It’s happened, for the first time in almost five years. The Postal Service has enough members on its Board of Governors to reach a quorum. And that’s good news for an organization badly in need of urgent reform.
According to Jory Heckman writing for the Federal News Network, three governors were confirmed by the U.S. Senate before they left on their six-week summer recess.
“The governors operate much like a company’s board of trustees and make important business decisions for USPS, such as selecting the next postmaster general and approving postal products,” Heckman writes.
“The board is also supposed to be the driving force behind a major financial course-correction for USPS, according to the recommendations reached by a White House postal task force.”
With so many pending questions about the USPS – from rate changes, questionable business decisions and red ink to the viability of the organization as a whole – at least the Senate has finally made it possible to convene a quorum … and that makes it possible for the 10-year plan to reform the organization to move ahead.
“The board and its new members will work together to finalize a 10-year business plan for the Postal Service,” Heckman notes. “The Huffington Post first reported in June that the plan, in its current form, would save the agency $5 billion by combing vacation and sick days for postal workers and require employees to pay more into their pension plan, saving USPS $7 billion.”
Without radical change, the USPS could be flat broke in five years; a major overhaul of their business model is needed. At present, both the Trump administration and Congress agree that reform is urgently needed; they just can’t agree on what that reform should look like, Heckman explains.
According to many, the heart of the problem is the so-called “prefunding mandate” that’s been in place since 2006 and requires the USPS to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees. The organization hasn’t been able to keep pace, defaulting on $43 billion+ in payments over the last ten years.
But it’s not their only problem. Prefunding mandates aside, the Postal Service has made a rash of questionable business decisions. The never-ending “will they / won’t they” question of rate changes keeps the massive direct mailing industry in a constant state of suspense, and programs like FSS that were supposed to help have fallen flat.
They put a lot of time and effort into marketing their services to the mailing industry, often making things hopelessly complex in the process. Maybe the USPS should stop trying to promote whiz-bang marketing technologies. It’s not their place to dictate how mail will evolve; skip the discounts for QR codes and other nifty tech advances. The mailing industry itself will take care of that. Rather they need to focus on improving their core service – effective and affordable delivery, of whatever the mailer seeks to distribute.
Still, it’s good to know that at least the Board of Governors can take action. With that hurdle passed, it’s time to fix this thing. No more excuses.