Postal Reform Page: 11 of 15
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On December 11, 2002, President Bush issued an executive order
a Commission on the Postal Service, forestalling congressional initiatives to create such a
commission by statute. He ordered it to report by July 31, 2003, on
" the role of the Postal Service in the 21St century and beyond;
" the flexibility that the Postal Service should have to change prices, control
costs, and adjust service in response to financial, competitive, or market
" the rigidities in cost or service that limit the efficiency of the postal system;
" the ability of the Postal Service, over the long term, to maintain universal
mail delivery at affordable rates and cover its unfunded liabilities with
minimum exposure to the American taxpayers;
" the extent to which postal monopoly restrictions continue to advance the
public interest under evolving market conditions, and the extent to which the
Postal Service competes with private sector services; and
" the most appropriate governance and oversight structure for the Postal
The co-chairmen of the commission are James Johnson, former CEO of Fannie Mae,
and Harry Pearce, board chairman of Hughes Electronics. The other seven members include
no one with close ties to postal stakeholders. Most are business executives, with one local
labor leader, the president of Yale University, and Robert Walker, a former Member of
Congress. In a press conference announcing the commission, Undersecretary of Treasury
Peter Fisher took pains to emphasize that privatization was not the goal of the commission.
He said that only two things are "out of bounds" in the commission's deliberations: "We
don't want the Commission to come back and suggest that the existing business model
should be left in place and the costs all rolled up on the taxpayer. We also don't want them
to come back and say that all of the existing costs should be rolled up on the ratepayer." The
Commission's Web site [http://www.treas.gov/offices/domestic-finance/usps] has a schedule
of field hearings, and invites comments from the public on issues before it.
Developments in the 105th and 106th Congresses
Representative John McHugh used his chairmanship of the House Government Reform
Subcommittee on the Postal Service to develop and promote comprehensive postal reform
legislation that was given the number H.R. 22 in both the 105th and 106th Congresses. The
theory behind the bill was that USPS needed freedom to engage more competitively in
growing markets, but on a leveled playing field, while having an enhanced degree of
supervised flexibility in its monopoly markets. It would have weakened the control now held
by the Postal Rate Commission. The bill avoided controversial issues such as binding pay
arbitration and closing post offices that lose money. With only belated support from USPS
and its board, however, and opposition from such influential stakeholders as UPS and the
APWU, the bill passed the subcommittee but no further action was taken by the Government
Representative Henry Waxman, ranking minority member of the House Government
Reform Committee, introduced H.R. 2535 in the 106th Congress. The bill would have
provided some rate making flexibilities for competitive products, negotiated rate agreements,
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Postal Reform, report, February 25, 2003; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806221/m1/11/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.