Will Megan Brennan Deliver the U.S. Postal Service?

Press the reset button. When Megan Brennan makes history in February by becoming the first woman to assume the office of Postmaster General (PMG), she will not be the only new player in the postal policy game. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees postal regulation will have a new Republican chairman. California Rep. Darrell Issa’s time has run out as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; fellow Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah will replace him. The Postal Regulatory Commission has a new chairman—Robert Taub—and  at press time needs to fill three empty commissioners’ chairs; the Postal Service’s board of governors has five vacancies.

Postal reform legislation appears to be a dead duck in Congress’s lame duck session. Stumping by Senator Tom Carper to bring his Postal Reform Act to the floor for debate and a vote failed to rouse members. “There’s still no real agreement by the various stakeholders around what should be done,” says Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA).

Two big postal stakeholders await decisions on petitions they filed with the DC Court of Appeals over the exigent price increase. Mailers want the 4.3% rate hike to go away per the standards set down by the PRC in its approval of the measure on Christmas Eve 2013; the Postal Service wants the new rate to be the baseline going forward. In a November press call discussing fiscal 2014 results, Postal Service CFO Joe Corbett declared that passage of the Carper-Coburn bill that would make exigency permanent was a must. “We’re simply running out of game-changing efficiency measures,” he argued.

Stepping into this fine mess is Brennan, who, like outgoing PMG Pat Donahoe, is an operations wiz and lifelong Postal Service veteran. She started as a letter carrier in Lancaster, PA, in 1986, and then stepped into management as a delivery and collection supervisor. Brennan worked steadily up the plant and district management levels, acquired an MBA from MIT, and rose to VP of Northeast Area Operations before being named COO in 2010. As a former carrier she brings street cred to the new contract negotiations with labor unions that start up in February. And as one of the architects of the Postal Service’s network consolidation plan, she has the respect of direct mail companies and bulk mailers.

“I like Megan Brennan a lot. She might be the sort of person who reaches out to the new congressional leadership,” says Peggy Hudson, SVP of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association. “She is similar to Donahoe in that she has a deep understanding of the operations side and is constantly going to be looking for anything to bring costs down, like five-day delivery and the Intelligent Mail barcode.”

Direct mailers and catalogers can have no complaints about the board of governors’ choice to replace Donahoe, ACMA’s Davison says. “Everybody is impressed with Brennan’s thoughts and her drive. She is about, ‘Lets figure out what the root cause is and look at what the measurable metrics are and see what to change,’” he says. “I think she’s a great choice.”

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