The Role of the Postal Rate Commission Should Be Clarified

GGD-77-20: Published: Apr 7, 1977. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1977.

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Because the Postal Service and the Postal Rate Commission disagree on the role the Congress intended the Commission to play in postal affairs, disputes have arisen involving the authority of the Commission to: set certain postal rates; pass on the validity of Service costs and revenue estimates; and investigate management efficiency and economy and the quality of mail service.

The first two rate cases handled by the Commission took 17 and 23 months to complete. The cases required the time they did because of the necessity to: develop a database for a new regulatory undertaking; and determine an appropriate costing method from several alternatives. There is some doubt whether the Commission has the legal authority to require the Postal Service to provide periodic reports on a regular basis. The Commission does not have explicit authority under the act to subpoena information required during a hearing. Existing law makes no provision for situations of court litigation where the Commission and the Postal Service, as two official clients of the Attorney General, advocate conflicting positions. The potential exists for the abuse by the Postal Service's Board of Governors of its approval authority over the amount the Commission can spend.

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