Postal Updates

Search for next postmaster general continues

Mar 17, 2020, 3 PM
The prolonged search has forced Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan to remain in office past her planned Jan. 31 retirement.

Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister

It is, the job specification says, “a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform this storied and vital American institution.”

Thus far, however, no one has stepped forward to become the United States’ 75th postmaster general.

Current Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan has had to postpone her retirement while the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors searches for her replacement.

“The new postmaster general will have a clear mandate to both recruit where necessary and use all existing USPS talent, resources and influence to restore a vital American institution to financial and operating viability,” according to the specification sheet being given candidates for the job.

The sheet, which was released to a Linn’s reader in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, spells out some of the problems the new postmaster general will face.

“There is no doubt that the Postal Service faces significant challenges,” the sheet says.

“The inexorable decline in what was historically its core products leaves the institution in need of major revamp if it is to remain relevant in the period ahead,” it says.

The paper was marked “private and confidential” and distributed by the executive search team of Russell Reynolds Associates.

It says that while the Postal Service’s problems “are undoubtedly serious,” the organization has “tremendous strengths — an extraordinarily dense network, a skilled and dedicated workforce and a huge reservoir of consumer goodwill that can be drawn upon and utilized.”

The challenge to lead the USPS will call for “superior management skills and ‘out of the box’ thinking,” according to the paper.

Little has been announced about the search for the new postmaster general, leading to widespread speculation within the mailing industry as to what has happened.

One such story suggests that the board had a candidate in mind when it announced Brennan’s retirement on Oct. 16, 2019, but that candidate turned the job down, forcing Brennan to remain in office past her planned Jan. 31 departure.

Brennan then said she was announcing her retirement early to “allow the board adequate time to conduct an executive search, select the new postmaster general and ensure a seamless transition.”

But as the search has continued, postal headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C., has been abuzz with rumors.

The first was that something went awry with Brennan’s hope for a quick transition, and more recently that three current postal officers have been interviewed by the board of governors.

Asked to comment on the status of the search, postal spokesman David Partenheimer offered few details in an email.

“The Postmaster General’s new retirement date has not been determined,” he said.

“There is no set date,” for the transition, Partenheimer said.

“The Governors will make an announcement regarding the new Postmaster General when it is appropriate to do so,” he added.

Kimberly Archer, a managing director of Russell Reynolds Associates, the executive search firm, declined to comment.

“As a matter of firm policy, we do not comment on client engagements,” she said.

Linn’s reader Steven J. Bahnsen of Chicago filed the FOIA, requesting details of the search for the new postmaster general.

The search firm’s job description he received lists the following “essential requirements and experiences” for the next postmaster general: experience transforming a large organization, best-in-class operational management skills, financial acumen, industry experience, commercial excellence, and broad stakeholder engagement and management.

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