WASHINGTON – Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) held a hearing on four critical nominations for the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. The nominees, Hon. James C. Miller III, Stephen Crawford, David M. Bennett, and Victoria Reggie Kennedy, discussed how they would address the serious issues facing the institution, including rate changes, consolidation efforts, operations, revenue streams, and delivery standards, and help the Postal Service survive and thrive in the 21st century.
The hearing comes at a challenging time for the Postal Service. The Postal Service’s current financial condition is serious and continues to deteriorate. Furthermore, earlier this month, the Postmaster General announced that the Postal Service will consolidate up to 82 mail processing facilities in early 2015.
If confirmed, these nominees will have a pivotal role in guiding the Postal Service through its financial challenges. However, their jobs will be all the more difficult in the absence of comprehensive postal reform. The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service is comparable to a board of directors of a private corporation. The Board includes nine governors who serve part-time for seven year terms. The Board is responsible for conducting long-range planning, directing and controlling expenditures, overseeing operational performance and practices, and setting policies on postal matters. The Board is also responsible for hiring the Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General, and for approving officer compensation, major contracts, and large capital investments.
“We’re considering these nominations at what is a very challenging time for the Postal Service,” said Chairman Carper. “But, as the nominees underscored, it’s also a time that holds a lot of promise for the ailing institution. I appreciate the nominees’ willingness to serve and address the challenges facing the Postal Service. As important as the Board of Governors is, however, Congress holds the keys to the Postal Service’s future. The men and women on the Board – including those before us today, should they be confirmed – have little chance of success unless we do our jobs and pass comprehensive postal reform legislation. I am pleased that the nominees are supportive of our efforts here in the Senate. Bringing new talent to the Board, combined with the enactment of a solid, bipartisan postal reform bill, is an important opportunity to make significant progress in the near future. But in order to fully realize this potential, Congress needs to act. I urge my colleagues in the full Senate to take up the bipartisan, comprehensive bill our Committee passed earlier this year and join me in making the tough decisions necessary to make the Postal Service competitive and solvent in the years to come.”
Without assistance from Congress and the Administration, the Postal Service faces insolvency and will be forced to take matters into its own hands to reduce costs, such as the closing of additional post offices and mailing distribution centers and further modifications to delivery standards. In February, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Postal Reform Act of 2014 (S. 1486), a bipartisan and balanced approach to restore the Postal Service to sound financial footing. The bill would protect key postal operations and services, provide the Postal Service with necessary financial relief while maintaining employee and retiree benefits, and increase revenue by encouraging innovation.