Last April, during a House Oversight Committee hearing, Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) took Postmaster General (PMG) Brennan to task for not delivering a 10-year strategic plan to Congress that was promised to be handed over in January. A second delivery date was also missed. The congressman was not happy.
Representative Meadows had worked with his Democrat colleagues to draft bi-partisan postal reform bills. As he said, the PMG’s actions were turning an advocate into an adversary. At the end of the discussion, the Committee Chair, the late Representative Elijah Cummings, directed that the plan be delivered to the committee no later than July.
At that summer’s Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting, PMG Brennan was asked when the strategic plan would be published. The PMG said that the Oversight Committee had the plan, and that it would be released to the industry “in due time”.
On December 5, 2019, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) released their revised proposed rulemaking for postal rates. This was two years after the original proposal back in 2017. If adopted, the new rules will have a significant impact on postal revenues.
Six weeks later, the US Postal Service (USPS) published a document with the title “Ready-Now – Future-Ready: The U.S. Postal Service Five-Year Strategic Plan, FY2020 – FY2024”. Definitely not the 10-year plan discussed in 2019. And published almost 4 months after the start of Fiscal Year 2020.
Of the 43 pages, 4 are “intentionally left blank”, and another 4 pages are either title pages or the table of contents. Of the remaining 35 pages:
- 1 page – Letter From the Postmaster General and the Chairman of the Board of Governors
- 3 pages – Executive Summary
- 10 pages – US Postal Service’s Mission, Current Business Condition and Vision for the Future
- 14 Pages – USPS Ready-Now – Future Ready Goals and Key Strategies for FY2020-FY2024
- 7 pages - Appendices
The 5 stated goals are:
- Goal 1 – Deliver World Class Customer Experiences
- Goal 2 – Equip, Connect, Engage, and Empower Employees to Best Serve USPS Customers
- Goal 3 – Innovate Faster to Deliver Value
- Goal 4 – Invest in Our Future Platforms
- Goal 5 – Support the Legislative and Regulatory Changes to Enable This Vision
None of the strategies to reach these goals give any specific, measurable targets – or the dates by which the targets should be reached. The best summary of this lack of planning is on page 29, Exhibit 4. “FY2016-2019 Results and FY2020-FY2024 Targets for Corporate Wide Performance”. The target for every category for FY2021-FY2024 is “Improve”. Not “Improve by X%”; just “Improve”.
For the legislative and regulatory changes goal, the document only restates the current conditions. There’s no reference to the PRC’s proposed rules and the potential impact on finances. There’s no specific proposed legislation. There’s no proposed definition of the universal service mandate.
Any innovative ideas are hidden in the document. The problems facing the USPS (which take up almost a third of the document) are well-known. The Informed Delivery/Visibility platform has been in use for years. The roll-out of new smart devices for employees and automated-guided vehicles in plants has already started. Pay-For-Performance is currently in place and proven ineffective.
For years, the $1 trillion print and mail industry has waited for a Board of Governors with a working quorum. That quorum was reached in August 2019, and those Governors approved this “non-plan” plan. They are also responsible for hiring a new Postmaster General charged with implementing the vague goals included in the document. The future of the USPS is as murky as ever.
Meanwhile, the rank and file of the USPS will continue delivering the mail.