[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 135 (Thursday, July 14, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41411-41413]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-17389]



39 CFR Part 111

Group E Post Office Box Service

AGENCY: Postal Service\TM\.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Postal Service\TM\ is revising the Mailing Standards of 
the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM[supreg]) 
508.4.6 to clarify eligibility, simplify the standards, and facilitate 
uniform administration for Group E (free) Post Office\TM\ (PO) box 

DATES: Effective Date: September 6, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurence Welling at 202-268-7792, Ken 
Hollies at 202-268-3083, or Richard Daigle at 202-268-6392.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 24, 2010, the Postal Service 
published a Federal Register proposed rule (75 FR 71642-71643) to 
clarify eligibility, simplify the standards, and facilitate uniform 
administration for Group E (free) PO Box\TM\ service. The Postal 
Service received several comments in response to this proposed rule 
that are summarized later in this notice.
    Group E PO Box service is provided free, with restrictions, to 
customers whose physical addresses are not eligible for any form of 
USPS carrier delivery service. This service is consistent with the USPS 
responsibility to provide universal mail delivery. This final rule 
simplifies and clarifies some of the language related to administering 
Group E PO Box service.
    For this final rule, the Postal Service removes the descriptive 
term, ``business

[[Page 41412]]

location'', in favor of the general term ``physical address''. The 
latter describes residential locations as well as business locations 
and no distinction between the two terms was intended.
    USPS further deletes the reference to ``out-of-bounds delivery 
receptacles'' in favor of language recognizing that Group E PO Box 
service is not available when a physical address receives any form of 
USPS carrier delivery. Confusion over the intent of the meaning of 
``out-of-bounds'' obscured the larger context wherein Group E service 
should never supplement a physical location's carrier delivery service. 
Clarifying the intent and eliminating this confusion may cause existing 
Group E customers to lose Group E eligibility for their physical 
addresses, while others whose physical locations the USPS chooses not 
to provide carrier service to may become eligible for Group E service.
    The Postal Service also revises the DMM to acknowledge carrier 
delivery service that, once established to a particular physical 
address, eliminates Group E eligibility. Improved language in this 
section illustrates situations where no eligibility for Group E arises 
either because carrier delivery is available or because action (or 
inaction) by third parties precludes USPS from extending carrier 

Comments Received

    Three comments were received regarding the proposed rule, 
addressing multiple issues.
    One commenter expressed concerns about the vagueness of terminology 
in the proposal, for determining how close a ``physical address'' and 
delivery receptacle must be. In response, the Postal Service intends to 
add a sentence to clarify that ``at or near a physical address'' should 
be determined by how carrier delivery is already established in a 
particular locale or ZIP Code\TM\.
    Two separate comments expressed concern that local offices might 
misuse ``unsafe conditions'' and ``or other conditions'' to deny Group 
E eligibility. One of the commenters also expressed concern about the 
impact of local discretion on decisions. In response to these concerns, 
it is the Postal Service opinion that neither commenter was aware that 
the examples currently listed in the DMM reflect restrictions that are 
out of Postal Service control and are not all inclusive. Recognizing 
this lack of clarity, this final rule attempts to provide a better 
    With respect to ``unsafe conditions'', local Postmasters are best 
able to determine when mailbox placement might be unsafe for postal 
employees to attempt delivery or for customers to retrieve mail. Such 
decisions are made routinely by Postmasters while conforming with local 
practice, driving conditions, driver expectations, etc. Further, 
postmasters already make such decisions in contexts unrelated to Group 
E eligibility. Postmasters who determine that a proposed mailbox 
location is unsafe typically work with customers to find a solution 
that allows safe delivery.
    One commenter expressed concern about the potential misuse of ``or 
other conditions'' is now addressed by the Postal Service as: (1) 
Clarifying that the examples contained in the current DMM consist of 
conditions outside the control of the Postal Service and, (2) by 
introducing the examples using ``such as'' so that it is understood 
that they are not all inclusive. By using these explanations, the ``or 
other conditions'' text is deleted from the final rule.
    The foundation of Group E PO Box eligibility is a discretionary 
Postal Service decision not to extend carrier delivery to a specific 
carrier delivery point (e.g., a house). When conditions prevent carrier 
delivery, where it would otherwise be operationally feasible, Group E 
eligibility is not an option. The DMM will continue to identify 
examples of conditions, including ``unsafe conditions'' that preclude 
the Postal Service from deciding whether or not to extend carrier 
    The same commenter expressed concern about the fair administration 
of Group E eligibility. The Postal Service agrees about the importance 
of Group E in the context of its universal service obligation and at 
the time of implementation, the Postal Service identified Group E 
service as one tool for offering universal service under an overarching 
policy of providing one free form of delivery to each customer.
    The Postal Service adopts the following changes to the Mailing 
Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual 
(DMM), which is incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal 
Regulations. See 39 CFR 111.1.

List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 111

    Administrative practice and procedure, Postal Service.

    Accordingly, 39 CFR Part 111 is amended as follows:


1. The authority citation for 39 CFR Part 111 continues to read as 

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 552(a); 13 U.S.C. 301-307; 18 U.S.C. 1692-
1737; 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 414, 416, 3001-3011, 3201-3219, 
3403-3406, 3621, 3622, 3626, 3632, 3633, and 5001.

2. Revise the following sections of Mailing Standards of the United 
States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) as follows:

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail 
Manual (DMM)

* * * * *

500 Additional Mailing Services

* * * * *

508 Recipient Services

* * * * *

4.0 Post Office Box Service

* * * * *

4.6 Fee Group Assignments

* * * * *
    [Revise the title, introductory text and items 4.6.2a, b and c, and 
eliminate item d in its entirety as follows:]

4.6.2 Free PO Box Service (Group E)

    Customers may qualify for Group E (free) PO Box service at a Post 
Office if their physical address location meets all of the following 
    a. The physical address is within the geographic delivery ZIP Code 
boundaries administered by a Post Office.
    b. The physical address constitutes a potential carrier delivery 
point of service.
    c. USPS does not provide carrier delivery to a mail receptacle at 
or near a physical address for reasons in 4.6.3b. ``At or near a 
physical address'' is defined by reference to how carrier delivery is 
already established in a particular locale or ZIP Code.
    [Revise the title and introductory text of 4.6.3 and add new items 
a through d as follows:]

4.6.3 Additional Standards for Free PO Box Service

    Only one Group E (free) PO Box may be obtained for each potential 
carrier delivery point of service, under the following conditions:
    a. Group E PO Box customers are assigned the smallest available box 
that reasonably accommodates their daily mail volume.
    b. Eligibility for Group E PO Boxes does not extend to:
    1. Individual tenants, contractors, employees, or other individuals 
receiving or eligible to receive single-point delivery to a location 
such as a hotel, college, military installation, campground, or 
transient trailer park.
    2. Locations served, or eligible to be served, by centralized 
delivery or grouped receptacles such as cluster box

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units, apartment style receptacles, mailrooms, or clusters of roadside 
    3. Locations where circumstances not within the control of the 
Postal Service prevent extension of carrier delivery, such as town 
ordinances, private roads, gated communities, unimproved or poorly 
maintained roadways, or unsafe conditions.
    4. Locations served by a delivery receptacle that a customer 
chooses to locate along a carrier's line of travel and to which the 
Postal Service makes delivery.
    c. A customer must pay the applicable fee for each PO Box requested 
in addition to the initial free Group E PO Box.
    d. The online application tools described in 4.3.1b cannot be used 
for free PO Box service.
* * * * *
    We will publish an appropriate amendment to 39 CFR Part 111 to 
reflect these changes.

Stanley F. Mires,
Chief Counsel, Legislative.
[FR Doc. 2011-17389 Filed 7-13-11; 8:45 am]