The President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) recently issued its recommendations on postal reform. Indeed, some of the ideas generated by this esteemed group may actually help turn around the beleaguered USPS — that is, if the Commission’s suggestions actually are approved by Congress and the subsequent implementation is smartly done.
I especially like the idea of expanding retail access to postal products and services. And the work-sharing discounts is a plan that strikes me as particularly insightful. I encourage you to read the recommendations for yourself, and tell your congressional representatives your thoughts on them.
You can find a copy at www.treas.gov/press/releases/js570.htm.
As for me, I have a few reservations. For example, the Commission’s co-chairs recommend that the current Postal Service Board of Governors be transformed into a corporate-style board of directors with broad authority to oversee USPS operations. The commissioners suggest that directors be selected based on business acumen and other pertinent experience.
But recent scandals (e.g., Enron, Adelphia) have proven that corporate directors — although in general, an educated and credible breed of executives — have been known to fall asleep at the wheel from time to time.
In short, I worry that such a plan for the USPS — an agency crucial to the health of the mailing community — would be putting too much power into too few hands.
Plus, are we falling into the trap of assuming that because American business practices are, for the most part, world-class, that we then should implant such practices into every failing public service? Remember, that’s what we thought would save the American healthcare system, which had been experiencing spiraling costs and reduced services. We began putting healthcare into the hands of the private sector in the form of publicly traded HMOs, for-profit hospital corporations and others. We soothed ourselves with the idea that making healthcare operate more like the private sector was a plan that would solve our healthcare woes.