The reporter, however, missed the real story which is how difficult it is to change the culture of the Postal Service, and in particular the culture at the Postal Service's headquarters. In the private sector, if a new division president is hired, and in particular hired to grow a moribund business that should have great growth prospects, he would have brought in an entire new staff with him to
- develop a new strategic plan to position products in the market place,
- develop a new marketing plan designed around the new market position of products,
- develop new approaches to selling services, and
- evaluate the financial prospects of potential business partners. The existing employees would have been let go.
Without the option of hiring new staff, the Postal Service has no choice but to hire consultants. Employees are left with nothing to do because they rose to their position as part of the old culture that allowed the shipping services to increasingly become uncompetitive to services offerred in the private sector. In many ways these headquarters employees sitting idol while contractors are doing the work, are like those clerks placed in "standby rooms." Management does not want to use them, but cannot get rid of them.
The change in culture also means a change in the mix of consultants that do the work. The Postal Service has a number of large consulting firms that can do strategic and marketing consulting under contract. Many of these firms have worked for the Postal Service for decades, and some since its founding. While using these consultants would have caused no contracting issues, it is not unreasonable to think that their advice would not represent a break from the strategic and marketing direction that existed in the provision of shipping services prior to the hiring of Mr. Bernstock.
The need for a new culture in the shipping services and the way it thinks about its strategic position and marketing approach is clear. For years the continuing loss of market share of shipping services was hidden by high margins and relative unimportance to the Postal Service, especially during years when advertising mail was growing rapidly. This changed when advertising mail plunged in 2008 and 2009 and the long-term decline in First Class Mail accelerated.
The future of Mr. Bernstock as president of Shipping Services may depend on the outcome of the investigation of the Inspector General of the three sole source contracts. More importantly, this investigation will further illustrate why the current business model cannot make the changes in culture that are necessary to ensure that a self-sustaining Postal Service serves customers first