Governance of the U.S. Postal Service
November 10, 2016 (RARC-WP-17-002)
- The Board of Governors provides the Postal Service with strategic direction, similar to a corporate board of directors.
- As of October 2016, only one of the nine governor positions was filled. In December 2016, there will be no remaining governors, unless more are confirmed. This unprecedented situation could have broad ramifications for the Postal Service.
The U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors is at a crossroads. The Board oversees the Postal Service, similar to a corporate board of directors, and is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the organization operates in the public interest. But the Board has struggled for decades against impressions that it is not as active or relevant as it could be. While the Board has broad responsibilities, many argue that it lacks the authority to meet those responsibilities.
The significant number of vacancies on the Board has created additional challenges. As of October 2016, only one of the nine governor positions was filled. And the last remaining governor's time on the Board will end December 8, 2016. If no new governors are confirmed before then, the Postal Service will lose the legal authority to complete a wide variety of important actions. This would be an unprecedented situation.
The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General has examined five decades of in-depth research on the Postal Service's governance model. Our report also explores corporate governance best practices from the private sector. This research is meant to help inform the conversation as policymakers actively consider changes to the Postal Service's governance model and the Board faces a period of reconstitution.