For new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who wanted the U.S. Postal Service to operate more efficiently, it seemed like an obvious fix: Just run the trucks on time.
So in July he ordered drivers to start leaving post offices and distribution centers exactly on schedule and curtailed extra trips to pick up any mail that missed earlier cutoffs.
The stricter deadlines sparked far less public outcry than the removal of more than 700 high-speed sorting machines at mail processing facilities around the country — but they were far more disruptive to the U.S. mail system, according to a Times investigation.
Weeks-long delays began to ripple through a system already reeling from COVID-19 absences and a surge in package delivery during the pandemic, shaking Americans’ faith in one of the country’s most popular services and raising concerns about how the Postal Service will handle mail-in ballots in November.