Postal Service Law and Legal Definition

The United States Postal Service is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States. The mission of the Postal Service is, as stated in Title 39 of the U.S. Code:

"... 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 new Postal Service officially began operations on July 1, 1971, when the Postmaster General ceased to be a member of the President’s cabinet. The Postal Service received:

Operational authority vested in a Board of Governors and Postal Service executive management, rather than in Congress.

Authority to issue public bonds to finance postal buildings and mechanization.

Direct collective bargaining between representatives of management and the unions.

A new rate-setting procedure, built around an independent Postal Rate Commission.

The Postal Reorganization Act changed the United States postal system in many ways. The law that created today’s Postal Service, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, placed the organization on a businesslike footing by making postal operations self-sufficient.

The Board of Governors was established by the Postal Reorganization Act of August 12, 1970. The Board includes nine Governors who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The nine Governors select a Postmaster General, who becomes a member of the Board, and those ten select a Deputy Postmaster General, who also serves on the Board. The Postmaster General serves at the pleasure of the Governors for an indefinite term. The Deputy Postmaster General serves at the pleasure of the Governors and the Postmaster General.

The Board directs the exercise of the powers of the Postal Service, directs and controls its expenditures, reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning, and sets policies on all postal matters. The Board takes up matters such as service standards, capital investments, and facilities projects exceeding $10 million. It also approves officer compensation.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Postal Service was authorized by law in 1996. Prior to the 1996 legislation, the Postal Inspection Service performed the duties of the OIG. The Inspector General, who is independent of postal management, is appointed by and reports directly to the nine Presidential appointed Governors of the Postal Service.