Postal regulator defends travel records after senator demands details

Flickr user shyb

The Postal Regulatory Commission defended Chairwoman Ruth Goldway’s travel schedule following a request by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., for detailed justifications and itineraries of all trips taken by Goldway and her two predecessors.

A recent Washington Post investigation found that PRC has spent more than $70,000 on Goldway’s travel plans since she became chairwoman in August 2009. She has traveled domestically as well as to international locations such as Portugal, Switzerland and China. The Post and PRC have conflicting figures on Goldway’s total number of travel days, and she defended her travel expenditures in a follow-up interview as “frugal.”

PRC spokeswoman Ann Fisher released a statement to Government Executive on Thursday regarding its budget, saying PRC came in under its overall budget in fiscal 2011, allowing the commission to return more than $350,000 to the Postal Fund.

Meanwhile, Fisher said, other cost-saving initiatives have been in effect elsewhere in the commission for the past two years, including freezing pay grades for nonexecutives and pay for executives, eliminating cash rewards for the commissioner’s staff, reducing executive compensation for health benefits, and abandoning a previously planned move to a new office by 2013.

Additionally, Fisher said the commission has closely followed its own written travel policy, which states that prior to requesting travel expenditures, PRC employees “must make every reasonable effort to conduct business by using mail, telephone, fax, email, or another equally less costly, less time‐consuming method.”

Still, Goldway’s international travels serve their purpose, Fisher said. “As a general rule, participation in multinational meetings -- such as the ones in Portugal, Switzerland, and China -- is more effective when conducted in-person so that informal communication can take place and personal relationships can be developed,” she told Government Executive.

Carper’s office reiterated Thursday that closer congressional monitoring of PRC’s travel plans was essential.

“Given that the Postal Service is facing enormous challenges and the Postal Regulatory Commission has a lot of work on its plate related to postal facility closings and service changes proposed by the Postal Service, Sen. Carper wanted to ensure that spending on items like travel furthers the commission’s mission and is part of its efforts to achieve agency goals,” said Emily Spain, spokeswoman for Carper’s office. “Congress appropriates the Postal Regulatory Commission’s budget out of the Postal Service Fund, so the money the commission is spending on travel or any other expense is rate payer money. “

The Postal Service reported losses of more than $5 billion in fiscal 2011 and already has lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, but its budget is not directly tied to PRC’s $14.3 million budget, which is set independently by Congress. PRC has until Feb. 20 to turn in its travel documents to Carper.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.