Maxwell School Professor Named to National Postal Service Reform Panel
Walter D. Broadnax, Distinguished Professor at the Maxwell School, has been appointed to a panel leading an independent review of a plan to breathe new life into the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) through public-private partnership. The review was commissioned by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in response to a lack of consensus over how to reform the USPS as it faces significant financial pressures threatening its viability. The recent decision by the USPS to discontinue Saturday delivery is part of the ongoing effort to preserve the postal service.
The NAPA panel is looking into a proposal set forth by postal industry thought leaders who have offered up a new hybrid public-private partnership model for the USPS. This model would allow private companies to compete to process and transport packages, performing a majority of postal operations, and then make USPS letter carriers responsible for driving or walking the "last mile" of delivery and pickup routes. The NAPA panel will seek input from a wide array of stakeholder groups to identify key challenges facing USPS and then offer recommendations for potential reform in March 2013. A roundtable discussion of the group's report that will include key policymakers and stakeholders, and to which the postmaster general has been invited, will be held at that time.
The USPS lost $15.9 billion last year due to rapid conversion to digital communications and declining mail volumes, along with a range of other financial and operating factors, including competition from the private sector, a high cost infrastructure and unsustainable retiree benefit funding mandates. Postal service reforms were debated over much of the last Congress, and a bill passed in the Senate in the spring. But lawmakers could not reach consensus on service cuts, such as ending Saturday delivery, how much taxpayers should contribute to retirement benefits for postal employees and whether to alter their labor contracts, among other issues. With no solid reform package currently on the table, the NAPA study will provide valuable information about potential systemic alterations to the business model of a system that provides the infrastructure for 8 million jobs and more than 7 percent of the nation's GDP.