Testimony on Capitol HIll

November 5th

Today I testified on revenue generating opportunities and the future of the U.S. Postal Service before the Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is concerned with the Postal Service.  See Testimony PDF

Overall, my argument was that the Postal Service and the mailing community can become a source of innovation that is an engine for creating new postal revenue through the creation of  public private partnerships.

To make the Postal Service viable will require making mail relevant to future customers.  This will mean connecting hard copy mail with the Internet so that it can play a key role in a multichannel marketplace.

But the new revenue for the public postal service is not going to come from making the USPS into an Internet services provider.  If that was ever an option, its time to say “that was then, this is now.”  Fortunately there are a number key opportunities for the USPS to create new revenue and new mail by creating partnerships with private firms. I describe three broad concepts – Enabling the Last Mile, Extending Democracy’s Reach and Promoting Green Routes.

Some highlights include:

By enabling the last mile I refer to the many opportunities that exist for putting technology in the hands of the Letter Carrier, in other words, on the doorstep of the mailing consumer.  One of the areas of greatest interest to mailers has been wanting to know where their mail is while its on route to its destination.  The USPS has been seen as a black hole compared with FedEx and UPS who have invested billions of dollars to enable their higher end services to “track and trace” and much more.

In addition, I argue that

A second broad theme that Chairman Ruth Goldway in particular has championed has been Vote by Mail.  The Postal Service can do this and provide many other government services as well.

Third, there are opportunities for the Postal Service to again serve the nation by carrying parcels that today cause three and four trucks to travel the same route.  We can reduce carbon emissions by creating Green Postal Routes.

What is needed is to create a pathway that connects the challenged Postal Service of today with a viable business model of the future.  The broad framework should be a public policy framework that encourages public private partnerships as the postal reform law of (’06) and the President’s Commission on the Postal Service (’03) proposed.

The details of new services to customers will depend on the trials and tests and an innovation platform that has yet to be invented.

The coming years could be an exciting time of transformation or they could be a train wreck.  The difference will be whether there is clear public policy guidance that can define the creative balance between what should be public and postal and what should be a public private partnership.

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