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United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States.  The United States Postal Service is a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States.  The United States postal service is authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people.  The term “postal service” refers to the delivery of letters, printed matter, or mailable packages, including acceptance, collection, sorting, transportation, or other functions ancillary thereto.

The exercise of the power of the Postal Service is directed by a Board of Governors composed of 11 members.   Nine of the members are known as Governors and are appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the House and the Senate.  Each Governor is appointed to a nine-year term or to the remainder of an unexpired term created by the death or resignation of a sitting Governor.  Terms of the Governors are staggered to expire each year.   A Governor whose term has expired may continue to sit on the Board for up to one year until a successor has been appointed. No more than five of the nine Governors may be of the same political party.  No person may serve more than 2 terms as a Governor.
The Governors elect a Chairman from among the members of the Board.

The Governors also represent the public interest generally, and are chosen on the basis of:

a) experience in the field of public service, law or accounting or on their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations (in either the public or private sector) of substantial size;

b) 4 of the Governors are chosen solely on the basis of their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations (in either the public or private sector) that employ at least 50,000 employees.

The Governors appoint and have the power to remove the Postmaster General (Chief Executive Officer), who is a voting member of the Board.

The Governors and the Postmaster General (Chief Executive Officer) appoint and have the power to remove the Deputy Postmaster General, who is a voting member of the Board.  His term of service is fixed by the Governors and the Postmaster General and his pay by the Governors.
The Governors appoint and have the power to remove the Inspector General.  The Inspector General is appointed for a term of 7 years; without regard to political affiliation; and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.

Within the Postal Service there is a General Counsel, Assistant Postmasters General as the Board, a Judicial Officer, and a Chief Postal Inspector. They are appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Postmaster General.

U.S. Postal Service rates are set by the Postal Regulatory Commission according to the recommendations of the Postal Board of Governors.

There is also a Postal Service Advisory Council of which the Postmaster General is the Chairman and the Deputy Postmaster General is the Vice Chairman.  The Advisory Council has 11 additional members appointed by the President.  He appoints:

(1) Four persons from among persons nominated by the labor organizations

(2) Four persons as representatives of major mail users, and

(3) Three persons as representatives of the public at large.

All members shall be appointed for terms of 2 years.   Except that 2 of the members representative of labor organizations, 2 of the members representative of major postal users, and 1 member representing the public at large shall be appointed for 1 year.  

The Postal Service consults with and receives the advice of the Advisory Council regarding all aspects of postal operations.
The seal of the Postal Service is filed by the Board in the Office of the Secretary of State, judicially noticed, affixed to all commissions of officers of the Postal Service, and used to authenticate records of the Postal Service.

The main powers of the Postal Service are:

  • To sue and be sued in its official name;
  • To adopt, amend, and repeal such rules and regulations, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions assigned to the Postal Service under any provisions of law.
  • To enter into and perform contracts, execute instruments, and determine the character of its expenditures;
  • To determine and keep its own system of accounts and the forms and contents of its contracts and other business documents,
  • To acquire, in any lawful manner, personal or real property, or any interest therein, necessary or convenient in the transaction of its business;
  • To hold, maintain, sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of such property or any interest therein; and to provide services in connection to it.
  • To construct, operate, lease, and maintain buildings, facilities, equipment, and other improvements on any property owned or controlled by it, including, with out limitation, any property or interest transferred to it.
  • To accept gifts or donations of services or property, real or personal, as it deems, necessary or convenient in the transaction of its business;
  • To settle and compromise claims by or against it;
  • To exercise, in the name of the United States, the right of eminent domain for its official purposes; and to have the priority of the United States with respect to the payment of debts out of bankrupt, insolvent, and decedents’ estates; and
  •  To have all other powers incidental, necessary, or appropriate to the carrying on of its functions or the exercise of its specific powers.

The Specific Powers of Postal Service are:

  • To provide for the collection, handling, transportation, delivery, forwarding, returning, and holding of mail, and for the disposition of undeliverable mail;
  • To prescribe, the amount of postage and the manner in which it is to be paid;
  • To determine the need for post offices, postal and training facilities and equipment, and to provide such offices, facilities, and equipment as it determines are needed,
  • To provide and sell postage stamps and other stamped paper, cards, and envelopes and to provide such other evidences of payment of postage and fees as may be necessary or desirable;
  • To provide philatelic services;
  • To investigate postal offenses and civil matters relating to the Postal Service;
  • To offer and pay rewards for information and services in connection with violations of the postal laws.  Further one-half of all penalties and forfeitures imposed for violations of law affecting the Postal Service, its revenues, or property shall be paid to the person informing for the same, and the other one-half into the Postal Service Fund; and
  • To authorize the issuance of a substitute check for a lost, stolen, or destroyed check of the Postal Service.

 The main duties of Postal Service are:

  • To plan, develop, promote, and provide adequate and efficient postal services at fair and reasonable rates and fees.
  • To receive, transmit, and deliver throughout the United States, its territories and possessions, and, pursuant to arrangements throughout the world, written and printed matter, parcels, and like materials and provide such other services incidental thereto as it finds appropriate to its functions and in the public interest.
  • To maintain an efficient system of collection, sorting, and delivery of the mail nationwide;
  • To provide types of mail service to meet the needs of different categories of mail and mail users; and
  • To establish and maintain postal facilities of such character and in such locations that postal patrons throughout the Nation will, consistent with reasonable economies of postal operations, have ready access to essential postal services.

The Postal Service is authorized to provide for the safe and expeditious transportation of mail by aircraft and sea port service on ocean vessels.

The Postal Service may impose or remit fines on carriers transporting mail by air and vessel on routes extending beyond the borders of the United States for–
   (1) unreasonable or unnecessary delay to mail; and
   (2) other delinquencies in the transportation of the mail.

The postal Service also provides international mail service through the Universal Postal Union and other agreements with foreign countries.

Postal rates and fees shall be reasonable and equitable and sufficient to enable the Postal Service, under best practices of honest, efficient, and economical management, to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the kind and quality adapted to the needs of the United States.

Inside United States Postal Service