Washington Personalized postage stamps -- featuring the kids, the dog, the company logo -- may be in Americans' future.
Such special-issue stamps, sold at a premium, were among the recommendations issued Wednesday by the President's Commission on the Future of the Postal Service.
The panel also called on the post office to cut its work force while increasing automation; to establish a bonus, or pay-for-performance, system for managers and union members; to set up a security system to track mail; and to make changes in its collective bargaining process.
Established in January by President Bush, the commission is scheduled to issue its final report by the end of the month. Major recommendations were approved Wednesday and last week.
Allowing mailers to personalize stamps would add value to sending materials by mail, said Harry J. Pearce, co-chairman of the commission.
"There's enormous creativity out there," added co-chairman James A. Johnson, citing the popularity of personalized license plates.
Personalized stamps were introduced in Canada in 2001 and have proven very popular, said Canada Post spokesman Tim McGurrin.
Customers send in a picture and Canada Post reduces it to a sticker which can be placed in a postage stamp that has a blank center. The Picture Post stamps sell for $1, compared with the 48-cent regular price for Canadian stamps.
Pictures of friends, babies and pets are most common, McGurrin said, as well as businesses or logos.
The customer must own the copyright to the picture, McGurrin said, and the agency reserves the right to refuse any it deems in bad taste.
Many of the recommendations will need approval from Congress and the president. Efforts to update the 1970 legislation that set up the Postal Service have been debated for some time in Congress.