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Again, while we respect the advocacy position of the Commission, we have reservations whether it would prevail in a court case. Consequently, we believe, and the Commission agrees, that future proceedings could involve procedural subpoena questions and prior congressional enactments of our recommendations would aid the Commission in resolving such questions. (See p. 41.)
POSTAL SERVICE COMMENTS
The Postal Service states that a review of the legislative history of the Postal Reorganization Act indicates the Congress did not want a bureaucratic struggle between the Commission and the Service, and the proposed extension of subpoena power would lead to relationships which the Congress did not envision or want. The Service also implies that the Rate Commission would likely abuse the subpoena power, and contends that there are insufficient safeguards to protect the Service from "fishing expeditions" by the Rate Commission. In addition, the Service states that it has supplied voluminous data in all proceedings when the data was available and the expense reasonable in obtaining it.
Although the Congress did not want a bureaucratic struggle between the Rate Commission and the Service, we do not believe that providing the Rate Commission with the explicit power of subpoena need result in such a struggle. In fact, the Rate Commission believes it already has the power of subpoena under the present statute, although it is not specific. We do not believe that it is appropriate for the Service to be determining what data is reasonable for it to supply to the Rate Commission in a rate case, nor do we believe that the Rate Commission would undertake fishing expeditions with the subpoena power. (See p. 52.)
THE COMMISSION NEEDS THE
The Justice Department is charged with representing both the Postal Service and the Commission in court litigation. Existing law makes no provision for situations where the Attorney General's two official clients advocate conflicting positions.
An example is the recent case of Associated ThirdClass Mail Users v. United States Postal Service where an issue was whether the Commission had jurisdiction over changes in special service fees. The Associated Third-Class
Mail Users, in accord with the views of the Commission, argued that the Commission had jurisdiction while the Postal Service denied any such jurisdiction. Therefore, the two Federal agencies were on opposite sides of the litigation.
The matter was resolved by the expedient of having the Justice Department advocate the Postal Service's position but simultaneously attaching to its brief an "informational" memorandum of law prepared by the Commission staff setting forth the Commission's views. The U.S. District Court found in favor of the Associated ThirdClass Mail Users and thus upheld the Commission's position.
When the case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by the Postal Service, the same difficult situation existed. The Justice Department again supported the views of the Postal Service and presented only the position of the Postal Service in oral argument with the result that the views of the Commission may have been inadequately presented. Nevertheless, when the Court rendered its decision, the Commission's position was affirmed.
In this case, the views of the Commission were at least made known by the Department of Justice. However, it might in its discretion have refused to do so. The possibility exists, therefore, that in some future case the views of the Commission may not be presented at all. RECOMMENDATION TO THE CONGRESS
To avoid a situation where the views of the Commission may not be presented adeguately or at all, the Congress should amend the Postal Reorganization Act by adding the following section to Title 39, U.S. Code:
" S 3606. Legal services for Postal Rate Commission.
POSTAL RATE COMMISSION COMMENTS
The Commission agrees with the recommendation.
(See p. 42.)
POSTAL SERVICE COMMENTS
The Postal Service agrees with our recommendation and further stated that "from our point of view, it would be appropriate if both the Service and the Commission are able to represent themselves in court." (See p. 52.)
GOVERNORS' ADJUSTMENTS OF
COMMISSION BUDGET REQUESTS SHOULD
BE CONGRESSIONALLY APPROVED
The Commission's operations are financed by the Postal Service, and the Governors have approval authority over the amount the Commission can spend. There is no reason to believe that the Governors would abuse this power. On the other hand, the potential in this regard is illustrated by a past incident.
The Commission has submitted five budgets for fiscal years 1972 through 1976. Four of these budgets were approved as submitted. The budgeted amounts are shown in the following schedule.
For fiscal year 1976 the Commission requested $4,150,000. The Board of Governors, however, adjusted the total amount of money requested to $2,779,000 which represented the total expenditures for fiscal year 1975 plus 10 percent. In adjusting the budget, the Governors, by letter dated June 3, 1975, stated:
* * the Governors wish to avoid any action in regard to the Commission's budget which would impair the ability of the Commission to perform its duties in a timely and efficient manner. Nevertheless, the Commission's proposal for a FY 1976 budget in the amount of $4,150,000 represents an increase of more than 65 percent over the Commission's estimated expenditures for FY 1975. Given the current condition of the national economy, the very large deficits generally faced by the Federal Government, and the present financial condition of the Postal Service itself, we believe it would be irresponsible for us to approve an increase of such magnitude at this time * * *"
The Governors took particular exception to the request for an increase of $710,000 to begin developing a system of accounts for the Postal Service. The Governors recognized that the
"* * * Commission is seeking a system which would
However, the Governors believed (1) the Commission lacked authority to impose a system of new accounts and (2) since the Commission is regulating a unique entity and not an industry where uniform reporting might be desirable, the Service should not be required to restructure its system of accounts to meet the desires of the Commission. In addition, the Governors stated that the Postal Service was well advanced in the process of revising its chart of accounts and a new system will be largely in place during fiscal year 1976.
In conclusion, the Governors stated:
"*** we have no intention of reducing the Commission's
The Commission, in replying to the Governors, stated that the adjustment to the budget "seriously threatens the Commission's ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities" and, as a minimum, an additional $825,000 over the estimated fiscal year 1975 expenditure level was needed to meet its obligations under the Postal Reorganization Act. In justifying the appeal, the Commission stated that its request for $3,440,000 represented the minimal staff and housekeeping resources needed to carry a "vastly-increased workload." In addition to the major postal rate and mail classification cases, the Commission's workload included two advisory opinion cases filed by the Postal Service, a complaint filed by a private party concerning the Postal Service's interpretation of the Private Express Statutes, and an issue raised in the mail classification case cerning the Commission's jurisdiction over Private Express