Postal Updates

U.S. postmaster general’s plan for ‘pivot’ to cut USPS costs leaked

Jul 16, 2020, 3 PM
The message behind a recently leaked United States Postal Service presentation outlining plans to streamline costs is attributed to the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy.

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has signaled he is determined to cut the U.S. Postal Service’s costs, even if the changes hurt the agency’s service commitments, according to a presentation for USPS employees titled “Pivoting for Our Future.”

The presentation was leaked to the news media shortly after its July 10 date. Images of what appear to be pages from the presentation were posted July 11 on the Postal Times website.

In a “mandatory stand-up talk,” DeJoy called for “an operational pivot” that he said was “long overdue” for the financially troubled Postal Service.

A former transportation company executive and major Republican Party financier, DeJoy stressed in the leaked documents that cutting $200 million in excess transportation costs and overtime pay was his first priority.

“If the [mail-processing] plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day,” said one leaked document bearing the title “New PMG’s expectations and plans.”

Extra and late mail deliveries are no longer authorized, the document said.

Penalty overtime, which allows union members to get double pay for some work, will also be eliminated, according to the documents.

“Carriers must begin on time, leave for the street on time and return on time,” the new documents said.

“We may see mail left behind on the workroom floor or docks,” DeJoy’s message said, adding that his new rules would quickly end any delayed mail.

Word of his planned changes shocked some in the mailing industry because the USPS has long stressed its service commitments.

As Stephen Kearney, a former senior Postal Service officer and current head of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said in his newsletter, “A firmly held element of USPS culture is that you either emphasize budget or service, but you never succeed at both.”

Now a new postmaster general is siding with the budget emphasis and that worries some mailers.

The Washington Post, which was among the first to report the USPS presentation, noted that Art Sackler, a leader of a group called the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, was alarmed by the prospect of slower mail service, “especially in light of the fact that the Postal Service may get more rate authority, meaning higher rates, later this year or early next year.”

Michael Plunkett, chief executive of the Association for Postal Commerce, was more positive.

“From what I have seen,” he said, “this seems like a fairly standard effort to impose some operational discipline to better manage costs; something the Postal Service needs to do.

“I’m aware that some think this means abandonment of service commitments, but in reality the Postal Service — like any organization — has to be able to provide service while keeping costs under control; not one or the other,” he told Linn’s Stamp News in an email.

The Postal Service did not respond to accounts of the presentation but issued a statement acknowledging that the USPS was working on a new plan that would include “new and creative ways for us to fulfill our mission.”

According to the statement, the agency “will focus immediately on efficiency and items that we can control, including adherence to the effective operating plans that we have developed.”

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