Tag Archives: U.S. Postal Service

BREAKING NEWS: ‘Blackhole’ Virus Attacks End Users on USPS’s Intelligent Mail Services Website

Conformer Products has just been alerted this morning that the United States Postal Serviced website has become a victim of one of the more robust viruses called “Blackhole” that is well designed to evade antivirus detection and get onto as many end user machines as possible.

Specifically, the “Rapid Information Bulletin System” (RIBBS) pages on the U.S. Postal Service’s website have been infected where anyone visiting these pages would be infected.  Normally, these pages are designed to provide end users visiting the site with intelligent mail services like tracking and logistics information.   This obviously applies to users of Conformer mailers and envelopes using the U.S. Postal Service.

According to Dark Reading, a trusted security industry blog, the infected site was identified by Michael Sutton, vice president of research at Zscaler, who alerted the USPS now addressing the issue.

If you would like to learn more about the technical details of this virus, we encourage you to read more on Zscaler’s blog.

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Postmaster General Abruptly Announces Retirement

Postmaster General Jack Potter, after serving nine years in that role, announced his retirement today, effective next month.  Patrick Donahoe, current Deputy Postmaster General, will take over as the new PMG.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Patrick Donahoe several times.  While I found him genuine and approachable, I do not envy his newfound responsibility.  He is taking control of a ship in the midst of a massive storm.

During his tenure, PMG Jack Potter has seen highs and lows.  US mail volume hit its all-time high in 2006, processing 212 billion mailpieces, only to see a steep decline three years later to 177 billion units; 2010 is forecasted for 150 billion units.

There is no shortage of excuses for the rapid decline.  The Great Recession coupled with the rapid shift to electronic communications certainly top the list.  Combine mail volume decline with the congressional requirements for healthcare pre-funding, and it is no wonder that the USPS lost about $6 billion for its 2010 fiscal year.

The USPS needs to make significant changes to correct its rapidly declining business.  The Washington Post’s profile of Donahoe leads one to question whether we will in fact see that change:

“Donahoe’s career path mirrored Potter’s for much of the last three decades. They both rose through the ranks from entry-level positions to mid-level managers to occupants of the best offices at the Postal Service’s L’Enfant Plaza headquarters. They graduated from the same management training program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology… And much like Potter, Donahoe eagerly wants Congress to back off and let postal executives manage USPS in a more nimble way.”

Time will tell if Mr. Donahoe can bring about the level of change needed to correct the USPS path.  To paraphrase one high-level executive closely associated with the U.S. Post Office, this organization is the only one he can think of that has three products and 10,000 prices.

Donahoe, along with his 700,000 employees, have a formidable job ahead of them.

-Bob Makofsky at bmakofsky@conformerinc.com

USPS Appeals Postal Regulatory Commission’s Rejection of Price Increase

Late-breaking news learned here at the EMA annual meeting in Kansas City where the U.S. Postal Service is, is a hot topic for obvious reasons.

We told you here about how the USPS’s request to raise its prices more than the rate of inflation (“exigent rate case” a.k.a. an exception to the rule) was rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission in the most beautifully crafted rejection letter you’ll ever read.

As of a few minutes ago, I’ve learned that the USPS is appealing this ruling. They really, really, really want to raise prices — “in a beaten-down economy” — above and beyond what they are legislatively mandated to do. Despite the fact that this regulatory body, and not to mention the business community and American public, believes that the USPS should not be solving their financial problems on the backs of their customers, the USPS seems to think an appeal is an easier path to pursue than cleaning up their own house.

You can just imagine the buzz here at the EMA conference. More news here as it unfolds…

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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USPS Investment Puts Money in Your Pocket

About a year ago, the U.S. Postal Service put out a detailed report on exactly how its investment in technology has “revolutionized the way the USPS processes flat mail.” It was such an important operational shift that the USPS moved to shape-based postal rates two years ago to help influence the packaging choices made by its customers.

This article spotlights the Flats Sequencing System (FSS), which sorts flat mail “in the precise order that postal mail carriers walk their route.” It’s a massive improvement in postal efficiency – each machine can process about 280,500 pieces per day – because it eliminates manual handling. And the money for this equipment is already spent. So each parcel that can be converted into a flat and run on the FSS is greater profit for the USPS.

The USPS has lost $7.9 billion in the past two years, and serious cuts are being considered. We have a huge opportunity to lower our own postage costs AND help the U.S. Postal Service stay afloat at the same time. How? By converting to Conformer mailers and envelopes, which work beautifully on the FSS equipment and lower the USPS’s processing costs. Do something for the greater good – abandon manually processed bubble mailers, small boxes, Tyvek and gusseted envelopes – and you’ll be putting money back into your own pocket.

–Sari McConnell smcconnell@conformerinc.com