last, Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott catalogs have a dedicated page on Facebook.

To find it, point your web browser to: www.facebook.com/linnsstampnews.

You will want to check the page regularly, because we will be posting breaking news there, as well as on Linns.com. There also will be updates from the Scott editors regarding their preparation of the 2015 Scott catalogs.

Vol. 1 of the 2015 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue is scheduled to go on sale March 31.

The launch of the Facebook page occurred in mid-February. As of Feb. 28, the page had received 500 “likes.” We trust that when you visit the page for the first time, you will add your name to the growing “likes” list.

And don’t forget to share the page with your Facebook friends, as well.