Implications of Electronic Mail and Message Systems for the U.S. Postal Service

Postal Service . . . that was objectionable to
the FCC has been cancelled, and 2) PRC itself
rejected several features of the Postal Service
electronic mail system proposal found objec
tionable by the FCC."I Thus, the court did not
rule on the merits of the case and the legal
jurisdiction of FCC over USPS involvement
in the telecommunication portion of EMS re
mains unclear.
USPS also petitioned the court for review
of that part of the PRC Final Recommended
Decision that designates E COM as an "ex
perimental" subclass of first class mail
authorized only through October 1, 1984.
Basically, USPS claimed that PRC far ex
ceeded its authority and sought to exercise a
power reserved to the USPS Board of Gover
nors.2"In June 1981, the court ruled for USPS
and remanded the matter back to PRC for fur
ther consideration.2'
However, two issues were still in dispute.
First, PRC believed it was proper to review
the entire E COM decision, not just the "ex
perimental" designation which was the sub
ject of the court proceeding. A number of com
munication carriers and others (including the
Departments of Commerce and Justice) who
filed statements with PRC took the position
that the court, in effect, vacated the PRC
Recommended Decision in toto, and that
USPS was not authorized to proceed with
E-COM on January 4, 1982. USPS maintained
that the court's remand, and therefore PRC's
reconsideration, extended only to the question
of "experimental" designation and that USPS
was otherwise authorized to initiate E COM
service in January. In December 1981, PRC
suspended the proceedings, leaving the legal
status of E COM uncertain. On January 4,
1982, USPS started E COM service. In April
1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Dis
trict of Columbia denied a Department of
Justice petition to block implementation of
E COM.
l'Oct. 14, 1980, Order, U.S. Court of Appeals.
'"Decision of the Governors of the U.S. Postal Service, Aug.
15, 1980.
"654 F 2d. 108 D.C. Court of Appeals 1981.

Ch. 8-Congressional Policy Considerations * 95
Absent clear direction from Congress, it
seems likely that USPS entry into EMS will
precipitate continued regulatory (and related
judicial) conflicts. Congress, through legisla
tion or otherwise, could clarify regulatory
jurisdiction over USPS involvement in EMS.
For example, this might take the form of the
amendment to S. 898 which stipulates that
FCC shall establish costs for the telecom
munication portion of any USPS EMS service
and shall assume that any such telecommu
nication services are offered by a separate
organizational entity within USPS. Apart
from these two provisions, the amendment to
S. 898 states that FCC shall not regulate
USPS.22As another example, Congress might
clarify through an amendment to the Postal
Act-the extent of PRC jurisdiction over a
USPS role in EMS.
USPS Subdivision for EMS
As discussed in chapter 7, a number of pri
vate firms and other parties have expressed
concern that USPS involvement in EMS
would constitute unfair competition between
an independent Government agency and the
private sector. This concern focuses in part on
the possibility that USPS might use public ap
propriations or revenues from other USPS
services to cross subsidize EMS services. In
July 1979, the White House proposed the crea
tion of a separate USPS subdivision for EMS
service in order to make cross subsidies easier
to detect and prevent. The original White
House proposal suggested "a separate entity
for accounting and ratemaking purposes.""
H.R. 2813 would require USPS to establish by
regulation "a separate organizational unit...
to provide for the management of all electronic
mail service of the USPS."24" S. 898 would re
quire "a separate organizational entity" for
any telecommunication services offered by
USPS.
"Congressional Record-f% mate, Oct. 7, 1981, p. S.11211.
2sAdministration policy Statement, The White House, July
19, 1979.
"H.R. 2813, 97th Cong., 1st sess., Mar. 25, 1981, p. 2.
'*CongressionalRecord-Senate, Oct. 7, 1981, S.11211.

United States. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Implications of Electronic Mail and Message Systems for the U.S. Postal Service. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc39480/. Accessed December 27, 2014.