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Overview:

An independent federal agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has the thankless task of trying to make the U.S. Postal Service run more efficiently. Given the Postal Service’s long history of troubles, rate increases and consumer complaints, it might seem at first glance that the PRC is falling down on its own job. However, the commission only recently (as of 2006) was given the demanding task of shaping up the USPS’s long-sagging performance. Although the commission was first established in 1970 (as the Postal Rate Commission), it was largely a rubber stamp operation for its first three-and-a-half decades of operation, regularly approving postal rate increases requested by the Postal Service. But in 2006 Congress decided to broaden the PRC’s responsibilities and give it some teeth to enforce its new regulatory powers over the Postal Service. In the short time since its reorganization, the PRC has garnered some criticism for supporting postal rate changes that favored large corporate publishers and banks.

 
more
History:

Following the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress adopted legislation in 1789 that established the post office and the Office of the Postmaster General. These two entities were responsible for the delivery of mail throughout the country. In the early part of the 19th century, officials in Washington D.C., began referring to the post office as the Post Office Department, although it wasn’t until 1872 that lawmakers formally created such an office by name as part of the Executive Branch.

 

By the 1930s, letter carriers began delivering mail to customers at the edges of cities using “mail boxes” located along the curbside of roads. As Americans began moving increasingly to the suburbs in the 1950s, more and more curbside mailboxes began to spring up.

 

By the mid-1960s, the Post Office Department found itself in serious financial trouble, due to neglect and fragmented control. Facilities, equipment, wages, and management efficiency needed to be overhauled. In October 1966, the Chicago Post Office came to a halt as the volume of mail surpassed workers’ ability to sort and deliver it. A 1967 House Appropriations Subcommittee labeled the postal service “a race with catastrophe.” Five to ten million pieces of mail were being sent each day, but the system could not keep up. 

 

In 1970, the Post Office Department was reorganized as a semi-independent agency of the federal government. Its name was changed to the United States Postal Service (USPS). The same legislation created an independent Postal Rate Commission, charged with reviewing proposals by the Postal Service to change postal rates, fees, and mail classifications. The commission was headed by members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve six-year terms.

 

The work of the commission consisted primarily of conducting public, on-the-record hearings concerning proposed rate, mail classification or major service changes, and recommending decisions for action by the postal governors.

 

Over the next three decades, Americans continued to complain about the quality of service provided by the USPS, especially in light of ever-increasing postage increases that the commission would often rubber stamp. Beginning in the 1990s, members of Congress began to debate the need for overhauling the postal service. Some advocated radical changes, such as privatizing the delivery of mail.

 

Finally, in December 2006, Congress and President George W. Bush agreed to the most significant postal reform law since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) (pdf) affected the Postal Service’s finances, the way it sets rates, and how it is governed and regulated. It also made changes to the Postal Rate Commission, altering its name to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), to reflect what is now supposed to be a body that provides greater oversight of the Postal Service.

 

The new law required the PRC to develop new regulations that would govern postal rates, consult with the Postal Service on delivery service standards and performance measures, consult with the State Department on international postal policies, prevent cross-subsidization or other anticompetitive postal practices, promote transparency and accountability, and adjudicate complaints.

 

With bad economic times and the Internet bringing about a reduced need for postal services, USPS has found itself $8.5 billion in annual debt and on the General Accountability Office’s “high risk” list. In light of that, the PRC debates such cost-saving measures as raising postage prices, ending Saturday mail deliveries, and closing postal outlets across the nation. In July 2011, USPS proposed to the PRC a plan to study up to 3,600 post offices for closure, and in February 2012 it announced the closure of 223 mail processing centers, resulting in the loss of 35,000 jobs and an annual savings to USPS of $2.6 billion.

 

History of First-Class Stamp Rates

History of Postcard Rates (Postal Regulatory Commission)

Domestic Special Service Fee History (Postal Regulatory Commission) (pdf)

more
What it Does:

The PRC is an independent federal agency that is charged with improving the work of the U.S. Postal Service. The PRC has a number of oversight responsibilities, including making sure the Postal Service is complying with federal laws. The commission also develops accounting practices and procedures for the Postal Service to follow. The PRC has the power to subpoena records, direct the Postal Service to adjust rates and take other remedial actions, and levy fines against the USPS.

 

The PRC is composed of five commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve six-year terms. No more than three members of the commission may be from one political party. The PRC’s staff consists of those with expertise in law, economics, finance, statistics, and cost accounting.

 

PRC Offices:

The Office of Accountability & Compliance conducts technical analysis and formulates policy recommendations for the commission in both domestic and international matters. It performs analyses of rate changes, negotiated service agreements, classifications of new products, post office closings, and other issues. The office evaluates Postal Service accounting records, financial reports, and other financial data to assess accuracy and conformity.

 

The Office of General Counsel provides legal assistance for the PRC, defends its decisions in court, and manages the formal complaint process.

 

The Office of Public Affairs & Government Relations handles communications between the commission and the media, the public, Congress, and other federal offices.

 

The Office of Secretary & Administration records the official actions of the PRC. It archives commission documents, maintains personnel records, and provides other support services involving the commission’s library, docket room, and computers.

 

The Office of Inspector General performs audits and investigations of the PRC’s work. It reports fraud and abuse in commission programs and operations.

 

The commission’s library makes available numerous reports and documents to the public, including dockets, PRC reports and studies, and USPS periodic reports.

 

From the PRC Web Site

Calendar

Congressional Testimony

Contact Information

Contact the Inspector General

Documents Archive

Federal Register Notices

International Postal Regulation

Library

Official Papers

Periodic Reports

Press Releases

Reports and Studies

Speeches

Strategic and Operational Plan (pdf)

Webcasts Archive

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) FY 2012 Congressional Budget Justification outlines the planned distribution of the agency’s projected FY 2012 appropriated funds in terms of both program activity and overhead expenses:

 

Spending according to PRC program activity:

Integrations and Support                                                                    $6,314,000

Financial Accountability and Compliance                                          $2,714,000

Modern Rate Regulation                                                                     $2,700,000

USPS Service and Performance                                                           $2,232,000

Office of Inspector General                                                                   $490,000

 

Spending according to PRC overhead expenses:

Personal Compensation                                                                      $10,628,000

Rent                                                                                                      $1,884,000

Supplies                                                                                                   $230,000

Consulting services                                                                                  $695,000

Contractual services                                                                                 $400,000

Travel                                                                                                       $122,000

Information technology                                                                           $100,000

Printing and reproduction                                                                          $95,000

Communications                                                                                        $70,000

International Policy Development                                                             $50,000

Training                                                                                                      $26,000

Commission Relocation (Lease termination)                                             $25,200

Office furniture and equipment                                                                 $10,000

Office equipment rental and repair                                                            $10,000

Miscellaneous, subscriptions                                                                    $10,000

Medical services                                                                                          $8,000

Advertising                                                                                                  $5,000

PRC Strategic Plan 2012-2016 (pdf)

more
Controversies:

Ruth Goldway’s Travel Expenses

Members of Congress criticized the Postal Regulatory Commission’s leader, chairwoman Ruth Goldway, in 2012 for her frequent overseas travel at a time when the U.S. Postal Service was bleeding billions of dollars.

 

In fact, while the House conducted a hearing into the matter, Goldway wasn’t even available to testify due to her making her third trip to Switzerland within the past year. During that time, she also had traveled to Belgium, China, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Scotland.

 

Lawmakers complained that in addition to Goldway being out of the country so often, her commission was falling behind on finding ways to help the Postal Service save money and keep from implementing drastic measures, like ending Saturday mail deliveries.

Lawmakers Question Postal Regulator Chief's Travel As USPS Bleeds Cash (by Bernie Becker, The Hill blog)

Postal Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Ruth Goldway defends travel schedule (by Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post)

Congressman Connolly Defends PRC Chairman Goldway as Advocate of Innovation (SavethePostOffice.com)

 

 

PRC Supports Money-Losing Deal for Postal Service

In October 2007 the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) supported a rate change for Bank of America mailings that, by the commission’s own findings, could cost the Postal Service more than $45 million. The union representing postal workers opposed the rate change for BofA, arguing that Postal Service predictions of savings were based on obsolete data. After the BofA deal was approved, Capital One filed a legal complaint with the PRC accusing the Postal Service of breaking the law by refusing to strike a similar agreement with them. Capital One eventually withdrew its complaint after allegedly striking a private deal with the Postal Service, which, theoretically, could further increase the agency’s financial loss.

USPS Could Lose Millions in Proposed Deal (American Postal Workers Union)

Capital One files response to USPS NSA dismissal request (by Bryan Yurcan, Direct Marketing News)

 

Commission Favors Corporate Giants in Rate Decision

In July 2007 the Postal Regulatory Commission set new postage rates that favored large-circulation publications (such as those owned by Time Warner) over small and medium-sized periodicals. The change followed years of lobbying by Time Warner officials. Instead of facing an 11% rate increase, many corporate giants of the publishing industry were going to enjoy smaller increases, and some were even receiving rate reductions, while small- and medium-sized publications were stuck with 20-30% jumps in postage costs. One periodical (the American Conservative) was looking at a 58% rise. The Nation magazine reported that it expected to pay $500,000 more a year in print costs. The change was likely to drive some publications into bankruptcy. In 2009, periodicals as a whole were able to cover only 76% of their costs, leaving them in the red by $600 million. Since 2001, the mailing of periodicals has dropped by 20%, the result of the worsening economic atmosphere and the public’s increased use of electronic media, particularly the Internet. Across-the-board reduction in mail use left USPS with a $3.8 million loss in 2009—plus an $8.5 billion loss in 2010, and a $5.1 billion loss in 2011—landing the agency on the Government Accountability Office’s “high risk” list.

The Freedom of the Press Belongs To...Those Who Can Afford Lobbyists (by Hilary Goldstein and Isabel MacDonald, Huffington Post)

Postage Rates for Periodicals: A Narrative History (United States Postal Service) (pdf)

Periodicals Are Profitable for USPS, Publishing Exec Testifies (Dead Tree Edition)

 

Bush Uses Postal Accountability Act to Claim Right to Open Mail without Warrant

When he signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, President George W. Bush added a signing statement claiming the right to open mail without a warrant.

Bush Warned About Mail-Opening Authority (by Dan Eggen, Washington Post)

W Pushes Envelope on US Spying (by James Gordon Meek, New York Daily News)

President’s Statement on H.R. 6407, the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act” (White House)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Changes for Postal Service

With the blessing of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), lawmakers considered legislation in July 2011 that would drastically change the way the U.S. Postal Service operates.

 

The reforms were necessary, according to the commission, due to the Postal Service losing so much money in recent years. The USPS was expected to lose $8 billion last year, which came on the heels of another $8 billion loss in 2010.

 

Among the changes under consideration was a plan to shutter about 10% of the Postal Service’s retail outlets. Another change would have allowed the agency to dip into its surplus retirement fund to help close its budget gap. Other reforms included ending Saturday mail delivery and permitting the Postal Service to ship wine and beer.

Post Office Ponders Closing 1 In 10 Retail Outlets; Enid Area Offices Make The List (by Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press)

Ending Saturday Delivery Would Reduce Costs, but Comprehensive Restructuring Is Also Needed (Government Accountability Office)

Many Seek to Revamp Post Office (by Sean Collins Walsh, New York Times)

 

Funding Future Retirees Killing Postal Service

With one legislative fix, the financial problems of the U.S. Postal Service could be eliminated, according to reformers.

 

Back in 2006, the Republican-led Congress adopted the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which forced the USPS—which does not receive any money from the federal budget—to prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years. In other words, the Postal Service was ordered to pay for the benefits of workers it hadn’t yet hired and do it an accelerated time frame.

 

The mandate proved very costly, draining billions from the Postal Service’s coffers.

 

Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, has called for lifting this requirement. “A majority of the commission believes the Postal Service’s current financial predicament is rooted in the PAEA mandate to rapidly pre-fund health benefit premiums for future retirees,” Goldway told lawmakers.

 

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said removing the retiree-funding requirement would put the Postal Service immediately in the black.

Manufactured Crisis About to Cripple the Post Office (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Making the Service Profitable Again (National Association of Letter Carriers)

more
Former Directors:

Note: The following former chairmen presided over the predecessor to the Postal Regulatory Commission (the Postal Rate Commission)

 

Dan Blair (R) Dec.15, 2006-August 2009     

George A. Omas (R) Nov. 30, 2001-Dec. 9, 2006

Edward J. Gleiman (I) Feb. 23, 1994-Feb. 2, 2001

George W. Haley (R) Feb. 14, 1990-Oct. 14, 1993

Janet D. Steiger (R) Feb. 3, 1982-Aug. 10, 1989

A. Lee Fritschler (D) Jul. 31, 1979-Mar. 4, 1981

Clyde S. DuPont (R) Mar. 14, 1975-Jul 29, 1979

Fred B. Rhodes (R) Jan. 18, 1974-Dec. 30, 1974

John L. Ryan (R) Aug. 4, 1973-Oct. 31, 1973

William J. Crowley (R) Oct. 15, 1970-May 1, 1973

more
See all 15 comments

Comments

isabel hernandez 2 years ago
today i went to the post office on 35th and washington phx az .since last summer the post office has been filing against me of mail delivery to my house .an agreement i never signed.anyways all that time i was waiting for the supervisor today again to ask about my mail.a caucsian guy stood there all that time.they are the russians my us citizens.who aretakin money thru federal grants and blaming low income entities so they can use our names take out loans and us .well we know nothing of the law.so we get the blame.with that money they pay greedy americans to retaliate against us for a share.while they keep defrauding the us .thats wheere the money is going .to the russians.these are facts.
A. DiCenzo 2 years ago
There are reasons the Post Office is in a death spiral. One, they are doing things in the interest of cutting costs that make people unhappy. a good example of that in my town is the P.O. insisting mailboxes are placed on one side of a street so a driver only has to drive one direction. the street can be fraught with traffic puttin citizens at risk of being hit. they even forced out street to did up mailboxes and relocafe them, even after receiving permission from a previous post master. Two, they mess up, delivering to the wrong mailbox a lot. Three, the leaves packages on the top of mailboxes (rather than inside) regardles of the weather. in short, their service is terrible.
Judy sailing 2 years ago
Am I entitled to mail delivery to my house?where I live.
Patricia Lefevre 3 years ago
Rate decrease is very bad for USPS survival. Was that the intention? Unsustainable and unnecessary burdens have been placed on the USPS in the last several years as far as funding future pensions, which I believe were meant to kill off the USPS and replace it with private delivery services who are not so burdened. Please reconsider this rate decrease and return rate to prior rate. The USPS provides outstanding service to all Americans at reasonable rates - something that private delivery services will never be able to do. Also, consider adding more banking functions to USPS - that is a service that will increase revenue for USPS
Pat Stevens 4 years ago
I'm moving next week and today went to the local post office to see about doing a change of address online. Much to my dismay I found that this will cost me $39.95 but dream on......You'll get no credit card number from me. This process was $1.00 4 months ago. What moron or group of morons came up with this idea? Incidently, this is my first move in 45 years. Just another black mark on the postal service I guess.
Tommy L. Syers 7 years ago
as an employee of the usps it saddens me to see how the public is being misinformed and sometimes blatantly lied too. i was at the public forum meeting when the usps officials met with the public to discuss consolidation of mail processing here in saginaw. out mail was going to be process at he metroplex in pontiac. at that meeting the questions kept coming up, as to how they add two hours or more of driving time to all of the long drive times now, and still get the mail back in ...
Gary R Langdon 7 years ago
i know nothing of the inner workings of the post office. that said, bear with me. i am now using my second paper shredder to shred junk unsolicited mail, daily. raise the costs to those companies. if in fact, real revenue is being lost to electronic communications, then consider placement of your own communication device in homes and businesses that do not use fax or e-mail communication. if people want the convenience of mail delivery, they will make the change just as they have wi...
Charles C. Nott 8 years ago
i understand that the postal service is considering closing the academy station in albany, ny. i am 77 years old, still working, and use the academy station, which is nearby, a great deal. my business necessitates sending and receiving a great deal of first class mail and its closing would be a very serious blow to myself and my business. charles c. nott, cfp
Patrick 9 years ago
The postal service has been cripled by poor political and managerial choices as well as accounting errors that have left it with unsustainable pension liabilities. $5.5 billion anual cost of prefunding retire health costs, not the recession and not the internet, is the culprit of the financial losses the postal service is suffering from. The postal service has overpaid $50-$55 billion to the federal gvt's pension system from 1971 to 2009. Congress and Obama need to act this year on ...
Leonard Meador 9 years ago
I saw an article today about the Postal Service wanting to raise the rates on first class mail to .46. Please consider raising the rates on bulk (junk) mail instead. The bulk mail is largely unwanted, just as heavy as regular letters and the receivers (me) are paying for it through the first class rates. Why should I subsidize corporate America. Hire high school kids to deliver the junk mail and give them a dime a letter, they would make $50 for a few hours work and we would all be ...

Leave a comment

Founded: 1970
Annual Budget: $14,450,000 (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 74 (FY 2013 Estimate)
Official Website: http://www.prc.gov
Postal Regulatory Commission
Taub, Robert
Chairman

On December 4, 2014, Robert G. Taub, who has been involved with postal issues for much of his Washington career, was named acting chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

 

Taub was born in Gloversville, New York, northwest of Albany. His mother was a nurse and his father a comptroller for a leather tannery in the town that was once a center for glove-making in the United States.

 

Taub’s political career started in high school, when he folded letters at his assemblyman’s local office. After graduating from Gloversville High School in 1982, Taub went to American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a B.S. and an M.A. in political science. His senior thesis was on President Chester A. Arthur, who took office upon the assassination of John Garfield.

 

Taub continued working for politicians while in college, interning in the offices of New York Republican representatives Dave Martin and Sherwood Boehlert. During a semester at the University of Leeds in England, Taub also interned for Austin Mitchell, a Labour Member of Parliament. It wasn’t all politics, however. According to an article in his college magazine, Taub also wanted to train to be a jockey.

 

While working on his master’s degree, Taub took a job as a staff assistant to Rep. Peter Rodino (D-New Jersey). After finishing school, Taub went to work for the General Accounting Office (GAO, now known as the Government Accountability Office). Taub left government service briefly to work for former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lee Verstandig, who was by then a lobbyist, but went back to the GAO for five years until getting a call in 1994 from the office of Republican Rep. John McHugh, his hometown congressman.

 

Taub went to work in the office of McHugh, who was made chairman of the Postal Services Subcommittee. Taub became its staff director for three years beginning in 1998, making him the spokesman for the efforts that culminated in 2006 in the creation of the commission he now chairs. By that time, however, McHugh was no longer commission chair because of term limits. Taub became McHugh’s chief of staff in 2000.

 

McHugh left office in 2009 when he was appointed by President Barack Obama as secretary of the Army. Taub was talked about as a likely candidate for McHugh’s seat, but he chose not to run and stayed with McHugh at the Pentagon as his special assistant.

 

Taub was appointed to the Postal Regulatory Commission in October 2011 and was became its vice chairman on January 1, 2013.

 

Taub and his wife, Cynthia, have two daughters, Hannah and Madeline, who are fraternal twins.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Taub Is at Your Service (by T.R. Goldman, Roll Call)

City Native Tapped for Commission (by Amanda Whistle, Gloversville Leader-Herald)

Official Biography

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Goldway, Ruth
Previous Chairman

Ruth Y. Goldway has the distinction of being the longest-serving presidential appointee currently in Washington. She was first appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s predecessor (the Postal Rate Commission), and twice was reappointed by President George W. Bush. President Barack Obama appointed her chairman of the Commission on August 6, 2009..

 
Born in New York City, Goldway is the daughter of David Goldway and Rosalyn Hersh. Her father once served as chairman of the editorial board of Science & Society, a quarterly journal of Marxist scholarship. She attended the Bronx High School of Science before going to the University of Michigan. After earning her Bachelor of Arts, she received her master’s in English literature from Wayne State University.
 
Having moved to California, Goldway served as assistant to the director of the state Department of Consumer Affairs during the 1970s.
 
She eventually became friends with liberal activist and politician Tom Hayden, who supported her candidacy for Santa Monica’s city council. Elected in 1979, Goldway served four years as mayor of the left-leaning city. She was voted out of office in 1983. Although some thought her defeat was a result of her radical politics, others attributed it to her authoritarian governing style.
 
From 1983-1984 Goldway was founder and chairperson of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation.
 
Her career shifted into the world of higher education when she became director of public affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.
 
From 1991-1994 she served as manager of public affairs for the Getty Trust, the largest arts and education foundation in the U.S.
 
During this time she received a small part in the 1993 movie Dave, playing the Secretary of Education in the cabinet of fictional President Bill Mitchell. Goldway got the part as a result of knowing screenwriter Gary Ross.
 
Goldway and her husband, Derek Shearer, were FOBs (Friends of Bill Clinton), which resulted in Shearer being appointed U.S. ambassador to Finland by President Clinton in 1993. The couple remained in Finland until 1997, during which time Goldway authored several articles for the Finnish magazine “Gloria,” organized seminars on women’s issues and assisted in the promotion of American products and services. Her memoir of her overseas experience, Letters from Finland, was published in Finland in 1998.
 
She is on the board of Tree People, the New Visions Foundation, and the USC Center for Sustainable Cities. Goldway is a founding member and chair of a networking and mentoring organization, Women in Logistics and Delivery Services.
 
Ruth Y. Goldway, Chairman (Postal Regulatory Commission)
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Bookmark and Share
Overview:

An independent federal agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has the thankless task of trying to make the U.S. Postal Service run more efficiently. Given the Postal Service’s long history of troubles, rate increases and consumer complaints, it might seem at first glance that the PRC is falling down on its own job. However, the commission only recently (as of 2006) was given the demanding task of shaping up the USPS’s long-sagging performance. Although the commission was first established in 1970 (as the Postal Rate Commission), it was largely a rubber stamp operation for its first three-and-a-half decades of operation, regularly approving postal rate increases requested by the Postal Service. But in 2006 Congress decided to broaden the PRC’s responsibilities and give it some teeth to enforce its new regulatory powers over the Postal Service. In the short time since its reorganization, the PRC has garnered some criticism for supporting postal rate changes that favored large corporate publishers and banks.

 
more
History:

Following the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress adopted legislation in 1789 that established the post office and the Office of the Postmaster General. These two entities were responsible for the delivery of mail throughout the country. In the early part of the 19th century, officials in Washington D.C., began referring to the post office as the Post Office Department, although it wasn’t until 1872 that lawmakers formally created such an office by name as part of the Executive Branch.

 

By the 1930s, letter carriers began delivering mail to customers at the edges of cities using “mail boxes” located along the curbside of roads. As Americans began moving increasingly to the suburbs in the 1950s, more and more curbside mailboxes began to spring up.

 

By the mid-1960s, the Post Office Department found itself in serious financial trouble, due to neglect and fragmented control. Facilities, equipment, wages, and management efficiency needed to be overhauled. In October 1966, the Chicago Post Office came to a halt as the volume of mail surpassed workers’ ability to sort and deliver it. A 1967 House Appropriations Subcommittee labeled the postal service “a race with catastrophe.” Five to ten million pieces of mail were being sent each day, but the system could not keep up. 

 

In 1970, the Post Office Department was reorganized as a semi-independent agency of the federal government. Its name was changed to the United States Postal Service (USPS). The same legislation created an independent Postal Rate Commission, charged with reviewing proposals by the Postal Service to change postal rates, fees, and mail classifications. The commission was headed by members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve six-year terms.

 

The work of the commission consisted primarily of conducting public, on-the-record hearings concerning proposed rate, mail classification or major service changes, and recommending decisions for action by the postal governors.

 

Over the next three decades, Americans continued to complain about the quality of service provided by the USPS, especially in light of ever-increasing postage increases that the commission would often rubber stamp. Beginning in the 1990s, members of Congress began to debate the need for overhauling the postal service. Some advocated radical changes, such as privatizing the delivery of mail.

 

Finally, in December 2006, Congress and President George W. Bush agreed to the most significant postal reform law since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) (pdf) affected the Postal Service’s finances, the way it sets rates, and how it is governed and regulated. It also made changes to the Postal Rate Commission, altering its name to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), to reflect what is now supposed to be a body that provides greater oversight of the Postal Service.

 

The new law required the PRC to develop new regulations that would govern postal rates, consult with the Postal Service on delivery service standards and performance measures, consult with the State Department on international postal policies, prevent cross-subsidization or other anticompetitive postal practices, promote transparency and accountability, and adjudicate complaints.

 

With bad economic times and the Internet bringing about a reduced need for postal services, USPS has found itself $8.5 billion in annual debt and on the General Accountability Office’s “high risk” list. In light of that, the PRC debates such cost-saving measures as raising postage prices, ending Saturday mail deliveries, and closing postal outlets across the nation. In July 2011, USPS proposed to the PRC a plan to study up to 3,600 post offices for closure, and in February 2012 it announced the closure of 223 mail processing centers, resulting in the loss of 35,000 jobs and an annual savings to USPS of $2.6 billion.

 

History of First-Class Stamp Rates

History of Postcard Rates (Postal Regulatory Commission)

Domestic Special Service Fee History (Postal Regulatory Commission) (pdf)

more
What it Does:

The PRC is an independent federal agency that is charged with improving the work of the U.S. Postal Service. The PRC has a number of oversight responsibilities, including making sure the Postal Service is complying with federal laws. The commission also develops accounting practices and procedures for the Postal Service to follow. The PRC has the power to subpoena records, direct the Postal Service to adjust rates and take other remedial actions, and levy fines against the USPS.

 

The PRC is composed of five commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve six-year terms. No more than three members of the commission may be from one political party. The PRC’s staff consists of those with expertise in law, economics, finance, statistics, and cost accounting.

 

PRC Offices:

The Office of Accountability & Compliance conducts technical analysis and formulates policy recommendations for the commission in both domestic and international matters. It performs analyses of rate changes, negotiated service agreements, classifications of new products, post office closings, and other issues. The office evaluates Postal Service accounting records, financial reports, and other financial data to assess accuracy and conformity.

 

The Office of General Counsel provides legal assistance for the PRC, defends its decisions in court, and manages the formal complaint process.

 

The Office of Public Affairs & Government Relations handles communications between the commission and the media, the public, Congress, and other federal offices.

 

The Office of Secretary & Administration records the official actions of the PRC. It archives commission documents, maintains personnel records, and provides other support services involving the commission’s library, docket room, and computers.

 

The Office of Inspector General performs audits and investigations of the PRC’s work. It reports fraud and abuse in commission programs and operations.

 

The commission’s library makes available numerous reports and documents to the public, including dockets, PRC reports and studies, and USPS periodic reports.

 

From the PRC Web Site

Calendar

Congressional Testimony

Contact Information

Contact the Inspector General

Documents Archive

Federal Register Notices

International Postal Regulation

Library

Official Papers

Periodic Reports

Press Releases

Reports and Studies

Speeches

Strategic and Operational Plan (pdf)

Webcasts Archive

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) FY 2012 Congressional Budget Justification outlines the planned distribution of the agency’s projected FY 2012 appropriated funds in terms of both program activity and overhead expenses:

 

Spending according to PRC program activity:

Integrations and Support                                                                    $6,314,000

Financial Accountability and Compliance                                          $2,714,000

Modern Rate Regulation                                                                     $2,700,000

USPS Service and Performance                                                           $2,232,000

Office of Inspector General                                                                   $490,000

 

Spending according to PRC overhead expenses:

Personal Compensation                                                                      $10,628,000

Rent                                                                                                      $1,884,000

Supplies                                                                                                   $230,000

Consulting services                                                                                  $695,000

Contractual services                                                                                 $400,000

Travel                                                                                                       $122,000

Information technology                                                                           $100,000

Printing and reproduction                                                                          $95,000

Communications                                                                                        $70,000

International Policy Development                                                             $50,000

Training                                                                                                      $26,000

Commission Relocation (Lease termination)                                             $25,200

Office furniture and equipment                                                                 $10,000

Office equipment rental and repair                                                            $10,000

Miscellaneous, subscriptions                                                                    $10,000

Medical services                                                                                          $8,000

Advertising                                                                                                  $5,000

PRC Strategic Plan 2012-2016 (pdf)

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Controversies:

Ruth Goldway’s Travel Expenses

Members of Congress criticized the Postal Regulatory Commission’s leader, chairwoman Ruth Goldway, in 2012 for her frequent overseas travel at a time when the U.S. Postal Service was bleeding billions of dollars.

 

In fact, while the House conducted a hearing into the matter, Goldway wasn’t even available to testify due to her making her third trip to Switzerland within the past year. During that time, she also had traveled to Belgium, China, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Scotland.

 

Lawmakers complained that in addition to Goldway being out of the country so often, her commission was falling behind on finding ways to help the Postal Service save money and keep from implementing drastic measures, like ending Saturday mail deliveries.

Lawmakers Question Postal Regulator Chief's Travel As USPS Bleeds Cash (by Bernie Becker, The Hill blog)

Postal Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Ruth Goldway defends travel schedule (by Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post)

Congressman Connolly Defends PRC Chairman Goldway as Advocate of Innovation (SavethePostOffice.com)

 

 

PRC Supports Money-Losing Deal for Postal Service

In October 2007 the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) supported a rate change for Bank of America mailings that, by the commission’s own findings, could cost the Postal Service more than $45 million. The union representing postal workers opposed the rate change for BofA, arguing that Postal Service predictions of savings were based on obsolete data. After the BofA deal was approved, Capital One filed a legal complaint with the PRC accusing the Postal Service of breaking the law by refusing to strike a similar agreement with them. Capital One eventually withdrew its complaint after allegedly striking a private deal with the Postal Service, which, theoretically, could further increase the agency’s financial loss.

USPS Could Lose Millions in Proposed Deal (American Postal Workers Union)

Capital One files response to USPS NSA dismissal request (by Bryan Yurcan, Direct Marketing News)

 

Commission Favors Corporate Giants in Rate Decision

In July 2007 the Postal Regulatory Commission set new postage rates that favored large-circulation publications (such as those owned by Time Warner) over small and medium-sized periodicals. The change followed years of lobbying by Time Warner officials. Instead of facing an 11% rate increase, many corporate giants of the publishing industry were going to enjoy smaller increases, and some were even receiving rate reductions, while small- and medium-sized publications were stuck with 20-30% jumps in postage costs. One periodical (the American Conservative) was looking at a 58% rise. The Nation magazine reported that it expected to pay $500,000 more a year in print costs. The change was likely to drive some publications into bankruptcy. In 2009, periodicals as a whole were able to cover only 76% of their costs, leaving them in the red by $600 million. Since 2001, the mailing of periodicals has dropped by 20%, the result of the worsening economic atmosphere and the public’s increased use of electronic media, particularly the Internet. Across-the-board reduction in mail use left USPS with a $3.8 million loss in 2009—plus an $8.5 billion loss in 2010, and a $5.1 billion loss in 2011—landing the agency on the Government Accountability Office’s “high risk” list.

The Freedom of the Press Belongs To...Those Who Can Afford Lobbyists (by Hilary Goldstein and Isabel MacDonald, Huffington Post)

Postage Rates for Periodicals: A Narrative History (United States Postal Service) (pdf)

Periodicals Are Profitable for USPS, Publishing Exec Testifies (Dead Tree Edition)

 

Bush Uses Postal Accountability Act to Claim Right to Open Mail without Warrant

When he signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, President George W. Bush added a signing statement claiming the right to open mail without a warrant.

Bush Warned About Mail-Opening Authority (by Dan Eggen, Washington Post)

W Pushes Envelope on US Spying (by James Gordon Meek, New York Daily News)

President’s Statement on H.R. 6407, the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act” (White House)

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Suggested Reforms:

Changes for Postal Service

With the blessing of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), lawmakers considered legislation in July 2011 that would drastically change the way the U.S. Postal Service operates.

 

The reforms were necessary, according to the commission, due to the Postal Service losing so much money in recent years. The USPS was expected to lose $8 billion last year, which came on the heels of another $8 billion loss in 2010.

 

Among the changes under consideration was a plan to shutter about 10% of the Postal Service’s retail outlets. Another change would have allowed the agency to dip into its surplus retirement fund to help close its budget gap. Other reforms included ending Saturday mail delivery and permitting the Postal Service to ship wine and beer.

Post Office Ponders Closing 1 In 10 Retail Outlets; Enid Area Offices Make The List (by Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press)

Ending Saturday Delivery Would Reduce Costs, but Comprehensive Restructuring Is Also Needed (Government Accountability Office)

Many Seek to Revamp Post Office (by Sean Collins Walsh, New York Times)

 

Funding Future Retirees Killing Postal Service

With one legislative fix, the financial problems of the U.S. Postal Service could be eliminated, according to reformers.

 

Back in 2006, the Republican-led Congress adopted the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which forced the USPS—which does not receive any money from the federal budget—to prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years. In other words, the Postal Service was ordered to pay for the benefits of workers it hadn’t yet hired and do it an accelerated time frame.

 

The mandate proved very costly, draining billions from the Postal Service’s coffers.

 

Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, has called for lifting this requirement. “A majority of the commission believes the Postal Service’s current financial predicament is rooted in the PAEA mandate to rapidly pre-fund health benefit premiums for future retirees,” Goldway told lawmakers.

 

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said removing the retiree-funding requirement would put the Postal Service immediately in the black.

Manufactured Crisis About to Cripple the Post Office (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Making the Service Profitable Again (National Association of Letter Carriers)

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Former Directors:

Note: The following former chairmen presided over the predecessor to the Postal Regulatory Commission (the Postal Rate Commission)

 

Dan Blair (R) Dec.15, 2006-August 2009     

George A. Omas (R) Nov. 30, 2001-Dec. 9, 2006

Edward J. Gleiman (I) Feb. 23, 1994-Feb. 2, 2001

George W. Haley (R) Feb. 14, 1990-Oct. 14, 1993

Janet D. Steiger (R) Feb. 3, 1982-Aug. 10, 1989

A. Lee Fritschler (D) Jul. 31, 1979-Mar. 4, 1981

Clyde S. DuPont (R) Mar. 14, 1975-Jul 29, 1979

Fred B. Rhodes (R) Jan. 18, 1974-Dec. 30, 1974

John L. Ryan (R) Aug. 4, 1973-Oct. 31, 1973

William J. Crowley (R) Oct. 15, 1970-May 1, 1973

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See all 15 comments

Comments

isabel hernandez 2 years ago
today i went to the post office on 35th and washington phx az .since last summer the post office has been filing against me of mail delivery to my house .an agreement i never signed.anyways all that time i was waiting for the supervisor today again to ask about my mail.a caucsian guy stood there all that time.they are the russians my us citizens.who aretakin money thru federal grants and blaming low income entities so they can use our names take out loans and us .well we know nothing of the law.so we get the blame.with that money they pay greedy americans to retaliate against us for a share.while they keep defrauding the us .thats wheere the money is going .to the russians.these are facts.
A. DiCenzo 2 years ago
There are reasons the Post Office is in a death spiral. One, they are doing things in the interest of cutting costs that make people unhappy. a good example of that in my town is the P.O. insisting mailboxes are placed on one side of a street so a driver only has to drive one direction. the street can be fraught with traffic puttin citizens at risk of being hit. they even forced out street to did up mailboxes and relocafe them, even after receiving permission from a previous post master. Two, they mess up, delivering to the wrong mailbox a lot. Three, the leaves packages on the top of mailboxes (rather than inside) regardles of the weather. in short, their service is terrible.
Judy sailing 2 years ago
Am I entitled to mail delivery to my house?where I live.
Patricia Lefevre 3 years ago
Rate decrease is very bad for USPS survival. Was that the intention? Unsustainable and unnecessary burdens have been placed on the USPS in the last several years as far as funding future pensions, which I believe were meant to kill off the USPS and replace it with private delivery services who are not so burdened. Please reconsider this rate decrease and return rate to prior rate. The USPS provides outstanding service to all Americans at reasonable rates - something that private delivery services will never be able to do. Also, consider adding more banking functions to USPS - that is a service that will increase revenue for USPS
Pat Stevens 4 years ago
I'm moving next week and today went to the local post office to see about doing a change of address online. Much to my dismay I found that this will cost me $39.95 but dream on......You'll get no credit card number from me. This process was $1.00 4 months ago. What moron or group of morons came up with this idea? Incidently, this is my first move in 45 years. Just another black mark on the postal service I guess.
Tommy L. Syers 7 years ago
as an employee of the usps it saddens me to see how the public is being misinformed and sometimes blatantly lied too. i was at the public forum meeting when the usps officials met with the public to discuss consolidation of mail processing here in saginaw. out mail was going to be process at he metroplex in pontiac. at that meeting the questions kept coming up, as to how they add two hours or more of driving time to all of the long drive times now, and still get the mail back in ...
Gary R Langdon 7 years ago
i know nothing of the inner workings of the post office. that said, bear with me. i am now using my second paper shredder to shred junk unsolicited mail, daily. raise the costs to those companies. if in fact, real revenue is being lost to electronic communications, then consider placement of your own communication device in homes and businesses that do not use fax or e-mail communication. if people want the convenience of mail delivery, they will make the change just as they have wi...
Charles C. Nott 8 years ago
i understand that the postal service is considering closing the academy station in albany, ny. i am 77 years old, still working, and use the academy station, which is nearby, a great deal. my business necessitates sending and receiving a great deal of first class mail and its closing would be a very serious blow to myself and my business. charles c. nott, cfp
Patrick 9 years ago
The postal service has been cripled by poor political and managerial choices as well as accounting errors that have left it with unsustainable pension liabilities. $5.5 billion anual cost of prefunding retire health costs, not the recession and not the internet, is the culprit of the financial losses the postal service is suffering from. The postal service has overpaid $50-$55 billion to the federal gvt's pension system from 1971 to 2009. Congress and Obama need to act this year on ...
Leonard Meador 9 years ago
I saw an article today about the Postal Service wanting to raise the rates on first class mail to .46. Please consider raising the rates on bulk (junk) mail instead. The bulk mail is largely unwanted, just as heavy as regular letters and the receivers (me) are paying for it through the first class rates. Why should I subsidize corporate America. Hire high school kids to deliver the junk mail and give them a dime a letter, they would make $50 for a few hours work and we would all be ...

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Founded: 1970
Annual Budget: $14,450,000 (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 74 (FY 2013 Estimate)
Official Website: http://www.prc.gov
Postal Regulatory Commission
Taub, Robert
Chairman

On December 4, 2014, Robert G. Taub, who has been involved with postal issues for much of his Washington career, was named acting chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

 

Taub was born in Gloversville, New York, northwest of Albany. His mother was a nurse and his father a comptroller for a leather tannery in the town that was once a center for glove-making in the United States.

 

Taub’s political career started in high school, when he folded letters at his assemblyman’s local office. After graduating from Gloversville High School in 1982, Taub went to American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a B.S. and an M.A. in political science. His senior thesis was on President Chester A. Arthur, who took office upon the assassination of John Garfield.

 

Taub continued working for politicians while in college, interning in the offices of New York Republican representatives Dave Martin and Sherwood Boehlert. During a semester at the University of Leeds in England, Taub also interned for Austin Mitchell, a Labour Member of Parliament. It wasn’t all politics, however. According to an article in his college magazine, Taub also wanted to train to be a jockey.

 

While working on his master’s degree, Taub took a job as a staff assistant to Rep. Peter Rodino (D-New Jersey). After finishing school, Taub went to work for the General Accounting Office (GAO, now known as the Government Accountability Office). Taub left government service briefly to work for former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lee Verstandig, who was by then a lobbyist, but went back to the GAO for five years until getting a call in 1994 from the office of Republican Rep. John McHugh, his hometown congressman.

 

Taub went to work in the office of McHugh, who was made chairman of the Postal Services Subcommittee. Taub became its staff director for three years beginning in 1998, making him the spokesman for the efforts that culminated in 2006 in the creation of the commission he now chairs. By that time, however, McHugh was no longer commission chair because of term limits. Taub became McHugh’s chief of staff in 2000.

 

McHugh left office in 2009 when he was appointed by President Barack Obama as secretary of the Army. Taub was talked about as a likely candidate for McHugh’s seat, but he chose not to run and stayed with McHugh at the Pentagon as his special assistant.

 

Taub was appointed to the Postal Regulatory Commission in October 2011 and was became its vice chairman on January 1, 2013.

 

Taub and his wife, Cynthia, have two daughters, Hannah and Madeline, who are fraternal twins.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Taub Is at Your Service (by T.R. Goldman, Roll Call)

City Native Tapped for Commission (by Amanda Whistle, Gloversville Leader-Herald)

Official Biography

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Goldway, Ruth
Previous Chairman

Ruth Y. Goldway has the distinction of being the longest-serving presidential appointee currently in Washington. She was first appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s predecessor (the Postal Rate Commission), and twice was reappointed by President George W. Bush. President Barack Obama appointed her chairman of the Commission on August 6, 2009..

 
Born in New York City, Goldway is the daughter of David Goldway and Rosalyn Hersh. Her father once served as chairman of the editorial board of Science & Society, a quarterly journal of Marxist scholarship. She attended the Bronx High School of Science before going to the University of Michigan. After earning her Bachelor of Arts, she received her master’s in English literature from Wayne State University.
 
Having moved to California, Goldway served as assistant to the director of the state Department of Consumer Affairs during the 1970s.
 
She eventually became friends with liberal activist and politician Tom Hayden, who supported her candidacy for Santa Monica’s city council. Elected in 1979, Goldway served four years as mayor of the left-leaning city. She was voted out of office in 1983. Although some thought her defeat was a result of her radical politics, others attributed it to her authoritarian governing style.
 
From 1983-1984 Goldway was founder and chairperson of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation.
 
Her career shifted into the world of higher education when she became director of public affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.
 
From 1991-1994 she served as manager of public affairs for the Getty Trust, the largest arts and education foundation in the U.S.
 
During this time she received a small part in the 1993 movie Dave, playing the Secretary of Education in the cabinet of fictional President Bill Mitchell. Goldway got the part as a result of knowing screenwriter Gary Ross.
 
Goldway and her husband, Derek Shearer, were FOBs (Friends of Bill Clinton), which resulted in Shearer being appointed U.S. ambassador to Finland by President Clinton in 1993. The couple remained in Finland until 1997, during which time Goldway authored several articles for the Finnish magazine “Gloria,” organized seminars on women’s issues and assisted in the promotion of American products and services. Her memoir of her overseas experience, Letters from Finland, was published in Finland in 1998.
 
She is on the board of Tree People, the New Visions Foundation, and the USC Center for Sustainable Cities. Goldway is a founding member and chair of a networking and mentoring organization, Women in Logistics and Delivery Services.
 
Ruth Y. Goldway, Chairman (Postal Regulatory Commission)
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