Postmaster General Megan Brennan addressed Postmasters at NAPUS’ Leadership Conference Monday, March 16. Attendees warmly welcomed the new PMG. She thanked them for being at the conference and working to advance comprehensive postal reform legislation to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service and mailing industry.
Brennan said it was an honor of a lifetime to lead this tremendous organization. “Many of us grew up in the Postal Service and we are committed to it,” she said. “The Postmasters and men and women of this organization serve our customers, protect its interests and look for opportunities to grow. If not for those results we collectively have delivered, I would not have this opportunity.”
The Postal Service had a very successful holiday season, with an 18 percent growth in packages. “We earned that business,” she declared. “It was a tremendous job during peak period.”
She acknowledged the challenges Postmasters have faced with POStPlan; it has been an evolving and dynamic environment. She credited working with NAPUS President Tony Leonardi and the League of Postmasters President Sean Acord to look at every opportunity to find placements for impacted Postmasters.
“Our commitment going forward is to maintain transparency and talk through any changes that come down the line,” she pledged. “We’re committed to maintaining brick-and-mortar post offices, but we have to be realistic and expand partnerships so products and services can be available where customers shop.”
Brennan said the challenge is to continue to grow the business in an increasingly digital era. The change in consumer behavior represents opportunity in terms of e-commerce, but it also puts pressure on the organization. The agency will be rolling out promotions this spring advocating keeping mail in the system, but making it more personal and relevant. Hard copy in mailboxes still is a very effective advertising tool.
She credited Postmasters as being stewards of their post offices and communities. And their customers look to them to establish some type of normalcy after such events as the extreme snow experienced in the greater Boston area this winter.
Brennan discussed investments the agency is making in package sortation equipment and new vehicles. The Postal Service is looking at new functionality in vehicles, such as air-conditioning for Arizona. New safety and ergonomic features, as well as fuel efficiency, will help manage overall costs. Some replacements for LLVs will have expanded cargo capacity to support the growth in packages.
In terms of achieving postal reform, Brennan said she would like to sit down and find common ground, including resolving the onerous retiree health benefit prefunding requirement and establishing a Postal Service health plan within FEHBP. The agency also would like to maintain the exigent rate increase.
“If we can get agreement,” she declared, “that’s a starting point. Working with Capitol Hill, you need some consensus. My approach is to work with similarities—not differences.” She said it’s important for her to meet with key policymakers on Capitol Hill in her new role as PMG.
Brennan stressed the need for pricing flexibility; 80 percent of the agency’s products that generate revenue are capped. It is critical to be able to move fast in this dynamic marketplace and introduce products and services that will allow the Postal Service to turn its routes into profit centers. “We’re a delivery company,” she said. “We should expand the products and services we offer.”
Brennan said the agency will continue to innovate at a much faster pace. “We have to experiment and look at new revenue sources, new ways to leverage what I describe as an unparalleled infrastructure.”
She told Postmasters that the difficult decisions made over the past few years had to be made; otherwise, the Postal Service would not have the flexibility it now has in the work force—flexibility that is critical in the current marketplace. “We need fundamental reform. We need to recognize the solutions are ours collectively to solve; today’s dynamic marketplace continues to change and evolve.”
Brennan also stressed the need to make prudent business decisions based on data and the Postal Service’s standing in the current business environment. “I want us to be the shipper of choice—not the low-cost shipper,” she stressed. “That includes service, visibility and competitive pricing; I know you share my goal to keep mail relevant.
“Thank you for being here this week and educating our policymakers and ensuring this mailing industry remains viable well into the future.”