Postal Reorganization

Operations began on July 1, 1971, in accordance with the provisions of the Postal Reorganization Act. The Postal Service is an “independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States.” Governing decisions are made by a Board of Governors, which consists of nine independent members who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate; the Board of Governors also includes the Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General, who are appointed by the nine independent members of the Board of Governors.

The U.S. government’s equity in the former Post Office Department (POD) became the Postal Service’s beginning capital, with initial assets valued at original cost less accumulated depreciation. The transfer of assets from the POD, which included property, equipment, and cash, totaled $1.7 billion. Subsequent cash contributions and transfers of assets between 1972 and 1982 totaled approximately $1.3 billion. In 2010 and 2009, approximately 6,500 fuel efficient vehicles were contributed to the Postal Service under the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The excess of the fair value of these vehicles over the fair value of the vehicles traded-in was recorded as additional non-cash capital contributions by the U.S. government of $53 million in 2009 and $45 million in 2010. Total capital contributions of the U.S. government were $3,132 million as of September 30, 2010. Although the U.S. government remains responsible for the POD’s liabilities, The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 transferred the POD’s workers’ compensation liability to the Postal Service.

The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Public Law 109-435 (P.L. 109-435), made further reforms in the governance of the Postal Service. It also significantly altered some financial responsibilities, particularly with respect to the funding of Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) benefits and retiree health benefits. Public Law 111-68, Making Appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the Fiscal Year-Ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes amended P.L. 109-435 by changing the required Postal Service payments to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (PSRHBF) for the year ended September 30, 2009 from $5.4 billion to $1.4 billion. This law affected only the 2009 payment and did not change the 2010 payment requirement of $5.5 billion or the payments scheduled from 2011 to 2016. See Note 7, Health Benefit Programs, for additional information.