By Congressman Kweisi Mfume
Last week, I brought the Government Operations Subcommittee of U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee to Baltimore for a hearing on postal service delays. I extend my thanks to Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly and the entire Oversight Committee for working with me to bring this hearing to Maryland’s 7th District.
In addition, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the hardworking women and men of the United States Postal Service who are not to blame for the failures with our national delivery system. Our postal workforce has been held back by poor management at the highest level of the Postal Service for nearly two years. United States Postal Service employees and the people of the Baltimore region deserve better than what the current leadership provides.
The fact of the matter is operational changes implemented by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee, coincided with measurable mail delays we began to see across the country soon after DeJoy rose to power. DeJoy has acknowledged that the changes in operations have had “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels.” These slowdowns have delayed delivery times for critical items such as election ballots in some instances, Social Security payments, prescriptions, unemployment benefits, veterans’ benefits, and more.
In Baltimore, we have experienced some of the biggest performance drops in the country. That is why I wanted to bring the Congressional Hearing to our City and my District.
In May of 2021, I requested a USPS Inspector General audit of Baltimore postal operations because of the complaints my Office had to resolve related to delayed mail – a link to my letter is found here. The Inspector General conducted its audit over approximately six months and made its results public on November 4, 2021 – the audit results can be found here.
Some of the findings include: management lacked a robust hiring and training pipeline to fill gaps in capacity; and missing and inaccurate data made it difficult to understand where those gaps existed. For example, the audit discovered that management inaccurately reported delayed mail in their data management system between June 22 and June 24, 2021, indicating management’s inability to acknowledge a problem we all knew existed. Specifically, the Inspector General identified 972,457 delayed mail pieces during that period but only 200,817 (about 20.7%) were recorded by management. The audit further disclosed that Postal Service managers failed to remove carriers from employment rosters after they separated from the Postal Service – preventing the hiring of new employees and creating a self-imposed shortage of staff.
The Inspector General, based on its own initiative, also conducted an audit of downtown Baltimore Processing and Distribution Center to identify other issues that might impact on-time mail delivery in the region. In addition to the staffing mismanagement, the audit found the tray management system at the critical processing facility was broken for over two years. This is the system used to move a region full of mail between floors and throughout the distribution center – the mail pieces number in the hundreds-of-thousands. Without the automated tray management system, the work designed to be done by machine had to be done manually by employees. This obviously led to significant delays and undue burdens on the workforce.
Also, the Inspector General determined that mail was often brought to outbound transportation docks after scheduled truck departures. Again, an ultimately baffling management inefficiency which came as a direct order from Postmaster General DeJoy.
Lastly, DeJoy formulated a “10-Year Plan” which expressly states a desire to intentionally slow mail service while simultaneously increasing postal rates. I introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that calls for a halt to the Postmaster’s destructive “10-Year Plan.” The text of the resolution can be found here.
My aim is to ensure timely, reliable, and efficient delivery of the mail to all. That is why I wrote a letter to President Biden asking for the dismissal of former USPS Board of Governors Chair Ron Bloom, who used his position to empower and enable Postmaster General DeJoy. Following my letter, Mr. Bloom is gone. Mr. DeJoy is next.
Postal employees and constituents deserve better than what they receive under the current USPS leadership. As I first said in the summer of 2020 and have consistently put on the record in Congress thereafter: Mr. DeJoy, do us all a favor and submit your letter of resignation. Without you at the helm, our country can return to a standard of service that both my constituents and all Americans can rely on.
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