The United States Postal Service is the agency authorized by the U.S. government to provide mail service throughout the United States and its territories. The postmaster general is the head of the postal service and is appointed by the United States Congress. The compensation of the postmaster general is also set by Congress.
Salaries at the postal service are paid through money earned from operations, and tax dollars do not directly subsidize these expenses. The salary of the postmaster general has risen in recent years despite poor financial performance of the USPS itself. In 2007, Congress set the postmaster general's salary at $186,000, which rose to $265,000 in 2008.
Compensation is not limited to regular salary, as the postmaster general also receives valuable benefits, such as performance bonuses, which amounted to $135,000 in 2008. The bonus is paid when the postmaster leaves his position and retires from federal government employment. Congress has also approved a package of retirement benefits for the postmaster general.
2009 Salary Freeze
In 2009, Postmaster General John E. Potter, who had been serving in this position since 2001, imposed a salary freeze on himself and all USPS executives, citing the serious losses the post office was experiencing from day-to-day operations. The USPS is facing increased competition from private delivery services such as UPS and FedEx, as well as the widespread use of email for personal and business correspondence.
Retirement and Replacement
In 2010, the postmaster general’s salary authorized by Congress rose to $273,296. Potter stepped down as postmaster general in December 2010, at which time he was awarded $3.1 million in accumulated pension benefits, which he earned over a 32-year period in government service, as well as compensation for leave not taken, and outplacement assistance for a period of two years. In 2011, Potter was replaced by Deputy Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, whose salary in his first year stood at $267,840.