A postmaster for the United States Postal Service, or USPS, serves as the head of an individual post office and provides unit financial and delivery information to district offices. Depending on the size of the post office and possible staff shortages, she may also jump in and sort mail, run the retail counter or deliver mail.
Postmasters file a huge amount of reports via traditional means, such as submitting daily deposits to district via registered mail, and modern methods like updating data in the point-of-sale terminals and office computers for electronic transmission. In rented facilities, the postmaster communicates with the building owner and the district office when safety hazards and any other problems related to the physical workplace need to be corrected quickly. She also sees to the timely reporting and processing of regular facility expenses, such as maintenance and utility costs.
To prevent the hiring of unqualified friends and family members, postmasters only interview job applicants for positions outside their local unit. After a position is filled, the postmaster familiarizes the worker with the local office and assigns further training with an employee in the same role. The postmaster steps in to answer questions and mediate conflicts between employees and customers and listens to complaints about safety hazards on mail routes before discussing the problems with public authorities or property owners. Occasionally, these issues veer into touchy areas, such as a favored pet attempting to bite a mail carrier or home steps too decrepit for safe climbing. In these situations, the ability to discuss a problem with tact while emphasizing the need for immediate corrective action comes in handy.
The postmaster of a facility routinely verifies, or manually counts, the stamp, money order and mailing supplies inventory of the unit, including both gratis mailers and the boxes and padded envelopes sold in the lobby. After the tallying process ends, the postmaster enters the totals in a point-of-sale retail terminal.
The postmaster oversees the prompt delivery of all daily mail, in addition to managing mail outflow. All letter mail boxes on local mail routes and at the post office must be cleared daily, and all rural mail pick-ups must be dispatched to the local processing center at day's end. Registered mail and express mail require handling with kid gloves: The movement of registered mail is tracked on an internal log to ensure its protection, while express mail requires delivery by the stated time -- or the customer can claim a refund. In larger offices clerks typically deliver express mail, but the job often falls to the postmaster in smaller units -- regular mileage compensation included.
A postmaster also leads daily audits of the money brought in at the retail counter. After individual cash draws are counted down until $100 remains, the postmaster compares this total to the entire unit's earning deposit. If the totals don't match, the process repeats until the error is isolated. Every point-of-sale clerk maintains an individual cash drawer locked in the facility safe, and each drawer -- and clerk -- endures a more detailed monthly audit that requires listing the variation of currency and coinage forming the $100 balance. The clerk lists the totals on form, and the postmaster repeats the process to verify the total.
Delegation of Duties and Customer Service
Postmasters in larger units may pawn off some duties on appropriate workers but still oversee the successful completion of all responsibilities. Ultimately, some complaints or issues cannot be solved by anyone but the postmaster. For example, dissatisfied customers often demand a meeting with the postmaster when a delivery problem or mailing issues occurs. These situations make having customer service skills a priority.
- United States Postal Service: POM Revision: Responsibilities of Postmasters
- Dictionary of Occupational Titles; Claitor's Publishing Division
- United States Postal Service: Postmaster Job Descriptions
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.