WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is requesting detailed information on reported changes to the longstanding delivery service providing by the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service is the only entity that provides delivery to every address in the United States, and changes that compromise service could risk cutting off communities and families who depend on the Postal Service every day.
“It is essential that the Postal Service not slow down mail or in any way compromise service for small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail,” wrote Senator Peters. “Congress, the public, and postal stakeholders should be fully apprised of any proposed changes to postal services, particularly if they will impact the speed of mail delivery for postal customers.”
The Postal Service is a lifeline for seniors and for people in rural areas, who often have less access to other services, and rely on the Postal Service for access to medications, emergency information, and home supplies. Postal workers deliver mail and packages to over 159 million households and businesses each day, including over 1 billion prescriptions last year. Businesses rely on the Postal Service to carry their packages the last mile, particularly in remote and rural areas, as the only carrier that delivers to every single address. The Postal Service is at the center of a $1.4 trillion mailing industry that employs more than 7.5 million people.
The text of the letter is copied below and available here.
July 17, 2020Mr. Louis DeJoy Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer United States Postal Service 475 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W. Room 4012 Washington, D.C. 20260
Dear Mr. DeJoy:
I am writing to seek information about operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that have the potential to affect the quality of service for Americans. It is essential that the Postal Service not slow down mail or in any way compromise service for small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail. On July 14, national publications released two documents that appear to be official Postal Service memoranda. The documents discuss significant changes to Postal Service procedures.
The first document, entitled “PMG’s Expectations and Plan” details a number of operational changes, which the document says “will be implemented in short order.” These include eliminating overtime, restrictions on certain letter carrier activities, and curtailing other measures used to mitigate staffing shortages. It states, “if we cannot deliver all mail” due to shortage of people, “the mail will not go out.” The document states these measures are aimed at cutting costs and “making the USPS financially solvent.” The strong rhetoric about cost-cutting compares the U.S. Postal Service to a private company, rather than framing it as a public service.
The second document, a routine “mandatory stand-up talk” reportedly given to employees across the country, details transportation changes being implemented immediately to reduce costs. These include limitations on extra trips by carriers to deliver mail. The document states, “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that –temporarily– we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks.” The document positions these changes as part of an “ongoing pivot, which will have a number of phases” the Postal Service will “swiftly implement.”
Congress, the public, and postal stakeholders should be fully apprised of any proposed changes to postal services, particularly if they will impact the speed of mail delivery for postal customers. Please answer the following questions as soon as possible:
- Do these documents reflect official Postal Service policy and practice? Please submit a full explanation of each operational change that will be implemented, and a timeline and justification for each.
2. Do these documents reflect your views and plans as Postmaster General (PMG)? Was the Postal Service Board of Governors involved in making these decisions?
a. In its public response to the release of these documents, the Postal Service referenced the Board’s development of a “business plan to ensure that we will be financially stable and able to continue to provide reliable, affordable, safe and secure delivery.” Developing this long-term solvency plan is the responsibility of the Senate-confirmed Governors in addition to the PMG. If these operational changes are part of a long-term solvency plan, why were they made in the advance of the development and release of that plan?
3. What effect will these changes have on the Postal Service’s service performance and its ability to meet service standards, which measure its ability to deliver mail on time to all customers?
a. The Board must request that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) submit an advisory opinion on any proposed change in the nature of postal services which will generally affect service on a nationwide basis. Did you seek Board approval or a PRC advisory opinion for any of these changes? Do you commit to doing so for any changes that will affect nationwide service?
4. Management and the Board must consider a number of factors under statute, including but not limited to cost, in making operational changes and policy changes. What factors did you analyze and consider before making these changes?
Thank you for your attention to this matter.