DeJoy to revamp U.S. Postal Service mail plants
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has launched what may well be the most ambitious element in his 10-year Delivering for America plan for the United States Postal Service.
In a July 5 video to postal workers, he revealed the outlines of a new transportation plan that will consolidate the Postal Service’s current 435 mail-processing plants into at least 60 regional processing facilities.
That’s a major change from the way the USPS currently operates, often having multiple processing plants in many metropolitan areas.
The new plan is also an homage to “many existing facilities,” which the Eagle magazine, a quarterly USPS publication, describes as “relics of a bygone era when letter mail was dominant.”
With package mail becoming more important, DeJoy wants a new footprint for postal operations that will be parcel friendly.
The plan will also allow DeJoy a chance to exhibit his skills as a logistics expert, which helped him win his job as the agency’s chief executive officer more than two years ago.
“The new footprint of processing and delivery facilities will be completely transformed,” the Eagle said, which offered a few details of DeJoy’s plan.
Atlanta, Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C., are the first metropolitan areas where the transformation is scheduled to begin, according to the Eagle.
It said the changes will take years, describing the project as “reinvestment on a huge scale to establish a network of new facilities supporting redesigned processing, transportation and delivery networks.”
“The workflow between facilities will be logically sequenced and processes within facilities will be standardized to provide precise, efficient, repeatable and measurable operations,” the Eagle said.
Presumably, a number of postal buildings in each of the first three target areas will be closed and consolidated into regional facilities.
That could sharply reduce the transfer of mail between offices in the same metro region and save money, DeJoy said in the video.
Funds for the remodeling of postal buildings will come from $40 billion that the Delivering for America plan suggests spending on new and improved facilities.
The Association of Postal Commerce gave the plan a preliminary endorsement in its July 7 newsletter, saying it “will improve efficiency, which will create opportunities for costs savings.”
“Hard to find fault with any of that, though as always, the details will be important,” the association said.
It noted that the Postal Service’s overall productivity has remained flat in recent years because the mail’s composition has changed dramatically.
The association said that the Postal Service’s track record with a major capital investment — a multimillion-dollar sequencing system for large envelopes (called flats) — is finally being phased out.
“Fortunately the current postmaster general is not burdened by those past efforts,” the Association of Postal Commerce said. “He can rightly claim a new direction and, though details are currently lacking, the approach the PMG laid out for employees appears to be comprehensive and sound.”
DeJoy began laying out the first details of the new transportation and processing plan in the video to postal workers.
He stressed that one element of the revamping of postal facilities is to improve the work environment many postal workers face.
Postal officials have said the plan is not designed to reduce the postal workforce.
“This new environment will reduce stress, improve performance, lower costs and improve morale,” DeJoy said in a May 16 address at the National Postal Forum.
One surprising aspect of the plan is that its details have not been publicly debated by the Postal Service’s board of governors, nor have aspects of the plan been submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission for review.
The movement of mail-processing operations has been an issue that has irked many members of Congress because communities they represent lose their postmarks and often have their mail processed in other states.
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