Postmaster General announces retirement as USPS seeks financial reform

Postmaster General Megan Brennan will step down from her top job at the Postal Service early next year, the agency announced Wednesday, after spending the past ...

Postmaster General Megan Brennan will step down from the Postal Service early next year, the agency announced Wednesday, after spending the past five years trying to put the organization on firmer financial footing.

“When I was appointed Postmaster General, I made a commitment to the Board of Governors that I would serve for five years and it has been my absolute honor to do so,” said Brennan in a statement Wednesday. “I feel a deep responsibility to this organization and to its future.”

In the months ahead, the Postal Service’s Board of Governors will look through resumes for a successor. The board in August reached a quorum for the first time in more than five years, allowing it to not only name a new postmaster general, but set long-term business decisions for USPS.

Board Chairman Robert Duncan said USPS expects a “seamless transition in leadership” following the holiday season. Brennan will retire from her position on Jan. 31, 2020.

“Megan Brennan is a devoted public servant who has helped lead the United States Postal Service through some very challenging circumstances,” Duncan said. “The governors greatly appreciate her leadership and devotion to the Postal Service.”

Brennan’s successor will tackle the same postal reform issues that she spent most of her tenure seeking to address. The Postal Service has reported net losses for the past 12 years, and continues to see first-class mail volume decrease.

This summer, Brennan told members of the House Oversight Committee that absent postal reform — either from Congress or from the Postal Regulatory Commission — USPS was on track to run out of cash by 2024.

Members of the House and Senate have introduced several postal reform bills over the past few years, but none have made it far in Congress despite bipartisan support. Most of the bills would address a 2006 mandate for USPS to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees.

Because of this requirement, USPS has defaulted on billions of dollars in payments to the fund.

The Trump administration and Congress agree the Postal Service is long overdue for a financial overhaul, but disagree on what that remedy should look like.

Last December, a White House postal task force recommended that the Postal Service roll back the right for unions to collectively bargain for compensation, but made no effort to undo the Postal Service’s retirement pre-funding mandate.

The Trump administration had also proposed privatizing USPS as part of a broader government reorganization plan, but walked back those plans after encountering strong bipartisan opposition from members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

President Donald Trump himself has taken an interest in the Postal Service’s finances, pressuring the Postal Service to charge Amazon and other shippers to deliver packages. But the Postal Regulatory Commission regularly reviews the negotiated service agreements USPS signs with shippers, and the Postal Service, by law, cannot subsidize private companies.

Meanwhile, Postal Service officials this summer briefed committee members on a draft business plan that would outline the agency’s path forward for the next 10 years, but what Congress intends to do with that plan remains unclear.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the  subcommittee on government operations, said in an interview in July that postal reform has “lacked a sense of urgency” on Capitol Hill, despite the Postal Service’s projections that it will run out of cash in the coming years.

Passage of a postal reform bill, he said, would likely take all of 2020 to make it through the House and Senate.

Before becoming the first woman to serve as postmaster general, Brennan started her USPS career more than 30 years ago, as a letter carrier in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She previously held posts as USPS chief operating officer and executive vice president and regional executive positions.

Duncan said Brennan’s career in the Postal Service gave her a “fundamental understanding of the important role this organization plays in communities around the country and to our broader economy.”

“She has been a strong advocate for postal employees and customers.  We especially appreciate her recent leadership of the Postal Service’s efforts to make significant changes to the international mail system, and level the playing field for American businesses,” he added.

Brennan also expressed gratitude to more than 600,000 USPS employees for their service.

“You embody the spirit of public service, you earn the trust of the American people every day, and you continually reinforce my reverence for this institution and my abiding belief in our mission,” she said.

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