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Opinion

U.S. Postal Service Needs Principled and Accountable Oversight

With more than $52 billion in mounting financial debt since 2007, a number of services that fail to cover product costs and service standards in rapid decline, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in trouble and the future of dependable mail delivery is in jeopardy.

What is needed most from USPS is better financial management of overall postal operations and management accountability for the declining service of their core mission of letter mail delivery, a clear misguided business plan and financial mismanagement leading to their mounting debt.

Outside of government, a Board of Directors would be held accountable if they were delivering zero value to shareholders and running mounting deficits year after year. The body that plays this role for USPS is the Board of Governors.

Of the nine appointees to the Board of Governors, there are currently six vacancies. This provides a real opportunity for policymakers to appoint new leaders with fresh ideas who are not afraid to get USPS back on a path towards solid financial footing and providing each American with reliable mail service.

Because the U.S. Postal Service had a $67.8 billion annual operating budget during the last fiscal year, they are only second to Wal-Mart in total employees, second to McDonald’s in total real estate. This is why they need a Board that provides strategic direction and maintains financial accountability.

In 2006, Congress passed a law called the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA) with the intent of reforming the USPS in a number of ways. One thing this law did was create more specified qualifications for the Board of Governors saying, “the Board of Governors shall represent the public interest generally, and shall be chosen solely on the basis of their experience… on their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations.”

Similar to any other hiring process, we have laid out five principles or qualifications that every member of the Board of Governors should personify to ensure a heightened level of management and accountability:

·       Have executive experience overseeing a similar private or public entity.

·       Possess knowledge of Postal Service and its functions, as well as the larger logistics industry and landscape – including regulatory policies – in the United States.

·       Keep an unrelenting commitment to fiduciary responsibility, maintaining direct and deep control of the Postal Service’s revenues and liabilities.

·       Stress accountability to customers, taxpayers and shareholders.

·       Understand and protect the core mission of letter delivery at an affordable rate.

Of the 10 current members and nominees, three meet the overall intent of our principles, one is strictly a public servant with no real world business management experience, two are political appointees and four may have fit into one of these categories, but more importantly, have served on the Board of Governors, overseeing, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial demise.

Ellen Williams (current member) and Stephen Crawford (nominee), judging by their experience, are nothing more than just political appointees, while Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman does not seem to have any experience outside of public service. None of these individuals has the principles stated to be effective members of the Board of Governors.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan, current Chair of the USPS Board of Governors James Bilbray, and former members Mickey Barnett and Jim Miller all have some positive attributes; however, they have each served in key roles on the Board of Governors, overseeing the USPS’s downward financial spiral.

Current member Louis Giuliano has executive experience and currently advises the Carlyle Group in a number of investment sectors. David Michael Bennett is currently a nominee and has spent his career working for BAE Systems, overseeing business sectors like contracts, procurement, pricing and facilities. And David Shapira, a current nominee, is the Executive Chairman of Giant Eagle Inc., a supermarket company with over 400 locations. Each meet the stated principles and should receive support to serve on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors.

David Williams is the President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.