Washington – The incoming postmaster general told a U.S. Senate subcommittee Thursday that one of his highest priorities would be to improve the customer experience, making the Postal Service "leaner, faster and smarter" in the years ahead.
Deputy Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, who will become the nation's 73rd postmaster general on Monday, said he is looking at all the ways the Postal Service deals with its customers. "Every interaction with us," he said, "with a carrier, a clerk, at a kiosk, at a contracted desk or online must be a great one."
Addressing the current state of the Postal Service, he acknowledged that the past several years have been challenging but there are significant accomplishments that should not be overlooked. He pointed out that the Postal Service achieved $3 billion in spending reductions in 2010, for a three year total of $10 billion and despite reaching the lowest career complement since 1970, "service levels, customer satisfaction and trust in the Postal Service have never been higher."
Donahoe, a 35-year postal veteran who has served as deputy postmaster general since 2005, said the $8.5 billion loss the Postal Service experienced in 2010 was "a stunning number" but were it not for two legislatively mandated payments, $5.5 billion to the Retiree Health Benefits Fund and a $2.5 billion non-cash workers compensation adjustment, the loss was less than $500 million, a "significant accomplishment," especially in light of a 6.6 per cent mail volume decline.
"If you look at the aspects of the business within our control," he said, "we have done well in responding to economic conditions. We have an opportunity to turn the corner and produce regular operating profits."
He said the legislation introduced by the subcommittee chairman, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation (POST) Act of 2010 would provide the Postal Service with "the flexibility to implement necessary business strategies faster and more effectively" and that the bill had his wholehearted support.
"We don't want to be a burden to the American taxpayer, and the POST Act helps ensure that won't happen," Donahoe said.
Looking ahead, he told the subcommittee "My personal vision is that of a profitable, nimble Postal Service that competes for customers and has a well defined and valued role in an increasingly digital world. Part of that vision is to ensure the Postal Service will always be a resource to every American business and be valued and trusted at every American residence."
He concluded, "Our goal is to remain viable for a long time (and with the help of the Congress), we will be able to do just that."