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DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF HELD-FOR-POSTAGE LETTERS.
During the year there was a decrease in the number of held for postage letters of 16,028, which decrease, like that occurring in the preceding year, grows mainly out of the reduction to 2 cents in the letter rate of postage. Formerly, when there was difference between the general and the local rate of postage, many letters mailed at letter carrier offices for other places were inadvertenůy prepaid only at the local rate, anıl they were consequently held, under the law, on account of the deficiency. Now, however, with a uniformity of the drop and general letter rates, such mistakes are avoided, and considerable amuoyance and inconvenience both to the public and the postal service are thereby saved. The statistics in 1883 showed that 45 per cent. of held-for-postage letters at the free delivery offices were prepaid with 2 cent stamps.
The held for postage matter coming to the dead-letteroffice was greatly diminished by the system adopted in May, 1882, giving addressees the opportunity of receiving the matter direct from the mailing otlice, upon notice from the postmaster, by supplying the necessary amount of postage entitling it to be forwarded. The addressee is thus enabled to save the vexation and delay of obtaining the matter throngh the deadletter office, the place appointed by law for its primary destination in case of non-delivery. This system, at first tried at the free delivery offices, has since been extended to all post-offices. It was fully explained in my annual report for the year ended June 30, 1882, and its advantages are too obvious to require further comment here.
INDEPENDENT BUREAU OF DEAD LETTERS.
In the present organization of the Department, the work pertaining to the treatment of dead mail matter is perforined under the immediate supervision of the chief of the division of dead letters, subject to my general direction and the ultimate control of the Postmaster-General. Good reasous exist for detaching the division of dead letters from the jurisdiction of this office. Through the natural increase of business incident to the general growth of the postal service, and the additions of new branches of business, arising from an enlargement of the functions of the service, and of improved methods in the collection of the postal revenue, during the past few years, this office has become somewhat disproportioned to the other organic branches of the service. In point of numbers, the clerical force is considerably more than double that of any other Bureau of the Department.
The more essential business of the office is in connection with the collection and disbursement of the postal revenues, to which the work of the dead-letter division is bardly analogous. Neither has this latter work any close relationship to that of any other of the present Bureaus of the Department. It belongs to a class of its own. The work is, however, of very great importance. To the employés of the division in the legitimate and proper administration of the service are committed the confidences and the property of the public, often of much interest in the one case and of large value in the other. The carelessness and misapprehension of the public, and the mistakes of postal employés and the casualties of the service, contribute in unequal proportions to the great volume of its business.
The total number of pieces of matter received for treatment during the past year, as previously shown, was 4,808,146. Among the sealed nclosures necessary to be opened was found money, or the representa
tives of moneyed value, amounting to $2,250,609.05. The number of articles of intrinsic worth was 248,514, and these articles were as diverse in character as they were in value. The number of employés engaged in the division is 110. A proper oversight of their labors, the extent and variety of the details of the business, and the care of the large interests involved, should, in my opinion, impose upou the officer immediately in charge a greater responsibility and a higher rank than he is now invested with.
Accordingly, I have the honor to recommend that the division be erected into a separate bureau, the officer in charge to be held directly accountable to the Postmaster General. I would also suggest the propriety of cbanging the designation of the division to that of the deadletter office, and the chief of the division to that of superintendent of the dead-letter office. I would further respectfully suggest for your consideration the propriety of increasing his compensation to correspond with the proposed measure of his responsibilities.
The tendencies of this recommendation should be to increase the efficiency of the service. In the nature of the case the head of this office is unable, consistent with the proper discharge of his other and more important duties, to give the great minutiæ of the dead-letter division the close personal care and attention imposed by a due regard for the responsibilities he is called upon to assume in connection with them. The separation of the dead-letter division will still leave this office and its immediate dependencies (the postage-stamp, stamped-envelope, and postal-card agencies) the largest in respect to its clerical force of any of the several branches of the Department. The importance of the business that will remain to the office is too manifest to need elabora. tion.
In asking the separation, it is only just that I should testify to the faithfulness with which the employés of the dead-letter division have performed their duties. They have been attentive, diligent and ever mindful of the delicacy of the trusts severally confided to them.
It would be unfair not to include the employés throughout the entire office in this commendation. Generally they have been efficient, atten. tive (often working beyond the prescribed hours), and true to all their obligations of duty. If there have been exceptions, they were few in number, and I am glad to say they were greatly exceeded by the cases of rare merit and fidelity. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. D. HAZEN,
Third Assistant Postmaster-General. Hon. WILLIAM F. VILAS,
Since the foregoing report was first put in type, special returns have been secured from nine of the principal post-offices, showing the revenue thereat for the twenty days from November 1 to November 20, inclu. sive, as compared to that of the corresponding twenty days in November, 1884.
In the ordinary revenue (exclusive of postage on second-class matter) there was an increase in the aggregate of the uine offices of $87,491.01, or 15.2 per cent. The total increase of revenue at the nine offices from July 1 to November 20, 1885, was $293,056.36, or 7.2 per cent., as compared to the corresponding period of 1884. These figures should be considered in connection with those on pages 683 and 681 of the foregoing report. The nine offices in question collected 27.7 per cent. of the entire ordinary postal revenue for the year ended June 30, 1885. The exbibits of increase from July 1 to November 20, 1885, as compared to the corresponding time in the previous year, will be shown by periods in the following table, viz:
The subjoined table will show by periods the increase or decrease at each of the nine principal post offices in the number of pounds of second-class matter mailed from July 1 to November 20, 1885, as compared to the corresponding time in 1884. The figures for a portion of the time are referred to in pages 663 to 666 of the foregoing report. The nine offices named mailed 55.1 per cent. of all the second-class matter forwarded through the mails during the year ended June 30, 1884.
Quarter ended Sep. Month of October.
November 1 to 20.
Total, July 1 to
Name of office.
Pounds. Per cent. Pounds. Per cent. Pounds. Per cent. Pounds. Per cent.
No. 1.- Explanations of estimates of appropriations for the office of the Third Assistant
Washington, D. C., October 15, 1885. SIR: Herewith I have the honor to submit the following estimates of appropriations required for the service of this office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1887, to wit: 1. For manufacture of adhesive postage and special-delivery stamps... $116,700 OG 2. For pay of agents and assistants to distribute stamps and expenses of agency:
8, 100 00 3. For manufacture of stamped envelopes, newspaper wrappers, and letter sheets
583, 500 00 4. For pay of agent and assistants to distribute stamped envelopes,
newspaper wrappers, and letter sheets, and expenses of agency .. 16, 000 00 5. For manufacture of postal cards
188, 600 00 6. For pay of agent and assistants to distribute postal cards and expenses of agency.
7,300 00 7. For registered-package, tag, official, and dead-letter envelopes
67, 200 00 8. For ship, steamboat, and way letters.
2,000 00 9. For engraving, printing, and binding drafts and warrants.
2,000 00 10. For miscellaneous items
As will be observed, the principal items in the foregoing estimates are for the manufacture of adbesive postage and special-delivery stamps, stamped envelopes and newspaper wrappers, postal cards, registered. package, tag, official, and dead-letter envelopes.
These articles are issued upon the requisitions of postmasters, and are furnished under contracts, the contracts for postage-stampe, stamped envelopes, newspaper wrappers, and postal cards being for a period of four years under special enactment (joint resolution, March 24, 1874), and the contract for registered package, tag, official, and dead letter envel. opes being for one year, under the law relating to stationery supplies (R. S., sec. 3735). New contracts were entered into, after public advertisement, in March and April last, to take effect on the 1st July, 1885, for postage stamps and postal cards, respectively, and the estimates for these two items may, therefore, be based upon existing prices. The present contract for stamped envelopes will expire on the 30th September, 1886, and new contract prices will accordingly prevail during nine months of the fiscal year for which these estimates are made. So, too, the contract for registered-package, tag, official, and dead-letter envelopes being a yearly one, present prices afford no absolute criterion of cost under a new contract for the next fiscal year.
An element of uncertainty is, of course, to be found in the quantities that will be required. An increase is naturally to be expected, to keep pace with the general growth of the service, but past experience has shown a great irregularity in the issues, one item not increasing in the same proportion as another, and the general ratio of increase varying greatly at different periods. These fluctuations are due to a variety of causes, but principally to the changing conditions of the business industries of the country, by wbich the demands are, to a large extent, regulated. Thus, in numbers, the aggregate issues of the past fiscal year were nearly 1 per cent. less than those of the year ended June 30, 1884, while those of the latter year were 16.35 per cent. more than the issues for the year immediately preceding. The abnornal increase for the year ended June 30, 1884, was due to the unusual quantities of 2-cent and 4-cent stamps and stamped envelopes required to meet the reduction of letter postage to 2 cents, which went into effect on the 1st of October, 1883. The average annual increase in the aggregate of all the items for the seven years ended June 30, 1885, was at the rate of 9.3 per cent. The decrease of the past year, in the face of a stimuius of a lower rate of letter postage, was owing, undoubtedly, to the extreme depression in the business interests of the country. While the issues to the 30th of September exhibited but a slight increase over those of the corresponding quarter of the previous year, the signs since the 1st of October point to a considerable augmen. tation in the near future to meet the revival of business prosperity. While an increase of only 4 per cent. will be assumed for the present year, it must be remembered, in view of the slight increase for the first quarter, that this is equivalent to more than 5 per cent. for the year as a whole. The estimates for the next year will be on a more liberal scale, assuming an increase of 8 per cent. in adhesive postage-stamps, and of 12 per cent. in postal cards, stamped envelopes, and newspaper wrappers, respectively, on the estimated issues of the current year. The appropriations for the present year are already made, and under the reduced prices in the new contracts they will be much in excess of actual requirements, however great the same may be. The estimates for the present year are therefore important, only as they constitute a base on which to estimate for the next year. Furthermore, should the indications at the time seem to require it, the needs of the vext year in the way of postagestamps and postal cards may be auticipated to some extent by unusually liberal supplies to the post-offices towards the close of the present year. As the prices will be the same during both years, such an anticipation will lead to no increase of cost. In no event will the expenditures be beyond actual necessities; and as the articles for which mainly the appropriations are asked underlie the foundations of the postal revenue, it will be true economy to provide the means for furuishing all the supplies that may be needed in any contingency.
The several items are considered in detail as follows:
ADHESIVE POSTAGE AND SPECIAL-DELIVERY STAMPS.
As already stated, a new contract for adbesive postage and specialdelivery stamps for the four years beginning July 1, 1885, is now under. going execution. The following are the prices in the new contract, viz:
For ordinary postage stamps, 6.99 cents per 1,000.
The award was made on the basis of the numbers of the several kinds issued during the year ended December 31, 1884, amounting, at the prices specified, to $103,959.61, a reduction of $30,924.57, or 22.9 per cent., from the cost of like numbers under the old contract. The expenditure for the manufacture of adhesive postage-stamps for the year ended June 30, 1885, under the old contract, was $137,753.47, and at the prices in the present contract the cost of the stamps issued would have amounted to $103,976.96. The average annual rate of increase in the number of postage stamps issued for the past seven years was 10.4 per cent., while for the last year alone the increase over the preceding year was less than 1 per cent. The issue for the quarter ended September 30, 1885, just closed, exhibits a very slight decrease as compared with the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. In view of this result for the first quarter of the year, it will probably be entirely safe to allow for an increase of 4 per cent. for the entire year, making the expenditure for the current year, on the figures previously shown (the cost