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