In recent days, there have been reckless calls from the Editorial Board at USA Today and Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Tim Ryan for President Biden to fire six members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. This would compound historic delays in mail, while stripping the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) of the ability to best address this crisis.
Yes, there is a crisis with mail delivery that urgently must be fixed. Only 64 percent of mail arrived on time, through the week of December 26, the last period for which this information was publicly available.
The Congressmen would better serve their constituents by demanding that the Board of Governors outline a plan to return on-time first-class mail delivery to 92 percent by March 1, 2021 and track the progress. This is the level it was at for April-June 2020, a full quarter with the pandemic. The service standard is 96 percent on-time delivery.
In the interim, these Congressmen and others should demand the Postal Service publicly disclose its mail delivery performance each week, as it no longer is compelled to do so by court order. Package delivery statistics should also be provided.
The central aim of the Congressmen is to get a new Postmaster General installed. The law is clear that the President cannot fire the Postmaster General, only the Board of Governors is able to do that. Since before coming into office Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an extraordinarily successful logistics executive who also fundraised for President Trump, has faced vicious attacks. The law is also clear that the Governors can only be fired for cause, that is a criminal conviction or a grave dereliction of duty.
Contrary to the Congressmen’s character assassinations, the Board of Governors is not a group of political hacks bent on destroying the Postal Service. Governor Ron Bloom served as a senior official in the Obama Administration and helped save the U.S. auto industry after the Great Recession. Governor Donald Moak served as a Marine Corps and Navy fighter pilot. He is a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Air Line Pilots Association and served on the AFL-CIO Executive Council.
All the Governors have distinguished and accomplished backgrounds. They have undergone a vigorous vetting process before being nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. By law, no more than five of the nine Governors can be from the same political party. At least four of the Governors must have led organizations with more than 50,000 employees.
If the Congressmen had their way, the President would illegally fire six accomplished public servants. Postmaster General DeJoy, who they despise, would have greater, unchecked power for at least several months. While four of the board’s six members are Republicans, President Biden can nominate three more Governors.
The Congressmen have scored big press headlines from their short letters to the President and subsequent trumpeting of this in news releases. But it is terrible public policy and does nothing to improve the American people’s mail service. In fact, it creates a distraction and makes the problem worse.
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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