|Headquarters||901 New York Avenue NW Suite #200|
|Annual budget||$15 m|
The United States Postal Regulatory Commission (or PRC), formerly called the Postal Rate Commission, is an independent regulatory agency created by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. Like the Postal Service, it was defined in law as an independent establishment of the executive branch.
The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 created the PRC--originally named the Postal Rate Commission--to set the rates for different classes of mail by holding hearings on rates proposed by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
From 1970 through 2006, the PRC also had oversight authority over the USPS in areas besides rates changes. Specifically, that additional oversight consisted of conducting public, on-the-record hearings concerning proposed mail classification or major service changes and of recommending actions to be taken by the postal Governors.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-435) enacted on December 20, 2006, made several changes to the Postal Regulatory Commission. Besides giving the body its current name, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act significantly strengthened the Commission's authority to serve as a counterbalance to new flexibility granted to the USPS in setting postal rates.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the Postal Regulatory Commission to develop and maintain regulations for a modern system of rate regulation, consult with the Postal Service on delivery service standards and performance measures, consult with the Department of State on international postal policies, prevent cross-subsidization or other anti-competitive postal practices, promote transparency and accountability, and adjudicate complaints.
The law also assigns new and continuing oversight responsibilities to the Postal Regulatory Commission, including annual determinations of USPS compliance with applicable laws, development of accounting practices and procedures for the Postal Service, review of the Universal Service requirement, and assurance of transparency through periodic reports. New enforcement tools given to the PRC include subpoena power, authority to direct the Postal Service to adjust rates and to take other remedial actions, and levying fines in cases of deliberate noncompliance with applicable postal laws.
According to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the United States Postal Service must make annual payments of between $5.4 billion and $5.8 billion to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund from 2007. This provision of the law has been highly controversial, as no other federal agency is required to pre-fund future retirees' health benefits in this manner. The consequences of this funding requirement have been blamed for the perilous financial condition of the Postal Service, but no consensus has been reached on its fiscal effects, given other contributors such as stiff competition and other economic circumstances.
In June 2011, the United States Postal Service had to suspend its weekly payment of $115 million into the fund because it had reached $8 billion in debt and the retirement plan had a surplus of $6.9 billion.
The PRC is composed of five Commissioners--each of whom is appointed to a six-year term of office by the President and confirmed by the Senate, similar to many other high-level Executive Branch office holders. As with Postal Governors, PRC commissioners are permitted to serve for one additional "holdover" year beyond the end of their term if a replacement has not been nominated and confirmed. The President designates one Commissioner as Chairman of the Commission. The Commissioners together designate one of their number as a Vice-Chairman for a one-year term. No more than three of the Commissioners can be from any one political party.
The current members are:
|Michael M. Kubayanda||Chairman||Democratic||TBD|
|Ashley E. Poling||Vice Chairman||Democratic||November 22, 2024|
|Mark Acton||Commissioner||Republican||October 14, 2022|
|Ann C. Fisher||Commissioner||Republican||October 14, 2024|
|Robert G. Taub||Commissioner||Republican||October 14, 2022|
Taub and Acton were confirmed for second terms in December 2016. Kubayanda was confirmed as a new Commissioner on January 2, 2019. Fisher and Poling were confirmed as new Commissioners on August 1, 2019.
The PRC is organized into five operating offices: Accountability and Compliance, General Counsel, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Secretary, and Inspector General.
|Name||Position||Party||Term started||Term expired|
|Howard Elliott||Commissioners||Republican||November 23, 1970||February 28, 1973|
|William J. Crowley||Chairman||October 15, 1970||May 1, 1973|
|John L. Ryan||Commissioner||November 23, 1970||August 3, 1970|
|Chairman||August 4, 1973||October 31, 1973|
|Rod Kreger||Commissioner||August 6, 1973||January 7, 1974|
|Nathan A. Baily||Commissioner||Democratic||October 15, 1970||October 14, 1974|
|Fred B. Rhodes||Chairman||Republican||January 18, 1974||December 30, 1974|
|Paul A. Miltich||Commissioner||March 13, 1975||March 7, 1977|
|Frank P. Saponaro||Commissioner||Independent||October 15, 1970||October 14, 1977|
|Carlos C. Villarreal||Commissioner||Republican||April 15, 1973||February 1, 1979|
|Kieran O'Doherty||Commissioner||Conservative||February 20, 1975||October 14, 1980|
|A. Lee. Fritschler||Chairman||Democratic||July 31, 1979||March 4, 1981|
|Commissioner||March 5, 1981||August 31, 1981|
|Clyde S. DuPont||Commissioner||Republican||September 20, 1974||March 13, 1975|
|Chairman||March 14, 1975||July 29, 1979|
|Commissioner||July 30, 1979||September 14, 1981|
|Simeon M. Bright||Commissioner||Democratic||December 15, 1977||October 12, 1984|
|James H. Duffy||Commissioner||May 11, 1979||September 11, 1985|
|Henrietta F. Guiton||Commissioner||December 20, 1984||June 19, 1987|
|Janet D. Steiger||Commissioner||Republican||October 15, 1980||February 2, 1982|
|Chairman||February 3, 1982||August 10, 1989|
|Patti Birge. Tyson||Commissioner||Democratic||September 12, 1985||November 22, 1991|
|Henry R. Folsom||Commissioner||Republican||March 9, 1982||December 29, 1992|
|John Crutcher||Commissioner||March 9, 1982||October 14, 1993|
|Wayne A. Schley||Commissioner||December 30, 1992||October 14, 1995|
|Edward H. Quick||Commissioner||Democratic||December 2, 1991||November 22, 1997|
|George W. Haley||Chairman||Republican||February 14, 1990||October 14, 1993|
|Commissioner||December 1, 1993||September 10, 1998|
|Edward J. Gleiman||Chairman||Independent||February 23, 1994||February 2, 2001|
|W.H. "Trey" LeBlanc||Commissioner||Democratic||November 24, 1987||November 22, 2001|
|Dana B. "Danny" Covington||Commissioner||Republican||November 2, 1998||October 14, 2005|
|George A. Omas||Commissioner||August 8, 1997||November 29, 2001|
|Chairman||November 30, 2001||December 9, 2006|
|Dawn Tisdale||Commissioner||Democratic||December 1, 2004||November 22, 2007|
|Dan Gregory Blair||Chairman||Republican||December 9, 2006||August 5, 2009|
|Commissioner||August 6, 2009||June 30, 2011|
|Ruth Y. Goldway||Commissioner||Democratic||April 15, 1998||August 5, 2009|
|Chairwoman||August 6, 2009||December 3, 2014|
|Commissioner||December 4, 2014||November 22, 2015|
|Tony Hammond||Commissioner||Republican||August 6, 2002||October 7, 2011|
|April 30, 2012||October 14, 2013|
|December 10, 2014||August 7, 2019|
|Nanci E. Langley||Commissioner||Democratic||June 9, 2008||November 22, 2013|
|December 10, 2014||August 7, 2019|
The Office of Accountability & Compliance (OAC) provides analytic support to the Commission for the review of various Postal Service proposed actions: rate changes, negotiated service agreements (NSAs), classification of products and services, the Annual Compliance Determination, the Annual Report to President and Congress, changes to postal services, post office closings and other issues before the Commission. Areas of expertise include economic and econometric analysis, analysis of operational characteristics of the postal system, analysis of Postal Service operating costs and cost methodologies. OAC also collects, analyzes and periodically summarizes financial and various other statistical information to support Commission responsibilities.
The Office of General Counsel provides legal assistance on matters involving the Commission's responsibilities; defends Commission decisions before the courts; and advises the Commission on the legal aspects of proposed legislation, rulemaking, and policies on procurement, contracting, personnel matters, ethics, and other internal legal matters.
The Office of Public Affairs & Government Relations (PAGR) manages communications and public outreach for the Commission with the public, Members of Congress, the Postal Service, state and local governments, and the news media. PAGR engages in public outreach, responds to media inquiries and disseminates information concerning Commission decisions and activities to the public. PAGR also provides information to postal customers and assists in the resolution of informal complaints, called "rate and service inquiries", from members of the public.
The Office of Secretary & Administration records and preserves PRC actions and documents, manages the dockets, reference materials, and interagency reporting. It also helps to manage the administrative aspects of the PRC, including budgeting and accounting, strategic planning, contracting, human resources and personnel, and serves as a point of contact for audits. It also manages facilities and infrastructure, and provides support services.
The Office of Inspector General is a watchdog office that seeks out fraud, waste and abuse in the PRC programs and operations, and conducts audits of programs to identify areas of potential improvement. The Office of Inspector General also investigates allegations and complaints.
The law (39 U.S.C. 505) requires that the Commission designate an individual to represent the interest of the general public in every public proceeding. This obligation is likely unique in the federal government, although state-level public utility commissions have similar arrangements. Since 2007, the Commission has used the method of appointing a staff member, on a case-by-case basis, to represent the public interest before the Commission for the duration of that particular case. This appointee is called the Public Representative. The Public Representative can obtain legal or technical support if necessary to fulfill that responsibility, but no one working in the Public Representative role can participate in the Commission's decision-making process.
Contrary to statements made by some employee groups and other stakeholders, PAEA did not require USPS to prefund 75 years of retiree health benefits over a 10-year period. Rather, pursuant to OPM's methodology, such payments would be projected to fund the liability over a period in excess of 50 years, from 2007 through 2056 and beyond (with rolling 15-year amortization periods after 2041). However, the payments required by PAEA were significantly "frontloaded," with the fixed payment amounts in the first 10 years exceeding what actuarially determined amounts would have been using a 50-year amortization schedule.