*Henderson: USPS Faces Sobering TrendsANAHEIM, CA-William J. Henderson, the U.S. Postal Service's Postmaster
General told attendees to the Fall 2000 National Postal Forum here
this week that while the USPS in some cases the USPS is facing
the best of times right now, there are also many sobering trends it must
"For the mailing industry and the postal service, these are absolutely the
best of times," Henderson said during the opening general session. "The
best of times because the past five years have been an unprecedented
period of progress and prosperity."
But, if the agency becomes complacent "these could become the worst of
times," he said.
For example, he said that the USPS and the mailing industry "stand
together at the foot of a towering mountain representing three sobering
One sobering trend is consolidation within the mailing industry that is
changing the structure of mail.
"First-Class mail is no longer growing at historical rates, as the mailing
industry seeks to combine bills and advertisements and other pieces into
He cited a report by the American Bankers Association, that said that
banks have reduced mailings by 18 percent since 1996, exclusive of their
sue of electronic banking.
Henderson said that the second sobering trend is electronic billing and
payment systems that are creating another channel into the household
competing with mail, and the third is "good old-fashion competition….
Everything from domestic competitors to foreign posts is remaking
themselves-virtually without constraints-to defend their core businesses
and to mine new business from the opportunities of e-commerce," he said.
As a result, Henderson said the USPS faces three critical challenges that
it must confront in order to stay afloat. Those challenges are:
• Keeping its products affordable;
• Growing with the industry the USPS serves; and
• Removing the regulatory boundaries that prevent the USPS from being the contemporary, efficient, effective brand people want to do business with.
Henderson said that while the agency is doing everything it can to bring
its internal cost structure down, and is working with the mailing industry
on every front to keep the value of its products high and keep them
relevant, he is concerned about regulatory issues. Currently, H.R 22, the Postal Reorganization Act, is stalled in Congress and will probably die by
the end of this session.
"Five years of debate about postal reform in Congress has failed to give
us the flexibility we need to prove our products in line with competitive
market behavior, to invest income freely, or to bring the voice of the
customer into the labor mix, Henderson said. "I say again hat we are a
wholly owned government business and it is time to get down to business on
reform, We needed it five years ago. We need it today."