Thursday, March 26, 2009

US Postal Service: Going Postal on Themselves

The United States Postal Service: Where I learned everything I ever needed to know about how not to manage human resources.

I was a letter carrier for 6 years. During that time I had a wide variety of exciting career experiences. These included:

  • In my second week, I worked 13 straight hours without any kind of break, and delivered mail in the pitch dark.

  • Over the 6 year stint, I delivered in all the elements: rain, sleet, snow, baking heat

  • I delivered a box of live bees in my jeep. They started escaping about halfway to the

    U.S.Image via Wikipedia

    house they were addressed to, so the delivery included the ones crawling on my arms.

  • I walked my only picket line and faced my only potential work stoppage as a union member.

  • I purchased supplies at my personal expense to re-wrap a badly damaged package that contained a book of very explicit sexual photos of a high level auto executive, before I delivered it to his house.

  • I was delivering mail when the post office and postal unions first predicted that email would be the demise of the Postal Service. (early 80's)

Turns out that they were probably right. According to a story in the Orlando Business Journal, the venerable USPS is in deep financial trouble.

With predictions that mail volume will plunge this year, U.S. Postmaster
General John E. Potter is asking Congress for help in finding ways to

During testimony March 25 before the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce,
Postal Service and the District of Columbia, Potter urged lawmakers to allow for
greater flexibility with regard to mandated retiree health benefits.

He pointed out that, based on current law, the Postal Service will pay almost
$70 billion from now through 2016 for retiree health benefits.

“We simply cannot afford the current method of funding these benefits,”
Potter told lawmakers. “Without a change, we will exhaust our cash

He also outlined several strategies that the Postal Service has come up with
to help close the budget gap – a "chasm, widening each day," created by the
agency's revenue shortfall.

These include:

  • A new process for evaluating and adjusting city delivery routes.

  • Reduction of employee work hours and overtime by pursuing even greater
    efficiencies throughout the organization.

  • Halting construction of new postal facilities and directing funds to the
    sites with the most critical needs (i.e., buildings badly damaged or destroyed
    by natural disasters).

  • Improved fleet management and delivery routing to reduce fuel

  • Expanded energy efficiency to reduce energy use throughout Postal Service

  • Reductions in employee travel budgets through the use of Web and video
    technology to conduct meetings and conferences.

  • Renegotiation of supplier contracts to reflect reduced needs.

"Even with our aggressive cost-cutting measures, our situation is
critical," Potter said. "We cannot overcome the economic forces without help
from Congress."

He also said they would begin discussions regarding adjusting its delivery
schedule from six days to five days.

“This offers a significantly higher cost benefit than any other single option
for operational cost reductions,” Potter said. “If we reject this approach, we
rule out our largest cost-management opportunity at this time when we are facing
such staggering financial pressures.”

The removal of a legal requirement regarding days of delivery could result in
annual savings of $3.5 billion, according to the Postal Service.

Congress mandated the six-day delivery service in 1983 when technology and
consumer access were much different than they are today.

Government regulation at work!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment

We appreciate your thoughts on the blog. Please add your comments. It helps keep the place interesting!

Everything you post will be read, and responded too!
-- Michael VanDervort