Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Big idea #3: Reduce management

In my “Big Ideas” post earlier this month, there were several unique, out-of-the-box suggestions for helping the Postal Service right itself.

This week, we are exploring explore five of those ideas and you can weigh in on each.

Here’s the third.

A commenter said this. “We need to reduce management. The majority of craft personnel know what they need to do and they do it.”  The commenter suggested self-directed carrier units, where they work as a team to get the job done. “ Let team decisions be driven by computer reports and our main goal - delivery. Allow for craft bonuses for teams who do a great job managing themselves.”

The supervisory numbers are falling, along with the total USPS employee totals. Here’s the trend, as gleaned from the annual report.

Year    Supervisors  Total Employees

2005        33,234        803,000

2006        33,201        796,199

2007        32,635        785,929

2008        31,787        765,929

2009        28,812        712,082

The total employee workforce has fallen 12 percent since 2005, while the supervisory workforce has fallen 14 percent.

What do you think? Are these ideas smart? Are there some good benefits? Is there too much downside? Not enough upside? I want to know how you feel. Just be thoughtful and polite in your response.

Comment here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big idea #2: New services at Post Offices

In my “Big Ideas” post earlier this month, there were several unique, out-of-the-box suggestions for helping the Postal Service right itself.

This week, we are exploring five of those ideas and you can weigh in on each.

Here’s the second set.

One commenter said, “How about accepting cash payment for the utility or other type payments like the grocery stores do?”

Another suggested Internet services in postal lobbies, “There is a call today to find ways to extend internet services to all Americans, just like the call that resulted in Rural Free Delivery. Put computers in postal lobbies so that customers can get an email address. And what a great platform for advertising about postal services! The Postal Service needs to move fully into the communications business, and not be hampered by only participating in the paper communications business.”

How about this suggestion? “I think at least in the small offices they should open a coffee chain. I am a level 18 and the Post Office is social hour. I think this would go over well in allot of Small Post Offices.”

What do you think? Are any of these ideas smart? Are there some good benefits? Is there too much downside? Not enough upside? I want to know how you feel. Just be thoughtful and polite in your response.

Comment here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Big idea #1: Serving small towns efficiently

In theBig Ideas” post earlier this month, there were several unique, out-of-the-box suggestions for helping the Postal Service right itself.

This week, we’ll explore five of those ideas and you can weigh in on each.

Here’s the first.

Instead of eliminating smaller Post Offices, as some have suggested, several commenters suggested ways of making these offices more efficient. One said this: “I work in a level-13 office and the hours don’t apply to this community anymore. I don’t need to be open for eight hours…5-6 hours is very sufficient here." 

And then another commenter said this: “Establish a mobile Post Office, like a BookMobile. The Postmaster could travel to a town, sort the box mail, and then stay open for retail for two-three hours, then move to the next town.” 

Another suggested this: “I've always thought we should be open for a couple hours in the morning, and then the Postmaster could go out and deliver mail and open for a couple more hours in the afternoon.” 

And here's another. “Small town Post Offices could be open half-a-day or every other day so a Postmaster could work 2 offices in close proximity. It’s a reduction in service, sure, but the alternative might be no post office at all in small towns.”

What do you think? Is the idea smart? Are there some good benefits? Is there too much downside? Not enough upside? I want to know how you feel. Just be thoughtful and polite in your response.

Comment here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Should we be self sustaining?

A letter writer to a Florida newspaper suggest that instead of the Postal Service jostling and scrapping to keep service up in the midst of declining revenues, that we should simply be government funded.

"The Postal Service is the only agency required by the feds to be self-sustaining. Sounds great, but it is also bound by a board of governors through which all rate hikes and restructuring have to go before any action can be taken.

At one time, the Postal Service asked to set up postal stores not unlike the UPS stores. But they were voted down because there were complaints of unfair advantages.

Given the fact that no tax dollars are being used and that it is regulated to death, it seems the only business at a disadvantage is the Postal Service....Thinking in terms of making a profit when all you have to sell is service, why would you continue to make cuts in service?

"The Postal Service has its hands tied behind its back when it comes to being able to compete on a level playing field with other companies. If we want a great service at a bargain price, then we as taxpayers should start paying for it with our taxes and not tie its hands any longer.

"What type of service do you think we would get if the police and fire departments only handled calls that were profitable? Or how about all roads having toll booths in order to make the Department of Transportation profitable. The list is endless when you start looking at services that we enjoy and expect every day, which are paid by taxes, so why not the Postal Service again?"

What do you think about this? Should the Postal Service once again become government funded? Good idea? Bad idea? Comment here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Forever stamps

Currently Forever Stamps account for 40 percent of all stamp sales. Customers love them. Collectors aren't nearly as excited about them. This was a Big Idea that took off. Can we make it better?

Should we offer more varieties of Forever stamps? Should all of our stamps be "forever?"  Comment here.

Comment here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Your Postal Podcast #25, now online

The latest edition of Your Postal Podcast , found at, features Big Ideas, Big Losers, and Big Green News.

It's Big.

Your Postal Podcast is a monthly audio program produced by USPS Corporate Communications. You can also listen directly from the website from either a postal or home computer.

This 25th edition -- and all previous shows -- may be downloaded free at the iTunes store or using any other RSS feeder.

Please email us at to share comments or story suggestions.
You can also comment on this edition below.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lottery and Post Offices?

One reader wrote me suggesting that Post Offices sell lottery tickets. This is a Big Idea, but do you think it's a good idea?

Comment here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's Greek to us. Or is it?

To help fix their money problems, Greece recently announced they are selling 39 percent of their Post Offices.

Greece thinks this is a Big Idea. Would this work in the U.S.?
What could we sell and who would buy it?

Leave your comment below.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The check isn't in the mail

The administration is moving toward requiring all government checks be sent electronically beginning March 11.
This includes payments for Social Security, unemployment insurance, veterans benefits, railroad retirement, and government benefits will now be required to have their money automatically deposited into their personal bank accounts. Americans without bank accounts can get paid using the Treasury Department's Direct Express Debit MasterCard program.

The reason is financial -- a supposed $303 million in savings in the first five years.

What do you think about this?  Comment here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


"Is PetsSmart on your route? I'm out of treats."

Who knows what this dog was thinking, but it was all about the adventure.

Las Vegas Letter Carrier Robert Brown dismounted to deliver a parcel, when a loveable yellow lab jumped into the vehicle, ready to go for a ride.

The dog wasn't too eager to leave the vehicle.

"It took half a sandwich I had in my satchel to lure him out."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Postal Pet-a-pooloza

Sales of Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps have topped 4.9 million panes as of June 14. The sales total more than $43 million.

Some of the reason have been great events, like one that the Boulder, CO, Valmont Station Post Office and the Humane Society of Boulder Valley recently hosted.

The Humane Society was recognized for their tremendous success in promoting pet adoption and in educating the public about responsible pet care.

The 25 children from the Camp Muddy Paws pet care program created colorful posters depicting how the stamps promote the humane treatment of animals. Pet stamps were also sold at the event.

"It is my hope that these stamps will inspire folks to adopt a shelter animal. How can you resist those smiling faces," said Kat Burns, Director of Veterinary Services for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

The stamps were definitely the "cat's meow" for all who attended that day!

How have the stamps been selling in your office?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pony Express rides again

Who would have thought it was 150 years ago that the Pony Express started?

On April 3, 1860, the Pony Express began its historic run between Missouri and California with riders delivering mail on routes through Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah and Nevada.

As part of the festivities celebrating this year’s 150th Pony Express anniversary, 13 Wyoming towns will celebrate and help re-create the ride along or near the original route of the Pony Express June 15-17, 2010.

These 13 Post Offices will each be offering a special Pony Express 150th anniversary pictorial postmark or cancellation to honor the occasion.
  • June 15th: Fort Bridger, WY 82933;
  • June 16th: Riverton, WY 82501; Pavillion, WY 82523; Mills, WY 82644;
  • June 17th: Glendo, WY 82213; Wheatland, WY 82201; Guernsey, WY 82214; Manville, WY 82227; Glenrock, WY 82637; Van Tassell, WY 82242; Lance Creek, WY 82222; Lingle, WY 82223; Fort Laramie, WY 82212

Customers can obtain the 150th anniversary postmark by mail order beginning on that date and for the following 30 days by following the instructions below.

To order the FREE 150th Pony Express anniversary postmark by mail, include pre-addressed, stamped postcard(s) and envelope(s) in a larger stamped envelope and mail to each one of the 13 Wyoming Pony Express Post Offices in which you are requesting the postmark, and mail your request to:

Pony Express 150th anniversary postmark
(name of town, WY and ZIP Code)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Food drive totals eclipse previous years

Then 2010 National Letter Carriers Food Drive was a big success.

The national total of 77.1 million pounds of food collected eclipsed last year’s total amount collected of 73.4 million pounds.

This was the 18th year of the one-day national letter carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive across America. More than one billion pounds of food have been given to feed America’s hungry since the letter carriers’ food drive started in 1993.

More than 10,000 communities and Post Offices nationwide participated this year. And this year, rural letter carriers had a bigger hand in helping the effort, thanks to a joint agreement between NALC, NRLCA and USPS.

Now that our annual food drive is over, do you think we should add more days? Or is once a year enough. Or how about every day? Customers could leave food out anytime they want and we would pick it up as we deliver the mail. Or, is it not in our interests to collect food at all.

Leave your comment here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Toy Story 3 uses power of USPS -- to infinity and beyond

The movie doesn't open until June 18th, but there's already plenty of hype surrounding the third installment of the Toy Story movie franchise.

The Postal Service and Disney Pixar have joined forces and a series of advertisements promoting Priority Mail can be seen all over.

The ads cleverly incorporate Al the Mailman, who has been the star of our Priority Mail campaign, and the Toy Story characters.

You'll see some television ads. There's also a Direct Mail campaign to 4 million business customers, a e-mail blast to 1.4 million customers, and lobby displays.

Watch the animated advertisement here.

Have you seen any of the ads? What do you think about the lobby displays? Will this help Priority Mail? What do your customers think?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flag ceremony

This black bear in Moose, WY, makes flag raising a hair-raising experience.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Off the clock

Benny here...

I'm big on philanthropy. I formed the first volunteer fire department and was involved in a number of volunteer organizations.

Do you like to volunteer? What ways do you give to your community? Is it important for postal employees to step up locally?  Comment here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Census 2020: Will it look the same?

While this year's Census was a huge boost for postal revenues, don't look for the same kind of bump 10 years from now when the 2020 count rolls out.

Officials are already looking at alternatives.

The Washington Post interviewed Census Bureau Director Robert Groves who said, "None of us can imagine doing a 2020 Census without an Internet option."

Canada used an Internet option a couple of years ago and only had an 18 percent response rate.

Read the article here and tell us what you think. Is using the Internet a bad idea for accurately and securely counting Americans?  Comment here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Station Manager competes on "Biggest Loser" television show

Looking lean and mean, with a big grin on his face, Elmwood Branch Manager O’Neal Hampton zipped up the flight of stairs and mounted The Biggest Loser scale one final time.

It was a far cry from Hampton’s first appearance on the popular NBC reality show back in January. Then, at 389 pounds, even climbing a couple of steps was a huge chore. The scale issued its final verdict – 230 pounds – and Hampton was more than 40 percent lighter than at his Biggest Loser television debut.

Hampton’s partner and daughter, Sunshine, was able to do her Dad one better, losing 41.45 percent of her beginning body weight. What the Hamptons lost in pounds they also gained in the form of a new, healthy lifestyle thanks to assistance from trainers, nutritionists and other medical personnel.

“It’s a brand new me. I feel so nice,” O’Neal Hampton said after his weigh-in. “I couldn’t have done this six months ago.”

Nicknamed “Uncle” by trainer Bob Harper as a tribute to his fatherly manner and the grim determination he displayed as he battled through the heavy physical exercise on balky knees, O’Neal Hampton become a leader among the Biggest Loser competitors as the season wore on. O’Neal and Sunshine became fan favorites as well.

”You’re not just my favorite, you’re everyone’s favorite,” said show host Alison Sweeney during the show’s finale. “The Yellow Team has been a dream.”

The Hamptons continue their crusade for improved health and fitness at home. O’Neal has spoken to employees at the most recent series of Northland District Town Hall meetings. Together they will work with the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota on the Biggest Loser Summer Challenge, a corporate competition that will ultimately be available to every person in Minnesota. For more information go to:

What do you think about the Hamptons? Comment here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Part-time workforce

We are primarily a full-time workforce. But one day, that might change. At the end of last year,  there were 623, 128 career employees, and 88,954 noncareer employees.

Of those noncareer employees, there were 4,271 casuals, 54,529 part-time rural carriers, 11,477 Postmaster Reliefs, and 17,018 transitional employees.

One the stated goals of Postal Service transformation is having "workforce flexibility."

Do you think the Postal Service should be going towards more of a part-time work force to help reduce labor expenses? What about job sharing? Is it doable in today's Postal Service? Will it be painful in she short-term, but pay off in the long-term? What is upside -- and downside -- of having a less than full-time workforce?

Comment here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New record set in Food Drive

Americans donated a record 77.1 million pounds of non-perishable food to help ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ in their communities this year in the annual Letter Carriers National Food Drive, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) union announced today.

Photo by Dave Reynolds
NALC President Fredric V. Rolando said 77,132,180 pounds of food were collected in the drive and delivered to local food banks, pantries and shelters to help needy families.

The results of the May 8 effort easily eclipsed the previous record, set last year, of 73.4 million pounds.

The 18th annual drive boosted the total donations collected since the drive began in 1993 to more than 1 billion pounds -- 1,059,800,000 pounds.

How did it go in your office? Did you see more food? What would you like to see done differently next year?

Comment here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Negro Leagues Baseball Stamp: Know any connections?

On July 15, Negro Leagues Baseball will be honored on a U.S. postage stamp. The First-Day-Of-Issue ceremony will be held at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO.  

It turns out the Postal Service has an employee who played in the Negro Leagues. His name is Cleophus Brown. He is 82 years young and an MVS truck driver in Birmingham, AL.

Do you know of any other postal employees, active or retired, who played in the Negro Leagues? Are there any other employees who are descendants of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Jackie Robinson, or any other players of the Negro Leagues.

Tell Benny by clicking here.