New USPS board chairman supports DeJoy, ‘self-sustaining’ operating model

The Postal Service has named a new chairman to its Board of Governors, a move that will likely ensure Postmaster General Louis DeJoy stays on as the agency’s chief executive.

The USPS Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously elected Roman Martinez IV, a Republican member of the board, to serve as its next chairman.

Martinez will take over for Democrat Ron Bloom, a former member of the board whose term expired in December.

The board also elected Anton Hajjar, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union, to serve as its vice chairman.

Martinez pointed to the Biden administration’s upcoming plans to mail millions of COfVID-19 testing kits to households as a sign that the White House holds confidence in the agency’s leadership. He also praised DeJoy as a “transformational leader” who is helping USPS improve its long-term financial health.

“The best team needs a leader, and I believe that Postmaster General DeJoy is that person to carry out the restructure that is needed,” Martinez said.

Martinez also applauded the rollout of a 10-year reform plan last year, which looks to reverse the impact of 15 years of annual net losses by 2030. Under that plan, USPS has increased mail prices and implemented a new service standard that slows the delivery of 40% of first-class mail.

Martinez said USPS under DeJoy’s leadership is implementing reforms that will ensure the agency remains self-sufficient, as it’s required to do so under law, and not reliant on a financial “handout” from Congress.

“It did change some things drastically,” Martinez said about the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act.” It made us an independent establishment. It asked us to work as a private-sector company and it made us be self-sustaining. And what that means is that our operating revenues are meant to cover not only our operating expenses, [but] all our capital investments.”

Congress allowed USPS to borrow $10 billion from the Treasury Department under the CARES Act, but later authorized the funds as a one-time grant to the agency under a subsequent pandemic spending package.

DeJoy said USPS successfully delivered a record-breaking 13.2 billion pieces of mail and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, while avoiding many of the seasonal delays it saw in 2020.

“We have demonstrated the speed in which this organization can rectify its operating issues when it applies its competencies with extreme focus,” DeJoy said. “While our 2020 performance was poor and by no means a benchmark, it was a condition, an unacceptable condition, of our operating infrastructure and practices.”

DeJoy said the Biden administration’s plan to deliver 500 million coronavirus test kits to households via USPS indicates the White House has confidence in the agency’s leadership. The Washington Post first broke this story last week.

“We appreciate the confidence the administration is trusting in us to support this important mission,” DeJoy said.

President Joe Biden in November named two new members to serve on the USPS board: Dan Tangherlini, a former head of the General Services Administration, and Derek Kan, a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Biden’s nominees, if confirmed, would not change the balance of Republicans and Democrats on the board, and would likely have no impact on DeJoy’s tenure as postmaster general.

Martinez credited DeJoy with strengthening the relationship between USPS management and postal unions, and working closely with lawmakers on a bipartisan postal reform bill.

“He’s laser-focused on serving the Postal Service. This man does not know the word ‘quit,’” Martinez said.

The bill would eliminate the agency’s obligation to pre-fund health benefits for USPS retirees well into the future.

USPS has defaulted on billions of dollars in scheduled payments to that fund, but still accounts for that spending as part of its annual finances.

Another member of the USPS board, John Barger, saw his term expire in December, but has agreed to stay on the board until his successor is confirmed.

All USPS board members can serve for an additional holdover year after their term ends.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized a quote from USPS Board of Governors Chairman Roman Martinez. The quote, which has since been updated, refers to the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act, not Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

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