The Biden Administration seems quite happy with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its leadership, i.e., Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former sizable fundraiser for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. And it is easy to understand why. Yes, really.
USPS’s strong performance in delivering 2022 election mail on time, the ongoing delivery of COVID test kits, a December 20 announcement that most new USPS vehicle purchases will be electric, and DeJoy’s pivotal role in getting Republicans to support the 2022 Postal Service Reform Act have all been priorities for the Biden Administration. They are wins for the Postmaster General and the President.
Exhibit A of the Administration’s happiness is that it has not yet announced two additional nominations to USPS’s nine-member Board of Governors, which has similar powers and responsibilities to a corporation’s board of directors and determines who will be Postmaster General. The positions could have been filled as soon as December 8, 2022. Instead, two Governors President Donald Trump nominated may continue to serve as long as December 8, 2023.
Previously the Administration nominated candidates on an aggressive timeline. They have filled five of the nine available positions of outside governors on the Board. The Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General are also on the Board of Governors but cannot vote on whether to hire or remove a Postmaster General.
On August 10, 2022, 83 progressive organizations wrote to the President demanding that he nominate two new governors with a commitment to “ousting DeJoy.” They even criticized President Joe Biden for his two most recent board nominees, which were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
So far, the Administration has told these groups “no” and it should do so louder and more publicly. Furthermore, there appears to be little if any sentiment among the current Board members to replace the Postmaster General.
Being a member of the USPS Board of Governors is not a job for political hacks, or those with ideological agendas. There is not a Democratic or Republican way to deliver the mail.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) accounts for more than twenty percent of the federal civilian workforce. It delivers to every address in the country, and its work impacts nearly all households and businesses.
By law, the governors must represent the public interest generally and cannot be representatives of special interests. They are to be chosen based on their experience in the field of public service, law, or accounting.
It is likely that the next two nominees from President Biden will be women. Eight of the current nine governors are male, as are four of the five current governors that were nominated by the President.
There are many such qualified candidates including Lynne Doughtie, former chairman and chief executive officer of KPMG; former Postmaster General Megan Brennan; and Elaine Chao, who served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation for nearly four years.
Relatedly, the Administration should also champion significantly increased pay for the Governors. The $42,600 maximum annual compensation has not increased since 1996. The governors have an annual salary of $30,000 and receive $300 per day for not more than 42 days of meetings. If this had been adjusted for inflation, the Governors’ maximum pay would be above $80,000.
By contrast, board members at companies on the S&P 500, most of which have much smaller revenues than USPS, have average total compensation of $316,091.
The USPS Board of Governors will continue to have an important role in USPS’s future. With USPS having received more than $120 billion in federal assistance over the past two years, it remains to be seen whether the reforms DeJoy is championing will lead to sustained financial and operational improvements.
Regardless of who the next two Board members are, Postmaster General DeJoy has achieved much in the eyes of the Biden Administration. This turnaround is a remarkable and largely untold story.
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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