Economist Alan Robinsin suggests that new Postmaster General Pat Donahoe is making his mark on the USPS:
The place where Pat Donahoe’s mark is most clearly seen is in the new structure of Postal Management. In particular, the new structure makes the follow statements about the future of the Postal Service:
- Strategic planning appears to have been split. Financial issues are placed within the Finance Department under the VP of Finance and Planning. Public Policy Issues are placed within the realm of Government Relations and Public Policy. These two departments are going to have to work closely together as many of the policy issues and expected proposals to change postal law focus on changes designed to ensure the financial viability of the Postal Service.
- The Postal Service organization of its marketing operation appears to recognize that it serves two different markets: retail (i.e. customers who send less than 500 pieces at a time) and wholesale (i.e. customers who send more than 500 pieces at a time). What is unclear is whether the marketing department has the authority to focus the attention of operations management on making operating changes that reduce operating costs to the extent that regulated or unregulated prices can ensure margins that promote postal self sufficiency.
- The Postal Service has placed greater attention on both customer communications and the presentation of its public policy positions. Susan LaChance’s new mandate should give the Postal Service’s customers, and in particular its larger customers, a headquarters contact that can cut through the bureaucracy in dealing with service and other complaints.
- Management at all levels faces continuing downsizing. The new management structure reduces the number of officers, the number of areas by one and eliminates 10 districts. The elimination of one area comes about a year after another consolidation in the Northeast. The elimination of districts represents an initial effort to consolidate management at that level.
Robinson asserts that “The announcement that RIF rules will be used suggests that the Postal Service may have shifted its strategy for reducing its workforce and will no longer primarily use attrition as a means to reduce the workforce.” That’s overstating things- Donahoe told the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe that the 7,500 positions being eliminated would be cut by attrition. Eliminating an entire area office requires the use of RIF rules- it’s nothing new. Those rules were followed in all of the previous area and district consolidations, and don’t automatically mean that any employees will actually be involuntarily separated from the USPS.