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U.S. CODE
TITLE 39
POSTAL SERVICE

Version 2010-02-01

Last update 2011-11-19


  • GENERAL
    • POSTAL POLICY AND DEFINITIONS
    • ORGANIZATION
    • GENERAL AUTHORITY
    • POSTAL REGULATORY COMMISSION
    • PRIVATE CARRIAGE OF LETTERS
  • PERSONNEL
    • EMPLOYMENT WITHIN THE POSTAL SERVICE
    • EMPLOYEE-MANAGEMENT AGREEMENTS
  • MODERNIZATION AND FISCAL ADMINISTRATION
    • FINANCE
    • CONVICT LABOR
    • APPROPRIATIONS AND ANNUAL REPORT
    • DEBTS AND COLLECTION
    • STRATEGIC PLANNING AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
  • MAIL MATTER
    • NONMAILABLE MATTER
    • PENALTY AND FRANKED MAIL
    • ARMED FORCES AND FREE POSTAGE
    • POSTAL RATES, CLASSES, AND SERVICES
      • PROVISIONS RELATING TO MARKET-DOMINANT PRODUCTS
      • PROVISIONS RELATING TO COMPETITIVE PRODUCTS
      • PROVISIONS RELATING TO EXPERIMENTAL AND NEW PRODUCTS
      • REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AND RELATED PROVISIONS
      • POSTAL SERVICES, COMPLAINTS, AND JUDICIAL REVIEW
      • GENERAL
      • MODERN SERVICE STANDARDS
  • TRANSPORTATION OF MAIL
    • GENERAL
    • REPEALED
    • TRANSPORTATION OF MAIL BY AIR
    • TRANSPORTATION OF MAIL BY VESSEL
  • Version 2010-02-01

PART I

GENERAL

I - CHAPTER 1

POSTAL POLICY AND DEFINITIONS

Postal policy

(a) The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people.

(b) The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.

(c) As an employer, the Postal Service shall achieve and maintain compensation for its officers and employees comparable to the rates and types of compensation paid in the private sector of the economy of the United States. It shall place particular emphasis upon opportunities for career advancements of all officers and employees and the achievement of worthwhile and satisfying careers in the service of the United States.

(d) Postal rates shall be established to apportion the costs of all postal operations to all users of the mail on a fair and equitable basis.

(e) In determining all policies for postal services, the Postal Service shall give the highest consideration to the requirement for the most expeditious collection, transportation, and delivery of important letter mail.

(f) In selecting modes of transportation, the Postal Service shall give highest consideration to the prompt and economical delivery of all mail. Modern methods of transporting mail by containerization and programs designed to achieve overnight transportation to the destination of important letter mail to all parts of the Nation shall be a primary goal of postal operations.

(g) In planning and building new postal facilities, the Postal Service shall emphasize the need for facilities and equipment designed to create desirable working conditions for its officers and employees, a maximum degree of convenience for efficient postal services, proper access to existing and future air and surface transportation facilities, and control of costs to the Postal Service.



Definitions

As used in this title—

(1) "Postal Service" means the United States Postal Service established by section 201 of this title;

(2) "Board of Governors", and "Board", unless the context otherwise requires, mean the Board of Governors established under section 202 of this title;

(3) "Governors" means the 9 members of the Board of Governors appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, under section 202 (a) of this title;

(4) "Inspector General" means the Inspector General appointed under section 202 (e) of this title;

(5) "postal service" refers to the delivery of letters, printed matter, or mailable packages, including acceptance, collection, sorting, transportation, or other functions ancillary thereto;

(6) "product" means a postal service with a distinct cost or market characteristic for which a rate or rates are, or may reasonably be, applied;

(7) "rates", as used with respect to products, includes fees for postal services;

(8) "market-dominant product" or "product in the market-dominant category of mail" means a product subject to subchapter I of chapter 36;

(9) "competitive product" or "product in the competitive category of mail" means a product subject to subchapter II of chapter 36; and

(10) "year", as used in chapter 36 (other than subchapters I and VI thereof), means a fiscal year.



I - CHAPTER 2

ORGANIZATION

United States Postal Service

There is established, as an independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States, the United States Postal Service.



Board of Governors

(a)
  • (1) The exercise of the power of the Postal Service shall be directed by a Board of Governors composed of 11 members appointed in accordance with this section. Nine of the members, to be known as Governors, shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, not more than 5 of whom may be adherents of the same political party. The Governors shall elect a Chairman from among the members of the Board. The Governors shall represent the public interest generally, and shall be chosen solely on the basis of their 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; except that at least 4 of the Governors shall be 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 shall not be representatives of specific interests using the Postal Service, and may be removed only for cause. Each Governor shall receive a salary of $30,000 a year plus $300 a day for not more than 42 days of meetings each year and shall be reimbursed for travel and reasonable expenses incurred in attending meetings of the Board. Nothing in the preceding sentence shall be construed to limit the number of days of meetings each year to 42 days.

  • (2) In selecting the individuals described in paragraph (1) for nomination for appointment to the position of Governor, the President should consult with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority leader of the Senate, and the minority leader of the Senate.

(b)
  • (1) The terms of the 9 Governors shall be 7 years, except that the terms of the 9 Governors first taking office shall expire as designated by the President at the time of appointment, 1 at the end of 1 year, 1 at the end of 2 years, 1 at the end of 3 years, 1 at the end of 4 years, 1 at the end of 5 years, 1 at the end of 6 years, 1 at the end of 7 years, 1 at the end of 8 years, and 1 at the end of 9 years, following the appointment of the first of them. Any Governor appointed to fill a vacancy before the expiration of the term for which his predecessor was appointed shall serve for the remainder of such term. A Governor may continue to serve after the expiration of his term until his successor has qualified, but not to exceed one year.

  • (2) No person may serve more than 2 terms as a Governor.

(c) The Governors shall appoint and shall have the power to remove the Postmaster General, who shall be a voting member of the Board. His pay and term of service shall be fixed by the Governors.

(d) The Governors and the Postmaster General shall appoint and shall have the power to remove the Deputy Postmaster General, who shall be a voting member of the Board. His term of service shall be fixed by the Governors and the Postmaster General and his pay by the Governors.

(e)
  • (1) The Governors shall appoint and shall have the power to remove the Inspector General.

  • (2) The Inspector General shall be appointed—
    • (A) for a term of 7 years;

    • (B) without regard to political affiliation; and

    • (C) solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.

  • (3) The Inspector General may at any time be removed upon the written concurrence of at least 7 Governors, but only for cause. Nothing in this subsection shall be considered to exempt the Governors from the requirements of section 8G(e) of the Inspector General Act of 1978.





    Postmaster General; Deputy Postmaster General

    The chief executive officer of the Postal Service is the Postmaster General appointed under section 202 (c) of this title. The alternate chief executive officer of the Postal Service is the Deputy Postmaster General appointed under section 202 (d) of this title.



    General Counsel; Judicial Officer; Chief Postal Inspector

    There shall be within the Postal Service a General Counsel, such number of Assistant Postmasters General as the Board shall consider appropriate, a Judicial Officer, and a Chief Postal Inspector. The General Counsel, the Assistant Postmasters General, the Judicial Officer, and the Chief Postal Inspector shall be appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Postmaster General. The Judicial Officer shall perform such quasi-judicial duties, not inconsistent with chapter 36 of this title, as the Postmaster General may designate. The Judicial Officer shall be the agency for the purposes of the requirements of chapter 5 of title 5, to the extent that functions are delegated to him by the Postmaster General. The Chief Postal Inspector shall report to, and be under the general supervision of, the Postmaster General. The Postmaster General shall promptly notify the Governors and both Houses of Congress in writing if he or she removes the Chief Postal Inspector or transfers the Chief Postal Inspector to another position or location within the Postal Service, and shall include in any such notification the reasons for the removal or transfer.



    Procedures of the Board of Governors

    (a) The Board shall direct and control the expenditures and review the practices and policies of the Postal Service, and perform other functions and duties prescribed by this title.

    (b) Vacancies in the Board, as long as there are sufficient members to form a quorum, shall not impair the powers of the Board under this title.

    (c) The Board shall act upon majority vote of those members who are present, and any 6 members present shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business by the Board, except—
    • (1) that in the appointment or removal of the Postmaster General, and in setting the compensation of the Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General, a favorable vote of an absolute majority of the Governors in office shall be required;

    • (2) that in the appointment or removal of the Deputy Postmaster General, a favorable vote of an absolute majority of the Governors in office and the member serving as Postmaster General shall be required; and

    • (3) as otherwise provided in this title.

    (d) No officer or employee of the United States may serve concurrently as a Governor. A Governor may hold any other office or employment not inconsistent or in conflict with his duties, responsibilities, and powers as an officer of the Government of the United States in the Postal Service.



    Advisory Council

    (a) There shall be a Postal Service Advisory Council of which the Postmaster General shall be the Chairman and the Deputy Postmaster General shall be the Vice Chairman. The Advisory Council shall have 11 additional members appointed by the President. He shall appoint as such members
    • (1) 4 persons from among persons nominated by those labor organizations recognized as collective-bargaining representatives for employees of the Postal Service in one or more collective-bargaining units,

    • (2) 4 persons as representatives of major mail users, and

    • (3) 3 persons as representatives of the public at large. All members shall be appointed for terms of 2 years except that, of those first appointed, 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. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring before the expiration of the term for which his predecessor was appointed shall serve for the remainder of such term.

    (b) The Postal Service shall consult with and receive the advice of the Advisory Council regarding all aspects of postal operations.

    (c) The members of the Council representative of the public at large shall receive for each meeting of the Council an amount equal to the daily rate applicable to level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5. All members of the Council shall be reimbursed for necessary travel and reasonable expenses incurred in attending meetings of the Council.



    Seal

    The seal of the Postal Service shall be 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.



    Reservation of powers

    Congress reserves the power to alter, amend, or repeal any or all of the sections of this title, but no such alteration, amendment, or repeal shall impair the obligation of any contract made by the Postal Service under any power conferred by this title.



    I - CHAPTER 4

    GENERAL AUTHORITY

    General powers of the Postal Service

    Subject to the provisions of section 404a, the Postal Service shall have the following general powers:

    (1) to sue and be sued in its official name;

    (2) to adopt, amend, and repeal such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with this title, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions under this title and such other functions as may be assigned to the Postal Service under any provisions of law outside of this title;

    (3) to enter into and perform contracts, execute instruments, and determine the character of, and necessity for, its expenditures;

    (4) to determine and keep its own system of accounts and the forms and contents of its contracts and other business documents, except as otherwise provided in this title;

    (5) to acquire, in any lawful manner, such personal or real property, or any interest therein, as it deems 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 therewith and charges therefor;

    (6) to construct, operate, lease, and maintain buildings, facilities, equipment, and other improvements on any property owned or controlled by it, including, without limitation, any property or interest therein transferred to it under section 2002 of this title;

    (7) to accept gifts or donations of services or property, real or personal, as it deems, necessary or convenient in the transaction of its business;

    (8) to settle and compromise claims by or against it;

    (9) to exercise, in the name of the United States, the right of eminent domain for the furtherance of 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

    (10) to have all other powers incidental, necessary, or appropriate to the carrying on of its functions or the exercise of its specific powers.