USPS faces bipartisan pushback as it ramps up consolidation efforts

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

Government Executive: The U.S. Postal Service is facing intensifying pressure as it prepares to significantly scale up its efforts to consolidate mail sorting into fewer facilities, with lawmakers in both parties and employees warning of the unintended consequences of the plan.

A Republican lawmaker, Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., recently questioned the consolidation plan’s impact on his district, saying it lacked transparency and would have negative impacts on mailers. His letter followed one last month from Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., who said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was “sadly mistaken” if he thought he could “mess with post offices” in his Hudson Valley district.

The congressional pushback marks the latest resistance USPS has encountered and portends that more questions from lawmakers are likely as more constituencies are impacted. Employees in some areas have staged protests of the reforms, saying it would force relocations and have other unintended consequences. The Postal Regulatory Commission in June rejected USPS management’s bid to block the watchdog from leveling additional scrutiny aimed at the network changes, saying the overhaul could have dramatic impacts on “every aspect of the postal environment” and therefore required review.

The changes, which USPS has slowly rolled out in recent months and will accelerate later this year and in early 2024, will mean letter carriers no longer go to their local facility to pick up mail for their route, instead traveling farther distances after starting at a consolidated location. The impacted post offices will still conduct their retail operations, but a lot of the back-end functions will be stripped away and relocated.

“This one-size-fits-all proposal originating from your ‘Delivering for America’ plan is likely to negatively impact the constituents I represent with a decline in the quality of service,” Huizenga said in his letter. He added the changes would cause the workforce to be “stretched thin,” customers to wait longer for medical bills and financial documents and traffic to increase at the new center, while also requesting additional data on USPS’ decision making.

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