This article from Business Week describes a culture of ignorance at the USPS. And a culture of complacency from its customers; the american population. And their funders; US taxpayer. It is a fascinating game of chicken to watch in its own right. A made-for-reality-tv future, where a lose-lose outcome looks certain.
But it also is a striking precursor of what each and every US government service is will face in the future. Perhaps the USPS is the redheaded step-child of the GAO. But the patterns are strikingly familiar in Healthcare, Emergency Services, Libraries… to name a few. Without a long term plan to do anything but wrest costs or gain exemptions to them, one must wonder if and when Innovation will get to Washington.
“…Its a lonely calling. “Washington is full of Carnegie and Brookings Institutes with people who can tell you every option we have in Egypt or Pakistan,” laments Herr, who has a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University.
“Try and find someone who does that on the postal service. There arent many.”Yet Herr finds the USPS fascinating: ubiquitous, relied on, and headed off a cliff. Its trucks are everywhere; few give it a second thought. “Its one of those things that the public just takes for granted,” he says. “The mailman shows up, drops off the mail, and thats it.
“He is struck by how many USPS executives started out as letter carriers or clerks. He finds them so consumed with delivering mail that they have been slow to grasp how swiftly the services financial condition is deteriorating. “We said, Whats your 10-year plan? ” Herr recalls. “They didnt have one.”