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USPS consultant to divine future of stamps under $500K+ contract

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What might the future hold for the humble postal stamp? The financially challenged U.S. Postal Service is paying a New York consulting firm named Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve more than a half-million dollars to find out.

“Who will be buying stamps in 2019, 2024 and 2034? What will they be used for?,” reads the company’s description of the $566,000 task order awarded last month. “How can we embed innovation and new thinking into stamps, to engage America’s coming generations and the [USPS’s] existing and new customers?”

After starting the job early last month, BrainReserve–whose website touts its consulting specialty as “applied futurism”–is supposed to finish up work by mid-October, the statement indicates. Faith Popcorn, the company’s CEO, is billing the Postal Service at an hourly rate of $836. Labor fees for other BrainReserve staff involved in the project range from $91 to $334 per hour.

According to the description, a copy of which was obtained by Federal Times, BrainReserve is to devise strategies both to slow the “predictable decline” in stamp use and to “reinvent and reimagine” stamp relevance to promote growth. While sales of the adhesive-backed paper squares and rectangles have been steadily waning as Americans turn to the Internet to pay bills and stay in touch, they still garner $8 billion annually for the Postal Service, the company says.

“This is a complex, multi-dimensional issue,” it concludes. “The methodology requires in-depth investigation, analysis and ideation in order to Trend-correct the current decline in USPS Stamp volume and begin to structure powerful mechanisms for growth.”

A BrainReserve employee referred questions to the Postal Service, where spokeswoman Toni DeLancey said the firm was hired in January under a competitively awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to support product innovation and brand management. BrainReserve, which had not previously done business with the Postal Service, was founded in 1974 and has worked for American Express, Campbell Soup Co. and other Fortune 500 firms, DeLancey said in an email.

It is “important to note,” she added, that BrainReserve’s “statements of work” for this and other assignments are not USPS documents. The “terms and conditions of any task order awarded may be different from what is reflected in these documents.” Nagisa Manabe, the Postal Service executive vice-president in charge of sales and marketing, was not available for an interview late last week.

The stamp project is one of five task orders that BrainReserve has so far received, DeLancey said. Another is an almost $1.1 million endeavor to explore the possibility of using letter carriers to provide paid home visitation services to the elderly and ill. Those services could include a daily personal visit and regular checks to make sure that customers are using medical devices or taking prescribed medications, according to the company statement of work for that task order.

Since its founding, the Postal Service has connected people, often going beyond the call of duty to provide “caring personal connections in times of crisis,” the document adds. The home visit concept “builds upon and formalizes this powerful aspect of the USPS heritage.”

At the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, one of two unions representing the workers who would play a central role in any such visitation program, a spokesman said the group is not currently involved in the project, but would “very much” like to be. Efforts to get comment from the National Association of Letter Carriers were unsuccessful.

For anyone who’s interested, you can check out the statements of work for the two task orders here.

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Comments

  1. Mailman Says:
    September 22nd, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Unbelievable.

    Ya just know this clown is a mgmt. relative of some sort.

  2. DC Guy Says:
    September 22nd, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    How ironic! Nagisa Menabe claims she’s concerned about budget matters when she put the livelihoods of good Postal employees on the line, but lets the Postal funds flow when it suites her whim!

    Didn’t she work at Campbell Soup too? Is this where she met Faith Popcorn?

    Criminal. A criminally incompetent SVP lording her power over people and then funneling contracts to totally unnecessary pet projects.

    Pat, where are you?

  3. Mr. Postman Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Another brain dead idea of Manabe, the in-over-her-head CMO that took the job to rehabilitate her failed private sector career. Too bad Donahoe is fooled by her b.s.

  4. Jim Bones Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Last Thursday, the PMG told a US Senate committee that the USPS is in the midst of a “financial disaster” and that its cash liquidity remains dangerously low. Yet, Nagisa Manabe can spend more than $1.6 million to pay a futurist to predict the trajectory of stamp use in the coming years and suggest that already overworked carriers should make daily visits to the elderly. This does not seem to be a wise use of limited postal funds or personnel and seems to be as scientifically sound as an episode of “The Jetsons” depiction of life in the year 2000.

    Is this the same Nagisa Manabe who traveled to Hawaii on the USPS dime and stayed there for a week’s vacation; the same Nagisa Manabe who visits advertising agencies in New York on Fridays, as a way to travel to her beach home in Bay Head, New Jersey at USPS expense; and the same Nagisa Manabe who is downsizing the USPS Marketing organization as a way to eliminate employees over the age of 40 by way of a poorly defined RIF (think the humiliation of musical chairs)?

    It is astonishing how knowing someone on the USPS Board of Governors can transform a person who lasted less than 10 months at Coca Cola into the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of a 65 billion dollar organization. This woman must be stopped before she wastes even more money and ruins even more lives of decades long, hard working career employees. Where is the Postmaster General’s oversight on this woman’s actions? Is the Board or Postmaster General paying attention here? And how overpaid are they for managing the sinking ship, otherwise known as the US Postal Service?

    The Postmaster General is not Nagisa Manabe’s sun god and should listen to the concerns of the people who work under her and provide a pathway to reach him.

  5. Jim Bones Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Last Thursday, the Postmaster General told a US Senate committee that the USPS is in the midst of a “financial disaster” and that its cash liquidity remains dangerously low. Yet, Nagisa Manabe can spend more than $1.6 million to pay a futurist to predict the trajectory of stamp use in the coming years and suggest that already overworked carriers should make daily visits to the elderly. This does not seem to be a wise use of limited postal funds or personnel and seems to be as scientifically sound as an episode of “The Jetsons” depiction of life in the year 2000.

    Is this the same Nagisa Manabe who traveled to Hawaii on the USPS dime and stayed there for a week’s vacation; the same Nagisa Manabe who visits advertising agencies in New York on Fridays, as a way to travel to her beach home in Bay Head, New Jersey at USPS expense; and the same Nagisa Manabe who is downsizing the USPS Marketing organization as a way to eliminate employees over the age of 40 by way of a poorly defined RIF (think the humiliation of musical chairs)?

    It is astonishing how knowing someone on the USPS Board of Governors can transform a person who lasted less than 10 months at Coca Cola into the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of a 65 billion dollar organization. This woman must be stopped before she wastes even more money and ruins even more lives of decades long, hard working career employees.

    Where is the Postmaster General’s oversight on this woman’s actions? Is the Board or Postmaster General paying attention here? And how overpaid are they for managing the sinking ship, otherwise known as the US Postal Service?

    The Postmaster General should reach out and listen to the concerns of the people who work under Nagisa Manabe and provide a pathway to reach him. He is not a sun god nor the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain. He is a paid federal employee, just like the rest of us, who also has responsibilities to Congress, the Board and postal management and employees.

  6. Mailman Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Outstanding Jim Bones. The public has no idea of the incompetence, graft, corruption and sleaze that permeate USPS EAS ranks.

  7. Doer Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    How do you measure and quantify the number of extra stamps sold and the increase in revenue from hiring a “futurist” to think about the future of stamps?! Will the resulting efforts “discovered” by Faith Popcorn result in new revenues that will pay for her contract? NO.

    Add to that the astronomical sums Nagisa Menabe has spent on stamp launches that can only be attributed to her need for adulation and a snazzy party. How many stamps were sold by paying a semi-famous singer and his girlfriend to the Love stamp launch? He was given $300 K, did extra sales recoup that? NO.

    She simply knows nothing about Marketing. Product life-cycle and demand are paramount when making a marketing decision and obviously these were not even considered. She is flying by the seat of her pants and her underlings are the ones who will pay for her hair-brained efforts, almost all of which have to be recalled after roll-out.

  8. Jim Bones Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Mailman,

    Nagisa Manabe is a senior executive, not an EAS employee. The incompetence, graft, corruption and sleaze that you mention are more representative level.

  9. Miso Fed Up Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    This woman is as sexist, racist, and agist as she is incompetent, even as she is allowed to be ALL of these things because she fits SOMEONE’S perfect bill in ALL necessary categories that are NOT white men.

    she is a she; she is a minority; she is reflective of PRECISELY what quota hiring results in for the masses who are FORCED by Big Daddy Donahoe (who already has his, so why should he care?), as clearly expressed by the COMPLETE lack of ability his clever circular communication system to reach him allows. Essentially, the waste basket, whereby he CANNOT be bothered to be reached in any way by mere mortals, as his limousine takes him to and fro the other taxpayer-funded fat cats’ lair, e.g. Congress, and who knows WHERE else.

    If Manabe were a man, she’d have long ago been pilloried if HE hired another WHITE man- as Manabe has hired another Asian woman to be her pit bull (no eyebrows raised there by anyone, it seems); is firing, with impunity, anyone she can over the age of 40, and, even as he purports to be a fervent practitioner of “Yoga”- the religion she is foisting on her underlings though she knows not a single tenet of it per her actions and given the wholesale mess everyone knows she is making at the USPS- unfettered by law or the rules in place for all other employees, but she manages to do all noted above and so much more.

    The feminists LOVE to tout how perfect this world would be if it were run BY WOMEN. REALLY? You mean like Nagisa Manabe?

    If the world SHE has been allowed to create at the USPS continues to exist for much longer, one would do well to leave it. She’s a complete, unknowledgeable nut and a big fat bully.

    Where is the fat cat Board of Governors- given all of her garbage, who, along with at least ONE of their members AND her biologist husband, somehow got her hired in the first place. Aren’t biologists supposed to be cleaning up the environment?

  10. Mailman Says:
    September 23rd, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Jim, I purposely lump EAS and the L’Enfant Plaza crew together.

    In terms of the damage they’ve done/doing, one and the same to me.

    Might also want to ask the PMG why the Plaza staff has grown almost 8%, and why they’re still spending big bucks on a private fitness center there.

  11. rrhammer Says:
    September 24th, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Heck, for 5 grand i would’ve shook a magic 8-ball for em. And gotten around the same results, too.

  12. tester Says:
    September 24th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Interesting article

  13. postal with knowledge Says:
    September 24th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    The Inspector General needs to do a proper audit. The money and damage this individual has and continues to cause is almost irreparable at this point. If you dig deeper on what she has done in the past and what will soon become newsworthy to keep her in her current position is a malfeasance that merits firing all the way up the chain of command. She is the perfect study in narcissism.

  14. Lou Stoole Says:
    September 25th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    These are Pulitzer Prize winning comments.

  15. Linda Says:
    September 26th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s sad that the majority of the public has no idea what is really happening behind the scenes.

  16. Ed Pisano Says:
    September 29th, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Who will buy stamps in the future? Stamp collectors and Postal Customers. Do you really need to pay a half million dollars to find that out?

  17. New2thisstuff Says:
    September 29th, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Speechless……

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