Despite Congress’s political gridlock, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) expects action on a comprehensive postal bill to address its financial issues on the Senate floor “within the next two weeks,” said Ron Stroman, deputy Postmaster General at the USPS, during the executive briefing session at the National Postal Forum (NPF) in Orlando, Fla.
Stroman singled out Nevada Senator Harry Reid as a major supporter in the USPS’s efforts to push the bill to the Senate. “We have a good shot of getting the House to take action,” Stroman said. “If we get that done, we can get to a conference. In that conference I think we can resolve a lot of our differences.”
Stroman identified three issues within Congress that account for the current indecision.
“The Senate tells us we have to move slower. The House tells us we have to move faster,” Stroman said. “Trying to navigate between those two has been a major stumbling block for us.” He added that political consensus is necessary for the USPS to move forward.
The second problem, Stroman said, is that ironically the USPS might not have enough of a financial crisis to spur Congress into action. “All we hear about is: ‘When will you run out of money? At what date? That’s when we can get something done,’” Stroman recalled.
Finally, Stroman points to a “not-in-my-backyard” mentality running through the legislative branch. All Congressional members agree, he said, on the need to enact substantial change. Yet individual members are hesitant to have those changes within their own States or districts.
Despite the convoluted government process, Stroman is also aware that the obsolescence of the traditional post office business model has caused many of the USPS’s budgetary problems. Due to the proliferation of digital communications, Stroman said, first class mail will continue to decline.
Conversely, he expects commercial mail and package business to experience continuous growth. “Online shopping and international markets are booming,” said Stroman.
However, he alluded to the likely closure of numerous post office locations. “As we look to the future, we’ll need less brick-and-mortar as we provide different goods and services.” The USPS formally unveiled one of these new services yesterday: the gopost pilot, inspired by a similar program in Europe.
Perhaps foreshadowing additional changes the USPS seeks to enact, Stroman introduced onto the stage Peter Brännström, COO and director of production at Sweden Post, which went through a substantial restructuring in the 2000s. “We closed all of our own post offices in the beginning of the 2000s and went to a partner network instead,” Brännström said. “We concentrated on our core businesses to make [Sweden Post] profitable and affordable.”