USPS official discusses GAO report, focusing on small businesses

Linda Kingsley, SVP of strategy and transition for the US Postal Service, met with reporters at the National Postal Forum this afternoon to discuss the Government Accountability Office’s April 2010 report on the US Postal Service, which was released to Congress yesterday. The report is based on a required study by GAO to evaluate strategies and options for reforms of the USPS.

The USPS’s business model is to fulfill its mission through self-supporting, businesslike operations. However, the USPS has experiences increasingly difficult challenges based on several factors, including the past several years of economic downturn.

In its report, the GAO recommends that Congress consider providing financial relief and other steps, including forming a panel of experts to develop proposals for broader legislative and operational reform. The USPS’ business model prevents it from taking steps that many businesses take for granted.

Kingley said many people don’t realize that the USPS is at the core of a trillion dollar mailing industry that employs more than eight million people across the country. Moreover, she says, most people don’t realize that even though taxpayers do not fund postal service operations, virtually every major decision USPS makes must first be approved by oversight agencies — including certain contracts with mailers. This business model, Kingley said, is not sustainable, particularly from a competitive standpoint.

“While we’re waiting for word on a contract, a competitor is waiting in the wings,” she said.

Kingsley reiterated statements previously made concerning the suspension of Saturday delivery, calling it mandatory for survival. But she was upbeat about the USPS’ action plan, which calls for creating additional innovations, among others.

Over the past 10 years, the Postal Service has developed and deployed a number of cutting edge technological advances, such as Intelligent Mail, for instance, that are working well and being emulated as best practices by other posts around the world. But those in USPS seem to have many other business concepts and products they believe would benefit the Postal Service and its customers.

Kingsley said she is especially enthusiastic about the possibility of developing initiatives that enable small businesses to conduct direct mail programs through the USPS.

“We want to make it easier to small businesses to do business with the USPS,” she said. “We want to be the one-stop shop for small business.”

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