March 30 2009 03:46 PM

Our nation and many of its institutions are facing a bit of trouble. This is certainly true of our Postal Service. Huge budget deficits call for tough decisions – to cut delivery, raise postage, close facilities, layoff, etc. These tough times will call for inspired leadership and innovative thought. Although I’m not overexcited by some of the ideas coming out of the USPS (cutting one day of delivery comes to mind), I am encouraged by others.

A couple of examples:
Ruth Goldway, Postal Regulatory Commissioner, recently published a couple of “op-ed” pieces. One is in the New York Times, the other in this issue of Parcel (see page 32). In these pieces, Ms. Goldway outlines a strategy for utilization of federal economic stimulus funds that is win, win, win, and win. Part of her comments propose using stimulus funds to convert the USPS vehicle fleet to electric power. This would create jobs (some of which would likely be very badly needed in the automotive manufacturing sector), save the Postal Service money, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, clean up our environment and increase acceptance and access to electric power for personal vehicles. This is exactly what the Stimulus Package was intended to accomplish! Ms. Goldway’s proposal is bold, innovative and very do-able. It shows the kind of thinking our institutions will need to deal with these tough times.

In another example: United Parcel Service recently announced a pilot program called “UPS Flexible Returns Access,” a program that allows shippers to more easily set up returns for their customers. Part of this new “flexible returns” program allows returns via the USPS. This flexibility takes advantage of the Postal Services “visit every door, everyday” infrastructure. This is an excellent example of how the Postal Service will need to work in cooperation with private carriers to succeed. As Jim Cochrane, vice president of Ground Shipping for the Postal Service, stated during the announcement of this new pilot returns service, “This is a great example of 'coopetition.'” This “coopetition” between the USPS and private carriers will be the key to the long-term survival of the USPS and the health of our nation’s shipping system. 

These are a couple of examples of “somebody’s thinking” out there. We’ll need more, much more!

Speaking of “thinking” - and getting shippers through tough economic times - the thinking caps will be out in full force at our 7th annual Parcel Forum “we’ve got your BACK-END covered”, October 5-7, 2009, at the Hyatt regency O’Hare in Chicago. We are planning some real innovative new presentations, along with our usual tried and tested content. Tough times demand that you stay ahead of the pack and one excellent way to do that it to know what the pack is up too. Plan now to BE THERE! 
As always, thanks for reading PARCEL.