This year has been a historically high-profile and challenging year for the United States Postal Service. Quad hosted the first of three webinars on September 17 to help clients navigate an increasingly difficult marketing landscape. Joining the discussion were Art Sackler and Matt Hoekstra, both lobbyists for the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service.
The topic on everyone’s mind — how this year’s compounding events could play out for the USPS in the next few months and beyond. Here are the highlights:
The Biggest impact COVID-19 could have on the USPS is financial relief.
Sounds counterintuitive with volume down dramatically. But the pandemic has made the Postal Service an election-year hot topic. Vote-by-mail, an impending budget crisis and delivery slowdowns are all in the public’s consciousness. Long-overdue bipartisan support for common-sense reform might come quickly with the election only weeks away.
Looking into next year, we don’t know what impact of COVID-19 will have on USPS. Will Americans permanently change daily habits and shopping behaviors? Is the increase in parcel shipments a blip or a long-term trend? The Postal Service has to make important decisions about investments in equipment to remain efficient with potentially more parcels year-over-year. While the growth in package volume slowed in recent weeks, for now they’re a life preserver during a mail-volume decline accelerated by the pandemic.
The new Postmaster General was in a tough spot from day one.
Who from outside our industry knew the name of our nation’s PMG before Louis DeJoy? He was thrown into an unenviable position — billions in losses every year compounded by a pandemic that’s affecting a highly contentious election. Now DeJoy has to lead vote-by-mail while cutting operational costs for an institution that’s operating with outdated systems. Republicans and Democrats disagree on what needs to improve. But they both agree things do need to improve. And they expect Mr. DeJoy to make necessary changes fast.
How did DeJoy respond?
- He implemented cost-cutting measures in mid-July, which included abolishing overtime and reducing carrier trips back to the post office to get more mail. The result — mail arrived later than customers expected almost immediately, which put him in the hot seat before Congress.
- He paused those measures in mid-August, and delivery performance has improved nearly every week since.
The November election could make or break Mr. DeJoy’s tenure as PMG. We hope he’s more transparent and collaborative with the Postal Service’s biggest customers in the future.
USPS recovery from the pandemic will help the nation’s economic recovery.
Postal Service workers are essential for America’s infrastructure. The alarm bells have been loud and clear for years that they urgently need federal support. Even if it’s something as simple, obvious and necessary as reversing 2006’s legislative mistake in the Postal Accountability and Enforcement Act, which mandated retirement pre-funding for employees.
Our trust in the workers who process and carry the nation’s mail is not misplaced. Responsibility falls on federal leadership in Congress and the White House to make sure the Postal Service continues to operate efficiently and effectively. It’s time to look at funding for the future, expectations for service standards and other larger scale improvements. This year clearly shows that elected officials must act immediately to shore up the Postal Service’s financial health.
Quad has created a virtual venue throughout the series. Bookmark this page for additional content, and to watch the panel discussions on-demand.