Robert Taub to head up US postal regulator
The White House has named Robert Taub as the new chairman of America’s postal regulator, following the end of Ruth Goldway’s term last month. President Obama designated Taub as acting chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, with Goldway’s term expiring on 22 November.
Taub, a Commissioner since October 2011 and vice-chairman of the Commission in 2013, is one of only three remaining members of the regulatory panel, which is supposed to comprise five Commissioners.
His term as acting chairman is effective immediately.
The new acting chairman is a Capitol Hill veteran, having been a special assistant to the Secretary of the Army, a chief of staff for a US Representative as well as working 12 years as an official for the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and eight years at the Government Accountability Office prior to his appointment as postal commissioner.
A spokesperson for the Commission told Post&Parcel this morning that Goldway will continue in her role as a Commissioner following the end of her term, adding that the Commission can still perform its regulatory responsibility without a full panel.
Members of the Commission are appointed by the US President, but only with the approval of Congress, which has failed to confirm new Commissioners to replace those whose terms have expired.
The US Congress, which is unable to pass postal legislation at present other than the re-naming of post offices in honor of national heroes, has also failed to replace departing members of the US Postal Service board of executives — leaving the USPS facing the very real possibility that next year its board of governors will not have a sufficient quorum to actually make decisions.
Ruth Goldway was chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission since August 2009, overseeing major changes in the US Postal Service including a radical redesign of the mail processing network and the effective end of First Class Mail as an overnight delivery service.
Goldway was first appointed a commissioner by President Bill Clinton back in 1998, and in subsequent years reappointed by President George W Bush. Prior to the expiry of her term she was the longest serving Senate-confirmed Presidential appointee in a full-time political position in the US government Executive Branch.
Her term as chairman has come during a time of record caseloads for the Committee, from attempts by the near-bankrupt Postal Service to adopt five-day-a-week mail delivery, above-inflation price increases, and new postal services, to the inquiries of hundreds of local communities into plans to close their post offices.
In recent years Goldway has come under political pressure with attacks on the Commission’s travel budget.
USPS Board of Governors
Meanwhile, the USPS Board of Governors currently has only six members including the Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, and deputy postmaster general Ron Stroman.
The Board should have nine members plus the PMG and Deputy PMG, and must have at least six members to achieve a quorum. Members coming to the end of their terms are allowed to serve an extra year until a successor is appointed.
However, Chairman Mickey Barnett’s term expired on 8 December last year, and next week his year-long extension will come to an end.
The terms of Governor Louis J Giuliano and Ellen C Williams are also due to end next week, but they will be allowed to serve an extra year beyond their term. The Senate is in the process of considering five candidates, including a second term for Chairman Barnett.
Barnett said at last month’s Board meeting: “Those who follow our proceedings will know that we have often urged the Senate to confirm appointees to this Board. We currently have a grand total of four Governors on the Board and we are supposed to have nine Governors. My term ends on December 8th – which means the board will soon be down to having just three Governors. We understand that the Senate may take up some pending appointments soon and we strongly encourage them to do so. For the record, I am one of those pending appointments and I would certainly like to continue serving this institution.”
The USPS Board is due to meet in Washington later today, and it is believed the Board could be forced to push through decisions including next year’s price changes because it will be the last meeting at which it achieves quorum.
A spokesperson for the Postal Service told Post&Parcel this morning that it was “very concerned” about the possibility its Board of Governors will lack a quorum, and has been urging the Senate to take up the nominations.
“There is still time for the Senate to act on the nominations before Monday, or before the Congress ends its lame duck session,” he said.