Who’s the New PMG? Anyone’s Guess

Apr 03, 2001 9:30 PM  By

Washington–The U.S. Postal Service appears to be far from making a decision on choice of a postmaster general to replace William Henderson, whose term expires May 31.

“Everyone’s confused. Will it be someone from inside the USPS? Outside?” says Tony Gallo, vice president of the Arlington, VA-based Association for Postal Commerce. “I think the postal Board of Governors [BOG] is working hard to find a PMG with a political background who can take the USPS through postal reform.”

Early favorites for the post, after Henderson announced last year that he intended to quit in May, included politicians such as former senator Alan Simpson, says postal consultant Richard Barton. “But I never thought any discussions of making political leaders PMGs were serious, and the BOG has been extremely quiet about its choice since,” he says. “I do believe the BOG is seriously looking for candidates outside the USPS, but that doesn’t mean that [deputy PMG John] Nolan won’t get it.”

Another source close to the situation says that other names floating around include Southwest Airlines president/CEO/chairman Herbert Kelleher, former USPS chief inspector Ken Hunter, and former USPS chief counsel Mary Elcano. “Rumor has it these are some of the people being considered,” the source says, “but the governors are keeping it close to the vest.”

The biggest problem the BOG is having, Gallo says, is that outside candidates “are realizing that the BOG consists of well-intentioned and nice people, but not necessarily a board they can work with. None of the postal board members are from large capital industries,” he says. “And a PMG doesn’t have a glamorous job. You have unions on one side, management on the other, and Congress to make legislative reform changes. And with the USPS approaching $3 billion in debt with little hope of turning it around, what kind of hero can a new PMG be?”