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The Role of the United States Postal Service in Public Safety and Security

The Role of the United States Postal Service in Public Safety and Security: Implications of Relaxing the Mailbox Monopoly

Lois M. Davis
Michael Pollard
Jeremiah Goulka
Katherine Mack
Russell Lundberg
Paul Steinberg
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    The Role of the United States Postal Service in Public Safety and Security
    Book Description:

    The United States Postal Service has long held a statutory monopoly to deliver mail to mailboxes (known as the Mailbox Rule). Critics have argued against the Mailbox Rule on anti-monopoly and property rights grounds. But relaxing the Mailbox Rule may affect public safety and security. This study assesses the public safety concerns of relaxing the Mailbox Rule and makes recommendations to address these concerns.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4660-4
    Subjects: Business, Political Science, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The United States Postal Service (USPS) has long held statutory monopolies to deliver mail and to have sole access to delivering to the mailbox. While the USPS has defended its monopolies as necessary to fulfill its mission to provide service to every delivery point in the United States, several critics have argued against the monopolies, primarily on economic, antimonopoly grounds related to leveling the playing field for other competitors and on property rights grounds for mailbox owners (see, e.g., Geddes, 2003a, 2003b; Sidak, 2003; Soifer et al., 2007).

    However, sometimes lost in the economic debate surrounding the monopolies is the...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The USPS’s Monopolies and Its Role in Public Safety
    (pp. 7-22)

    In this chapter, we provide some context that will help explain the results that follow in the subsequent chapters. Although the focus of this monograph is on the Mailbox Rule (as noted in Chapter One), it is important to have a general understanding of the two statutory postal monopolies—the Mailbox Rule and the Postal Monopoly—and how they are related. Following a discussion of these two monopolies, as a prelude to discussing the security and public safety repercussions in Chapters Three and Four, we discuss what would happen if the Mailbox Rule were to be relaxed. Finally, we provide...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Relaxing the Mailbox Rule: Effect on Public Safety and Security Incidents
    (pp. 23-66)

    As of 2007, the USPS was responsible for processing and delivering 213 billion pieces of mail per year, or roughly 700 million pieces of mail per day, to more than 148 million homes, businesses, and Post Office Boxes throughout the United States (USPS, 2008). Given the sheer magnitude of mail for which the USPS is responsible daily and that one of its primary concerns is to protect the mail, its employees, and the public, the USPS and the IS use a myriad of training courses, formal guidance, and policies and procedures to promote the safety and security of the mail...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Relaxing the Mailbox Rule: Effect on the IS’s Ability to Detect, Deter, and Investigate Crime
    (pp. 67-84)

    Following the previous chapter’s analysis of reported security incidents and the potential changes in security-incident patterns that might follow relaxation of the Mailbox Rule, we now turn to the question of how relaxing the Mailbox Rule might affect the policing of mail crimes. This chapter discusses what impact relaxing the Mailbox Rule might have on the IS, the law enforcement agency with primary responsibility for investigating crimes involving the mail, and its ability to deter, detect, and investigate crimes involving the mails.

    As mentioned in Chapter Two, the IS enforces nearly 200 laws that make a wide variety of acts...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Public Perceptions About Relaxing the Mailbox Rule
    (pp. 85-108)

    When it comes to current restrictions on mailbox access, one argument is that it provides USPS customers with the assurance that their mail is secure and that their correspondence will not become known to third parties. Further, the current restrictions facilitate the investigation of mail theft and other mail crimes by having a designated federal entity responsible for doing so. Opening up access to the mailbox may increase the volume of unsolicited advertising mail and other mail at the point of delivery, will increase the number of individuals who have legal access to one’s mailbox, and raises a number of...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions and Issues for Further Consideration
    (pp. 109-114)

    In this chapter, we summarize our conclusions and identify issues for further consideration if Congress decides to explore options for relaxing the Mailbox Rule.

    Overall, we expect that relaxing the Mailbox Rule will likely have a negative effect on public safety and the security of the mail, as well as increase the number of mail crimes that are not reported, although we speculate that the magnitude of the impact on incidents (based on the limited data available) would likely be moderate. Such an impact would be contingent on the degree of relaxation and whether only major couriers or a range...

  15. APPENDIX A Methods
    (pp. 115-126)
  16. APPENDIX B Detailed Tables of Incidents
    (pp. 127-144)
  17. APPENDIX C Guidelines and Training
    (pp. 145-176)
  18. APPENDIX D Differences Between FTC and IS Fraud Data
    (pp. 177-180)
  19. References
    (pp. 181-192)