A Primer on the Board of Governors and Postmaster General
This article appeared in the April 2021 issue of NPSOA Magazine.
The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service® serves in a similar capacity to a board of directors at a public organization. The Board meets regularly to direct the Postal Service, monitor the budget and expenditures, review organizational best-practices, construct long-term plans, approve compensation, and set postal policies. All meetings are open to the public unless the Board votes to close all or part of a meeting, as allowed by the Sunshine Act.
The President of the United States appoints the governors with the permission and oversight of the Senate. These governors, a combined total of up to nine, ultimately choose the Postmaster General, who then helps the rest of the Board choose the Deputy Postmaster General, who also serves on the Board. Each governor’s term expires on December 8 of a given year. Each term is seven years, with few exceptions as necessary, and no governor can serve more than two terms on the Board. See Title 39 section 202 (b)(1).
Contrary to popular belief, the President of the United States lacks the power to hire or fire the Postmaster General. The President also cannot fire members of the Board of Governors without just cause. Chris Lien, President of BCC Software, said the following in his Industry Corner podcast in response to a Congressman’s call to fire the entire Postal Board of Governors and start new:
“Since a member of the Board of Governors can only be fired for “cause” per Title 39, President Biden cannot simply “fire” the entire Board as Congressman Pascrell is suggesting. Moreover, the Board of Governors has the sole responsibility to hire and fire the Postmaster General, not the President of the United States. So, there too, the Congressman’s suggestion, which should be taken seriously, is not possible under the current law.”
On February 9, 2021, Ron Bloom was unanimously elected as the 24th chairman of the USPS Board of Governors. More recently, President Biden nominated three candidates for the USPS Board of Governors: Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar, and Amber McReynolds. All three candidates have the experience needed to fill the vacant roles, but will still need to be considered and approved by the Senate.
According to Title 39 section 202 (a)(1), “Nine of the members, to be known as Governors, shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, not more than 5 of whom may be adherents of the same political party.” Presently, The USPS has six appointed and confirmed Governors, with four affiliated with the Republican party and two affiliated with the Democrat party. Approval of the three nominated candidates would change the majority political affiliation to Democrat. No more than five of the nine governors can be from the same political party.
With the Post Office®, Postmaster General, and the Board of Governors in the news lately, it is helpful to understand the Board’s construction, and the limitations that are in place to make changes in the leadership of the USPS®.