Ah, the Better Half is timely as usual. The reason, he says, why they can never get rid of the Post Office is because it’s written right into the Constitution. And the reason why it’s written right into the Constitution is because Benjamin Franklin was the first U.S. Postmaster. And, he adds, Old Ben was also the postmaster for the American colonies, pre-1776. He says it was a political appointment that Mother England handed out, and Franklin just hung onto it.
He also points out that up until the passage of the Hatch Act in the 1920s, all U.S. postmasters were political appointees.
Re buyouts: What I was remembering was that when you quit a federal job, you got a kind of severance pay called a buyout. Then if you wanted to get hired on at another federal job, you had to pay the money back. However, there’s a big exception for the Post Office.
What I was remembering the exception as, however, was wrong. I was remembering it as if you got hired on at the Post Office, you didn’t have to pay the money back. But my tour of the buyouts link reminded me that it’s actually just the opposite.
If you have some kind of irreplaceable skill, your potential boss at whatever federal agency you’ve got your eye on can apply to the OPM for a waiver, so you won’t have to pay back the buyout. However, the exception for the Post Office is that since they’re a completely separate branch of the government, they cannot apply for a waiver on your buyout payback.
So I asked the Better Half about the policy of giving hiring preference to former federal employees. He was surprised, “What former federal employees? They never quit!” Then he said, no, actually as far as he knows (and he’s the Workman’s Comp representative for the local union), there’s no official policy dictating hiring preference for other federal employees. He says they do give preference to veterans–they give you 5 points on the exam if you’re a vet, and 10 points if you’re a disabled vet.