Postmaster General Megan Brennan congratulated UPMA members on their first national convention and thanked them for the opportunity to address them. She also thanked the veterans in the audience and said the agency is proud to be the largest civilian employer of veterans.
The PMG talked about the state of the business; single-piece First-Class Mail continues to decline. She noted that many customers digest their information using smartphones, iPads and notepads; this has implications for the Postal Service. The bright spot is double-digit growth in packages. “We’ll continue to grow,” she said, “but that growth has slowed.”
This puts pressure on the network and is why, over the years, changes have been made to the infrastructure. The Postal Service is self-funded, which requires making some difficult business decisions. “Any business would make adjustments to their infrastructure based on overall decline and changes in the mail mix,” she pointed out, “whether it’s consolidations or staffing in our mail processing facilities. The reality is we can slow the diversion, but we’re not going to stop it in terms of what’s happening in the broader marketplace and the way Americans consume information and communicate.”
Brennan stressed the importance of Postmasters providing information to their employees, customers and public officials. She commended UPMA for doing a tremendous job advocating for the Postal Service. “Your treks to Capitol Hill matter; the economic impact of the Postal Service matters,” she said. “Thank you for advocating for regulatory and postal reform.”
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is in the midst of its 10-year price review to determine if the current price cap is working—a requirement of the 2006 “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” The review will determine if the cap stays in place, is modified or will result in a new pricing methodology. “An austere price cap tied to inflation is not workable,” she declared. “It’s not suitable for a network environment that has a universal service obligation and competition in every line. We have to continue our advocacy in front of the PRC.”
Regarding current postal reform legislation, H.R. 756, Brennan said the agency has met with new House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). “Gowdy has been on the committee and is well-versed in postal issues,” she said. “Our expectation is to meet with him and help advance this bill. Absent legislation, we’re not going to return to firmer financial footing or be able to ensure the long-term viability of this organization.”
Brennan also stressed the importance of satisfying customers based on their terms. The definition of service has expanded well beyond transit time: It’s the customer experience at every touch point. “Part of what we need to do is make it easier for customers to do business with us; we have to simplify our processes,” she said.
She is excited about the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery offering and said it’s important for Postmasters to promote the program with their employees and customers. Informed Delivery is one strategy for the increasingly digital world; it builds anticipation for mail. The program is offered across the country and is available as an app. Currently, about 4 million users are signed up.
Brennan pledged to continue to invest in training for employees. “Nothing’s more important than engagement with employees,” she pointed out. “People move the mail. Postmasters are leaders in the organization and in their communities; there is value in that. You help drive that culture. If we don’t have engaged employees, we can’t provide the best customer service.”
Brennan acknowledged there are challenges. “But there’s a way forward,” she stressed. “Collective efforts coupled with regulatory reform and legislative change will ensure the long-term viability of this organization.”