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More U.S. Semi-Postals

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"Yes, we're going to have [a semi-postal stamp program]," said USPS manager of stamp services Cathy Caggiano, during a press briefing earlier this month. "We have to have one."

Congress last year extended the Breast Cancer Research semi-postal, the first by the U.S., for another two years, and mandated that the U.S. Postal Service issue more semi-postals. However, it left the details up to the agency.

de Vries Philatelic Media
Cathy Caggiano

The process was to be developed by the Postal Service, the subjects are "to be developed by the Postal Service, approved by the Postal Service, the frequency, the numbers, everything was something to be determined by the Postal Service," Caggiano told the Virtual Stamp Club.

A semi-postal stamp costs more than a regular stamp. The amount in addition to the postage rate is given to charity, after costs. The Breast Cancer Research stamp, when first issued July 29, 1998, cost 40 cents, with 32c for postage and 8c for charity. The price remained at 40 cents through two subsequent rate changes, with the amount earmarked for breast cancer research going down each time.

Caggiano, a 30-year veteran of the Postal Service, said the new program consists of five more semi-postals, each two years apart, starting in 2002.

"You're going to be seeing approximately five more semi-postals over the next 10 years, starting in 2002," she told VSC.

The Postal Service was required to submit its plan to Congress by Monday, January 29th.

The public will be asked to submit proposals this spring; the mechanics of the process are not yet set.

"The subjects must relate directly to human welfare-related causes that are funded by federal agencies," she said in the interview. "We will review them, based on a list of certain criteria that we will release to the public...and those subjects that meet the criteria will then be forwarded to the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee... They will make recommendations of the subjects that they believe should be honored on a semi-postal. That recommendation then will be forwarded to the Postmaster General."

Why a federal agency? The USPS does not want to get involved in disbursing the funds.

The proposals will be accepted through the end of June, then reviewed by CSAC at its regular July meeting, which may be expanded. Subjects for the 2002 and 2004 semi-postals will be chosen this spring. Then the process will be repeated, for one subject, in 2003, 2005 and 2007, for stamps to be issued three years later.

Is Congress with its resolutions favoring various subjects now out of the process? "I would certainly hope so," Caggiano said.

It won't be a vote, and, lest some groups hope to "stuff the ballot box," one person's suggestion will carry as much weight as 10,000, said Caggiano.

©2001 de Vries Philatelic Media

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