Leadership

From mail carrier to the C-suite

Ellis Burgoyne

Ellis Burgoyne, who will retire on Oct. 1, was the first USPS employee to become its CIO.

Ellis Burgoyne began his career at the U.S. Postal Service 35 years ago as a mail carrier in Inglewood, Calif.

He'll end his career at USPS on Oct. 1 as its CIO, having spent the past three years in the C-suite overseeing one of the largest IT infrastructures in the world.

At 19, Burgoyne delivered the mail by day and took public transportation across the projects of Los Angeles at night to take college classes, where he pursued a degree in finance. He came from a "postal family," and took the job because he needed the cash.

Back then, there was no such thing as a real-time mail package delivery tracking system. Mail carriers were not equipped with GPS, and at any given moment the carrier was the only person who knew the location of a piece of mail in transit.

Today those ideas are part of the USPS business strategy in large part because of Burgoyne's efforts.

"My parents were pushing the Postal Service on me and I didn't want a part of it until I graduated high school and needed money," Burgoyne said. "I never intended to retire here, but the opportunities came in."

The opportunities came first on the finance side, which incidentally provided Burgoyne his first exposure to IT.

"At the time, IT reported to finance, and I got more involved in IT as I moved back into operations as we became more dependent on information and information systems," Burgoyne said. "I gained a real interest in the power of information and how important the linkage of IT and operations is to business."

He rose through the ranks, serving as postmaster of Oakland; manager of customer services in southern California; senior financial analyst in the former Southern Region and several other positions before becoming USPS CIO and executive vice president in 2011.

The past three years, Burgoyne said, have been the most pressure-packed. As CIO, he was part of the C-suite executive leadership team that reports directly to the postmaster general. Yet they've been highly rewarding, even in tough financial times.

Under Burgoyne's leadership, USPS successfully rebuilt its product-tracking system with a $100 million spending program that is paying off financially as well as in customer approval. If you send a package via USPS and use the Internet to check its location or receive confirmation online that it has been received, you owe a bit of thanks to Burgoyne.

But the new systems also operate more cheaply than the old ones. USPS is now saving about 8 percent of its former legacy computing costs annually – a considerable sum given the USPS has the third largest computing network in the world.

"I tried to bring an operational experience here. We're not a tech company, but we're a big tech consumer," Burgoyne said. "My main goal was to try to leverage technology with operations platforms. My big emphasis was on transforming the last mile – once it leaves the post office for delivery, trying to create intelligence about every piece of that last mile."

Technology has also helped USPS cope logistically with the closures of many local post offices and facilities. Closures have become commonplace in the face of technological change and budget deficits in the billions of dollars.

"It's helped us improve the supply chain and help operations absorb consolidations we've had," Burgoyne said. "It helps us focus our resources, and we're using a much leaner logistical model. With this investment in IT and infrastructure, we've been able to get returns on work-hours saved."

To date, Burgoyne is the only internal USPS employee to become its CIO, but with his success in pairing operational knowhow with his tech-centric interests, USPS is looking harder at internal candidates for the job. As of yet, the agency has not selected one, though a decision is expected in the next week. Given the public climate facing USPS, Burgoyne said, the job is certain to challenge whoever takes it.

Though he's stepping away from USPS, Burgoyne said he's not ready to stop working entirely.

"I'm exploring options," he said. "I'm too young yet to sit around the house."

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group