U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Postal Innovation Act this week. The bill allows U.S. Postal Service to implement pilot programs for non-postal services in five cities. According to Booker’s statement, the non-postal services include public wireless broadband Internet access, experimental postal products marketing testing, beer and wine shipment, warehousing, and Internet voting. The shipping of alcohol has been banned from the USPS since 1909.
This new development is on the heels of a pilot program already in place in Chicagoland area. In February, IWLA President & CEO Steve DeHaan sat down with representatives from the USPS to educate them on third-party warehousing and e-commerce activities. The legality of this program under current law is questionable.
Two bills in the house and the senate were aimed at lifting the restriction on non-postal services given that these initiatives met certain criteria or had limited disruption on small businesses. Both have stalled but are expected to continue in the future.
Booker’s bill focuses on upgrading the postal vehicle fleets with reduction of collision, maintenance, fuel, and other cost savings enhancements. In his statement Booker says: “At a time when budgets are tight, it is in our best interest to find creative ways to make prudent investments that improve safety, reduce the carbon footprint of postal vehicles, and save taxpayers money. The Postal Innovation Act will help the Postal Service identify efficient and innovative technologies to better serve Americans.”
IWLA has maintained its position that USPS must compete on a level playing field if it is to take on non-postal services. More to come.