Politics

Post Office’s Governing Board Is Empty, And It’s Bernie’s Fault

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Nobody is in charge at the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Board of Governors after today when the last Senate-confirmed governor’s term expires, leaving Postmaster General Megan Brennan and Deputy Postmaster Ronald Stroman large and in charge, with no oversight.

Without the board, Brennan and Stroman can’t choose a permanent Inspector General (IG), select a firm for independent financial statement audits, submit the IG’s semiannual reports to Congress, or raise or lower mail rates, among other functions, according to a November USPS IG report.

“This unprecedented situation could have broad ramifications for the Postal Service,” the report said. “If someone at the Postal Service were to act on on these matters, it would be done without statutory authority and subject to legal change.”

The number of governors on the postal board has dwindled as nobody has been appointed to new terms since 2010. Former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has blocked multiple presidential appointments to the board, according to outgoing governor James Bilbray, a former Democratic congressman from Nevada. Meanwhile, the USPS’s deficit reached $5.6 billion this year.

Sanders did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

The board is supposed to have nine governors by law — with not more than five of the nine from the same political party — with the responsibility of setting USPS policies and appoint and fire the postmaster general and postmaster deputy general, operating much like a corporate board of directors.

The governors are also responsible for appointing the independent agency’s IG for a seven-year term, unlike most IGs who are appointed by the president. (RELATED: Postal Service Spends An Undisclosed Amount Of Money On Studies It Can’t Find)

Bilbray expressed frustration over the lack of leadership at a November 2015 board meeting.

“I have the help of my deputy postmaster general and my postmaster general, but I cannot effectively run the United States Post Office by myself,” Bilbray said at the time.

Congress is considering changes to the board’s structure. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) approved legislation this summer that would reduce the number of governors from nine to five, and make the president appoint the postmaster general and deputy postmaster general. But the House hasn’t approved it.

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