DMA Rips USPS Draft Transformation Plan

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The Direct Marketing Association yesterday expressed deep concern about the U.S. Postal Service's draft transformation plan.

Mailers and direct marketers had until yesterday to comment on the comprehensive transformation plan examining structural changes to the postal service. The plan, requested by Congress and the U.S. comptroller general's office, is to serve as a long-term blueprint for the agency's future. The USPS expects to have a plan to Congress in March.

The DMA said the plan failed to provide the specific actions and timetables anticipated by Congress in its request in order to achieve much-needed reform of the USPS.

"We are concerned because instead of plotting a course for the future, the postal service only mapped out where it stands today," said Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president, government affairs at the DMA. "The draft plan does not convey the sense of urgency that pervades the postal community that transformation must begin immediately to preserve the nationwide delivery system. There are 9 million American jobs and $900 billion at stake."

Edward J. Gleiman, a former Postal Rate Commission chairman now spearheading the DMA's postal reform efforts, said the USPS draft did not include cost-reduction strategies already outlined by the Mailing Industry Task Force. The task force consists of executives from 11 industry-leading companies formed last spring by Pitney Bowes chairman/CEO Michael J. Critelli and deputy postmaster general John Nolan. It was designed to assess the current role and value of hard-copy mail in business and consumer communications, evaluate the competitive environment affecting the industry's future and identify growth opportunities.

"The plan does not propose specific legislative reforms, nor does it establish a framework for how the service will operate and compete in the future," Gleiman said.

Cerasale said the draft avoids the GAO's recommendation.

"The GAO had recommended that the postal service develop a plan with actions and specific time frames to address its grave financial, operational and human capital issues," he said. "The current document fails at providing such a road map."

In addition, the DMA said that the draft transformation plan's sequential three-phase approach to reform should be better defined and progress in parallel.

Under current law, the USPS has the authority to change mail classifications, adjust delivery and service standards and establish the level of retail access. The DMA thinks the postal service should not be constricted to assume the same standards as today. It is time to think outside the box.

"We stand ready to work with the postal service on transformation," Gleiman said. "We need it. For the postal service to miss this chance at transformation would be tragic. Stealing a phrase from Nike, 'Just do it.' The time for action is now."

The DMA also expressed these opinions in a letter to Julie S. Moore, executive director, office of transformation, strategic planning, USPS.


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