A People’s Bank at the Post Office

Steve HutkinsNews

JSTOR Daily: Post offices in the United States used to host the Postal Savings System. It was a form of non-profit savings bank and existed from 1911 to 1966. Historian Christopher W. Shaw tracks the “life and death” of this public bank, which gave “a measure of financial security” to small depositors and allowed for a “reimagining of the basic order of the financial system.”

“Millions of Americans deposited their earnings at the local post office,” Shaw writes, noting that

these savers sought the security that the national government’s guarantee of their deposits afforded. Bankers had lobbied hard against the Postal Savings System’s establishment and opposed subsequent efforts that workers and farmers made to expand the institution.

In fact, the “banking fraternity would maintain its enmity toward the government’s savings bank” for its half-century lifespan. Bankers finally killed it off in 1966, ironically aided by the New Deal’s rescue of their for-profit banking systems and the post-WWII “decline in popular political engagement with economic issues.”

The first postal savings system was set up in Great Britain in 1861. As Shaw details, the demand for postal savings in the US came out of the fierce struggle between workers/farmers and bankers in the late nineteenth century. Such entities as the Knights of Labor, American Federation of Labor, the National Grange, and the People’s Party all championed the idea of an alternative to for-profit banking. In the words of the New York State Knights of Labor, the nation needed a Postal Savings Banks to keep people’s monies “safely from the itching palms of the stock-jobbing bank officials.”

Like many of the compromises in the unending battle of the many versus the elite few, the 1910 Postal Savings Bank Act was modest. The system could operate “only in designated post offices, redeposit its funds in existing banks, and pay a noncompetitive 2 percent interest rate,” Shaw writes. There was also a $500 deposit ceiling. And virtually no money was ever spent on publicizing the service.

Read more: A People’s Bank at the Post Office – JSTOR Daily

Dickinson County (MI) Board of Commissioners starts petition opposing facility consolidation

Steve HutkinsNews

Dickinson County, Michigan. Faced with the consolidation with the Green Bay processing center and reduction in local services in the Upper Peninsula’s only mail processing plant, the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners has begun a local and nationwide online petition campaign. The petition, which is available on change.org, is entitled ”Demand the USPS Board of Governors Abandon the “Delivering for America Plan.”

By proposing a nationwide petition campaign, the board of commissioners hopes to unite with other individuals and communities across the nation who face the same concerns about potentially negative changes to America’s postal delivery system.

Speaking on behalf of Dickinson County, Commissioner Barbara Kramer stated, “The Dickinson County Board of Commissioners believes that our Kingsford, Michigan Post Office Processing Center MUST not only survive, but must expand to serve all of the residents of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a timely and efficient way. The proposed USPS DELIVERING FOR AMERICA plan takes away the efficiencies of our local distribution center and has the potential to damage our way and quality of life. Therefore, we strongly support any and all efforts by our congressional leaders to stop the rollout of this plan.”

The Dickinson County Board of Commissioners Petition can be found here. https://chng.it/5VDWFTZZ79

The Board of Commissioners — Henry Wender, Barbara Kramer, John Degenaer, Jr., Joe Stevens and Ann Martin — is the governing body of Dickinson County.

Commissioners oversee county properties and establish budgets, participate in, or chair county committees, boards and commissions, as well as actively participate in a wide range of community events, programs, and committees.

The pdf of the press release is here.

More Perfect Union: Where Is Your Mail?

Steve HutkinsBlog, Featured

More Perfect Union: Postmaster DeJoy wants to make the USPS more efficient.

So his solution is to take mail from this rural Wyoming town, send it to be sorted in Denver, and then ship it back to Wyoming again.

It’s not just absurd. It’s also disastrous for postal workers and rural residents. It’s all part of DeJoy’s 10 year plan to revitalize the USPS.

In reality, his plan is designed to kill it from the inside out.

Why? So corporations can privatize—and profit off—our mail.

The latest phase of DeJoy’s plan is consolidating USPS processing centers across the country into 60 mega-centers where mail from different regions will travel and be sorted together.

For rural areas, that means mail will be delayed by at least a day.

It also means mail handlers will lose their jobs and other postal workers will be forced to move

In states where the USPS has already rolled out the consolidation phase, service is way down and mail is delayed by days.

In Virginia, only 73% of mail is delivered on time. In Georgia, only 60% is.


DeJoy claims that consolidation will save the USPS money.

But in Richmond, Virginia, the new system cost $8 million in extra trips and overtime hours.

Why would Postmaster Louis DeJoy, who runs the USPS, want to undermine it?

DeJoy used to run XPO logistics, a trucking company his father founded. Before he became postmaster, XPO had a $36 million contract with the USPS. In 2021, it scored a $120 million contract. Even though DeJoy is no longer on the board at XPO, he and his family made between $1.2 to $1.7 million in income from XPO real estate and stocks in 2019.

He also had investments in 14 other companies with financial ties to the USPS when he first took office, which he later divested from.

We need to save the U.S. Postal Service, and our mail, from Louis DeJoy’s greed.

The X thread above can be found here. The You-Tube video has lots of good comments.

More Perfect Union is a nonprofit media organization with a mission to build power for working people. Learn more here: http://perfectunion.us/

USPS sees mail delays amid network overhaul. Now lawmakers, regulator seek answers

Steve HutkinsNews

Federal News Network: The Postal Service is telling lawmakers in areas hardest hit by recent mail delays that the effects are temporary, and that on-time delivery will soon stabilize in areas where the agency is modernizing its facilities.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy met with members of the Virginia delegation on Monday — including Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), as well as Reps. Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.).

Warner told reporters Tuesday that both lawmakers and DeJoy agree the mail delays in the Richmond area are “totally unacceptable,” after the agency opened a new Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC) there.

“The good news of yesterday’s meeting was the Postal Service and the postmaster general agreed that the rollout in Richmond was a disaster. It was a mess, and it needs to be corrected,” Warner said.

DeJoy recently told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that USPS is seeing issues with on-time delivery in regions where USPS is opening massive new facilities meant to streamline local operations.

DeJoy apologized for the decline in service in areas such as Richmond, Atlanta and Houston, but told the committee he’s still “optimistic about the changes,” and expects service to stabilize in impacted regions by this summer.

“I was happy to see I didn’t hear excuses from the postmaster general,” Warner said. “He acknowledged they screwed up, that it was a mess, that consumers weren’t informed, and that the postal workers themselves were not adequately trained. He said that he wants to make this the best distribution center in the country, and we’re going to hold them to that.”

Warner said Virginia lawmakers plan to meet back with DeJoy in 60 days.

“What I have found in the past is this is going to require constant attention from the congressional delegation. It’s obviously bipartisan — we all depend upon the mail, and the folks in the greater Richmond area deserve better,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service’s regulator is asking for more answers about these regional delays, and whether USPS will see on-time delivery drop in other regions as it rolls out its network modernization plans.

The Postal Regulatory Commission asked USPS last Friday to start the process of obtaining an advisory opinion on its network modernization plans or explain why such a review is unnecessary.

“It is clear that there has been a quantifiable decline in service across several regions during and after the implementation of new facility types,” the commission wrote.

Read more: USPS sees mail delays amid network overhaul. Now lawmakers, regulator seek answers

USPS regulator weighs intervening on DeJoy reforms

Steve HutkinsNews

Government Executive: The U.S. Postal Service is facing pressure from its regulator to justify the major reforms the agency is implementing, with the watchdog suggesting the changes are having a larger impact than leaders had predicted.

The Postal Regulatory Commission order comes as USPS leadership is facing pushback from lawmakers in both parties and a wide array of stakeholders over its overhaul of the mail network and delivery practices. The PRC directive called on the Postal Service to either submit to an advisory opinion from the watchdog or explain why such a review is unnecessary.

Postal management is unlikely to accept that an advisory opinion is required, as doing so would amount to an admission that the changes in Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s Delivering for America plan amount to a meaningful change in the nature of postal services on a national level. DeJoy and his team have repeatedly argued their reforms are simply realizing efficiencies in the system, but will ultimately not negatively impact mail users.

PRC’s order is focusing on the Postal Service’s consolidation of mail sorting away from individual post offices in favor of centralized centers and the moving processing operations away from hundreds of cities and towns in favor of 60 mega-centers throughout the country. It also relates to USPS’ new “optimized collection plan” that will require mail to sit overnight at post offices instead of being collected each evening for transportation to a processing center.

In its order, PRC said the changes could result in mail delays and a “significant loss” in employees. Postal management has failed to provide evidence or supporting analysis that the reforms will not result in slower mail delivery, the regulator said, noting that on-time delivery has declined this year.

“I think the American public, postal stakeholders and Congress want to understand the impact of the Postal Service’s network transformation plans,” said PRC Chairman Michael Kubayanda. “They want to know what is happening to mail service, how to stop this decline, how to keep it from spreading and how to restore service to targeted levels of performance.”

Postal management has 40 days to request an advisory opinion, or 20 days to submit a response arguing that one is not necessary. PRC expressed skepticism the latter option could prove successful, noting it was “hard to see” how the USPS initiatives would “not involve a change in the nature of services” that would statutorily necessitate a review.

Read more: USPS regulator weighs intervening on DeJoy reforms – Government Executive

Looking at mail delays by the numbers: USPS Service Performance in Q2 FY2024

SteveBlog, Featured

Last week the Postal Regulatory Commission issued an order that was totally unprecedented. The Commission directed the Postal Service to file a request for an advisory opinion on the Delivering for America plan or to “show cause” why an opinion is not warranted.

The Postal Service has claimed that the mail delays we’ve been seeing over the past several months are isolated, temporary, and do not represent a change in postal services on a nationwide basis, so an advisory opinion is not required. The Commission’s order questions that claim and goes on to say, “it has become increasingly apparent that the operational changes to be implemented by the Postal Service nationwide may result in significant service changes over a broad area of the country.”

Time will tell just how temporary the delivery problems are, but they don’t appear to be isolated. Over the past several months, nearly the entire country has suffered mail delays.

The nation overall

The service performance reports for the second quarter (January-March 2024) won’t be available for a couple more weeks, but much of the data is already being reported on the USPS Service Performance Dashboard.

Here’s a table breaking down the national scores by mail type, comparing the second quarter of FY2024 with the same quarter last year. (The reports for the first quarter were discussed here.)

In every category, on-time scores have dropped. During Q2 FY2024, for the nation as a whole, 84 percent of First Class mail was on time, compared to 91 percent during Q2 FY2023. Compared to SPLY, single-piece mail with a 3, 4 and 5-day standard has dropped by 12.5 percent, 14 percent, and 21.4 percent, respectively.

The causes for these falling scores may be located in specific places at specific times, but the low scores are a nationwide problem, and it’s not at all clear when service performance will return to a satisfactory level.

District by district

Looking at the district-level scores provides further evidence that the problems are widespread.

Here’s a table showing the district-by-district scores for inbound single-piece First Class mail for Q2 FY2024 and the same quarter last year. The table can be sorted by columns; refresh your browser to return to the original sort. ADD is the average days to deliver.

District% on timeSPLYChangeADDSPLY% Change
CALIFORNIA 185.12%87.31%-2.19%2.72.412.50%
CALIFORNIA 283.93%86.56%-2.63%2.72.412.50%
CALIFORNIA 387.34%88.46%-1.12%
CALIFORNIA 488.80%92.90%-4.10%2.62.313.04%
CALIFORNIA 585.44%88.96%-3.52%2.82.512.00%
CALIFORNIA 687.55%87.28%0.27%
FLORIDA 180.45%83.31%-2.86%
FLORIDA 283.46%87.44%-3.98%
FLORIDA 381.20%78.25%2.95%
ILLINOIS 179.88%88.90%-9.02%2.82.321.74%
ILLINOIS 276.40%79.15%-2.75%2.82.416.67%
MICHIGAN 182.08%82.94%-0.86%
MICHIGAN 281.37%85.19%-3.82%2.62.313.04%
NEW JERSEY86.18%88.24%-2.06%
NEW YORK 179.26%84.42%-5.16%2.82.512.00%
NEW YORK 284.79%85.50%-0.71%
NEW YORK 388.27%88.07%0.20%
NORTH CAROLINA80.56%88.52%-7.96%2.72.412.50%
OHIO 180.52%83.12%-2.60%2.62.313.04%
OHIO 282.16%85.34%-3.18%
PENNSYLVANIA 188.16%91.25%-3.09%
PUERTO RICO82.93%78.69%4.24%2.82.512.00%
SOUTH CAROLINA78.44%76.84%1.60%2.82.512.00%
TEXAS 180.02%84.34%-4.32%3.12.810.71%
TEXAS 272.53%78.77%-6.24%3.22.718.52%
TEXAS 382.00%79.33%2.67%

Here are some maps to help illustrate these numbers.

The first map simply shows the 50 USPS districts (scroll over for district name). The second map shows on-time performance for inbound First Class during the second quarter of FY2023, and the third shows on-time performance during the second quarter of FY2024. The darker the shade of pink-to-red, the lower the scores. The fourth map shows the changes from the second quarter in FY 2023 to FY 2024. The darker areas show the districts with the largest drop in scores.

In Q2 FY 2023, service performance ranged from 75 to 93 percent, and the average for the nation was 84.5 percent on time. The Colorad0-Wyoming district had the lowest score — 74.7 percent — possibly due to staffing shortages.

In Q2 FY2024, on-time scores fell in 40 of the 50 districts. The range dropped to between 60 and 89 percent, and the national average dropped to 80 percent on time. Average delivery time (days to deliver) increased in every district except Alaska.

The worst on-time percentage scores were in Georgia (60.2 percent), a result of problems opening the Atlanta Regional Processing & Distribution Center in Palmetto, as discussed in this post. Virginia continued to suffer low scores (73.3 percent) as a result of problems launching its RPDC in Richmond, as discussed in this post and this OIG report.

As the map showing changes in service performance from 2023 to 2024 shows, the problems in Atlanta and Virginia may have spread to nearby districts like North Carolina, Kentucky-West Virginia, and Tennessee, where only 73.5 percent was on time in FY24.

The scores in the Texas 2 District were also very low (72.5 percent). Apparently the problems with the North Houston and Missouri City P&DCs that began last summer continue to be an issue (discussed in this OIG report). Wisconsin’s scores were low as well (74.4 percent), perhaps partly due to the implementation of the Local Transportation Optimization plan, which eliminated evening collections at hundreds of post offices in the state in January. There were also problems in Nevada-Utah (75.3 percent) and especially the Kansas-Missouri (67.9 percent) districts, but it’s not clear why.

Making the mail more reliable

When the Postal Service proposed relaxing service standards on First Class mail back in April 2021, it said that the new standards, as well as other initiatives, would make it possible “to consistently meet or exceed service performance targets of 95 percent,” across the board. That included single-piece First Class mail with a 3-day service standard — mail that historically has had a score between 80 and 85 percent. While the mail would be slower, said the Postal Service, it would be more “reliable and consistent.”

But that clearly hasn’t happened.

Here’s a chart showing annual scores for First Class mail since FY 2019 (from this USPS report and this one). The scores for FY2024 are for the first half of the year through the week ending April 19, from the Service Performance Dashboard.

During FY2020-2021, on-time scores dropped significantly, due primarily to the package surge and employee availability issues caused by the pandemic. They then recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but this year scores fell off again, due largely to problems associated with implementing DFA.

Here’s one more chart, this one showing monthly scores for single-piece First Class since the beginning of FY 2022, when the new service standards went into effect.

During FY 2022-2023, scores averaged 88 percent on time. As FY 2024 began, scores began to drop, and they’ve fallen now to 77.5 percent on time. That’s about 10 percentage points below average and 17 percent below the 95 percent target — a goal that looks farther away than ever.

But for now, achieving such lofty goals is not the main concern. The question is, with scores like these, is the Postal Service prepared to deliver election mail in a timely and reliable way?

— Steve Hutkins

Postal regulator directs USPS to request an advisory opinion on DFA or to show cause why it won’t

Steve HutkinsBlog, Featured

Tensions between the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission are intensifying. On Friday, the Commission issued an order directing the Postal Service to file a request for an advisory opinion on Delivering for America or to show cause as to why an advisory opinion is not warranted. (The order can be found on the PRC website here.)

It’s been clear for well over a year that several of the DFA initiatives met the statutory requirement for an advisory opinion, but the statute (39 U.S. Code § 3661) is crafted in such a way that the Postal Service must begin the process by filing a formal request for an opinion. Absent such a request, the law does not seem to provide a way for the Commission to begin the process itself or to force the Postal Service to do so.

But pressure has been mounting on the Postal Service. Complaints about unprecedented mail delays are occurring across the country. Requests for information and explanations from members of Congress and other elected officials have been met with unsatisfactory responses from postal officials. Mailers and other stakeholders have been similarly frustrated by the lack of transparency.

The Commission’s order is long overdue, but the foul-ups with the recent launch of new RPDCs in Richmond and Atlanta were probably the tipping point, as was made clear at the recent Senate hearing. The pressure was on the Commission to do something, and so it has.

In a press release announcing the order, PRC Chairman Michael Kubayanda stated, “As the Commission issues this show cause order, we don’t have firm proof of what is causing the recent decline in service performance. I think the American public, postal stakeholders, and Congress want to understand the impact of the Postal Service’s network transformation plans. They want to know what is happening to mail service, how to stop this decline, how to keep it from spreading, and how to restore service to targeted levels of performance. Those are the questions the Commission is looking to answer with this order.”

The Commission’s order identifies several of the DFA initiatives that could have a nationwide impact on postal services — the statutory requirement for initiating the advisory opinion process. These include

  1. Creating new and repurposed facility types, i.e., Regional Processing and Distribution Centers (RPDCs), Local Processing Centers (LPCs), and Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DCs);
  2. Eliminating evening collections at some post offices (Local Transportation Optimization, or LTO); and
  3. Converting some Highway Contract Route (HCR) transportation performed by contractors to Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) transportation performed by postal employees.

The Postal Service has previously told the PRC that “it evaluated those initiatives and concluded that advisory opinions were not required” because they would not impact service on a nationwide basis. For months now, the Commission has seemed to take this claim at face value. But not anymore.

“To date,” states the order, “the Postal Service has provided limited detailed information concerning its additional planned changes and thus far, has not included any information that address stakeholder and Commission concerns that implementation of these changes will result in nationwide service changes.  Although the Postal Service states that the DFA Plan initiatives will result in efficient operations and improved service once the changes have been implemented, the Postal Service has not provided any analyses, data, or modeling showing that these changes will improve service.  Nor have preliminary results from areas most affected by the DFA Plan initiatives demonstrated improved efficiency or service, as discussed further below. It is hard to see how these initiatives will not involve a change in the nature of services.”

The order proceeds to review some of the service impacts that may occur under the DFA initiatives. For example, “consolidating and repurposing facilities could mean longer routes for long haul transportation and carriers, which could result in mail delays.” Because some originating processing operations may be moved several hours away, it could delay processing and “also result in significant loss of postal employees, which could further lead to mail delays.”

Similarly, “under the LTO initiative, the lack of evening collections may result in delivery being delayed by at least a day because mail would likely sit overnight before being transported for processing.” The insourcing of contracted transportation routes could also cause delays due to a truck driver shortage and an inability to hire sufficient postal vehicle operators, a problem already discussed in an OIG report.

“If implemented together across the nation as planned, these operational changes appear to impact service in significant ways. Indeed, recent service declines and other issues associated with the implementation of the DFA initiatives support the Commission’s and the public’s skepticism.”

The order proceeds to describe the mail delays we’ve seen in Houston, Richmond, and Atlanta, as well as nationwide declines in service performance scores. The Commission also cites a recent OIG report on the LTO initiative, in which the IG “noted that the LTO initiative will affect rural communities and individuals who mail letters and packages more than other users of the Postal Service.”

The Postal Service has claimed that the problems we’ve been seeing are isolated and temporary, but it has provided no evidence that this is the case. In fact, states the Commission, “it has become increasingly apparent that the operational changes to be implemented by the Postal Service nationwide may result in significant service changes over a broad area of the country.”

Accordingly, the Commission directs the Postal Service to do one of two things: File a request for an advisory opinion within 40 days or “show cause within 20 days as to why an advisory opinion is not warranted for these initiatives.”

If the Postal Service does request an advisory opinion, the changes now underway would presumably need to be put on hold until the opinion is completed. According to the regulations, “the Postal Service must file the formal request for an advisory opinion with the Commission at least 90 days before implementing any of the proposed changes.”

That obviously hasn’t happened — some of these changes have been underway for over a year — but it might mean that changes planned for the next few months would be delayed while the Commission works on the opinion, which is supposed to be issued within 90 days following the request.

Given that the Postal Service has previously rejected suggestions that an advisory opinion is necessary, it may very well take the second option. It will then need to submit a detailed discussion of the statutory requirement and the relevant precedents (primarily Buchanan v. U.S. Postal Service) as well as providing “sufficient data and analysis showing how the DFA initiatives, implemented together, do not constitute significant, nationwide service changes.”

Should the Commission find the Postal Service’s response unsatisfactory, it’s not clear what would happen next. But we may soon find out.

In any case, an advisory opinion only provides an opportunity for the Commission to request information and to share its analysis and advice. The opinions are not binding, and the Postal Service can proceed to do whatever it wants. Indeed, it’s ignored the Commission’s advice several times in the past.

Over the past several months, the Commission’s Public Inquiry docket provided some insight into the DFA plan, but the advisory opinion is a much more robust process, and it should lead to a much better understanding of what the Postal Service is really up to.

UPDATE, May 1, 2024: Government Executive reports that David Walton, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said the agency is confident it has met all of its legal obligations. “At this stage we are not required to seek an advisory opinion from the PRC regarding the implementation of the Delivering for America Plan initiatives that we have pursued thus far,” Walton said. “We will respond to the PRC’s order in more detail in this regard, consistent with the schedule that the PRC has established.” He added, however, that USPS could still seek an advisory opinion for forthcoming reforms under the DFA.

(This means the Postal Service will submit a report responding to the “show cause” order later this month and not request an advisory opinion. Presumably the PRC would then need to take the Postal Service to court over the matter, which would take many months to resolve. As an alternative, under the current public inquiry docket on DFA, the Commission could exert its subpoena power to get the information it would otherwise have requested in an advisory opinion docket.)

— Steve Hutkins

Senators call on postal board to abandon DeJoy’s USPS reforms

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

Government Executive: The U.S. Postal Service’s governing board should stop implementing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to overhaul the mailing agency’s operations, according to a group of Democratic senators who said the 10-year blueprint to improve USPS finances and efficiency is failing. (Their letter is here.)

While postal leadership has repeatedly defended its Delivering for America plan and said it needs more time to realize the benefits of its pricing, network and workforce reforms, the seven senators, led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said the changes are actively harming the Postal Service and its customers.

They praised DeJoy for issuing a “transformative plan,” but said the policies have led to declining service, higher prices and lower mail usage. The lawmakers blamed ongoing price hikes for declining mail volumes and said the approach would continue to drive business away from the Postal Service.

“It has become clear that under the DFA, USPS is continuing to implement changes that are harmful to Americans and the American businesses that rely on the service,” the senator said. “As the board of governors, you must step in before further harm is caused.”

The letter was the latest in a series of concerns voiced by members of both parties and congressional chambers, though it went further in calling for the termination of the Delivering for America plan altogether. After initial backlash to DeJoy’s selection and his early reform efforts, temperatures cooled as lawmakers worked with the postmaster general to pass the 2022 Postal Service Reform Act and allowed him some leeway to enact his vision. As consolidations and mail rerouting efforts hit individual member’s states and districts, however, that friction is rebuilding.

Read more: Senators call on postal board to abandon DeJoy’s USPS reforms – Government Executive

First-Class Service Turns In Its Worst Performance In The Past 12 Months

Steve HutkinsNews

Snailworks.com: Poor service performance showed across the spectrum last week.  It was a worrisome week.

Only 63.5% of First-Class letters were delivered on time last week, with more than 8% more than five days late.  First-Class flats performed comparably to letters but with only 3.8% more than five days late.   An average First-Class letter took nearly five days to deliver.

Marketing Mail service performance was slower than YTD in all categories, including a worrisome slowdown in Intra-SCF performance.  This figure, which measures how long it will take to deliver mail that is entered in the delivery SCF, is generally rock-steady but has slipped from 2.24 days to 2.54 days for Marketing Mail letters.

Atlanta area mail showed small improvements, with average delivery time for a First-Class letter to an address in Atlanta reduced to 11.08 days, down from 11.58 days in the prior week.

Poor performance this week was much more widespread than in recent weeks, with sub-par First-Class performance in GA (8.39 days on average), WA (7.15), SC (6.46), and OR (6.45).

All statistics are gathered from a sample of mail that we track for our customers.  For the week just finished, the sample size was more than 44 million.

Read more: US MAIL TRAFFIC REPORT APRIL 15, 2024 – SnailTalk

US Senate to hold hearing over USPS delays at metro Atlanta distribution center

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

WSBTV: The United States Senate will hold a hearing in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday regarding oversight of the U.S. Postal Service.

Channel 2 Action News has been reporting for months about customers’ frustrations in metro Atlanta, particularly with a distribution center in Palmetto.

There have been repeated calls for oversight of USPS from members of the U.S. House and Senate to both correct issues causing the delays and bring accountability.
On Thursday, Rep. Barry Loudermilk told Channel 2 Action News that issues at the USPS are having effects across Georgia and the rest of the nation.

Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senators, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, have also launched an inquiry into allegations of mail fraud, mail theft and check washing at a Marietta postal facility.

The USPS delays have been a bipartisan issue to tackle as mail delays impact everything from packages to, according to Loudermilk, tax payments and voting.

A group of federal lawmakers from Georgia have also been pushing for oversight and explanation from USPS on delays related to problems at the postal service facility in Palmetto.

In his comments on Thursday, Loudermilk urged USPS to give him answers about Palmetto, including having Postmaster General Louis Dejoy come to Georgia with him to evaluate the site.

Read more: US Senate to hold hearing over USPS delays at metro Atlanta distribution center – WSB-TV Channel 2 – Atlanta

The Trump donor whom Biden can’t fire is running the USPS directly into the ground

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

Fortune: Technology has afforded us the ability to connect with nearly anyone, anytime—and free of charge. But there’s just something nostalgic and tactile about receiving a letter or postcard via snail mail, whether it be a wedding invitation or postcard from a loved one far away.

But many also have a love-hate relationship with the United States Postal Service. Mail is lost, undelivered—or even returned, sometimes with a valid postmark and address. Indeed, “the Postal Service’s ability to provide acceptable service is an ongoing concern across the United States,” according to the Office of Inspector General for the United States Postal Service.

Yet USPS announced Tuesday a proposed 8% price hike for stamps, bringing the cost of a first-class mail forever stamp to $0.73. It’s just another sign of the unfavorable leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. DeJoy was a major Republican Party donor and Trump fundraiser—and was also the first postmaster general in two decades without prior USPS experience.

Under DeJoy, the USPS has been bleeding money. In the first quarter of fiscal 2024 alone, USPS reported a $2.1 billion net loss, more than double its $1 billion net loss during the same time period last year.

“Under DeJoy, USPS has not adequately been controlling labor costs, while quality of service has been going down and prices going up,” said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank that specializes in productivity and innovation issues. “This is not sustainable, and the more prices go up the more volumes go down, until USPS hits a death spiral.”

But DeJoy, who was previously under investigation by the FBI in connection with past political fundraising, says he has a 10-year plan to revive the postal service. He’s been in his role since June 2020, and plans to serve his entire appointment. Plus, President Joe Biden doesn’t have the power to remove him from his post, despite how badly the agency is struggling.

“Get used to me,” DeJoy said in February 2021. The postmaster general is appointed by the Board of Governors of the Postal Service—and can only be dismissed by this group, not the president. However, the governors are appointed by the president, and in 2022, 83 public interest groups led by the Save the Post Office Coalition sent a letter to Biden urging him to nominate postal board of governors candidates who would hold DeJoy accountable for his “destructive leadership and advocate strongly for the expansion of USPS services.”

Read more: The Trump donor whom Biden can’t fire is running the U.S. Postal Service directly into the ground—just what everyone warned about when he was confirmed during the pandemic

Atlanta RPDC crashes on launch

Steve HutkinsBlog, Featured

In July 2023 the first Regional Processing & Distribution Center opened in Richmond, Virginia. The launch ran into problems, and mail delays have plagued the region for months. The Postal Service said it would learn from its mistakes and the next RPDC rollouts would go more smoothly. Another RPDC opened a few weeks ago in Atlanta. The mail delays have been worse than in Richmond, much worse.

There was an open house celebrating the new Atlanta RPDC in Palmetto during the week of February 21. That same week, service performance in the Georgia district began to drop, and it just kept dropping. During the second week of March, on-time scores for First Class mail had fallen to 25 percent. Here’s a chart showing on-time scores for First Class since the beginning of the year. (The data come from the USPS Service Performance Dashboard.)

The graph shows the composite scores for First Class mail, much of which is pre-sort mail that moves relatively quickly through the network. If one looks just at single-piece mail, the drop in performance is even more pronounced. Here’s the graph for Georgia, single-piece (outbound) First Class Mail with a 2-day service standard.

Shortly after the Atlanta RPDC opened in February 2024, the scores for 2-day mail fell off and continued to fall, all the way down to 12 percent. That’s as low as scores have ever been, anywhere. About the best one can say about them is that they may have bottomed out in mid-March.

Source: PostalPro

It doesn’t get much better when one looks at single-piece First Class with a 3, 4, and 5-day standard.

Here’s the service standard map for mail originating in the Atlanta (302) showing the regions of the country that should get the mail in 2, 3, 4, and 5 days. (Everything was 2-day and 3-day before DeJoy lowered service standards in 2021 to cut costs by eliminating the use of planes.)

Here’s a graph showing the on-time scores for single-piece mail with a 3, 4, and 5 day service standard since the beginning of the year.

When the Postal Service presented its case for changing the service standards to the Postal Regulatory Commission, it claimed that under the relaxed standards it would be able to achieve 95 percent on-time, across the board. That hasn’t happened nationwide, and it clearly hasn’t happened in Georgia, where scores this year for 3-5 day mail were in the 40-60 percent range before the RPDC launch and 20-30 percent after launch.

Another metric for looking at service performance is average days to deliver. The Postal Service likes to boast that the weekly average is about 2.5 days for the entire mail stream. For mail with a 2-day standard, the average is typically somewhat less than 2 days, since some mail is delivered faster than the standard.

After the Atlanta RPDC opened, the average days to deliver increased dramatically. Here’s a chart showing average days to deliver for 2-day mail over the past three months and for the same period last year.

Given that these are averages, it’s likely that much of this 2-day mail took more than 10 days to reach its destination. In some cases, the mail piece may have just been going across town.

Similar but not so severe problems happened when the Richmond RPDC opened in July 2023. This chart shows monthly scores for single-piece First Class for the Virginia District, along with the scores for the same period last year and for the nation.

The monthly scores for Virginia track close to the previous year and nation — about 85 percent on time. After the Richmond RPDC opened, Virginia’s scores dropped to 76 percent in August, improved in September, then began dropping again. By December, monthly scores had hit bottom at about 55 percent on time. During the third week of December, the weekly score for all single-piece First Class was down to 49 percent on time, and the 3-day mail was down to 43 percent.

Virginia’s scores remain below last year’s, but they have improved. The scores in Georgia showed an uptick during the week of March 23, so perhaps the worst is over. But at this point it’s not clear how long will it take for scores to get back to anything like normal.

The most recent data on the USPS Service Performance Dashboard is for the week of March 23-30. Snailworks, a company that tracks service performance, says this about on-time delivery during the first week of April: “First-Class delivery times remain dismal, with Atlanta GA area facilities dragging down averages. Nationally, only 69.2% of First-Class letters were delivered on time, with 7.5% more than five days late. It still took about 12 days for a letter to be delivered to an Atlanta address.”

A dumpster fire

One of the goals of the network transformation is to make it possible to deliver packages on a same-day or next-day basis. Slides in USPS presentations show how many customers can be served within service areas based on their distance from a processing center — the closer you are, the faster the service.

Source: USPS Presentation

But far from improving delivery times, the rollout in Georgia has caused unprecedented delays. As Leo Raymond, a former USPS manager and director of Mailers Hub, put it to NBC last week, “It’s just a dumpster fire right now.”

Not surprisingly, the delays are impacting newspaper delivery. The Pickens Progress (which serves a county north of Atlanta) reports that since the opening of the RPDC the “phones at our office and newspaper offices throughout the state have been ringing off the hook with upset customers whose newspapers haven’t been delivered.”

Concerns are also mounting over election mail. A couple of weeks ago, 11Alive in Atlanta reported that Georgia Secretary of State’s Office said postal problems are affecting election mail. “11Alive heard from voters across metro Atlanta who expressed similar frustrations over absentee ballots that did not arrive in a timely fashion or at all. Many of them blamed the new USPS facility in Palmetto.”

Sign at post office in Georgia (Credit: WXIA, via 11Alive

The official website for Greene County (midway between Atlanta and Augusta) now has a notice from the Greene County Board of Elections saying, “We regret to inform you that there have been delays in the processing and delivery of absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots due to the performance of the United States Postal Service (USPS). This delay may affect the timely receipt and processing of your absentee voting materials.” Residents are encouraged “to consider alternative voting methods if possible.”

Concerns about USPS delays and election mail are all over the news. The Washington Examiner has an article entitled “Voters express concern over mail-in ballots after major postal office delays.” NBC News has focused on the delays with an excellent article with the headline “Major mail delivery delays raise concerns about voting in the 2024 elections.”

The Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has scheduled a hearing on the Postal Service for April 16. Concerns about mail delays and the threat to election mail are sure to be on the agenda.

Root causes for delays

While most of the sixty RPDCs that will be launched over the coming months are in reconfigured Processing & Distribution Centers, the Atlanta RPDC and another like it in Charlotte are the first mega-facilities that the Postal Service has built out from scratch. They were supposed to be showplaces for the new network.

DeJoy shown around the Atlanta RPDC (Source: Washington Post)

In the Fall of 2022, the Postmaster General took the Washington Post on a grand tour of postal facilities in Georgia, primarily to show off the development of the new RPDC in Atlanta, even though there wasn’t anything there yet. In March 2023 he returned to Georgia for a similar trip with TIME magazine for a flattering profile and a preview of the RPDC.

The OIG is currently working on an audit of the Atlanta RPDC, but the report won’t be available until late summer. In the meantime, one can only speculate about what’s gone wrong.

According to the OIG’s recent report on the Richmond RPDC, there were pre-existing problems in that facility which may have carried over when it became a RPDC. The Atlanta RPDC is brand new, so there are no pre-existing issues to blame.

The Atlanta RPDC took over operations from the Peachtree P&DC and Atlanta NDC in the fall, and earlier this year it took outgoing operations from the Atlanta North Metro (Duluth), Macon, and Augusta P&DCs, all of which have been downgraded to Local Processing Centers (LPCs).

Perhaps the Atlanta RPDC wasn’t prepared to handle the volumes from all these facilities. As one employee at the Atlanta RPDC told 11alive.com, “There’s too much coming in. There’s too much automation. So there’s no room to store the mail….  I think the facility is just overwhelmed.”

The LPCs only handle incoming mail, and all of their outgoing mail must go to the Atlanta RPDC. If it’s local mail, it then goes back to the LPC — all of which adds to delivery times and may be contributing to the delays.

Another possibility is employee absenteeism, which contributed to the problems in the Richmond RPDC. The Delivering for America plan is supposed to cut 50,000 jobs, all by attrition, and many of them will be mail processing positions eliminated as a result of plant consolidations. There have been no layoffs in Georgia, but the consolidations mean there are fewer positions to go around. Reduction in Force (RIF) notices have gone out, and on March 4 a Town Hall Meeting was held to notify impacted employees. The RIF effective date is June 14, 2024.

It’s possible that the impacted employees are already taking a walk. Some may not be able to relocate to Atlanta for a new job in the RPDC. For others, morale may be down. Perhaps some workers are taking days off while they figure out what to do.

Yet another possible cause for the delays is the Local Transportation Optimization initiative, which eliminates the evening collection of mail at post offices, leaving it for pickup the next morning, when the day’s mail from the processing center is dropped off. In many cases, that adds a day to delivery times. The LTO applies to post offices more than 50 miles from a Local Processing Center, so nearly all of them are in rural areas.

The LTO initiative was implemented in the Richmond area last October and may have contributed to the problems there, but the OIG couldn’t say to what extent. The LTO will be the subject of a future OIG audit.

The LTO was implemented in the Atlanta region in February, just as the RPDC was launching. According to a recent USPS presentation, 228 post offices in the Atlanta region were impacted. The Postal Service has not shared a list, but here’s a map showing 230 post offices in the Atlanta area that are more than 50 miles from an LPC and that may have therefore lost their evening collection. The list is here. (The area in southern Georgia is part of the Jacksonville region so it’s not included in the Atlanta numbers.)


Related to the LTO is an initiative to insource much of the transportation between facilities that has previously been handled by Highway Contract Route companies. It’s not clear how far along the insourcing is in Georgia, but the plan involves cancelling trucking contracts, training USPS drivers, adapting to changes in the routes and schedules, and so on — all of which may contribute to missed pickups, late trips, and other causes for delays.

Atlanta Region Facilities (Source: USPS Presentation)

Finally, there’s the possibility that the new Sorting & Delivery Centers are running into issues. These S&DCs consolidate letter carriers from post offices as far as away as 20 or 25 miles, which adds to route lengths and commuting distances. Rather than working out of their post office, carriers are often housed in huge P&DCs, where just getting around the building uses up a lot of time. In the Atlanta region, there are (or will be) at least nine S&DCs.

USPS presentations point to several negative “deltas” with S&DCs, like last-minute training, plans being changed up until the day prior to activation, and “confusion on ownership.” The presentations identify the root causes of delivery failures, such as late processing at downflow facilities, late loads, and so on.

The buck stops here

The Postal Service began planning the RPDC in Atlanta over two years ago — the lease on the property was signed sometime in Spring 2022 — and at this point the Postal Service has spent something like $125 million on building out the facility.

The Postmaster General has spent these same two years excoriating previous leadership of the Postal Service, the Postal Regulatory Commission, and Congress for contributing to the agency’s fiscal woes. DeJoy says he was brought in to save the post office, and his Delivering for America plan can’t be implemented fast enough if a taxpayer bailout is to be prevented.

When criticized about the delays and declining performance over the past several months, the Postal Service has been reluctant to share much information, and it’s been rather defensive in tone.

When the PRC’s Public Representative reported on the performance problems for the Commission’s Annual Compliance Report, the Postal Service took umbrage with “the PR’s implication that the various identified service performance issues are somehow indicative of a wide-ranging service performance problem. They are not. Rather, the issues identified by the PR are localized and distinct.” As for the PR’s concern that recent declines in service performance may impact “the public’s trust in vote-by-mail” in advance of the November election, the Postal Service said, “This concern is unfounded.”

Outside forces may have contributed to delays in Virginia and Texas and elsewhere in the country, but what’s happened in Georgia is due almost entirely to the actions of the Postal Service. The Postmaster General and his leadership team — several of whom come from his former company, XPO Logistics — have nobody to blame but themselves. The buck stops with them.

— Steve Hutkins

(Featured photo: PMG in the Atlanta RPDC, TIME Magazine)

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‘Dumpster fire’: Experts predict swing state ballot chaos due to DeJoy’s USPS overhaul

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

Raw Story: A noticeable slowdown in mail delivery by the US Postal Service (USPS) is becoming a significant concern for democracy advocates, as millions of Americans will be voting by mail this year. There’s growing worry about whether mail ballots will be counted in time — particularly in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

NBC News reported that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a GOP donor who has been in his position since a Republican-controlled USPS Board of Governors put him there in 2020 — is being blamed for mail delays due to his 10-year restructuring of the USPS. DeJoy’s plan, dubbed “Delivering for America,” involves consolidating all mail-sorting operations to 60 regional distribution centers. The plan’s rollout began in the fall of 2023, and the on-time delivery rate of two-day, first-class mail has since dropped from 90% to 87.5%.

“It’s just a dumpster fire right now,” former USPS manager Leo Raymond told NBC. “If you’re a business, you’re going to be discouraged from using the mail because you want your stuff to actually get there.”

In a a letter to DeJoy last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)  led an effort with nearly two dozen Senate Democrats to publicly condemn DeJoy’s USPS overhaul and its effect on mail delivery. They warned that under the plan, “outgoing mail processing will move hundreds of miles to a regional facility, outside reasonable commuting distance and, in some cases, to another state entirely.”

“Wyoming, Vermont, and New Hampshire are set to lose all outgoing mail processing from within the state,” the letter read. “[F]or communities near facilities under review, it is unclear how local first-class mail will meet its two-day standard while traveling hundreds of miles for sorting. This is especially concerning for Americans who need reliable and expedient mail service to conduct business, pay their bills, receive medications, and stay in touch with loved ones.”

One of the hardest-hit metropolitan areas by DeJoy’s plan is Atlanta, which Leo Raymond described as “a complete house on fire.” According to NBC, the rate of on-time delivery of mail went from 60-70% to roughly 20%. And because President Joe Biden won the state by less than 12,000 votes in 2020 largely due to high Democratic turnout in the Atlanta Metro area, it’s expected that mail-in ballots could play a crucial role in deciding who wins Georgia’s electoral votes this November.

““We’re approaching a major November election,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), who represents parts of Houston, said last month. “We need to make sure that we iron out any difficulties, any obstacles, any barriers, any issues now, so that we don’t end up in a situation much like we were in with the November ballots.”

Louis DeJoy’s tenure at the helm of the USPS may not continue for much longer. In March, Biden nominated former US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to fill one of the USPS Board of Governors’ two vacancies. If confirmed by the US Senate, Walsh would be the sixth Democrat to sit on the nine-member board. And because DeJoy is accountable to the board rather than the president, the board could theoretically hold a vote to appoint a new postmaster general at any point.

Steve Hutkins, who runs the Save the Post Office website, told NBC that he hopes mail delays “won’t be a problem” in November as the USPS has in the past implemented special procedures to speed up mail delivery in previous elections. However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a fiasco in the event of a nail-biter election.

“If the election is really close and a couple of key states have mail ballot issues, it could be a nightmare,” he said.

Click here to read NBC’s report in full.

Editorial: Too many mail-in N.C. ballots unfairly rejected, fix it now

Steve HutkinsNews

WRAL News: Once someone has proven, through the registration process, they are qualified to vote in the United States and North Carolina casting a ballot should simple and efficient.

Ballots voters ballots cast before the polls close should be counted. This is simple, fair and common sense.

But simple, fair and common sense don’t seem to apply for people who vote in North Carolina or the state legislative leaders who make the rules.

During the March primary there were 776 voters who cast ballots by mail on or before Election Day that were received within three days after the election – the former grace period. This common-sense grace period accommodated the likely chance that the postal service might encounter some glitches in the “swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But due to no fault of the voters, their ballots were not counted. One mail-in absentee ballot received in Iredell County was post-marked Feb. 22, but failed to make it to the local Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. on March 5, the Election Day deadline since the legislature abolished the grace period last year.  It did arrive within the old grace period.

Is it fair to that diligent qualified voter, who cast a ballot on — or in fact well before – Election Day to have it trashed through no fault of their own?

How significant might 776 votes cast out of 1.8 million – a seemingly miniscule four-hundredths of one percent (0.04%)? Ask Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Michael Wray lost his primary by a mere 34 votes.  It wouldn’t take many of those 776 votes to have made a difference in that race….

Voters who do their part should not be punished, nor their participation denied, because of factors out of their control. It is a nonsensical law failing to recognize, nor seek in some way to compensate for, the fact that voter cannot determine how fast their ballot will move through the postal service to the board of elections.

Read more: Editorial: Too many mail-in N.C. ballots unfairly rejected, fix it now

Major mail delivery delays raise concerns about voting in the 2024 elections

Steve HutkinsNews

NBC News: In Virginia, hundreds of veterans had their colon cancer screening tests invalidated after the results took months to arrive by mail. An Atlanta college student missed an academic trip to Ghana when their passport with two-day shipping took a month to show up. A bride in Texas had to rent a dress for her wedding after hers spent weeks stuck in a Houston postal facility.

Across the country, residents and businesses have been reporting widespread slowdowns in mail and package delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. The delays have become so persistent that members of Congress have gotten involved, urging the Postal Service to drastically correct course and raising concern about what impact the disruptions could have on mail-in ballots in the upcoming election.

The delays appear to largely stem from a new system the Postal Service began rolling out last fall that will eventually funnel all the nation’s letters and packages through a consolidated network of 60 regional distribution centers — similar to the airlines’ hub-and-spoke model. The change is part of a wider $40 billion, 10-year overhaul of the network that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said will reduce costs, improve reliability and make the Postal Service more competitive. But in some instances, the plan has done the opposite, according to the Office of the Inspector General for the Postal Service, members of Congress and Postal Service advocacy groups.

“It’s just a dumpster fire right now,” said Leo Raymond, a former Postal Service manager and managing director of Mailers Hub, an industry group for direct mail companies. He said his members have had everything from customer bills to strategically timed marketing material caught up in the delays. “If you’re a business, you’re going to be discouraged from using the mail because you want your stuff to actually get there.”


In Atlanta, residents have experienced similar delays since a new regional distribution center opened there in late February. After the facility opened, on-time delivery service in the region went from 60%-70%, which was already below average, to as low as 20%, according to Raymond. Local news organizations reported on hundreds of complaints from residents and long lines of trucks backed up at the facility waiting to drop off and pick up mail.

“Atlanta has been a complete house on fire,” said Raymond.


In prior elections, the Postal Service has used special procedures to ensure mail-in ballots are promptly delivered. But any disruptions near the election, even relatively isolated ones, could have wide-ranging implications.

“Hopefully this won’t turn into a problem,” said Steve Hutkins, who runs the website Save the Post Office. “But if the election is really close and a couple of key states have mail ballot issues, it could be a nightmare.”

Read more: Major mail delivery delays raise concerns about voting in the 2024 elections

Massive USPS mail disruptions descend on Atlanta

Steve HutkinsNews

The Atlanta metropolitan area replaced beleaguered Houston as an epicenter of infuriating and unexplained mail disruptions in mid-March, when a breakdown in mail processing at one of the United States Postal Service’s huge sorting and delivery centers left consumers bewildered, politicians fulminating and tractor-trailer drivers waiting as long as eight and a half hours to drop off their time-sensitive cargoes.

“Another surreal day here at the USPS distribution center here in Palmetto where the line to load and unload stretches over the horizon!” reporter Joshua Skinner of Atlanta television station WANF exclaimed to viewers on March 14, describing a serpentine line of idling trucks and fuming drivers outside the USPS facility in the Atlanta suburb. Inside, Postal Service employees said, mountains of mail were marooned.

“Packages are just sitting in there, piled up everywhere,” Emi Collymore, a USPS worker, told Atlanta’s FOX 5 in a March 15 on-camera interview. “Everywhere you look, you’ll see packages.”

Read more: Massive USPS mail disruptions descend on Atlanta