SUBJECT: Victory - New USPS Standard Mail Eligibility CSR
DATE: MAY 3, 2005

     We are exceptionally pleased to announce that yesterday afternoon the USPS issued a new Customer Support Ruling (CSR) which dramatically improves how the new rules (effective June 1, 2005) governing Standard Mail Eligibility will apply to nonprofit mailers.

     You may recall that I sent you two status reports on this subject last week. Now we have the result — and it is a good one.

     Attached is the press release issued by the Postal Service, and the new CSR is appended to it. You will note that the Free Speech Coalition received a pat on the back from the Postal Service for the input that it provided.

     By way of background, I am pleased to say that Bill Olson, legal co-counsel of the Free Speech Coalition, has done postal law (among other things) for 28 years, and that specialized experience came in handy in this thorny issue. The final meeting at USPS headquarters occurred late last Thursday afternoon, which Bill Olson attended, suggesting final language changes for the CSR. Bill played a key role in explaining to USPS officials the hardship which would have been imposed on many nonprofits if the regulations had gone into effect on June 1, 2005 without this CSR. He also drew on his years of experience to help fashion rules which would be acceptable to both the Postal Service and to nonprofit mailers. The new CSR minimizes nonprofits being at risk for paying First-Class rates if they use “personalization” in their mail packages.

     Although we are grateful for the result, we should add that the way that the CSR is now worded was not our first choice. It was our legal position that the Postal Service did not have the authority to use the standard of “personal information” as it did, rather than the statutory standard of “actual and personal correspondence” which is quite different. However, it appears that virtually all of the sample mail packages provided to us by FSC members will be permitted under the Postal Service’s approach to solving the problem, and we felt that we had accomplished all that we could under the circumstances.

     We would be remiss if we did not give great credit to the officials at the Postal Service who worked this problem through to a solution. After receiving input, the Postal Service developed the comprehensive draft CSR announced yesterday, and the Postal Service was open to input until the very last day. We particularly want to recognize Sherry Freda, Manager of Pricing and Classification, Jerry Lease of her staff, and Classification attorney Jeff Zelkowitz for the open door that they have offered all nonprofit mailers. Later in the process, Stephen Kearney, Vice President for Pricing and Classification, and Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bizzotto weighed in and made certain that the views of the nonprofits were addressed. We appreciate all of their hard work.

     In addition to the Free Speech Coalition, the coalition of mail groups working on this issue consisted of the Association of Direct Response Fundraising Counsel, the DMA Nonprofit Federation, and the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers. It really was a team effort.

     Although you may have seen some stories or e-mails from others about this development previously, we are releasing this information only now in order to honor an embargo agreement with USPS officials that no announcement would be made prior to their official release yesterday afternoon.