Postal Updates

PMG DeJoy criticizes mailing industry, USPS in scathing letter

Apr 28, 2021, 10 AM
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy recently said the United States Postal Service is “incapable of providing the American people with consistent, predictable service.”

Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister

In a sharply critical critique of the mailing industry, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said the United States Postal Service is “incapable of providing the American people with consistent, predictable service.”

That statement came from the embattled postal chief as he sought to rebut arguments from commercial mailers that his 10-year plan to rescue the financially troubled federal agency is seriously flawed.

In a three-page letter dated April 19, DeJoy blamed mailers for tolerating the Postal Service’s flawed service “for well over a decade.”

He rejected their demands that he halt the 10-year plan and said the agency’s mail delivery problems this year only illustrate the severity of the Postal Service’s problems.

“For well over a decade, all parties have tolerated an unsustainable status quo, in which the Postal Service loses billions of dollars a year, lacks the means to adequately invest in its infrastructure, fails to achieve its service performance targets or operate with precision and defaults on its legal obligations,” he said.

While DeJoy acknowledged he has apologized for the slow mail service, he said the delays only “dramatically demonstrated our system was woefully unprepared to respond to the extreme conditions of the [COVID-19] pandemic.”

Although previous postmasters general have warned Congress that the agency’s business model is broken, none have publicly decried the Postal Service’s operations as pointedly as DeJoy did.

“ ... We must acknowledge that the root causes did not happen overnight, but instead are the product of the sustained and cumulative failure on the part of all postal stakeholders to engage and address our long-standing and well-known problems,” DeJoy said.

“It is time that we all stop accepting the current situation and get to the business of actually fixing things,” he said.

DeJoy’s letter was a response to an April 15 letter from 18 mail industry organizations.

In their letter to DeJoy, the organizations pleaded with him to suspend his Delivering for America plan.

Chief among their concerns was the Postal Service’s failure to issue the plan “without specific, direct, meaningful consultation with, or substantive input from, the customers who fund the postal service.”

The groups, which are among the country’s largest mailing organizations, said they account for 90 percent of the agency’s revenues.

Their letter offered support for some aspects of DeJoy’s plan.

“Easiest to agree upon” was shifting postal retirees to depending on Medicare as their primary insurance, the letter said.

But the mailers voiced concern that the plan depends on package growth to increase revenues, an idea that could be vexed by “the continued evolution of the package shipping marketplace” and more private shippers jumping into the competition.

They also complained the plan has a “troubling fixation on punitive price increases” that they claimed “would create havoc in the mail industry.”

The mailers said that the plan is “silent on reducing” labor costs, which typically account for 70 percent of the agency’s annual spending,

They also objected to changing service standards to add two days to mail deliveries that are now supposed to be made in three days, saying they could find no merit in the change.

Even so, the mailers said that “despite our concerns, we remain ready to participate in a collaborative approach to ensuring the survival of the Postal Service.”

While DeJoy flatly rejected their call to suspend his 10-year plan, he did welcome their ideas — up to a point.

“Deflection, deferral and delay have resulted in the situation that we find ourselves in today and will only result in the continued perpetuation and exacerbation of the Postal Service’s unsustainable status quo,” he said.

“Bluntly put, the problems facing the Postal Service are not going away and kicking them further down the road is not the solution,” he said. “It is time that we face our problems and deal with them.”

Packages are “a core component of our mission” DeJoy said, adding that letter mail remains a “vital part of our mission.”

“While some mail will be subject to slightly longer service standards, the truth is that we have not been able to meet the current standards for many years and we have no reasonable prospect of ever meeting them,” he said.

The exchange of letters was made public by the Association for Postal Commerce, which included them in its April 22 newsletter.

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