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Postmasters at fourth-class offices are pot entitled to commissions on the special. delivery stamps in any case. No effort will be spared to expedite the mailing of letters bearing special-delivery stamps addressed to special-delivery oflices. Postmasters are urged to use all available means for furnishing the public with information with regard to the special-delivery system. A list of special-delivery offices will be furnished to postmasters, and must be conspicuously posted in the post-office where it will readily attract public attention.
WILLIAM F. VILAS,
The foregoing, together with the list of special-delivery offices referred to (which list will be found appended to this report, see No. 21, page 754), was inserted in the monthly Official Postal Guide for September, 1885, and repeated in the subsequent issues of that publication. Copies printed in conspicuous type had previously been mailed to all the postoffices, with instructions to display them where they would most readily attract the notice of the public. Extra quantities were also sent to the postmasters at the principal (Presidential) offices, with the request to post them in places of general public resort, and also to distribute them among business men and others applying for them. The postmasters were further requested to invite notices of the forthcoming system by the public press, without, however, incurring any expense for advertising
At the same time instructions were issued to the postmasters at the special-delivery offices as to the methods adopted for carrying the system into effect. The law was found to be obscure as to the intent of several of its provisions, and entirely silent as to some matters of much iroment. It was also somewhat deficient in pointing out the details for operating the system. To make correct interpretations of the law, and to devise the best measures for carrying it into effect, therefore, became matters of nice consideration. It was doubtful whether the word “letters” was intended to comprehend all mail matter in the general sense in which it has been used in some of the postal decisions, or whether it was designed to be restricted solely to first-class matter chargeable at letter rates of postage. The broader application of the word seemed to be the more sensible one if the language of the statute would permit it, but it was thought wiser to defer an authoritative construction until after Congress should have the opportunity to pass upon the question. So, too, there being no definite requirement as to special de iveries on Sunday, and the delivery of the ordinary mails on that day not being required by any of the statutes, it was impossible to determine absolutely the intention of Congress with respect to the meaning of the term "immediate delivery."
Some doubt also arose as to the manner of compensating the specialdelivery messengers: whether by a fixed fee not to exceed 8 cents to each messenger (restricted, however, to $30 per month in each case), or by dividing pro rata, among all the messengers of an office, 80 per centum of the value of the special stamps attached to letters arriving there for immediate delivery. It seemed to be clear, however, that the entire cost of the new special service was not to exceed 80 per centum of its earnings, and, accordingly, that no allowance beyond that rato could be made for car fare of messengers, clerk hire in post-offices, or other expenses incident to the workings of the system.
The questions likely to arise in the practical operation of the system were anticipated as far as possible; but much was necessarily confided to the discretion of the postmasters at the special delivery offices, learing it to the results of experience to suggest more detailed and uniform regulations under existing law, and to ascertain the exact needs of ad. ditional legislation, if the success of the experiment should prove to be such as to warrant the continuance of the system. The utmost care was, however, enjoined upon postmasters in establishing the system, and they were urged to spare no possible efforts to insure it a fair trial. The instructions to the postmasters at the special-delivery offices, issued under date of August 11 and duly published, were as follows:
IMMEDIATE DELIVERY OF LETTERS.
General instructions to postmasters at special-delivery offices.
Washington, D. C., August 11, 1885. SIR: On the 1st of October, 1885, you are directed to establish at your office a system for special delivery of letters, in accordance with sections 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the act making appropriations for the postal service for the current fiscal year, which are as follows:
*SEC. 3. That a special stamp of the face valuation of ten ceuts may be provided and issued, whenever deemed advisable or expedient, in such form and bearing such device as may meet the approval of the Postmaster-General, which, when attached to a letter, in addition to the lawful postage thereon, the delivery of which is to be at a free-delivery office, or at any city, iowa, or village containing a population of four thousand or over, according to the Federal censns, shall be regarded as entitling such letter to immediato delivery within ihe carrier limit of any free-delivery office which may be designated by the Postmaster. General as a special-delivery office, or within one mile of the post-office at any other office coming within the provisions of this section which may in like manner be designated as a special delivery office.
"SEC. 4. That such specially stamped letters shall be delivered from seven o'clock ante meridian up to twelve o'clock midnight at offices designated by the PostmasterGeneral nuder section three of this act.
“Sec. 5. Tbat to provide for the immediate delivery of letters bearing the special stamp, the postmaster at any office wbjch may come within the provisions of this act may, with the approval of the Postmaster-General, employ such person or persons as may actually be required for such service, who, upon the delivery of such letter, will procure a receipt froin the party addressed, or some one authorized to receive it, in a book to be furnished for the purpose, which shall, when not in use, be kept in the post-ottice, and at all times subject to examination by an inspector of the Department.
“SEC. 6. That to provide for the payment of such persons as may be employed for this service, the postmaster at any office designated by section three of this act shall keep a record of the number of letters received at such office bearing such special stamp, which number shall correspond with the numler entered in the receipt books heretofore specitied; and at the end of each month he may pay to such person or persons employed a sum not exceeding eighty per centum of the face value of all such stamps received and recorded during that month: Provided, That in no case shall the compensation so pa d t any one person exceed thirty dollars per month: And proridel jurther, That no:hing in this act shall in any way interfere with the prompt delivery of letters as yow provided by law or regulation of the Post-Office Department."
A description of the special-delivery stamps prepared for use under this law, with general instructions as to their use, will be published in the Official Postal Guide for September, 1885, and by circular-a copy of which will be found inclosed herewithto which your attention is directed. In putting the special-delivery system into operation at your office and in the management of it the following instructions must be observed :
1. The service contemplated by the law requires that all special-delivery letters shall reach their addressees with the greatest possible expedition after the letters arrive at your office. You will therefore open all mails at once on their arrival, as is required by the regulations, and immediately separate the letters bearing specialdelivery s:amps, and put on the receiving stamp of your office, showing name of the office and date and hour of the letter's arrival. Next, you will number such letters so arriving, and enter them according to number in the record-book, as hereinafter mentioned. Next enter each respectively in the delivery-books of the messengers who are to carry them, anı immediately dispatch the messengers. In all this you must secure the utmost expedition, so that not a moment shall be lost from the time the mail-bag is opened which could be employed to hasten the letter to the addressee. Like diligent attention must be given to drop letters bearing special-delivery stampa from the time they are deposited in the post-office.
On the return of the messenger, the time of delivery and the name of the persou who receipts for the letter should be at once entered in the record-book, or if not delivered, or if delay shall occur in delivery, the reason should be promptly stated therein, and a particular note made of whatever is subsequently done with such letter.
2. You will provide, before the first day of October next, and from time to time thereafter, as many inessenger boys as in your judgment will be necessary to secure the prompt delivery of special-delivery letters, observing that, aside from drop letters, their services will be necessary only for a brief time after the arrival of any mail, which in many offices will be for but a portion of the day, and that a proper force must be ready for all mails arriving between 7 a. in. and 12 midnight and for all drop letters requiring special delivery. The number of messengers necessary and arrangements for their attendance and service may vary at different offices to such an extent that minute instructions cannot be here laid down; but it must be by experience and careful observation only that you can correctly adjust the force and methods at your office. It will probably be best to arrange the messengers in tours of duty, assigning appropriate hours to each, so that a suitable force may be on band to secure immediate delivery at all times within the prescribed hours vf the day.
You will require each messenger, before he enters into service, to take the oath prescribed by law, blanks for which will be furnished you. None but reputable, active, and intelligent boys should be employed, and they should in no case be under the age of thirteen years. Substitute letter-carriers, when not on duty in place of regular carriers, may be employed as messengers in the special delivery, and receive the same compensation as other messengers; provided that such employment will not interfere witli tho work of the free-delivery or the special delivery system.
3. Messengers will not be required at present to be uniformed except in such special cases as may be ordered, but you should require all to be decently and comfortably clad. As the service develops at different points, proper instructions for uniforming will be given. Substitute letter-carriers, when employed as messengers for special delivery, may wear their uniforms.
4. A special place will be provided in the post-office for the accommodation of the messengers, and, if practicable, it should be so arranged as to prevent their access to other parts of the office and to mail matter other than that in which they are immediately concerned. Orderly conduct of the messengers while on their trips should be strictly enforced. The necessity of good behavior in the streets when making deliveries or returning should be enjoined, and your strict attention to their conduct generally is required; and no one should be retained who is not diligent, faithful, courteous, and well-behaved.
5. Each messenger will be provided with a delivery book (a supply of which will be sent you as soon as practicable), in which will be entered at your office the number and address of each letter, and the date and hour of its receipt by the messenger, and any balance of due-postaye, stamps for which must be attiseil to the letter; and the messenger will collect the amount of such due-postage before delivery. Blank spaces will also be provided for the signature of the person to whom the letter is delivered. The books will be retained in the post-office when not in use by the messengers, and after the use bas been discontinued for any reason they must be carefully preserved in the post-office, subject to call by the Depariment. The messengers should be required to promptly return the book to the office after every tour.
6. A record must be kept by you in the post office, for which an appropriate book will be furnished by the Department, in which will be entered, in consecutive numbers according to the receipt by your office of the letters, each and every letter bearing a special-delivery stamp; and this record will show in columns under appropriate headings the number, the postmark, the full address of the letter, the date, and precise time of its receipt at your office, the name (o. number) of the messenger to whom banded for delivery, and also the precise time when it was delivered, it delivered, and the name of the person signing the receipt therefor, and, under the head of “ Remarks,” the reason for its non-delivery, or for any delay in its delivery, if either occurred, and a viatement of what subsequent action was taken with regard to such letter in each case. The time of its delivery and name of the receiptor will be transcribed from the messenger's book inmediately upon his return of it in all cases. If a letter is also a registered letter, that fact should be noted, and a proper entry also made in the regular record of registered letters. This record book will be carefully preserved in the post office.
7. If a letter for special delivery can be expeditiously delivered by a carrier in his regnlar trip, it may be turned over 10 such carrier for such purpose-a delivery-book to be provided for him anıl a receipt to be taken by him the same as in case of delivery by messenger. Such carrier will not be entitled to any compensation for such delivery.
8. Special-delivery lotters must be delivered to the addresseo, or to any one specially authorized to receive his wail matter. In his absence and that of any one
having such special authority, such letters may be delivered to any responsible member of the addressee's family, or any partner or clerk of his, or responsible person employed in his office; and to the otticer or agent of any firin, incorporated company, or public institution to which addressed. In the case of registered letters received for special delivery, the usual registered receipts in addition to the special-delivery receipts must be taken, and all other requirements of registry regulations must be observed.
At free-delivery offices delivery of special-delivery letters must be made within the carrier limits of the office; but at all other offices they are required to be delivered only within a radius of one mile from the post-office.
If a letter bearing special-delivery stamp is directed to an address beyond the carrier limits in the one case, or beyond one mile from the post-office in the other, such letter need not be specially delivered, unless the delivery can be made to the persou addressed within the limits.
9. Letter-carriers, whether assigned to delivery or collection duty, shall receive all prepaid letters bearing also special-delivery stamp, which may be handed them on their trips; shall keep such letters separate from other mail matter, and hand them over to the proper officer immediately upon their arrival at the post-office. In no case is a letter-carrier to turn over directly to a messenger a local letter for special delivery, even though ho may be satisfied that such letter will be more speedily delivered. He must turn over to the main office or station where he is employed all special-delivery letters which he may collect.
10. Compensation of messengers employed can be made only after the end of each calendar month. When the month has expired, you will compute the total amount of special-delivery stamps on all letters specially delivered from your office as herein directed during such month, and eighty per centum thereof may be applied, if necessary, to the payment of the messengers who made such deliveries. This is the utmost limit of the appropriation for messengers' compensation in total, and you will observe that the act further provides. “that in no case sball the compensation so paid to any one person exceed thirty dollars per month."
Circumstances are likely to be so varying among the different special-delivery offices that it would be inconvenient if not impracticable to prescribe minute general directions for the hiring of messenger boys applicable to all the various offices. Postmasters will therefore exercise their best judgment to secure the bighest measure of success possible in their communities, keeping in view the limitations prescribed by the act of Congress, and carefully observing and reporting the practical effects of the action taken, with a view to securing the improvements which the Department may be able to provide as the result of the general oxperience of many offices. It is advised tbat in most offices, in the beginning, messengers be employed with the understanding they shall receive the full eight cents per letter actually delivered, not exceeding thirty dollars during any one month. But where the business may be reasonably expected or shall prove sufficient at any office to warrant it the postmaster may employ his messengers at a less rate per letter, or by the hour (at not exceeding twelve and one-third cents per hour, calculating eight hours' service per day) or by the month--being certain not to exceed the total permissible allowance.
Two objects joust be principally and strenuously sought: the first, the most efficient delivery service, and second, to bring the service up to a revenue-yielding condition. The success in the tirst will easily accomplish the second object if postmasters shall be diligent and skillful in management. They should take pains to secure the greatest service from each messenger fairly to be required; to employ no more than shall be actually necessary; and to prevent any conbinations or arrangemente between the messengers with a viow to securing division of the total permissible compensation of the month. You should, by distribution of work and allotment of bours of duty, eqnalize as far as practicable the compensation of the messengers. To this end, a messenger should not always be assigned to duty during the same periods of each day; but alternations should be nade daily, or less frequently, whereby a messenger employed during the busy hours of one day may be assigned to the duller hours of another day. So, too, changes should be made in assignments to night duty, it being the aim to distribute the birdens as well as the compensations impartially among the messengers, so far as the same can be done without detriment to the service.
No car-fare or other incidental expenses can in any case be allowed to any messenger.
11. In settling with the messengers at the close of each month you will take receipts from each one, on a regular pay-roll, showing the name of the messenger, the uumber of letters delivered by him as ascertained from the messenger's book and your record, anıl the amount paid, which must not exceed $.30 per month to any one messenger; and the aggregati of the pay-roll must not exceed 80 per cent. of the total value of the special delivery stamps on letters actually delivered during the month. The payroll will be in triplicate, one copy to be retained by you, ono copy to be transinittod to the Postmaster-General, and the remaining copy sent to the Auditor with your quarterly account of the pay-roll.
12. You are urgently enjoined to give your best judgment and diligent attention to this system of special delivery now sought to be established by the Government. It is an object of great importance and general desire that the system should prove of bigb public utility. Although the ends sought by it are of unquestionable value, the system introduced is necessarily an experiment, and its success depends largely upon the postmasters; and its success or failure in any locality will indicate the postmaster's official value. You are specially requested to report month by month, by letter to the Postmaster-General, a brief statement of the business done and the average time of the delivery of letters after their arrival, with any observations or suggestions you may think proper to make. You will also advise the Department of the number of messengers employed by you, the method of compensation, and the distribution of their work.
As soon as practicable after the receipt of these instructions you will carefully consider and report for approval the number, names, and ages of messengers whom you think proper to employ to inaugurate the service, with any special suggestions you may desire to make.
WILLIAM F. VILAS,
The apnouncement of the action taken by the Department in the matter was immediately followed by strong manifestations of popular approval. Postmasters, almost without exception, exhibited a mendable zeal in preparing for the new system, and gave assurances that if possible it should succeed. Applications for employment as messengers, particularly at the larger offices, were very numerous, and of such a character as to yield excellent selections. Instances were not wanting of good will to the system in letters from intelligent private persons. And above all the public press gave much notice to every feature of the system, and with surprising unanimity bespoke for it favoritble consideration and patronage. Pending the action mentioned, the new special stamp was in course of preparation, and the first issue of the stamps began on the 29th of August, leading to supplies before the 1st of October to all the post-offices of any considerable importance. The necessary books for the messengers and for records in the postoffices were also in the hands of postmasters in ample season for use. In short, by the 1st of October, when the system was to begin, postal officials : nl the public seemed to be thoroughly informed as to its objects and the general manner of its operation, and all the necessary facilities were provided to give it an auspicious beginning.
Although somewhat foreign in nature to the general business of this office, the details of conducting the new systein in its inception were temporarily placed in my charge, and it therefore devolves upon me to report upon the progress made during the short time that the system has been in operation. Much correspondence from postmasters and other persons has resulted with regard to points not fully covered by the instructions, the replies being in consonance with the general policy originally laid down for conducting the system.
At the outset, in order to get early information of the workings of the special delivery system, postmasters at all offices where the lettercarrier system is in operation were requested to make weekly reports to the Department, in addition to the monthly reports required from all the offices where the system of special delivery exists. In this way the Department has obtained reports of the first two weeks' business from 174 out of the 178 letter-carrier offices, and reports for the month ended October 31 from nearly all of the 555 special delivery offices, which re. ports upon tabulation and analysis show the following results:
First. The number of letters received for delivery at all the special. delivery offices during the month aggregates 140,820. Of these, 98,906,