January 26, 2001Among the many challenges facing the next postmaster general is finding a way to generate new revenue, according to William Henderson, who officially announced Jan. 24 that he is stepping down from the position in May. Simply cutting costs is "pretty short-sighted," Henderson said at a press briefing Thursday where he discussed his three-year tenure as postmaster general. "The major obstacle is growth. How do you stimulate growth?" The next postmaster general will walk into a Postal Service that lost $199 million last year, could lose nearly $1 billion this year and is seeing the growth of First Class mail decline. Henderson said the next postmaster general must become a strong advocate for legislative reform. The agency does not have the flexibility it needs to effectively compete in the marketplace, he said. Despite a changing environment, Henderson is proud of the fact that under his stewardship, the agency achieved high customer satisfaction ratings and improved productivity. Still, postal observers note that the agency is heading into uncertain times. Many critics fear that the agency has failed to develop a strategic plan to adequately address its most pressing needs: improving labor-management relations, becoming more efficient and raising revenue. Above all else, the next postmaster general should have a solid business background. "You need someone who understands management," Henderson said. As for his future, Henderson, a 29-year veteran of the Postal Service, is uncertain. He's wanted to join the private sector for five years, but he has not made any formal commitments, he said.
January 26, 2001