By Sarah Westwood – December 31, 2014
Acting Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Robert Taub banned all official travel until further notice just days after President Obama nominated him as the interim successor to the former PRC chief, who had come under fire for taking too many overseas trips.
Taub announced the new policy in response to concerns raised by the agency’s watchdog, according to an internal memo obtained by the Washington Examiner.
“Effective immediately, all international and domestic travel by Commissioners and staff, except for those that were approved before Dec. 3, 2014, is frozen until further notice,” the Dec. 8 memo said.
A June 2014 inspector general report found PRC staff had ignored travel policies, such as those requiring employees to get all such expenses approved, and had racked up lodging costs in excess of the government-wide limit.
The agency spent more than $280,000 on travel between 2010 and 2013, with $100,000 initially budgeted for the last year. (originally published on December 31, 2014 with erroneous information, this sentence was edited by Washington Examiner on January 1, 2015 and is now showing the correct budget information)
Ruth Goldway, Taub’s predecessor, drew criticism for her frequent and expensive overseas trips as head of the commission.
She ignored congressional calls to scale back her international travel despite the growing losses of the agency she was tasked with regulating, the U.S. Postal Service.
After Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., requested detailed itineraries of her trips to places like Rio de Janeiro and Zurich, Switzerland, in February 2012, Goldway continued running up big travel bills the following year.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., featured her jet-setting tendencies in the 2013 issue of Wastebook, his signature annual report on government extravagance.
President Obama nominated Taub to replace Goldway as chairman Dec. 4, just after her third six-year term on the commission expired.
But in spite of the harsh congressional and media scrutiny, Goldway remains at the PRC as one of its five commissioners serving what is known as her hold-over year, or the grace year commissioners are allowed to remain on the PRC while waiting for the White House to name a successor.
Taub, a Republican, spent eight years in the Government Accountability Office and has served on the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during his three decades in public service.
Gail Adams, a PRC spokesman, said Taub is “very busy” reviewing all present and pending internal policies as part of the many responsibilities he has assumed in his new role.