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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 12/ 8/2010

New postal boss wants "profitable, nimble" service

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The new boss at the U.S. Postal Service said his first hellos this week, telling the rank and file he wants to build a more profitable, nimble organization that tries to win more of the competitive package business.

In a letter sent to the service's more than 580,000 workers, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said the digital revolution is eroding the use of first-class mail and that USPS will need to adapt to a "smaller marketplace."

"We have to be more than an available, low-cost delivery resource; we have to win customers and find ways of complementing and adding value to the evolving nature of the way people communicate and conduct business," Donahoe wrote. (See the letter below.)

Donahoe's position as postmaster general puts him atop the world's largest mail delivery service and also makes him head of the nation's second-largest civilian workforce (behind only Wal-Mart), making him an important figure in many American households that rely on a postal paycheck.

He promised to present more detailed plans in the coming weeks, but said the future will focus on four key areas: 1.) Creating new offerings for small businesses; 2.) Improving the customer experience, whether it's at the post office or along a carrier route; 3.) Competing for more of the package business, "a major growth area which nicely complements the rise in e-commerce"; and 4.) Becoming a "leaner, faster and smarter organization" that realigns the workforce, reduces its environmental and real estate footprint and cuts costs. "We have done a tremendous job in this arena over the past several years, while maintaining record service levels," Donahoe said.

His last point is especially important as the Postal Service continues labor negotiations with one of its largest unions just as similar talks with another one collapsed as postal officials are seeking more flexibility to set work schedules and responsibilities.

Is Donahoe on the right path? Or would you do things differently?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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PMG Letter

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 8, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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What Mr. Donahoe suggested seems generally reasonable as far as goals goes.

One thing the USPS could do well to compete with the private sector for package delivery is to improve their delivery confirmation tracking information reporting.

With, say, FedEx, I can get an update within minutes of a scan occurring -- but with the USPS, a long way from that with a longer period between updates and doesn't report most scans from what I can tell.

Improving the USPS data processing system and reporting would be a good start in competiting for package delivery.

Posted by: tronic1 | December 8, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

So the new Postmaster General wants to improve the customer experience. Yeah, good luck.

Based on my experience with post office customer service, I can tell the PG that I would as soon have a root canal as to conduct business at a post office. Nothing is more frustrating than standing in a line of people through the building and out the door waiting to be served by one clerk who is filling out paperwork for someone sending ten packages to Guatemala while several other USPS employees lounge around desks and counters moving in slow motion and ignoring the situation. I know that union work rules prohibit supervisors from assigning more people to the customer service counter until the customer backlog is eased but USPS management agreed to the stupid rules during negotiations.

I can't overemphasize how frustrated people become when they spend an hour in these situations. The frustration turns to anger and sometimes more. There is a reason why the term "going postal" became part of the vernacular.

We don't expect any improvement Mr. New Postmaster General and that is why I and others will take our business to UPS.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | December 8, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Until USPS becomes a real dot-com instead of a de facto dot-gov hobbled by 1940's era unions and Ponzi scheme benefits and pensions no new head will be able to right the ship. Nobody can fix a workplace where nobody can be fired, trust me on this one.

Posted by: Zontag | December 8, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

In many small communities both UPS and FedEx deliver non-overnight packages to the local post office for delivery to residential addresses. The post office is still a bargain. The lowest rate for residential delivery of a letter by UPS to my family 600 miles away is about $17. Post Office does it for 44 cents. And the CEO of UPS has stated he has no interest it taking over mail delivery.

Posted by: billj1 | December 8, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I paid thousands to my congressman to keep our post office off the closing list.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 8, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

We have had problems with mis-delivered mail. One carrier dropped the mail for our cul-de-sac in our mail box for a week. When I complained, suddenly we got no mail at all. I called the postoffice after a couple of days I was told that our mailbox had an active wasps nest. It didn't. I asked why we weren't notified, I was told "oh, we don't do that the customer has to call us".

With this level of customer service, the post office is doomed. They are lazy, overpaid amd have no incentive to be anything else. Get rid of the damned union and make these slackers have to actually do a decent job to collect a paycheck.

Posted by: treadlefish | December 8, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The new PM sounds good but there is one big problem. As long as congress has their hands in the USPS business nothing will ever happen. Your either a private business or a federal service but you can't be both and until cogress realizes this the PO will continue to lose billions of dollars. Also, the PO has been to slow in consoladating post offices, distict offices and area offices.

Posted by: jimbo60090 | December 8, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

the union and management have worked together to adjust and readjust my route to current mail volume.this process leaves little time for anything but casing and delivering the daily mail.while there may be a few exceptions,most carriers take pride in the jobs they do.

Posted by: seniorcarrier | December 8, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

come [ ]

you will need!!!!!!

it's very good!

Posted by: itkonlyyou414 | December 8, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

To the new PG you hear of all these savings and cuts yet you hear nothing of a cuts in management. The USPS is MANAGEMENT OVERLOADED and until someone is held accountable they will continue to suck this company Dry.

Posted by: leafriverrat60 | December 9, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The biggest hurdle the Post Office faces is itself. It continues to make ridiculous expensive decisions to cut expenses. Its decision to cut back on working staff is countered by management taking over the work. Now it costs more to get the same job done. The Automated Postal Centers designed to reduce window personnel are a gateway to lost revenue, as customers almost always choose the lowest rate, regardless of whether or not it's the right rate. Consumer generated postage (online) let's people apply postage which is not verifiable by Postal employees, and short pay their postage every time they ship.
The Postal Service has known about declining mail volume for years, yet it's spending millions, if not billions on automated mail sorting equipment. If the PMG wants a larger part of the parcel market, why is it implementing flat sorting machines the size of football fields?
The last Postal Reformation Act under G.W. Bush and PMG Potter allows people without ANY experience in Shipping/Postal Operations to sit on the Board of Governors. Talk about stupid... Let's get a bunch of plumbers to fix the hole in the roof!

The Bureaucracy that runs the Postal Service needs to be thinned out, if not completely overhauled. Once this is done, the USPS might be able to afford to keep some of the last of the middle class employed, by making intelligent decisions that directly effect it's profitability.

Posted by: MrMcfly | December 10, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

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