Federal Manager's Daily Report

There are lessons to be learned for the Postal Service in the experiences of other entities that have been disrupted by changes in technology and customer expectations as the USPS has been, an IG report has said.

It cited for example that the growth of Netflix, which was built on a model of delivering home videos by mail and moved streaming delivery, in contrast to the decline of Blockbuster, which was built on a bricks and mortar model—which included late fees for returns, unpopular with its customers—and largely stuck to that model.

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“The experiences of the two companies suggested the importance for the Postal Service to not only adapt, but to anticipate and prepare for change through more nimble and agile innovation processes. Another takeaway is that an organization should strengthen its ability to distinguish when consumer discontent may be a symptom of a larger strategic problem and address that discontent before it threatens the viability of a business,” it said.

Regarding customer expectations, it cited Amtrak, which it said is similar to USPS in several ways, including a sharp decline in demand and challenges in being a self-funding organization while meeting legal obligations to provide service across the country and constraints in implementing operational changes. It said that changes Amtrak made including setting a set of strategic goals and focusing investment on those goals had put it in a position to reach its goal of breaking even by this year until the further drop in ridership due to the pandemic.

“A takeaway for the Postal Service is the importance of committing to a clear strategic vision for the future. A clear vision was useful not only in affecting change within Amtrak, but in promoting its agenda to stakeholders, including Congress. A transparent approach to communication and the use of evidence-backed business cases are key to pushing for change and increasing public support for management’s strategic goals,” it said.

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