Postal Updates

PMG DeJoy grilled by U.S. senators over delivery delays

Apr 25, 2024, 2 PM
On April 16, United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faced intense questioning from senators of both major political parties over significant delivery delays in major cities across the country.

By Allen Abel, Washington Correspondent

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was intensely questioned by senators from both parties on April 16, with members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs giving him “weeks, not months” to remediate delivery delays in Atlanta, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Houston, Texas; and other major cities.

Leading the rhetorical charge in a hearing room of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., was Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., whose state’s selection as a logistical testing ground for DeJoy’s Delivering for America plan has been a well-documented disaster.

What was intended to be a seamless consolidation of a dozen separate sorting facilities into one megalith in the Atlanta suburb of Palmetto has instead resulted in mile-long lineups of trucks, a precipitous decline in on-time deliveries of first-class and package mail, and having Ossoff, a freshman senator, on the warpath.

“Let me be clear,” Ossoff said. “I think postal workers are out there every single day working their hearts out to deliver the mail on time. But if they don’t have the infrastructure and the management competence over them to make a transition like this without drastically impairing the core function of the Postal Service, everyone in my state is losing. The amount of distress this is causing my constituents is massive.”

“Are mail and packages being delivered on time in Georgia today?” Ossoff demanded of DeJoy.

“No, sir,” the postmaster general replied.

“Why not?” Ossoff said.

“We have had significant issues in terms of transitioning from 11 plants in the Atlanta area into three,” DeJoy explained. “The Georgia area has been one of our worst-served areas over the last 10 years, mostly because we had 10 to 12 different locations around the Atlanta area.”

“The team is working, working very hard, and I can assure you that in the long run that you will have probably the best service in the country,” DeJoy said.

“The long run is too long,” Ossoff replied. “You’ve got weeks, not months to fix this. And if you don’t fix it, 36 percent on-time delivery, I don’t think you’re fit for this job.”

At the hearing, other committee members voiced commensurate displeasure.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the well-known deficit hawk, said that at a previous inquiry, “Mr. DeJoy predicted a bright future. I argued that giving more money to the Postal Service was equivalent to burning money, but this might be a false equivalence because at least when we burn money it provides warmth.”

None of the senators in attendance made any mention of the Postal Service’s intention to raise the price of a first-class forever stamp from 68¢ to 73¢ in July.

Also at the witness table were Roman Martinez IV, chairman of the USPS board of governors; Michael Kubayanda, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission; and USPS Inspector General Tammy Hull. But all the prosecutorial wrath was directed at DeJoy.

The impolitic hectoring reached its comedic nadir when Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., demanded that DeJoy give her a yes-or-no answer to the question of whether he knows how many days in an average year the Donner Pass on Interstate Highway 80 in California is closed to traffic due to blizzards, ice storms, wildfires, deluges and other acts of God.

(Sen. Rosen was objecting to a proposed repositioning of USPS sorting facilities from Reno, Nev., to Sacramento, Calif., which she charged will require that even a simple birthday card to grandma on the other side of Reno, the self-declared Biggest Little City in the World, make a 260-mile round trip across the mountains.)

“Why would I know that?” DeJoy said. He then commented that he accepted that 10 percent of Nevadans might experience slower delivery times in the future.

In his defense, DeJoy apologized for the deteriorating service, but insisted that “if we don’t make these changes,” situations such as the Atlanta meltdown “will be every day everywhere around the nation.”

“It’s a good plan. It’s a simple plan,” DeJoy told committee chairman Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., in reference to the Delivering for America plan.

“I’m not against change, change is good,” Peters said. “But if you’re starting to see this kind of impact, is it time to pause a little bit?”

“I’ve taken my foot on and off the pedal,” the postmaster general stated. “I’m very sensitive and have stopped other initiatives.”

DeJoy then revealed that he intended to forestall several planned consolidations until after the November election.

“We’re not doing this with the intent to destroy service,” DeJoy said. “Richmond and Atlanta will be the finest-running parts of the organization very shortly.”

“Go look at the overall strategy before we started,” he asked of the assembled legislators. “No strategy existed!”

“It’s not that complex — it’s simple,” DeJoy said. “Load these trucks!”

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