Five Years at the Helm

That Megan Brennan has decided to retire from the Postal Service after five years as Postmaster General should not come as a surprise; to many observers, it was only a matter of time when she would make the announcement.

After a 33-year career, rising up through the ranks to the agency’s top position, after becoming its first female CEO, and after years of dealing with the political and media spotlight that comes with the job, Megan Brennan had nothing left to prove, and no higher rung on the ladder to reach.

Many people like to speculate “If I were PMG…” without realizing that the perception of the position’s power is much greater than its reality.

Though as the Postal Service’s chief executive the PMG can set policy over many aspects of the agency’s operations, and has ultimate accountability for its operational and financial performance, the PMG’s (and the Postal Service’s) authority is limited by a wide variety of statutes and regulations, not to mention the effects of Congressional and union politics, customer and mailing industry pressures, and the messaging and shipping marketplace.

In many ways, Megan Brennan was not her predecessor, Pat Donahoe. He was outgoing, gregarious, and comfortable in a public setting. By contrast, Brennan was quieter and more reserved; pleasant and sincere in person, she seemed to feel more at home running the Postal Service than being in the limelight, or dealing with grandstanding politicians or agitated mailers.

Regardless, with the age and tenure to retire, and five years in one of Washington’s most thankless jobs, Brennan can leave L’Enfant Plaza without any apologies to the second-guessers and armchair PMGs. Though critics will find fault for what wasn’t accomplished, she still kept the agency on the rails despite falling mail volume, impossible financial burdens, and useless meddling by politicians.

In the eighteen-plus years since Jack Potter became PMG, the USPS, like the nation, has endured 9/11, anthrax, recession, and other challenges. Over that period, nothing about running the Postal Service has gotten easier, and the odds are nothing will make it easier anytime soon. So whoever becomes the 75th Postmaster General will have his or her work cut out for them.

Megan Brennan announces retirement

Five years of running the $70 billion postal enterprise would be enough for anyone to conclude they did their duty. Enjoy retirement, Megan; you’ve earned it.


Excerpted from the October 28 issue of Mailers Hub News

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