USPS Changes Will Slow Your Mail Delivery, Lawmakers Warn
Officials from both parties are pushing back against Louis DeJoy's plans.
The mail system as we know it is in the process of some serious upheaval. There's a good reason for that: The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in the midst of a decade-long transformation as part of its Delivering for America (DFA) plan, which kickstarted in 2021 as an attempt for the agency to regain financial sustainability. You've almost certainly noticed some of the changes that have already been made, like the regular increases in mail and shipping prices. But now, lawmakers are raising concerns about some of the adjustments the Postal Service has in store. Read on to find out why politicians are worried your mail delivery could soon be slower.
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The USPS is working on consolidating its mail sorting network.
A major part of the Postal Service's DFA plan is the modernization of its delivery and processing network. The agency is working on consolidating its delivery operations into "larger, centrally located" Sorting and Delivery centers (S&DCs), and its processing network into new "purpose-built or purpose-redesigned" Regional Processing and Distribution Centers (RPDCs).
In an April 27 press release, the USPS revealed that it had opened its first S&DC in Athens, Georgia, last fall, and several more in Feb. 2023 in Gainesville, Florida; Panama City, Florida; Woburn, Massachusetts; Utica, New York; and Bryan, Texas.
"We are currently evaluating more than 100 new S&DC locations nationwide," the agency added.
The Postal Service said at the time that design for 11 new RPDCs was already underway, with four of the centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, and Richmond intended to open this year.
"In the coming years, we expect to open about 60 RPDCs across the country," the agency stated in its release.
But lawmakers from both sides are pushing back against these changes.
The Postal Service's consolidation changes aren't going over well with everyone. In fact, the USPS is actually facing bipartisan pushback as it tries to ramp up its reforms, Government Executive reports.
It began earlier this summer. Democratic Congressman Pat Ryan sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on June 16 to express his "deep concern" with the agency's proposal to consolidate mail sorting centers in his New York community of Hudson Valley with the introduction of a new S&DC in Newburgh.
"If Postmaster General Louis DeJoy thinks he can mess with the post offices in the Hudson Valley, he is sadly mistaken," Ryan said in an accompanying press release.
More recently, on July 26, Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga sent his own letter to DeJoy to express his concerns over the agency's plans to open an S&DC near his Kalamazoo, Michigan, community.
"This one-size-fits-all proposal originating from your 'Delivering for America' plan is likely to negatively impact the constituents I represent with a decline in quality of service," Huizenga wrote.
They say it will slow down mail delivery.
Lawmakers are worried that the Postal Service's modernization efforts will bring about unintended consequences for customers. As Government Executive explained, these consolidation changes will make it so that letters carriers no longer go to their local facility to pick up mail for their route, but instead go to the consolidated center.
"Mail carriers from my district are also particularly concerned about the delays to service, added hours in commute time, and the destabilizing effects this plan will have," Ryan wrote in his letter to DeJoy.
The congressman called the plan to bring S&DCs to the Hudson Valley "ill-conceived," explaining that some carriers would be required to start their day with a longer journey by crossing a bridge over the Hudson River just to collect mail from the center.
Huizenga also told DeJoy that the consolidation plans threaten to "disrupt the current standard of delivery" that customers experience in Southwest Michigan, because mail carriers would be diverted to the one S&DC before proceeding on their route.
"As a result, the workforce would be stretched thin, having to travel much farther to reach the communities they serve," the congressman wrote. "Residents in these areas, including the many older households, rely on prompt mail delivery for time-sensitive materials like medical bills and financial documents."
But the USPS says the changes will only benefit customers.
Huizenga requested more data from the USPS on how its consolidation efforts are expected to affect his area, while Ryan has asked DeJoy to reconsider and reverse his plans in the Hudson Valley. Over the next few months, the Postal Service is planning to hold public meetings to get feedback from communities that will be affected by the new consolidated postal centers, Government Executive reported.
But in his keynote address at the 2023 National Postal Forum, DeJoy said that the redesign of the USPS network is one of the most important parts of the agency's 10-year overhaul.
"The biggest initiative, and one that will address a condition that has driven high costs and restricted performance, is the redesign of our national processing network and the operating practices we deploy to use it," he said. "We must now execute rapidly on our plans to deploy our network. This is the only way to achieve the service and cost improvements necessary for us to fulfill our mission to rescue this organization."
The Postmaster General also indicated that the new S&DCs and RPDCs will only improve the agency's operations, and benefit customers.
"Once completed, this new network will be able to accept mail and packages at specified cutoff times and reach millions of delivery points the next day, taking the Postal Service from the leader in the last mile to the leader in the last 150 miles," DeJoy said. "I believe we can become the preferred delivery provider in the nation, reclaiming volume we have lost over the years and capturing a significant portion of the future growth in the marketplace."