USPS board set to lose quorum as deputy postmaster general resigns

The Postal Service, a month out from its next postmaster general taking office, will also see its second-in-command leave the agency.

Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, after nine years at the Postal Service and more than 40 years in public service, will resign from the agency on June 1.

According to the USPS filing to the Postal Regulatory Commission, Stroman notified the chairman of the USPS Board of Governors of his decision last Friday.

Earlier that week, the board announced former logistics executive Louis DeJoy as its pick for postmaster general. The week before, former USPS inspector general and vice president of the board, David Williams, announced his resignation.

Following Stroman’s departure, the USPS board will no longer have enough members to reach a quorum. But if that happens, it can delegate authority to a Temporary Emergency Committee, which allows the four remaining Senate-confirmed governors and the postmaster general to engage in all of the board’s normal decision-making.

“At least until there’s a successor named, or until there are more governors confirmed by the Senate, the Postal Service’s Board of Governors should be able to operate as normal,” Mike Plunkett, the president and CEO of the Association for Postal Commerce, told Federal News Network.

Paul Steidler, a senior fellow with the Lexington Institute, said Stroman’s departure, and the lack of quorum it causes, would only be a “very temporary bump in the road” for the board’s continuity of operations.

The board will select a new deputy postmaster general based on a majority vote from the four remaining Senate-confirmed governors and the postmaster general.

“It is likely that Louis DeJoy wants his own number-two in there. In fact, he may already have someone in mind,” Steidler said in an email. “The Board is likely to go with who DeJoy wants as they will be working together closely, day-to-day.”

During his tenure, Stroman led government affairs and international mail issues for USPS, and worked with state and local officials to oversee the expansion of vote by mail.

Prior to joining the Postal Service, Stroman served as the staff director for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In his current job, he worked with lawmakers to develop several postal reform bills that often received bipartisan support, but never made it out of Congress.

“Ron [Stroman ] has led our communications and relationship-building with the Congress and among agencies at the federal, state, and local level, as well as efforts to educate postal stakeholders as we developed a framework for postal reform legislation,” Postmaster General Megan Brennan wrote in a memo to industry on Wednesday.

Working with the Trump administration and the State Department, Stroman negotiated profitable rates for small international packets and prevented the U.S. from leaving the Universal Postal Union last year.

Stroman also led the agency’s work in an intergovernmental strategy on electronic data for international packages, and helped law enforcement agencies detect shipments of illegal drugs.

Stroman also spearheaded strategic outreach for elections and political mail divisions as the use of vote-by-mail has increased over the past five years.

With the departure of Williams and Stroman, Plunkett said the USPS Board of Governors has lost much of its institutional knowledge.

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The board in June will consist of four members who have been on the job for less than two years. Meanwhile, DeJoy will be the first postmaster general in more than 20 years to lead the agency without prior experience working there.

“You don’t have a lot of collective experience in postal affairs at the very top of the Postal Service,” Plunkett said. “Now, how important that is probably depends on your perspective on specific issues, but it’s certainly an unusual state of affairs.”

Brennan, the first woman to serve as the postmaster general, will step down June 15. She announced her retirement late last year, and expected to leave by end of January, but stayed on indefinitely until the board could name a successor.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Stroman’s departure signals disruption in the top ranks of USPS during a “critical moment” in the 2020 election.

“The Postal Service lies at the heart of our democracy and is critical to the success of an unprecedented vote-by-mail system that is needed for a fair and effective 2020 election season. The Postal Service is also a lifeline for vulnerable people who are counting on mail delivery for medication, stimulus payments, and more,” Clarke said in a statement. 

Clarke said her organization has also called on congressional oversight committees to look into whether shakeups in USPS leadership would  disrupt the “implementation of the Census and vote-by-mail amid the pandemic.”

The American Prospect first reported Stroman’s departure.

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