This post has been updated.
A senator closely tracking the fate of the U.S. Postal Service is asking the Postal Regulatory Commission to turn over information on the agency’s official travel schedule in recent years, following a Washington Post investigation into the travels of its top commissioner.
Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) on Tuesday requested detailed justifications and itineraries for all official trips taken by PRC Chairman Ruth Y. Goldway and those of her past two predecessors. He also asked that the commission provide a formal explanation of its travel policy for employees and other commissioners by Feb. 20.
“Given the Postal Service’s ongoing financial challenges and the amount of work the Commission has on its plate, a significant increase in travel by you — or any member of the Commission — raises questions,” Carper wrote to Goldway Wednesday.
“If we are going to ask postal employees and customers to make sacrifices to save the Postal Service, then the leadership at the Postal Service and the Commission — and even members of Congress — have a responsibility to set a good example when it comes to frugality and basic financial management,” he added.
Goldway plans to submit a detailed response by Feb. 20, a PRC spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the PRC has spent more than $70,600 on Goldway’s official trips since she became chairwoman in August 2009. She has spent at least 238 days traveling, attending meetings across the United States and in eight countries, records show, including stops at conferences in Scotland, Spain and Portugal. Her predecessor maintained a similar, though less expensive, travel schedule.
The PRC does not dispute the cost of Goldways's travels, but tabulates her days on the road differently. The Post calculated her travel by including days spent traveling to and from meetings and time spent at the scheduled meeting.
Goldway, a Democratic commissioner on the five-member panel, defended her travels in an interview.
“I really think that what we do is well within the bonds of responsibility and I make a special effort to make sure that any travel I take is extremely frugal,” she said.
(RELATED: Q&A Transcript: Goldways defends her travel)
The commission’s roughly $14.3 million budget is set by Congress and not directly tied to the Postal Service. Carper, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on federal financial management, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who tracks postal issues as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, expressed concern with the volume of Goldway’s travel at a time of financial crisis for the Postal Service.
USPS said it lost $5.1 billion in fiscal 2011.
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost