Amid Political Intrigue, USPS Governors Select New Postmaster General

Note that, after this article was published, the Deputy PMG, Ron Stroman, announced he’s resigning effective June 1.  That will be covered in the next (May 25) issue of Mailers Hub News.


In a press release late on May 6 (below), the Governors of the Postal Service announced the selection of Louis DeJoy as the 75th Postmaster General, at last providing a successor to Megan Brennan whose retirement was scheduled to take effect January 31.

Board of Governors Announces Selection of Louis DeJoy to Serve as Nation’s 75th Postmaster General

WASHINGTON – The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service today announced its unanimous selection of Louis DeJoy to serve as the 75th Postmaster General of the United States and Chief Executive Officer of the world’s largest postal organization. DeJoy is an accomplished business executive with more than 35 years of experience. As Chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, DeJoy spent decades in collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service, Boeing, Verizon, Disney, United Technologies and other public and private companies to provide supply chain logistics, program management and transportation support. He is expected to begin serving in his new role effective June 15th.

“Louis DeJoy understands the critical public service role of the United States Postal Service, and the urgent need to strengthen it for future generations,” said Robert M. (Mike) Duncan, chair of the Board of Governors. “The Board appreciated Louis’ depth of knowledge on the important issues facing the Postal Service and his desire to work with all of our stakeholders on preserving and protecting this essential institution.”

DeJoy becomes the fifth Postmaster General to join the institution from the private sector since the Postal Service became an independent establishment within the Executive Branch in 1971.

“Having worked closely with the Postal Service for many years, I have a great appreciation for this institution and the dedicated workers who faithfully execute its mission. I look forward to working with the supporters of the Postal Service in Congress and the Administration to ensure the Postal Service remains an integral part of the United States government. Postal workers are the heart and soul of this institution, and I will be honored to work alongside them and their unions. It will be an incredible honor to serve as Postmaster General, and I commit myself to upholding the Postal Service’s cherished role in our nation,” said Mr. DeJoy.

As Chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, Inc., he transformed a small, family-owned transportation company with 10 employees into a nationwide provider of highly engineered, technology-driven, contract logistics solutions employing more than 9,000 people. New Breed Logistics was a contractor to the U.S. Postal Service for more than 25 years, supplying the Postal Service with logistics support for multiple processing facilities. The company received Quality Supplier Awards from the Postal Service in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998.

In 2014, New Breed merged with XPO Logistics, with DeJoy serving as CEO of XPO Logistics’ supply chain business in the Americas before retiring in December 2015 as CEO and joining the XPO Logistics board of directors, where he served until 2018.

DeJoy is a member of the Board of Trustees at Elon University in North Carolina and the Fund for American Studies in Washington, DC. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration from Stetson University. He currently resides in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife, Dr. Aldona Wos.

DeJoy’s appointment comes upon the retirement of Megan Brennan, the nation’s 74th Postmaster General, who announced her intent to step down in October 2019. The Board of Governors then began an extensive nationwide search, employing a national executive search firm to conduct the search with additional advisory services from Chelsea Partners. In the ensuing months, the Governors reviewed the records of more than two hundred candidates for the position before narrowing the list to more than fifty candidates to undergo substantial vetting. Subsequently, the Governors interviewed more than a dozen candidates in first-round interviews, and invited seven candidates for follow-up interviews. A narrow list of finalists then underwent a final vetting process before the Governors made their decision.

In reporting the announcement, the Washington Post, a publication that’s earned the enmity of the White House, focused on the political undertones of DeJoy’s selection, especially his past fundraising activities, and that the majority of the Governors also are administration appointees.

In the article, the Post described DeJoy’s selection as “putting a top ally of the president in charge of an agency where Trump has long pressed for major changes in how it handles its business,” adding, however, that the White House “declined to comment.”

Intrigue

DeJoy’s selection came less than a week after the resignation of David Williams from the USPS Board of Governors. Williams’ departure wasn’t generally announced by the Postal Service, but was publicly disclosed in a Form 8-K filed May 5 with the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Williams is the former USPS Inspector General and one of the most qualified individuals ever to serve on the Board.

When he and Robert Duncan were confirmed in August 2018, they were the first to reoccupy the Board since the term of the last remaining governor, James Bilbray, expired in December 2016. Williams’ term expired on December 8, 2019, and he was in the “grace year” incumbents are allowed to serve beyond the end of their official appointment.

In reporting Williams’ departure, Linn’s noted that he

“… declined to comment on his resignation. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said in an email to Linn’s, ‘but I’m not doing interviews on this or any kind of tell-all thing.’”

However, according to the Washington Post:

The departure came after Williams told confidants he was upset that the Treasury Department was meddling in what has long been an apolitical agency and felt that his fellow board members had capitulated to Mnuchin’s conditions for the $10 billion line of credit, according to four people familiar with Williams’ thinking.

“Williams didn’t respond to a request for comment

“Democrats have urged the Postal Service to hold firm with the Treasury over the terms of the loan, betting they could win more money for the agency in another round of legislation and threatening the Trump administration with taking the risk of disrupting mail service.

“But in recent days, the Postal Service’s board of governors has appeared open to some of the Trump administration’s terms, according to the four people. The precise terms could not be learned

“[William’s] main frustration is that he felt the Treasury Department was interfering in an apolitical board and an apolitical agency,” said one person who spoke with him.

“A Treasury Department spokesman declined to comment.”

Anyone who knows David Williams and his years of government service knows he’s a person of experience and integrity, so the bases for his departure as reported by the Post seem plausible.

The selected

In choosing DeJoy the Board went outside the Postal Service for the first time since the 1992 selection of Marvin Runyon. During his six years as PMG, “Carvin’ Marvin” made wholesale changes to the Postal Service, some of which were criticized as being made without a sufficient understanding of what was being impacted.

Four postal employees succeeded Runyon as PMG: Bill Henderson (1998-2001), Jack Potter (2001-2011), Pat Donahoe (2011-2015), and Megan Brennan (2015-2020), who was also the first woman to serve in the position.

As an outsider, DeJoy presumably will need to learn at least the essentials about the agency he will lead, and familiarize himself with major stakeholders, including the organizations representing the mailing industry and the postal labor unions. Having a logistics background may enable him to understand the Postal Service’s sprawling processing, delivery, and retail network faster than the arcane statutory restrictions on many other aspects of its business.

DeJoy is perhaps also the most political choice since the 1980s, having strong ties to partisan fundraising and candidates. As the Post reported,

“DeJoy is the owner of a real estate and consulting firm in North Carolina, after serving as chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, according to his family’s foundation page. New Breed was sold to XPO Logistics. He is a longtime donor to Republican causes, according to the FEC records.

“DeJoy, a North Carolina native, has played a prominent role in Republican politics, particularly since Trump won the presidency in 2016. DeJoy has given more than $2 million to the Trump campaign or Republican causes since 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission, including a $210,600 contribution to Trump Victory on Feb. 19. He has given more than $650,000 to the Trump Victory Fund and more than $1 million to the Republican National Committee. DeJoy has donated more than $157,000 to Republican candidates, committees and Superpacs since the start of the year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“DeJoy was tapped as the finance chairman for the RNC convention in August and has worked in recent months with Katie Walsh, a top Republican operative, to orchestrate the event. “An RNC spokesman declined to comment.

“DeJoy’s wife, Aldona Wos, serves as vice-chairman of the president’s Commission on White House fellowships and is Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Canada. She previously served as ambassador to Estonia under the George W. Bush administration.”

As if to finish connecting dots, the Post added

“The current chairman of the Postal Board of Governors, Robert M. Duncan, served as RNC chairman from 2007 to 2009. He was confirmed in 2018 after being appointed by Trump.”

Observations

It’s hard to separate the choice of DeJoy from the apparent political context, as it may be for the persons who chose him.

The fact is, though, that the selection of a political appointee (e.g., a postal governor) means finding a person with minimal qualification for the job but with excellent political credentials. Not all political appointees are inept, but all are partisan, and accordingly take their cues from the top of their party organization. The PMG supposedly is not a political appointment but many might argue DeJoy is very much one given the context.

As has every administration, the current one nominated its choices to the Board of Governors, who were confirmed by the administration’s colleagues in the Senate majority, who then chose a presumably compliant partisan as the new postmaster general.

Whether DeJoy will do an objectively good job or will do as the White House wants remains to be seen. However, given the administration’s record of pressuring the Postal Service to take its orders, even when those are is misinformed, the initial impression is that DeJoy’s ascension is more of a political coup of USPS leadership than simply a succession to Megan Brennan. Time will tell.


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