TOPIC: U.S. Postal Service

Boring headline hides real crisis at Postal Service

Sean Collins Walsh probably wasn’t too pleased by the headline his editors chose for his thorough report on the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service.   “Many Seek to Revamp Post Office” is not likely to pull in a horde of readers.  But the Postal Service is in a serious mess, and since it’s the second largest government owner of real estate (after the DoD) and employs more than 600,000 Americans, problems at the Post Office matter.  Collins Walsh writes that prior to the debt ceiling crisis, “several members of Congress had another issue they wanted to focus on:  an overhaul of the Postal Service.”  The question is, will the service be cut, and employees cut, and a great American institution cut to the bone?  Or will creative approaches come to the fore?

Rogues’ gallery

Federal prosecutors and postal workers have an eye for fake art. Prosecutors indicted a Chicago art dealer and gallery owner for selling $480,000 worth of phony works that the dealer claimed were done by masters like Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali, reports the Chicago Sun-Times’ Frank Main. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service says that thousands of fake paintings were dumped onto the market in a scheme that also involved a New York art distributor. The works were mainly sold online.

Post Office closings show lack of creative thinking in government

Creative thinking, risk-taking, looking down the line to think why losing a post office in a small community could really hurt . . . these are all the things that should have run through the mind of someone — anyone — in the White House or Congress when the idea of closing thousands of post offices around the country came up.  It’s one of the last physical signs in your neighborhood of your government at work – and it could be a place where you do more than just write a letter.  And what would it take to save them?  A little imagination.

How Not to Lose a Hugely Valuable Resource — the USPS

Now this is thinking differently.  John Nichols of The Nation looks at the U.S. Postal Service and sees not a feeble, dying, unprofitable bureaucracy but instead a highly effective and dependable public institution that could help pave the way for a different financial and information infrastructure across the U.S.  Examples?  (more…)

Saturday Is The New Sunday

Postmaster General John E. Potter wants the U.S. Postal Service to stop delivering mail on Saturday — an eyebrow-raising change, but one that’s not sufficient to make USPS fiscally stable. (more…)

PSA: Doing Her Part by Being Energy Smart

Another in Understanding Government’s “Public Service Announcement” series profiling the careers and challenges of notable government employees

By Norman Kelley

Quick! What agency of the federal government, other than the Defense Dept., has over 200,000 vehicles and is a major consumer of energy resources? Still don’t have a clue? Hint: it helped you enjoy your holiday by delivering cards and gifts during the past few weeks, and has been considered the most trusted government agency in an age of anti-government suspicion.

Yes, it is the United States Postal Service (USPS), one of the earliest public agencies established by the government, and one of the very few to be explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution. Unlike most government agencies, it does not derive its budget from taxation and has been financially self-sufficient since the 1970s, when it was reorganized from the Post Office Department, a cabinet-level agency, into the United States Postal service, one of the sixty-five independent agencies or corporations and the only agency to survive solely on its own revenues.

With 656,000 workers, the USPS is the second-largest U.S. civilian employer after Wal-Mart. It has a large fleet of vehicles – over 200,000 – consuming an estimated fuel budget of $2.4 billion.

Carolyn Cole

Carolyn Cole

An agency with this much property faces heavy costs for energy.  Helping to make sure that the USPS reduces its energy consumption, along with its carbon footprint, is Carolyn C. Cole, manager of the Postal Service’s Energy Initiatives group. A Washingtonian born and bred, Cole, who reports to Sam Pulcrano, the USPS’s vice president for sustainability, defines her job as “validating and quantifying” her agency’s energy consumption.

“You can’t measure what you can’t manage,” she told Understanding Government. “I develop strategies to reduce our energy consumption.” (more…)