Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate committee holds hearing on nominee for Postal Regulatory Commission

Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Michael Kubayanda to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for the remainder of a six-year term expiring November 22, 2020 and a nominee to be the director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Mr. Kubayanda currently serves as a board member and privacy officer for a digital health startup. He previously worked with the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG), ending as director of government relations. Prior to the OIG, he served as counsel to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

As letter carriers know, the PRC is the independent body that exercises regulatory oversight over USPS and its responsibilities include preventing anticompetitive practices, promoting accountability, adjudicating complaints, setting postal rates and helping oversee delivery service standards. Composed of five commissioners, with no more than three of the same party, each commissioner is nominated for a six-year term of office and confirmed by the Senate. The PRC currently has four sitting members with one vacancy.

The questions posed to Mr. Kubayanda varied from issues of fentanyl in the mail, postal privatization, finances, the Universal Service Obligation, pricing, and more.

When pressed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) on the issue of postal privatization, Mr. Kubayanda noted that while there have been no detailed proposals on the matter, he would feel compelled to keep an open mind on this issue, should he be confirmed.

“I would in general have some concerns about privatization,” said Mr. Kubayanda. “I think there's a very difficult balance in preserving Universal Service to all American communities while making the investment opportunity attractive enough for investors and I have not to this day… seen anything that details exactly how to achieve that balance.”

Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO) pushed Mr. Kubayanda to clarify his position on the Universal Service Obligation and whether cuts to USPS mail delivery service or the number of delivery-days are something he supports. While supporting the idea of Universal Service, his response proved non-committal.

“I do think rural and urban communities need to receive the same level of service I think that is clearly an element of Universal Service,” he said. “What exactly that service looks like is something that if confirmed I would work with you and with my fellow commissioners to look at very closely. I think we need to further define Universal Service going forward.”

Mr. Kubayanda’s nomination to the Commission is good news as the PRC would benefit greatly while it works to create a new postage rate-setting system, and hopefully enact sensible postal pricing. USPS is constricted in its ability to adjust rates by no more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), but the CPI is an economy-wide measurement of consumer goods and services that doesn’t fit a transportation and delivery provider. The PRC could correct this mismatch and relieve financial pressure from the independent establishment.

Mr. Kubayanda’s nomination process is expected to continue when the Senate resumes in November.

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