Postmaster General Pleads His Case to Senate Committee

What is it? Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe appears today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to plead for passage of a reform bill that the lame duck congress failed to act on at the close of 2012 Donahoe wants to run the USPS like a business, and to do so needs to eliminate billions in prepayments to the federal health and retirement plant that the USPS is called upon to make each year. The legislation will enable the agency to set up its own healthcare and retirement programs, as well as make business decisions without congressional approval. This, says Donahoe and USPS CFO Joe Corbett, will allow them to put the Postal Service’s balance sheet in the black. To force congress’s hand, Donahoe last week made one such decision on his own, announcing the elimination of mail delivery on Saturdays come August.

WIIFM? For marketers, a healthy postal service means continued reliable service from a core provider. The agency plans to keep introducing value-added services for marketing-related mail, which it sees as a growth segment, and wants to be able to test and introduce new services, such as a low-cost sampling program just now getting off the ground. “Marketing mail continues to serve as a valuable marketing channel,” Donahoe tells the Senate committee, “and we expect this part of our business to remain stable for a long time.”

Who’s talking? Donahoe is pressing his campaign forward under heavy fire. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) remarked that he thought Donahoe had overstepped his bounds and “damaged his reputation” by announcing a five-day mail delivery plan without input from Congress. Several postal unions have called for Donahoe’s dismissal, including the National Association of Letter Carriers, whose president, Fredric Rolando, said, “This maneuver by Mr. Donahoe flouts the will of Congress, as expressed annually over the past 30 years in legislation that mandates six-day delivery. In the last Congress, which ended in January, a bipartisan majority of Representatives cosponsored legislation backing the continuation of Saturday delivery.”

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