Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate committee holds hearing on USPS Board of Governors nominees

Today, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs (HSGAC) held a hearing on the nominations of David Williams, Robert Duncan and Calvin Tucker to the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors.

As letter carriers know, the USPS Board of Governors consists of a nine-member panel in addition to the postmaster general and deputy postmaster general, and is comparable to a board of directors for a publicly held corporation. The Board has not been fully staffed since 2010, it has lacked a quorum since 2014, and it lost its final appointed governor in December 2016, leaving those nine positions vacant.

Much of the hearing involved HSGAC members voicing their concerns on issues ranging from the current state of the Postal Service’s finances and pricing, to service-related issues (such as the Postal Service’s “universal service obligation” (USO), to opioids; significant time was spent questioning the nominees on how they will address issues facing the agency, given the recent interest by the administration.

During the hearing, the three nominees provided background information on themselves as well as other relevant information.

David Williams, nominated to serve until Dec. 8, 2019, has a long history of government service, having joined the Secret Service after his tour in Vietnam, and then as part of the Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force in the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General. Following his work on President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime, he led the Office of Special Investigations at the General Accounting Office (since renamed the Government Accountability Office) before being confirmed as the Inspector General (IG) at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and subsequently as IG at the Social Security Administration, the Treasury, the IRS, HUD and finally at the Postal Service from 2003 until his retirement in 2016.

During his testimony, Williams called for a thorough presentation of postal finances and liabilities as well as a clearer definition of the universal service obligation. Additionally, he called for further innovation to the agency and for a possible expansion of services.

Robert M. (Mike) Duncan, nominated to serve until Dec. 8, 2025, is a banker and currently the chairman and CEO of Inez Deposit Bank, as well as chairman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. He served on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2007 to 2009.

Duncan’s nomination is directly related to his connection to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and HSGAC member Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), both of whom introduced him at the hearing. Duncan emphasized a need to increase transparency and to examine the USPS business model, governance structure, delivery frequency and standards, rate changes, rural service and the opioids issue. In his testimony he also specifically stated the need to redefine the USO of USPS.

Calvin Tucker, nominated to serve until Dec. 8, 2023, is the managing partner of Eagles Capital Advisors, a financial services consulting firm in Philadelphia, president of the local Germantown Republican Club, chairman of the Philadelphia Black Republican Council and the Republican leader of the 22nd Ward. In 2016, he was a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention.

In the hearing,  Tucker stressed that the Postal Service must do everything it can to assist small businesses and rural customers, and also acknowledged the integral role the Postal Service plays in the nation’s economy.

 

Of particular note to letter carriers during the hearing was that the nominees recognized the invaluable contribution of the workforce and expressed a commitment to working with the employee groups. In fact, all nominees cited workplace morale as a top priority, with  Duncan stating that improved communication between labor and management is key to achieving that, in terms of  the tone set by “the management of the Postal Board of how they work with the union representatives, but also the rank-and-file everyday member of the organization.”

Williams went further, recognizing that “the last couple years have been really rough on the Postal Service employees, and in response to that they have risen to the occasion. They were the first ones back after 9/11, after Katrina, and their morale has taken a beating, but it is extremely high. It is a very dedicated group.”

One area that NALC will be monitoring closely is the nominees’ commitment to redefining the USO. At the hearing, both Duncan and Tucker questioned the very definition of the obligation and what it means in changing times for the Postal Service.

A significant back-and-forth discussion among committee members and the nominees involved the recent issue of rates and revenue. In response to questioning from ranking member Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), all nominees indicated that they would stand up for the best interest of the Postal Service, even if it meant going against the president sometime in the future.

HSGAC leaders emphasized throughout the hearing the critical need to attain a quorum on the Board of Governors in order for the Postal Service to move forward.

The committee is expected to advance the nominees in the coming weeks. Following committee passage, the nominees will be ready for Senate action. NALC will closely monitor the confirmation process of these nominees as well as any future nominees for the Board’s other six vacancies. NALC will continue to work with the Senate and the Trump administration to ensure that letter carriers’ interests are represented.

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