Dana Hyde: Appropriate Policy Expert on Saving the Postal Service? I Don’t Think So

By Richard Thayer

I recently received an e-mail message from Dana Hyde.

You may not know Dana Hyde–I didn’t either until I received the e-mail–but she is the Associate Director for General Government Programs, Office of Management and Budget. Impressive.

Her e-mail was in response to a petition I had signed several weeks ago on the White House website “We the People.”

Actually, her response was to two petitions I had signed, one titled “Save the Postal Service,” and the other, “Preserve 6-Day Mail Delivery.”

According to the website, its purpose is to provide us, we the people, with a new tool to “petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

The words “appropriate policy experts” and “official response” drew me in. I signed the two petitions and waited breathlessly for the official response.

A few days ago I received the official response. Evidently the White House staff believes Ms. Hyde was the appropriate policy expert on this matter because that’s whose lap these two petitions were dropped into.

Having read and reread her official response to the petitions I and a few thousand other concerned American citizens signed, this is the conclusion I have drawn: If Dane Hyde is the appropriate policy expert on the Postal Service, we’re in a heap of trouble.

With all due respect to Ms. Hyde–I’m sure she’s a nice person–she knows about as much about the Postal Service as presidential wannabe Herman Cain knows about Libya.

Her first mistake was using the information she found in “The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Job Creation,” as the basis for her official response. That’s because the President’s Plan is pretty much the Postal Service’s plan for economic growth and job creation. And as many of us have learned since he became Postmaster General, Pat Donahoe knows as much about the Postal Service as Herman Cain knows about Libya.

I won’t bore you with the entire letter, but I will subject you to at least one paragraph of it. The bold highlighting is mine, not Ms. Hyde’s. Here goes–

“We are proposing to help the Postal Service reduce its excessive operating costs by providing the flexibility to gradually move to 5-day delivery, beginning in 2013. Under USPS’ plan for how it would use this authority, post offices would still remain open on Saturdays, Express Mail deliveries would still be made 7 days a week, post office box deliveries would still be made on Saturdays, and USPS would continue to make Saturday deliveries in the busy weeks leading up to the winter holidays. These and other cost structuring actions will ensure that the Postal Service remains viable for the medium-and longer-term.”

A few observations on the above paragraph:

1. I’m immediately on the defensive when I see where someone else wants to help the Postal Service. For example, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) wants to help the Postal Service by eliminating Saturday delivery, laying off thousands of employees and doing away with collective bargaining. Saying that this will help the Postal Service is like saying my drinking a cup of arsenic will cure my cold.

2. To the providing flexibility statement: How the heck do you provide flexibility by laying off thousands of people, closing thousands of post offices, consolidating mail processing plants, and eliminating a day of delivery? Obviously their idea of flexibility is doing a lot more with a lot less. This will ultimately cause rigidity, not flexibility. And with rigidity comes a lack of growth, a lack of growth results in stagnation, and stagnation leads to mosquitoes.

3. Gradually move to 5-day delivery…beginning in 2013. Gradually? Let’s see, we’re now at the tail-end of 2011. At the pace Congress is moving, even if a bill was passed by the House and the Senate (which is highly unlikely until after the 2012 elections), we would be well into 2013 before it became law. Again, what is their concept of “gradually”?

4. USPS’ plan…Here Ms. Hyde makes it obvious that she’s basing her official response on the USPS’ plan. Those of us who have ever worked for the Postal Service know how its plans generally turn out. In the quarter-century that I have been associated with the Postal Service, I have yet to see one of its plans actually succeed. My question is, why should this plan be any different?

5. Cost structuring… What does that even mean?

6. And, finally will ensure.. For someone who obviously doesn’t know very much about the workings of the Postal Service, and business in general, Ms. Hyde seems awfully confident that this plan (i.e., the Postal Service’s plan) is fool-proof and will definitely save the Postal Service from itself. Getting advice from the Postal Service on how it should be saved is like asking a fox to give you advice on how best to ensure the safety of the chickens.

Please take note. Just because people in high authority, like the Obama administration, say that someone with a long, impressive title is the “appropriate policy expert” on a particular matter, doesn’t make it so. I offer this as a case in point.

(Photo source: The Anthropomorphic Critic)


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