About the Public Representative
Role of the PR
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) continues to build on the precedent of its predecessor, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (PRA), by requiring the Commission to ensure the interests of the general public are represented in Commission proceedings. The relevant section reads:
“The Postal Regulatory Commission shall designate an officer of the Postal Regulatory Commission in all public proceedings (such as developing rules, regulations, and procedures) who shall represent the interests of the general public.” 39 U.S.C. § 505.
In accordance with the statute, the Commission appoints an appropriate staff member on a case-by-case basis to participate in the proceeding to represent the interests of the general public independently from the Commission. This individual is called the Public Representative (PR).
- Identifies the general public
- Utilizes resources to collect information
- Examines data using his or her knowledge of the postal system and services
- Presents matters to the Commission for consideration as a separate party
The PR represents the general public as a whole, and particularly those groups who do not have or cannot feasibly acquire representation. In so doing, the PR is able to give weight to various and sometimes disparate voices and can help illustrate the impact of a particular decision.
In order for the Commission to equally consider the views presented by all parties, the PR is prohibited from discussing the case with the Commissioners or any of their advisory staff. This is an “ethical wall.” It serves to prevent the PR from influencing or being influenced by the Commission while sharing the same offices. Any communications between the PR and members of the public are also separated from the Commission by this wall.