James C. Miller III was re-elected chairman and Alan C. Kessler vice chairman at this week's meeting of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. The board also welcomed new member John S. Gardner, a recess appointment Jan. 6 by President Bush.
The appointment surprised some in the mailing industry.
“The concern at the postal service was having sufficient board members for critical decisions in the coming months, including the possible vote on another rate case, and, if any one board member is absent, having to deal with the lack of a quorum,” said Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, Arlington, VA. “I believe the postal service was encouraging the White House to move as quickly as possible.”
Gardner was general counsel for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that, he served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy staff secretary at the White House for Bush. In the private sector, he spent time with New York law firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell; Schwab Capital Markets; and AT&T Corp.
“Gardner clearly has good credentials,” McLean said. A Harvard Law graduate, “his educational and professional experience should serve him well in reviewing postal service projects.”
The board now has five governors, though four vacancies remain. McLean said he expects more nominees in the coming weeks.
“Currently, there is a shortage of Democratic nominees, so the expectation is that the Democrats will soon submit other names to be vetted through the confirmation process,” he said.
The board has nine governors appointed by the president with the Senate's advice and consent, plus the postmaster general and deputy postmaster general. No more than five of the nine governors may be members of the same party.
Under postal law, six board members constitute the quorum needed to do business, but the board needs four appointed governors to vote on rate or classification adjustments, adjustments to the Postal Rate Commission budget and elections for board chairman and vice chairman. The postmaster general and deputy PMG count for purposes of a quorum but can't vote on these issues.