US Postal Service

United States Postal Service

Introduction to US Postal Service

United States Postal Service, independent agency within the executive department of the United States government, responsible for nationwide postal regulation and delivery. The postal system, formerly known as the Post Office Department, was reorganized as the U.S. Postal Service under the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, which became effective in July 1971. The chief functions of the Postal Service are the collection and delivery of letters, parcel post, and printed matter, such as books, magazines, and newspapers, and the issuance of domestic and foreign money orders. The Postal Service handles more than 160 billion pieces of mail a year.

The changes in the postal system stemmed from four basic provisions of the Postal Reorganization Act: elimination of politics from postal management; adequate financing authority; establishment of a postal career service, allowing collective bargaining between management and employees; and creation of an independent commission for setting of postal rates.

The Postal Service is directed by an 11-member board of governors, 9 of whom are appointed by the president on a bipartisan basis with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. The nine governors appoint a tenth to be postmaster general; they then appoint a deputy postmaster general. The independent Postal Rate Commission has five members, appointed by the president. Tenure in these offices is decided on the basis of performance rather than political affiliation; one purpose of this stipulation is to avoid needless discontinuity of the postal system, which formerly occurred in presidential election years. The Postal Service is authorized to borrow up to $10 billion from the general public, that is, from the Department of the Treasury, and can propose to the Postal Rate Commission changes in rates or classification of mail.” (1)

Legal Materials

Most United States Post Office materials are posted on the USPS Web site, including the three major manuals (the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), the International Mail Manual (IMM) and the Purchasing Manual), periodicals and other publications and forms.

If what you want isn’t online, the GPO Bookstore sells Post Office publications. Alternatively, call the Post Office. To locate materials for borrowing, search WorldCat.

For questions about USPS publications, call the USPS Library (202-268-2904 or -2906).

Decisions: The Postal Service posts Judicial Officer Administrative Decisions (1957-Present), Business Disagreement Decisions (2006-Present), Purchasing Protest Decisions (1996-2004) and Board of Contract Appeals Decisions (1986-Present). Board of Contract Appeals decisions are also available from 1959 to the present on Lexis (PUBCON;POSTAL) and Westlaw (FGC-PSBCA or FGC-BCA, which includes BCA decisions from all available agencies). Appeal Board decisions from 1956 to the present are included in CCH’s Contract Appeals Decisions, which is available in print, on CD-ROM or through Intelliconnect.

Prices: See the Postal Rates entry for USPS mailing prices.

US Postal Service

The United States Postal Service provides mail processing and delivery services to
individuals and businesses within the United States.

The Postal Service was created as an independent establishment of the executive branch by the Postal Reorganization Act (39 U.S.C. 101 et seq.), approved August 12, 1970. The present United States Postal Service commenced operations on July 1, 1971.

In 2009, the Postal Service had approximately 623,000 career employees and handled about 177 billion pieces of mail. The chief executive of?cer of the Postal Service, the Postmaster General, is appointed by the nine Governors of the Postal Service, who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governors and the Postmaster General appoint the Deputy Postmaster General, and these 11 people constitute the Board of Governors.

In addition to the national headquarters, there are area and district of?ces supervising more than 36,000 post of?ces, branches, stations, and community post of?ces throughout the United States.


In order to expand and improve service to the public, the Postal Service is
engaged in customer cooperation activities, including the development of programs for both the general public and major customers. The Consumer Advocate, a postal ombudsman, represents the interest of the individual mail customer in matters involving the Postal Service by bringing complaints and suggestions to the attention of top postal management and solving the problems of individual customers. To provide postal services responsive to public needs, the Postal Service operates its own planning, research, engineering, real estate, and procurement programs specially adapted to postal requirements and maintains close ties with international postal organizations.

The Postal Service is the only Federal agency whose employment
policies are governed by a process of collective bargaining under the National
Labor Relations Act. Labor contract negotiations, affecting all bargaining
unit personnel, as well as personnel matters involving employees not covered
by collective bargaining agreements, are administered by Labor Relations or
Human Resources.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the Federal law enforcement agency
which has jurisdiction in criminal matters affecting the integrity and security of the
mail. Postal Inspectors enforce more than 200 Federal statutes involving mail fraud,
mail bombs, child pornography, illegal drugs, mail theft, and other postal crimes,
as well as being responsible for the protection of all postal employees.

Postal Service customers and employees can ?le mail fraud complaints,
?nd local Postal Inspection Service of?ces, and receive helpful preventative
tips at 1–877–876–2455 or at

Postal Service Legislation

39 U.S.C. § 101 : US Code – Section 101: Postal policy

This description of the Postal Service tracks the language of the U.S. Code, except that, sometimes, we use plain English and that we may refer to the “Act” (meaning Postal Service) rather than to the “subchapter” or the “title” of the United States Code.

U.S. Code Citation

39 U.S.C. § 101

U.S. Code Section and Head

  • United States Code – Section 101
  • Head of the Section: Postal policy

Text of the Section

(a) The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services 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 costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people. (b) The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities. (c) As an employer, the Postal Service shall achieve and maintain compensation for its officers and employees comparable to the rates and types of compensation paid in the private sector of the economy of the United States. It shall place particular emphasis upon opportunities for career advancements of all officers and employees and the achievement of worthwhile and satisfying careers in the service of the United States. (d) Postal rates shall be established to apportion the costs of all postal operations to all users of the mail on a fair and equitable basis. (e) In determining all policies for postal services, the Postal Service shall give the highest consideration to the requirement for the most expeditious collection, transportation, and delivery of important letter mail. (f) In selecting modes of transportation, the Postal Service shall give highest consideration to the prompt and economical delivery of all mail. Modern methods of transporting mail by containerization and programs designed to achieve overnight transportation to the destination of important letter mail to all parts of the Nation shall be a primary goal of postal operations. (g) In planning and building new postal facilities, the Postal Service shall emphasize the need for facilities and equipment designed to create desirable working conditions for its officers and employees, a maximum degree of convenience for efficient postal services, proper access to existing and future air and surface transportation facilities, and control of costs to the Postal Service.


Notes and References

See Also

Government Contracts
Postal Abbreviations
Postal Rates
Zip Codes

US Postal Service: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about US Postal Service. This part provides references, in relation to US Postal Service, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about US Postal Service by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about US Postal Service and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about US Postal Service or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to US Postal Service and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting US Postal Service. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about US Postal Service should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to US Postal Service when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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