Insiders are confident that President-elect George W. Bush's administration will benefit the direct marketing industry.
“While [we] haven't started talking with the president-elect yet, we know that he has a fairly strong pro-business background, of course, and we think that he or people involved with him would be understanding of the kinds of issues that affect direct marketing,” said Richard Barton, senior vice president for congressional relations at the Direct Marketing Association.
Barton noted that Clay Johnson, the former head of the Horchow Collection catalog — which is now part of Neiman-Marcus — was named executive director of Bush's transition team.
In addition, based on reports, Bush seems to be thinking like a direct marketer when it comes to the issue of privacy, including limitations on the flow of data.
When asked in the fall by USA Today what role he saw for federal agencies to help enforce privacy laws, Bush said: “Federal agencies that have been given the task of enforcing consumer protection laws should center on that task. It is important that the nation's consumer protection laws foster innovation in the economy, while protecting the consumer.”
He also said he shares many people's concerns that personal privacy is increasingly at risk and is “committed to protecting personal privacy. Industry now appears to be making some efforts to meet consumer demands for privacy protection.”
In addition, the Aug. 17 edition of the Los Angeles Times E-Review examined Bush's Web site — www.georgewbush.com — and found that “visitors still must opt in to be included on Bush's mailing lists.”
Bush will be in a position to change the membership of at least four government agencies affecting the direct marketing industry: the Postal Rate Commission, the U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
Bush will have to name a successor to Ed Gleiman as head of the PRC. Gleiman is retiring Feb. 2. Bush also will have to name a successor to Democrat W.H. “Trey” Le Blanc, whose term on the PRC expired last month.
There are five postal rate commissioners whose main duty is to allocate costs among the classes of mail and to act on mail classification changes. The president names the commissioners to six-year terms, and no more than three can be members of the same political party.
Bush will also have to name a successor to Tirso del Junco, whose term as a postal governor expires this month.
The Board of Governors is comparable to the board of directors of a private corporation. The board consists of nine presidential appointees plus the postmaster general and the deputy postmaster general. The president appoints the nine governors with the advice and consent of the Senate. They, in turn, select a postmaster general, and those 10 select a deputy postmaster general. Each governor is appointed to a nine-year term or to the remainder of an unexpired term.
It is rumored that Postmaster General William J. Henderson is set to leave the USPS in May, so whomever Bush chooses as a new postal governor could vote on the next postmaster general.
The board directs and controls USPS expenditures and reviews its practices and policies. Capital investment projects exceeding $10 million require approval of the board, which generally meets once a month.
Bush will also have to name successors to Harold W. Forchtgott-Ruth, whose term on the FCC expired in June, and Robert Pitofsky, whose term as chairman of the FTC will expire in September. Insiders said Colin Powell's son Michael may be named FCC chairman. Bush named Colin Powell secretary of state.