By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Every four years, the United States Postal Service counts on a surge of political mailings to fill its mailbags.
This year expectations are high, with postal officials hoping for as much as $1 billion in added revenue, more than double the level of 2012 political mailings.
But the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General is throwing cold water on those estimates, saying that some mailers are so upset with how slow the mail has become that they are questioning the value of political mail.
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The inspector general noted that its surveys have found issues with the flow of mail as a result of plant consolidations, and that those problems are raising issues with the people who would be using the mail in the fall elections.
Fully three-quarters of the mailers with whom the inspector general checked voiced those concerns, according to the report titled “Political Mail Strategy.”
The word one mailer used to describe current mail conditions was “abysmal.”
“The equipment is old ...,” the official said, and added unfavorable comments about postal employees.
And this is from a company that delivers four truckloads of mail a day to the USPS.
What was surprising about the latest inspector general report was that Cliff Rucker, the Postal Service’s vice president for sales, agreed “there is a risk to revenue if operational issues are not addressed.”
Rucker noted that the USPS has created a “political mail strike team” to deal with the issues.
“We recognize that operational issues, if or when they occur, could create barriers to customers considering or planning on using political mail,” he said.
“We believe the Postal Service, especially operations and delivery, well understand the importance and impact of political mail not only to the revenue stream, but to the Postal Service brand.”
The report suggested that the amount of revenue at risk this year may be $38 million, a relative small number for an agency that deals in budgets in the billions.
But with the Postal Service facing a $2 billion revenue loss this year from the end of emergency postal rate surcharges, the loss of even a small portion of once dependable mail is hardly welcome news.