The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) could soon suffer a body blow if the U.S. Senate does not confirm Robert Duncan to another term on the USPS Board of Governors by December 8. And while there have been positive developments toward a confirmation, this is not yet certain. The time for political games is over.
Without Governor Duncan, the Board will lose its quorum if a new Postmaster General is not found by January 31. USPS will be operationally handicapped and incapable of driving important needed changes. One of the few bright spots on postal public policy is that the Board returned to a quorum in August 2019, with five outside Governors, after not having a quorum since 2014.
The Postal Service’s Board of Governors is legally and operationally a big deal. It is the equivalent of a corporation’s Board of Governors. As USPS says on its website, the Board “directs and controls its expenditures, reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning, approves officer compensation and sets policies on all postal matters.”
Postmaster General Megan Brennan began a November 14 conference call saying, “I have consistently stated the Postal Service is best served by having a robust Board with diverse insights, unique perspectives, leadership and professional experiences.”
This is one of the most important times in USPS history for it to have a fully functioning Board. Losses are mounting and USPS insolvency is increasingly likely. There is widespread acknowledgement of the need for legislative postal reform, but little movement. And the Postmaster General is resigning effective January 31, 2020.
Governor Duncan, who chairs the Board, has earned another term. He was initially confirmed by the Senate last year and is one of only two Governors on the Board from August 2018-September 2019. He has been beavering away on many issues that could not be addressed in the absence of other Board members. A former Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, his impressive experience benefits the Postal Service and the country.
Senate machinations have nixed consideration of Governor Duncan’s nomination several times since August and throughout the past week. The Senate is scheduled to vote to invoke cloture on his nomination this morning and is anticipated to take a vote on the actual nomination tomorrow. The conventional wisdom is the confirmation will occur, but a matter of this importance must not be taken for granted.
About the Author: Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
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