USPS ’education effort’ for financial freedom irks UPS

WASHINGTON, DC: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has no defense against a federal law preventing it from lobbying, but it’s using some ingenious methods to get round this.

WASHINGTON, DC: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has no defense against a federal law preventing it from lobbying, but it’s using some ingenious methods to get round this.

WASHINGTON, DC: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has no

defense against a federal law preventing it from lobbying, but it’s

using some ingenious methods to get round this.



The USPS is involved in a rancorous debate with the United Parcel

Service (UPS), which is using PR to deliver a message to the House

Government Reform Committee that the USPS should not have its powers

expanded.



The focus of the debate is a bill sponsored by Rep. John McHugh which

will grant the USPS the authority to regularly change its postal rates

and to create a private corporation that can sell non-postal

products.



UPS has expressed concern that the USPS’s potential revenue from such

sources will be used to reduce costs for services that compete directly

with those offered by UPS.



But UPS is also claiming that the USPS has overstepped its lobbying

prohibition by preparing talking points that refute the charges made by

its critics, and which urge officials to monitor activities in state

legislatures.



These points were disseminated in a memorandum by USPS’ senior VP for

government relations Deborah Wilhite and COO/executive VP Clarence

Lewis, which urged postal executives to run an ’education effort’ to

prevent state legislatures from passing resolutions that limit the

organization’s financial freedom.



Norm Scherstrom, a USPS spokesperson in Washington, said the actions by

its managers are ’being taken as part of an educational campaign,’ he

claimed. ’Our employees are de facto spokespeople for the USPS, so we

are continually educating and sharing information with them.’



In its skirmish against the USPS, the UPS has been getting a PR boost

from Bethesda, MD-based Kaufman Public Relations. Kaufman, working with

a graphics firm, created a CD-ROM that was sent to every member of

Congress.



UPS’ PR director Tad Segal is carrying a large part of the

communications burden. By his estimation, he has participated in at

least 25 editorial board meetings and a series of talk shows. ’The

postal service has all the advantages of a governmental agency with none

of the responsibilities of a private sector company,’ he said.



USPS has countered by noting that the organization must provide

universal service and answer to the Postal Rate Commission.



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