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