Please note: Many mail-related laws relate to your agency, as well as SSSD. Please read them carefully.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts's enabling statute, now covered in V.T.C.S., Government Code, Title 10, Subtitle D, specifically addresses mail related issues in Chapter 2176 (GC 2176).
Government Code, Title 10, Subtitle D, Chapter 2176. Mail
SUBCHAPTER A: EVALUATION AND PLANNING OF MAIL OPERATIONS
Sec. 2176.001. Mail Operations Officer
A state agency in Travis County shall designate a person to manage mail for the agency's offices and units.
Sec. 2176.002. State Agency Evaluation and Improvement of Mail Operations
To improve state agency management of mail and to reduce the state's mail costs, a state agency in the executive branch of state government shall:
(1) evaluate its mail operations to identify and eliminate practices resulting in excessive mail costs; and
(2) develop and implement plans and procedures for making necessary improvements in mail operations.
****Sec. 2176.003. Commission Evaluation of State Agency Mail Operations
The commission shall:
(1) evaluate the mail operations of state agencies located in Travis County and make recommendations to identify and eliminate practices resulting in excessive mail costs; and
(2) establish minimum objectives and responsibilities for managing mail for the agencies.
****Sec. 2176.004. Commission Procedures for Improvement of Mail Operations
The commission shall:
(1) in conjunction with the United States Postal Service, establish procedures to improve the measurement of state agency mail costs, using postage meters or stamps as appropriate;
(2) establish procedures to determine the advantages to state agencies of presorting mail;
(3) establish procedures to determine the lowest cost class of mail necessary to effectively accomplish individual state agency functions;
(4) evaluate the cost-effectiveness of using alternatives to the United States Postal Service for delivering state agency mail;
(5) train state agency personnel regarding cost-effective mailing practices;
(6) set standards for receipt, delivery, collection, and dispatch of mail; and
(7) publish and disseminate standards, guides, and instructions for managing mail and establish and implement procedures for monitoring compliance with the standards, guides, and instructions.
Sec. 2176.005. State Agency Reports on Mail Operations
(a) A state agency in Travis County shall periodically send to the governor and the legislative budget office a report of its progress in achieving the objectives for and the revisions of mail operations established under Section 2176.004, including an analysis of savings projected from the resulting improvements in managing mail.
(b) When two or more state agencies by interagency contract are providing common services for managing mail, the agencies may designate a single agency to report on behalf of all agencies participating under the contract.
Sec. 2176.006. Mailing Lists
A state agency in Travis County shall review and consolidate mailing lists used by the agency to distribute publications and other materials issued by the agency.
SUBCHAPTER B. INTERAGENCY MAIL
Sec. 2176.051. Interagency Mail Service
(a) The commission shall operate a messenger service for delivering unstamped written communications and packages between the following entities located in Travis County:(1) state agencies;(b) All entities described by Subsection (a) shall use the service.
(2) the legislature; and
(3) legislative agencies.
Sec. 2176.052. Use of United States Postal Service; Alternate Delivery Methods
An entity subject to Section 2176.051 may use a delivery method other than that provided under Section 2176.051 for delivering interagency mail to another entity subject to Section 2176.051 but may not use the United States Postal Service for the delivery unless required to do so under state or federal law.
Sec. 2176.053. Delivery of State Warrants
State warrants may be delivered in a manner agreed to by the comptroller, the commission, and the affected agency.
SUBCHAPTER C. OUTGOING FIRST-CLASS MAIL IN TRAVIS COUNTY
Sec. 2176.101. Applicability of Subchapter
This subchapter applies only to outgoing first-class mail practices of a state agency located in Travis County.
Sec. 2176.102. Commission Evaluation
The commission shall evaluate the outgoing first-class mail practices of state agencies located in Travis County, including the lists, systems, and formats used to create mail.
Sec. 2176.103. Discounted Postal Rates
The commission shall achieve the maximum available discount on postal rates whenever acceptable levels of timeliness, security, and quality of service can be maintained using the discounted rate.
Sec. 2176.104. Requirement to Consult With Commission
A state agency to which this subchapter applies shall consult the commission before the agency may:
(1) purchase, upgrade, or sell mail processing equipment;
(2) contract with a private entity for mail processing; or
(3) take actions that significantly affect the agency's first-class mail practices.
Sec. 2176.105. Guidelines for Measuring and Analyzing First-Class Mail Practices
(a) The commission shall adopt and distribute to each state agency to which this subchapter applies guidelines by which outgoing first-class mail practices may be measured and analyzed. The guidelines must require using the services of the United States Postal Service to the extent possible.
(b) The commission shall review and update the guidelines at least once every two years, beginning two years after the date on which the guidelines are adopted.
Sec. 2176.106. Training
(a) Not later than the 90th day after the date on which the initial guidelines under Section 2176.105 are distributed, and at least annually beginning one year after the date of distribution, the commission shall provide training to state agency personnel who handle first-class mail.
(b) The commission may use to the extent possible free training provided by the United States Postal Service.
Sec. 2176.107. Prerequisite to Upgrading or Replacing Mail Equipment; Comparison and Analysis
(a) If the commission determines that upgrading existing mail production or processing equipment or purchasing new mail production or processing equipment is required to improve outgoing first-class mail practices of the commission or another state agency located in Travis County, the commission shall prepare a cost-benefit analysis demonstrating that the upgrade or purchase is more cost-effective than contracting with a private entity to provide the equipment or mail service.
(b) The commission shall approve the most cost-effective method.
Sec. 2176.108. Review and Comment by State Auditor
(a) A cost-benefit analysis prepared under this subchapter and a request for bids or a request for proposals prepared for an action taken under this subchapter shall be sent to the state auditor for review and comment as soon as practicable after preparation.
(b) The state auditor's office shall perform its review and offer its comments not later than the 14th working day after the date it receives the analysis or the request for bids or proposals.
Sec. 2176.109. Fees for Commission Services
(a) The commission by interagency contract shall charge and collect fees from each state agency to which this subchapter applies for the commission's services under this subchapter.
(b) The total amount charged a state agency under this section may not exceed the amount of the agency's appropriated funds for outgoing first-class mail, as determined by the Legislative Budget Board, minus the agency's fixed costs for these services.
(c) The commission shall transfer to the general revenue fund the amount of a fee charged a state agency under this section that is greater than the amount of the commission's actual expenses for performing the services for the agency.
Sec. 2176.110. Rules
The commission shall adopt rules for state agencies to implement this subchapter.
SUBCHAPTER D. PROCESSING OF MAIL
Sec. 2176.151. Timely Processing of Mail
(1) be processed for delivery as quickly as necessary under existing circumstances; and
(2) not be unduly delayed only to achieve a lower postal rate.
Sec. 2176.152. Processing United States Mail in Capitol Complex
United States mail may be delivered to and from the post office located in the capitol complex on agreement between the commission and the affected agency.
SUBCHAPTER E. SPECIAL MAIL SERVICES
Sec. 2176.201. Use of Certain Mail Services
Notwithstanding another law that requires the use of certain mail services, a state agency may use any form of mail service available from the United States Postal Service to lower postal costs whenever acceptable levels of accountability, timeliness, security, and quality of service can be maintained.
Sec. 2176.202. Change of Address Service
Notwithstanding another law regarding change of address updates, a state agency may use any change of address update service approved by the United States Postal Service for the purpose of receiving a postal discount rate.
Sec. 2176.203. Notification of Service Options
The commission shall, as part of the guidelines developed under Section 2176.105, provide information to state agencies about special mail services offered by the United States Postal Services. The commission shall assist a state agency in determining which service to use, considering the state agency's needs for accountability, timeliness, security, and quality of service.
Seventy-Sixth Legislature, Regular Session, General Appropriations Act, 1999, Article IX
Section 9-6.17. Purchases of Postage.
(a) If the expenditures for postage by an agency, other that the legislature or an institution of higher education, exceed $4,000 for a fiscal year, the agency shall purchase postage only in accordance with Section 2113.103(c), Government Code.
(b) The amount received by an agency as a refund of postage used by the agency shall be deposited in the fund to the credit of the appropriation from which postage for the agency is paid and is hereby reappropriated to the agency for postage use.
Government Code, Title 10, Subtitle C, Chapter 2113
Sec. 2113.103. Postage and Postal Services.
(a) A state agency should use the most cost-effective means of postal service available. A state agency may use appropriated money to purchase any form of mailing service available from the United States Postal Service that results in lower cost to the agency and affords service comparable in quality to other available postal services. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts shall assist state agencies in determining the types and compatability of postal services available from the United States Postal Service.
(b) Except as provided by Subsections (c) and (d), a state agency may use appropriated money to purchase postage or rent a post office box only from the United States Postal Service.
(c) An agency other than an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, that spends for postage in a fiscal year an amount that exceeds the dollar amount set by the General Appropriations Act as the maximum expenditure for postage shall purchase or rent a postage meter machine and record all purchases of postage on the machine except purchases of postage for employees in field offices and traveling employees. The rental of a postage meter machine by a state agency, including an institution of higher education, the legislature, or an agency in the legislative branch of state government, must be from a company approved by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts by rule shall adopt procedures for the renting entity to pay for postage.
(d) Subsection (b) does not apply to a reimbursement:
(1) to an authorized petty cash account;
(2) to a state employee for an emergency purchase of postage or emer- gency payment of post office box rent;
(3) that is received by a state agency for authorized services and is appropriated directly to the receiving agency; or
(4) under a contract for mailing services that may include postage, if the contract has been approved by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Postage Meter Imprint Indicia
Texas Government Code, section 2203.002 is entitled State Postage Meters and requires the following:
(a) A state department, board, commission, or educational institution that installs a postage meter shall place on the machine an imprint stating that:
(1) the mail carried by the postage is official state mail; and
(2) there is a penalty for the unlawful use of the postage meter for a private purpose.
(b) A state department, board, commission, or educational institution shall pay for the imprint plate and its installation from the state department's, board's, commission's, or educational institution's appropriation for postage and contingent expenses.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Mail Equipment and Service Consultation Rules
These rules are promulgated pursuant to the authority of Government Code (GC) 2176, Subchapter C.
The consultations are performed as outlined in SSSD Rules, Mail and Messenger Service, 117.31 (f), which provides as follows: A state agency located in Travis County shall consult with the commission before purchasing, upgrading, or selling mail processing equipment; contracting with a private entity for mail processing services; or taking any action that will significantly affect the agency's first class mail practices.
1. For mail equipment or private entity service contracts under $10,000, an agency shall submit a written justification to the commission stating why the equipment or service is needed and what benefits are expected to be received. 2. For mail equipment or private service contracts over $10,000, an agency shall submit a detailed life cycle cost benefit analysis to the commission that includes all expected costs and benefits over the life of the equipment or service. The analysis shall be in a format prescribed by the commission. (SSSD uses the October 1996 Council on Competitive Government Cost Benefit Analysis methodology.)
3. For any action that will significantly affect its first class mail practices, a state agency shall provide a written statement of the need for the action and anticipated benefits. Significant actions affecting the first class mail practices of an agency include but are not limited to the following:
(a) Creation or elimination of internal mail processing functions, organization, or staff;
(b) Addition or elimination of any specific mail processing activities such as metering, presorting, folding/inserting, or labeling.
4. The commission shall make a written response indicating whether or not the commission agrees with the intended action and any suggested alternatives.
CPA's procedure provides that the written response will be generated within 5 working days of receipt of complete and accurate information from the agency. Should review by the State Auditor's Office be deemed necessary, the response will take an additional 15 working days.
Private Express Statute
At search engine enter:
private express statutes (Publication 542)
The Private Express Statutes (PES) are laws that give the USPS the exclusive right to carry letters for compensation.
Please review the attached USPS Publication 547 for a summary of the PES.
A full understanding of the PES is essential if you use carriers outside the USPS for any purpose.
Your Agency's Laws
A review of your agency's statutes from the "mail" perspective can prove beneficial. Your agency laws may not be specific to mail, however some statutes directly affect the mail processed from your agency.
Key words to identify possible mail related statutes: send, submit, provide, mail, address, certified, registered, inform, etc.
Certified and Registered Mail Requirements
Change of Address Requirements
Do you process certified and registered mail? Does your agency require certified and registered mail for specific purposes?
Does your agency require change of address only from the addressee?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please contact the SSSD State Mail Office immediately at 463-3442. We may be able to provide information which could save your agency postage and labor costs.