With no one in charge, 9 things the USPS can no longer do as of December 8

As we told you last month, as of December 8 the US Postal Service will no longer have a functioning Board of Governors. That’s the day when the term of James Bilbray, the sole remaining presidential appointee on the board, finally ends. While President Obama has made several appointments to the BOG, they have been blocked by Senator Bernie Sanders.

The USPS board has not had a legal quorum for two years now, and has been governed by a slightly dubious “Temporary Emergency Committee” since then.

Now the USPS Office of Inspector General has issued a report on USPS Governance, calling attention to the very serious consequences of the absence of a functioning board- not the least of which is the fact that both the PMG and IG will no longer have anyone to report to- and there is no one with the statutory authority to remove either of them! In the report, the OIG lists nine important functions that cannot be performed without the BOG:

Things Only the Governors Can Do

While the Board of Governors can delegate many things to the Postmaster General, there are items that, by law, only the presidentially appointed Governors can do. These include, but are not limited to

  1. Appointment, compensation, term of service, and removal of the Postmaster General
  2. Compensation of the Deputy Postmaster General
  3. Establishment of rates and classes for competitive postal products
  4. Authorization of rate and fee changes for market dominant postal products
  5. Authorization of a request to the PRC to add, remove, or reclassify products
  6. Authorization of a notice to the PRC of substantive changes to product descriptions in the Mail Classification Schedule
  7. Appointment and removal of the Inspector General31
  8. Transmission of the OIG’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress
  9. Selection of a firm to conduct required USPS financial audits

These tasks cannot be legally performed if there are no sitting independent governors to authorize them — and this will happen on December 8, 2016, unless new governors are confirmed or the law is changed.32 This would mean that the Postmaster General’s and Deputy Postmaster General’s compensation would freeze and they could not be removed or replaced, all postal rates/fees and product classifications would freeze, no products could be introduced or substantively changed, a new inspector general could not be appointed, the OIG’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress could not be issued, and USPS could not hire a new auditor to conduct the required financial audits. If someone at the Postal Service were to act on these matters, it would be done without
statutory authority and subject to legal challenge.

Additionally, the absence of governors could raise larger issues. As part of the executive branch, the Appointments Clause of the Constitution requires the Postal Service to be led by principal officers who are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.33 The Governors fulfill that role, as was confirmed by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

With no sitting governors, the Postal Service’s constitutional authority to take certain actions could be in question. This would be an unprecedented situation.

Source: Governance of the U.S. Postal Service

  • vitameatavegamin

    Left out of this report is the fact that Sanders has blocked these appointees due to the fact that they have tended to be anti-USPS, pro-privatization, and anti-worker,,,,,,

  • postalnews

    It doesn’t really matter why he blocked them at this point. And, more importantly, he doesn’t actually admit to having blocked them. Difficult to get his rationale if he doesn’t admit doing it.

  • vitameatavegamin

    I based my belief on the Senator’s well-known support for workers, the less fortunate, and the support has has given to a well run USPS and its employees. Also, check the background of many of the folks he blocked….not exactly our friends!

  • Bucky

    Would this have any effect on our jobs? Or would it just be business as usual?

  • Herbert Abrams

    No effect on your jobs at all. Your pay and benefits may be another question. We got the best bankruptER who can sell off the remains to his kids.

  • Zeus

    The concept of the BOG needs re-thinking and changing,even Rep. Chaffetz,who chairs the House committee that is supposed to oversee the Postal Service questioned it’s function and the need to have both a BOG and the PRC.The last BOG was packed with Bush appointee’s tied to the private carriers with interests in privatization and tearing it down rather than a vibrant future appointed Pat Donahoe,who’s initiatives to drastically cut service and personnel were a disaster and were never questioned by the board. Obama’s appointee’s were the same as Bush’s, Republicans who have been privatization advocates with ties to either the Koch Brothers or the private carriers who want to do away with a lower cost alternative for consumers,which caused Sanders to wisely block them from being affirmed by the Senate.

  • LetherNick

    Although I can imagine the reasons Bernie may object to recent BOG nominations, I’m not so sure he can single-handedly block all of them. Can he? Bernie may not be saying much on the subject, but it turns out his accuser is none other than the lone wolf himself: James Bilbray. It is Bilbray who has publicly accused Bernie Sanders of blocking the nominations – a tune he’s been singing for about one year now. Last year Bilbray blamed Sanders for blocking nominations because Sanders was opposed to the massive closings of processing facilities, aka Network Rationalization. Bilbray publicly commented that the sorting facilities are “reductant”. It turns out that chopping the postal infrastructure was not such a smart idea and did not save USPS any money. Delivery standards have been chopped and service has suffered. A BOG should also include those who are leaning towards the public interest of USPS, its universal service obligation, adequate delivery standards, improved customer service and offer financial services. The current criteria for BOG membership is flawed and deeply inclined towards corporate interests and privateers. Go Bernie!

  • Bucky

    Got it. Thanks!