The financially strapped United States Postal Service proposed a 3-cent increase to 49 cents in first-class stamps, citing precarious financial woes, on Wednesday. To assess the future of stamps, the organization is also paying a futurist more than half a million dollars.
The Postal Service will pay Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, which describes itself as a futurist marketing consultancy, $565,769 to provide "analysis and recommendation on the future of stamps," according to documents acquired by Federal Times, which provides news for federal managers.
The New York-based company was expected to make recommendations in October on ways to slow the decline in stamp usage.
Stamped mail, the most profitable business of the agency, accounts for 43 percent of its revenues. But stamp sales have continued to plummet as more Americans communicate electronically and pay bills online.
(Read more: Postmaster says USPS may need emergency rate hike)
The Postal Service expects a 40.5 percent drop in first-class mail from 84 billion pieces in 2009 to 50 billion pieces in 2020.
"As part of its ongoing innovation efforts, the Postal Service regularly seeks advice and counsel from mailing industry, marketing and innovation experts," said USPS spokeswoman Toni DeLancey in an email.
"This is an important activity that helps the organization anticipate changing mailing and shipping behaviors, as well as long-term changes to the evolving communication marketplace it serves," she said.