In what is widely seen as a slight against the regulatory agency, the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors recently unanimously approved a meager $21.124 million budget for the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).

The board insists this new budget “is sufficient for the PRC to fulfill its regulatory mandate.” However, it is less than the PRC’s initial budget request of $23.4 million and later adjusted request of $22.6 million following discussions with the Board of Governors. It is also less than what the PRC says it needs next year to cover its $2 million increase in operating costs and oversee an agency with an estimated 630,000 employees.

In a statement, PRC Chairman Michael Kubayanda said he is “disappointed” that the Postal Service declined to fund the commission’s modest budget request, noting it would represent “less than 0.03 percent of Postal Service revenues.” 

The PRC is right to be disappointed. The 2024 budget allocation threatens to degrade the commission’s capabilities, delay technology upgrades, and potentially lead to the elimination of staffing positions. Perhaps that is precisely the point.

Last year, Congress passed the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 to address the “finances and operations” of the service. While such reforms are welcome news, considering the agency’s chronic mismanagement and 15 straight years of financial losses, Congress nonetheless made the foolish decision to transfer the approval process for the PRC’s annual appropriation to the Postal Service. Previously, the PRC’s budget was approved by the Office of Management and Budget and included in the president’s annual budget. This was done to “ensure the PRC’s independence,” and allow it to keep operating even during government shutdowns. Unfortunately, the PRC is now at the mercy of the entity that Congress tasked it with monitoring.

Read the full DC Journal article here.

Nate Scherer is a policy analyst at the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter @ConsumerPal.