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Congressional Inaction Threatens The Postal Service Yet Again (Shocking I Know)

USPS Headquarters

In a month when the Postal Service received both great economic news and a government “best” approval ratings, Congressional inaction continues to put the Postal Service’s future in peril.

The Postal Service Board of Governors job is to be responsible for long range planning  and setting policies that are crucial to the Services future survival. Yet Congress refuses to confirm any appointments to the board. Leaving the board with only 3 of the 9 Presidential Appointees actually serving. To no surprise those three were appointed  by George W  Bush.  Neglect by Congressional leaders has left this board without a quorum and operating under a “temporary emergency committee.”  This is certainly no unforeseen emergency.  This is part of the conservative plan to “shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.”

In seven short months the Board of Governors will be down to one appointed member as the terms of two governors will expire. That will leave just one appointee James Bilbray on the board. He will be joined by Postmaster General Meghan Brennan and Deputy PMG Ron Stroman. This will amazingly leave 8 out of 9 appointed seats vacant at a time in which the postal service has many crucial decisions to make in a constantly changing business environment.

The role of the Board of Governors is spelled out quite clearly by the USPS:

The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service is comparable to a board of directors of a private corporation. The Board includes nine governors who are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

The nine governors select the postmaster general, who becomes a member of the Board, and those 10 select the deputy postmaster general, who also serves on the Board. The postmaster general serves at the pleasure of the governors for an indefinite term. The deputy postmaster general serves at the pleasure of the governors and the postmaster general.

In 1970, when the Board was established by the Postal Reorganization Act, the governors of the Postal Service were appointed for terms of nine years. The first nine appointments were for staggered terms of one to nine years. Subsequent appointments were made for the full nine years. On December 20, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, P.L. 109-435, which changed the terms of subsequently appointed governors from nine to seven years. The Act also added some professional qualifications for the governors. The governors are chosen to represent the public interest generally and cannot be representatives of special interests. Not more than five of the nine may belong to the same political party. They shall be chosen solely on the basis of their experience in the field of public service, law or accounting or on their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations (in either the public or private sector) of substantial size, except that at least four of the governors shall be chosen solely on the basis of their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations (in either the public or private sector) that employ at least 50,000 employees.

“The Board directs the exercise of the powers of the Postal Service, directs and controls its expenditures, reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning and sets policies on all postal matters. The Board takes up matters such as service standards and capital investments.”

We need to get politics out of the process of choosing members of the Board of Governors,” NALC President Fred Rolando said. “Managing an agency whose mission is to serve the public by delivering the mail shouldn’t be a political issue. Too often the board stresses how bad things are and warns of cuts in service, instead of advocating solutions. The Postal Service needs entrepreneurial leadership and support for expanding and modernizing, and for fixing the real problems the agency faces. It needs a coherent plan for the future”

Craft employees productivity and job performance are constantly monitored. Some may call it obsessive micro managing. Either way craft employees do an outstanding job  7 days a week 365 days a year in every weather condition. The workers of the Postal Service have produced an operational profit of over $1.4 Billion this fiscal year already.

Contrast that with Congressional inaction on confirming any members to the Postal Service Board of Governors. Also this Congress has taken no steps to repeal or mitigate the unnecessary and unprecedented 2006 Congress mandate that  placed a$ 5.6 Billion annual payment for retiree health care obligations 75 years into the future on the Postal Service.

The American public can recognize a job well done. The Postal Service has an excellent/good performance  rating of 72% in a poll just released. That is easily the best among government agencies. Postal workers are quite clearly not only making the grade but achieving the top score.

Congress on the other hand has abysmal performance ratings in a Pew Research poll released last week. Democrat members of Congress are at 33% approval while the GOP  members are at a stunningly low 22% . Its not too hard to figure out that if congress acts to enhance the postal service it would be popular among constituents and in turn benefit their approval ratings.The catch is it seems many congressman are more beholden to their financial backers than their constituents. The Postal Service in their eyes is a Pinata for the wealthy (their donors) to further enrich themselves.

If a non government, non-union enterprise was turning over a Billion Dollar profit this year and with that carrying high approval ratings from the American public and was deemed as the best company of its kind in the world than politicians of every kind would be scheduling a visit and a photo-op with its employees. Instead being a highly unionized,government agency postal workers are demonized by most politicians.  Rigid ideology and campaign donations dwarf  governing the country in a responsible manner every time.

 

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About Bill Brickley

Bill is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, serves on the NH Letter Carrier Executive Board as State Legislative Liaison. Also serves on the NH AFL-CIO Executive Board. Former NH Area Coordinator Amnesty International and NH Labor News Blogger Follow him on twitter @BillBrickley@NHSALC
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