APWU Sues USPS, Advisory Committee

APWU Sues USPS, Advisory Committee For Conducting Policy-Making in Secret

The APWU, together with an organization representing a coalition of consumers and nonprofit mailers, has filed a suit challenging secret policy-making by a Postal Service advisory committee.

The panel, the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, is made up of trade associations that represent large business mailers. Co-chaired by major mailer representatives and postal officials, MTAC — acting through “work groups” — commissions studies and makes recommendations to senior USPS management on postal operations, postal rates, and postal regulations.

Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, government panels such as MTAC must open their meetings to all interested persons, and must make their reports and the minutes of their meetings public. MTAC has refused to comply with this law, holding its meetings in secret, and refusing to release any details, despite the APWU’s repeated requests for access to the information. As an advisory committee to a federal agency, MTAC is not legally permitted to conduct its activities in such secrecy, the suit asserts.

MTAC also has refused to admit to its membership the Consumers Alliance for Postal Services (CAPS), which is made up of nonprofit associations, small mailers, and individual consumers that rely on the Postal Service to communicate with their members. CAPS is chaired by William Clay Sr., the former Chairman of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee.

MTAC claims that its current members, “in serving their respective constituencies, are already representing at the grass-roots level the millions of Americans which CAPS serves.”

And while shutting out consumers and small mailers, MTAC apparently has no problem with secretly working with the government regulators that oversee the USPS. According to a publication that serves large mailers, the MTAC workgroup that is advising the Postal Service on service standards includes “observers” from the Postal Regulatory Commission
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