Postal Updates

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

USPS modifies stamp selection criteria

February 07, 2014 08:14 AM

The stamp subject selection criteria used by the United States Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee has been slightly modified to include a call for stamps that reflect the nation’s diversity.

The 12 criteria that were used by the committee were reduced to 11 in the latest version, which was placed on the USPS website in late January without any public announcement.

The criteria from the website is shown in the box on page 18.

The criteria’s biggest change came previously after Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe dropped his plan to consider stamps honoring living individuals.

That idea was vetoed by the Postal Service board of governors in closed meetings almost a year after Donahoe had proposed it in September 2011 as a way of reinvigorating the stamp program.

The newest version also avoids any mention of living people being placed on U.S. stamps or how long an individual must be dead before they can be placed on a U.S. stamp.

“A balance of stamp subjects includes timely, relevant and contemporary subjects that reflect the nation’s diverse population,” the new criteria says.

“Themes of widespread national appeal and significance that showcase our nation’s inclusiveness, events and persons will be considered for commemoration,” it says.

Susan McGowan, executive director of Stamp Services, told Linn’s that the new criteria are largely a rewrite of the previous version.

Diversity is “definitely a goal” of the stamp program, she said. But there “always has been language” in the criteria to stress the inclusiveness of the program.

The newest version of the criteria drops the reference that stamp subjects will not be considered for 50 years after a subject has been honored, she noted.

This should give CSAC the latitude to consider stamp ideas as merited, she said.

McGowan also said that the new criteria adds the Coast Guard to the military services that may be honored. They also drop a reference to individual military units not being honored.

The criteria retain the idea that American subjects and themes are given priority.

“Other subjects can be considered if the subject had significant impact on American history or culture,” states the first criterion.

The criteria are posted on the USPS website along with the names of the current 11 members of CSAC. The site notes that a “maximum” of 15 members is allowed on the panel.

McGowan said postal management is “very committed” to four meetings a year of the CSAC.

“And that is not going to change in the near future,” she said.

The frequency of meetings was an issue that was raised after the CSAC walked out of a September meeting, unhappy with the role stamp management was allowing the panel.

The committee has resumed operations under its new chair, Janet Klug, and will continue to operate with design and subject subcommittees, McGowan said.

“What we are really focused on is moving ahead,” she said.

McGowan said the new rules were issued to help keep the American public aware of the stamp selection program.

“People are savvy about the process,” she said, noting that they realize the need to send proposals “to us years in advance.”

The 2014 program is fixed, she said, but the public can still submit ideas for 2016 and “certainly 2017,” she said.