Federal Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services
(2:00 - 5:00, 19 October 2010, American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.)
Committee members in attendance
U.S. Department of State officials in attendance
I. Welcoming Remarks
Opening this meeting, Nerissa Cook, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the Department of State, welcomed the Advisory Committee members and the public. She proceeded by explaining the logistics for the meeting and thanked those who contributed to preparations for the meeting. Ms. Cook introduced the items on the agenda for committee discussion before turning the microphone over to the first speaker. She acknowledged the candidacies of Mr. Bishar Hussein of Kenya and Ms. Serrana Bassini of Uruguay for Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), as well as that of Mr. Pascal Clivaz of the UPU International Bureau and Mr. Dennis Delehanty of the State Department for Deputy Director General of the UPU. The elections for these positions are to be held at the next UPU Congress in Doha in September-October 2012.
Julie Connor, Director of the Office of Global Systems, Deputy Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook, and Dennis Delehanty – all of the Department of State – leading the Advisory Committee meeting.
II. Briefing on the Results of the Work of the UPU Councils from April 2010, including Nairobi UPU Strategy Conference
Before starting his presentation, Dennis Delehanty thanked the members for the round of applause on his nomination for the position of Deputy Director General for the UPU. In a presentation on the results of the April 2010 session of the Postal Operations Council and associated Council of Administration working group meetings, Mr. Delehanty highlighted the following issues:
Jim Campbell emphasized that during the Nairobi Strategy Conference, member countries expressed the need for postal operators to diversify. He suggested that in future presentations of this nature for the Advisory Committee, Mr. Delehanty could boil the all the UPU issues over the last six months down to five or six points for examination by the Advisory Committee. Charles Prescott agreed that diversification within the postal sector was needed and that sustainability should also be considered, along with retraining employees for the changing postal environment. In Nairobi, Mr. Prescott was surprised to hear only one criticism of a work group within the UPU Consultative Committee, which he chairs. He commented on the work that Consultative Committee Work Group 3 was undertaking on global addresses as well as a presentation given in Nairobi that was entitled, “Addressing the World - an Address for Everyone,” which in part described a UN project on addressing in which 12 UN agencies are participating. The goal of the project is to ensure an address for all worldwide by 2020. Following up on the Nairobi Conference topic, Mr. Delehanty said that he was highly impressed by the presentations given, but disappointed with the format of the Conference, which called upon participants to ask questions of the speakers related to the content of their presentations, but not to express their views more generally about the items under discussion. Consequently, attendees to the conference were not able to hear what direction the member countries thought the UPU should go in on major issues, because of the lack of time for discussion.
Advisory Committee members in discussion.
Steve Lopez inquired of Mr. Delehanty about the views of the United States and the U.S. Postal Service regarding the .post top-level domain. Lea Emerson commented that the USPS considers that the .post top-level domain will be highly beneficial for future development of eServices in broad terms. Mr. Lopez proposed that the State Department or the United States should consider the development of eServices technology. He noted that Poste Italiane is in the process of trying to create infrastructure, technology and an identification system for electronic commerce. Fraud and precise identification technologies are a major concern to Mr. Lopez. Mr. Prescott stated that there is an antitrust and market access issue in regard to the availability of .post to non-postal and other sector players. Mr. Delehanty noted that the State Department is monitoring UPU resolutions and decision on .post to ensure that .post is available to all players. In this regard, Ken John of the U.S. Government Accountability Office asked whether the U.S. Government had adopted a policy regarding .post. Lea Emerson acknowledged all products and services must be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission before they are offered by USPS. USPS managers know their customers are on-line, and the USPS is working on products and services in the digital space. The Postal Operations Council discussed and approved a draft UPU .post Domain Management Policy which will be reviewed by the Council of Administration so that all players may have an opportunity to comment on the policy.
Brad Smith asked for clarification on Mr. Delehanty’s presentation. He referred to page four concerning the PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey on new market players. Mr. Smith thought that the results could be understood that 80% of the respondents would support expansion of postal financial services by the UPU. Mr. Delehanty understood the replies to mean that 80% of the respondents believe that the UPU contributes to the development of the electronic postal payment network. In follow-up statement, Mr. Lopez noted the difference between the “Postal Payment Network” and “Financial Services.” Mr. Delehanty opined that the slide’s wording was an attempt to simplify the text, but he would nevertheless correct the slide. Mr. Lopez wanted to make sure that the survey was limited to payments. Nancy Sparks commented that during the Nairobi Strategy Conference, member countries expressed their interest in greater involvement in financial services, but are generally only allowed to offer postal payment services.
In regard to suggestion to propose removal of password protection of UPU documents on the UPU website, Ms. Sparks pointed out that a distinction needs to be made between commercial and governmental documents. Mr. Delehanty noted that the United States would again raise the issue of password protection of online UPU documents at the forthcoming Council of Administration session within the Reform of the Union Project Group.
Charles Prescott, Chairman of the UPU Consultative Committee, briefs Advisory Committee members on the results
of the September 2010 UPU Strategy Conference in Nairobi.
Ms. Connor commented on the Canadian medium letter postal rate. A draft resolution on this subject was submitted by Canada, which was adopted by the Postal Operations Council plenary following the failure of an effort to reopen debate on the issue raised by the United States. She noted that the approval of this decision would increase the rates for terminal dues that other countries – including the United States – pay to Canada.
III. Review of the Work of the UPU Human Resources Reflection Group
Mr. Delehanty shared with Advisory Committee members the agenda for the Reflection Group’s forthcoming meeting on November 5 in Berne. The Reflection Group was formed following a suggestion by the U.S. delegation to address personnel issues at the UPU and, in a large measure, to address a lack of clarity in the roles and responsibilities of the Council of Administration and the International Bureau regarding these issues. The work of the Group has been allotted to teams. Team 1 is handling appointments, recruitments, and processes for hiring; Team 2 is working on issues such as ethics, performance evaluation, whistle-blower protection, and core/non-core positions; while Team 3 is focused on the organization of the International Bureau and the UPU’s human resources policies and practices.
IV. Report of Work Group 3: Changing Global Market for International Postal and Delivery Services
Nerissa Cook introduced the presenters of the report of Work Group 3, co-chairs Don Soifer and Jody Berenblatt, who described the content of a document that the Work Group offers as draft U.S. Government position towards the UPU. The draft position appears in document 4 of this Advisory Committee meeting, which is published at the following link: www.state.gov/p/io/ipp/149569.htm. Mr. Campbell provided further details on several points raised in the draft position, and suggested that the draft position might not be popular within the UPU as it is focused around U.S. policy and law. One comment made was that that the draft position might not be clear enough to suggest the mission of the UPU is to help their members make the transition to a more globalized world.
Nancy Sparks, Managing Director of Regulatory Affairs for Fedex Express, addresses Advisory Committee members.
Mr. Prescott stated that at the last UPU Congress there was a proposal to amend the mission statement of the UPU to include economic and business development, as well as promotion of trade. He asked about the position of Work Group 3 on that proposal. In reply to this question, it was stated that that proposal would have expanded the governmental mission and the scope of the UPU, which Work Group 3 would oppose. The Work Group 3 position is that the governmental role of the UPU should be separated from the operational role of the organization. Ms. Sparks added that the words added to the mission statement in the proposal at the 2008 Geneva Congress were to “facilitate trade.” Mr. Lopez commented that it would be dangerous if the UPU were to have written documentation stating it has the ability to facilitate trade. He wondered if the UPU secretariat would keep pushing for a change in the UPU mission until it obtained enough votes. Ms. Sparks does not believe the document suggests forming a trade association; rather, the United States Government should be thinking about how the governmental portion of the UPU should operate. She believes the United States is trying to identify the tasks that the UPU presently does as far as what is governmental and what is commercial.
Michael Coughlin expressed that the talk about expanding or supporting trade is an attempt to expand the role of the International Bureau. He understood that at the Nairobi Conference there was an emphasis on diversification, not trade. Mr. Campbell agreed with Mr. Coughlin. Brad Smith suggested that the intent of Work Group 3 was to help develop proactive guidance from the U.S. Government and clarity on what the Advisory Committee would expect the U.S. Government to try to achieve, strategically and tactically, at the next UPU Congress. He felt that this document meets that objective. Mr. Prescott asked Work Group 3 about the purpose of the document. If it is going to be official U.S. policy, he would have some concerns and comments on the revisions. In this context, Mr. Delehanty reiterated the purpose of the Advisory Committee was to provide advice to the U.S. Government regarding international postal and delivery services.
Jim Conway felt the document presented by Work Group 3 is reflective of industry views. Mr. Campbell asked to bring discussion of this document (the draft U.S. position) to a close. Ms. Cook agreed and suggested they take one more round of comments. Ms. Sparks asked that the document be presented along with comments added to the record in writing. Brad Smith seconded that proposal. Ms. Cook asked that written suggestions for changes be sent to the State Department and the co-chairs of Work Group 3. Mr. Soifer agreed with Ms. Cook’s proposal. Ms. Berenblatt asked for a timeline for comments. Ms. Cook stated there will be one week to turn in comments. Lea Emerson asked for a copy of the changes made to the revised document. She felt that the U.S. position should represent the principles of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and pointed out that it would be wise to amend the current structure of the UPU, rather than transplanting U.S. law into UPU documents.
V. Contributions by Members of the Public: Addressing the World – An Address for Everyone
Nerissa Cook introduced Merry Law, President of WorldVu LLC, who gave a presentation on “Addressing the World - An Address for Everyone.” In the presentation, Ms. Law stressed the need for businesses to have correct addresses worldwide and the billions of dollars of wasted resources that are caused by bad or undeliverable addresses. Ms. Law suggested that it is in the best interest of U.S. businesses and the State Department to back the fair access for databases in all countries. Juan Ianni commented that there were two different issues at play: first, address management; second, issues of access and sharing of these address databases. Mr. Prescott stated that during a Global Address Summit in Bern last spring, attendees were presented with the business aspect of addresses and the challenges and costs faced when addresses are missing or incorrect. Mr. Prescott believes this is a fundamental operational issue that is in the best interest of the Unites States to support within the UPU.
Jim Campbell posited that if the United States is going to consider an initiative on addressing, the implications of the European Postal Directive Article 11A needs to be considered as well as the experience of other countries in regard to addressing. Ms. Berenblatt supported Ms. Law’s proposal, but in response to Mr. Campbell’s comments felt that the United States needs to deal with its own domestic address data and support the development of addressing systems elsewhere. In response, Mr. Campbell stated he was not trying to solve the entire problem, but rather that it might be worthwhile to look at other ideas.
Mr. Delehanty inquired whether the UPU has collected or has a compendium of policies or laws related to addresses, and if not, whether such a compendium would be a good place to start to determine the laws that UPU member countries may have regarding addressing. To the best of Ms. Law’s knowledge, this information does not exist in any public document. There are private companies engaged in address database work, but they do not readily share information because the data is competitive. Ms. Law agrees that there are a lot of issues regarding the UPU’s role in addressing, including privacy and security concerns, but looking into policies would be a good starting point.
Mr. Prescott reiterated the cost and resources involved when addresses are bad or undeliverable and brought up receiver-paid mail. When the package is not delivered, payment is not received. Mr. Prescott feels this is a good discussion to have, but there are several questions regarding addressing that need to be answered yet.
VI. Benchmarking the U.S. Strategic Plan for the UPU
Mr. Delehanty opened his presentation by stating that the Advisory Committee had asked the State Department, in collaboration with the other stakeholder U.S. Government agencies, to present information on attainment of the goals in the U.S. Strategic Plan for the UPU. He went over his presentation highlighting the goals obtained and the status of goals not yet achieved. Ms. Berenblatt suggested that documentation be retained showing the reason for the goals. Mr. Campbell noted that a petition was filed with the State Department to look into the ETOE issue, which is not in harmony with what the Advisory Committee is recommending. If enacted, he would like the recommendation to be revisited. Mr. Delehanty stated that this subject would be revisited. Mr. Campbell asked whether there is a timetable associated with achievement of the goals in the Plan. Mr. Delehanty replied that the document just describes what has been obtained under the Strategic Plan, but he does not believe that the State Department would be at the stage of setting deadlines, especially since there are two years until the next UPU Congress.
Mr. Prescott noted the amount of money in the Quality of Service Fund. He wondered if it would be in the UPU’s best interest to spend the money to promote international quality of mail delivery. Secondly, he asked if there were reasons the Consultative Committee was limited as far as who can join. Mr. Prescott thought it may be good policy to give some thought to membership criteria. To the point Mr. Prescott raised about the money in the Quality of Service Fund, Mr. Delehanty stated when the Fund was set up, the UPU used expedited billing, so member countries paid up front. That form of billing has stopped for a transitional period of three years. He believes the $60 million left in the fund will be drawn down relatively quickly. Mr. Delehanty felt it is important to achieve a balance between how the member countries spend their monies on important projects. He recommends doing this by applying discipline and a clear audit trail.
Brad Smith suggested that the information on Postal Financial Services in point 14 is abbreviated. He would like to see a more comprehensive and analytical review of how the United States is covered. As to Mr. Delehanty’s point about being two years out from the Congress, Mr. Smith feels that the sooner the information is available, the better. Mr. Soifer also stated that it could take two years or longer to process recommendations. Mr. Delehanty supported Brad Smith’s statement about documents not being available in advance for the committee to have the proper time to review them. He believes that is why the issue of password protection of UPU documents on the UPU website is so important. Mr. Smith thanked Mr. Delehanty and suggested that the U.S. delegation recruit other member country delegations to help in their coalition. Jim Campbell reminded the Advisory Committee that in advance of the 1999 UPU Congress, the State Department gave passwords out to any American citizen who was interested in commenting, and maybe a policy like that could be considered again. Nancy Sparks indicated that a specific headline on Reform of the Union issues would be helpful. Mr. Delehanty noted that it would be useful to add various points under Reform of the Union in the Plan.
VII. Any Other Business
Nerissa Cook opened up the floor to anyone who had comments for the Advisory Committee. An audience member addressed the Advisory Committee about the different agencies entrusted with regulating international postal services. They are regulated in different manners, depending on the particular agency. It was suggested to have all governmental agencies enact compatible regulations.
VIII. Meeting Summary Actions
Dennis Delehanty listed the actions from the Advisory Committee.
Nerissa Cook brought the Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services meeting to a close at 5:00 p.m.