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

This study gives primary emphasis to im
pacts on the USPS mainstream (based on re
sults of the market penetration model) and on
USPS rates, service, and labor (based on com
bined results of the market penetration model
and the revenue and cost model). Implications
for rates, service, and labor are summarized
in chapter 6. Secondary emphasis was placed
on the potential implications for the telecom
munication and computer industries, EMS pri-
vacy and security, and the long term viabil
ity of USPS, discussed in chapter 7. Congres
sional policy considerations are discussed in
chapter 8.
A note on computer modeling is in order.
Prior studies on mail diversion have proven
to be oversimplified. In order to better under
stand the complexities involved, OTA devel
oped and used computer based models to per
mit consideration of a larger number of vari-
ables and interrelationships than would other
wise be possible. While this approach is more
systematic and complete than those used in
prior studies, computer modeling has its
limitations.
First, the precision of the projections can be
misleading. The reader should focus on general
trends and relationships rather than the spe
cific numbers projected. Second, the models

Ch. 2-Background and Purpose of Study . 1 9
are highly sensitive to initial assumptions. For
this reason, sensitivity runs were conducted
to see how much projections would change
with different assumptions. Third, the models
have limited ability to anticipate unexpected
events. For example, the possibilities of a
World War III, second Great Depression,
mandatory wage/price freeze, nationwide
postal labor strike, or repeal of the Private Ex
press Statutes were not included. In other
words, the models are based on a relatively
"surprise free" future. Fourth, the models do
not fully reflect the possible effect of rates on
mail volumes. There is a feedback process, but
its exact nature is unknown. That is, changes
in rates may have a significant effect on mail
volume, which in turn affects mail rates 1, 2,
or 3 years later (in the next ratesetting cycle).
Despite these limitations, computer modeling
can be a useful analytical tool.
Again, the study as a whole, and particular
ly the use of computer modeling, is intended
to help Congress better understand the possi
ble implications of EMS for USPS. The study
is not intended to make a prediction of the
future course of events. Many variations are
possible. Finally, the study specifically avoids
making judgments about the impacts identi
fied and makes no recommendations relative
to the role of USPS.

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 August 21, 2014.