Friday, January 28, 2011

Mission Statement for House Oversight Committee

Congressman Darrell Issa introduced the mission statement of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the end of the January 26, 2011 hearing on Troubled Asset Relief Program.  The mission statement was introduced at the first hearing of the committee.   As the mission statement was mentioned at the close of the hearing, it has received limited press attention and most postal stakeholders and policymakers have not seen it.   The mission statement is as follows:

Americans deserve to know that money Washington takes from them is well spent. Americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. Our job on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is to help Americans secure these rights.

For postal policy, the mission statement provides little guidance as to Congressman Issa's or for that manner the committee's thinking.    It may provide some ideas for those interested in policy changes that may be proposed if they look carefully.  In particular, the line of thinking suggests that the Committee is looking for ways to understand:
  • What are the needs of individual, small business, and large business customers of the Postal Service, and how will they change over the next decade?  House members need to understand what those paying postage need from a postal system.
  • Is the Postal Service meeting the needs of its individual, small business and large business customers today and does current law allow them to make the changes necessary to meet those needs over the next decade?   Answering this question will likely require examining how law and regulation restrict the mail market and reduce the economic impact of the firms in the mail and parcel delivery supply chain.
  • Is the Postal Service providing services that its individual, small business, and large business customers need in the most efficient and effective manner possible?  The answer to this question could be used to bash postal management and labor or it could help postal management and labor figure out how to most efficiently serve customers and ensure good paying jobs in doing so in the same manner that United Parcel Service is able to offer good paying jobs to its union employees.
  • Is the money that Washington takes from its citizen in the form of postage to cover retiree expenses that either should not be the Postal Service's responsibility or are overstated well spent?  The answer to this question should focus on determining whether it is good fiscal policy to balance the budge budget by bankrupting the Postal Service and putting the service that generates over $1 trillion in sales and 8 million jobs at risk.
  • Would removing the disputed retiree obligations from the Postal Service be the equivalent of removing a "stamp tax" or a "bailout?"   How this issue is framed is critical in how the tea party faction within the Postal Service looks at changes in postal policy.   
In addition to introducing a mission statement, Congressman Issa managed the hearing in a non-traditional way that many who follow postal policy will appreciate.    He dispensed with the traditional practice of having members of Congress read or make a statement before the testimony of witnesses.   This increases the amount of time available for questioning witnesses and more than likely reduced the total time that Congressmen and women, witnesses, and interested observsers must spend to attend a hearing.  For postal policy, increasing the amount of time when witnesses answer questions is important for this Committee as many of the committee members have limited understanding of the postal market, the system of private sector companies in addition to the Postal Service that takes communications from concept to delivery, take a sale of an item from customer acquisition to delivery of the parcel, and the critical role that physical delivery provided by the Postal Service and private sector firms, most of whom are unknown to postal observers, will have in the future even with the expansion of communications options and mobile and and web based shopping.


Anonymous said...

We are to believe congress will move fast? Do they care about the Postal Service and it's viability or their re-election? To much time will tell. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for this company the USPS for 30 years.Congress is affraid if they let the post office run they way its suppose to they would not get ellected again.I work in maintance my whole career and I love it The PRC needs to talk toa few non union people to give them the full picture and the inside scoop.Half our problem is management,Hell I could run an office better tha most and save a hell of lot of money.