The postmaster general is the executive head of the United States Postal Service. In the role of head of one of the largest employers in the United States, the postmaster general oversees postal policies, reforms, and business decisions. The role of the postmaster general has evolved over the centuries since the creation of this position, from a sinecure given to people in political favor to an extremely active and demanding position. Information about the current postmaster general's experience and qualifications is always available through the United States Postal Service.
This position was formally created in 1775, although a similar position predates the formation of the United States itself. The first official postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin, who served for 15 months as the head of the nascent postal system. By 1829, the postmaster general had become a member of the presidential cabinet, and was incidentally last in line for the succession of the presidency. These early postmaster generals were typically loyal members of the presidential campaign who were rewarded for their service with a job which was believed to be relatively cushy.
In 1970s, the Post Office underwent radical reconstruction, and the postmaster general was dropped from the presidential cabinet while the post office became an independent government agency. The restructuring of the post office was designed to make it a more secure, useful agency, creating a new command system of a board of governors, although the postmaster general is still the head of the organization. Today, the United States Postal Service is run much like a corporation, with a focus on offering new products on a continual basis and on keeping the post office profitable.
Acting as Chief Executive Officer, the postmaster general oversees the daily doings of the Postal Service, and sits on the board of directors. The board also elects another member who serves as the assistant postmaster general and Chief Operating Officer. The structure of the post-1970 post office is designed to separate the post office from its sometimes sordid and poorly governed past.
As a public figure, the postmaster general issues periodic statements about postal reforms, new services, and changes in postal policy. The postmaster general is also held accountable for failures of the postal system, just like a Chief Executive Officer would be in a normal company.