USPS to give weekly on-time mail delivery data to oversight committees

USPS officials pledged to provide these metrics the same day the House Oversight and Reform Committee warned it would file a subpoena for some of the documents ...

The Postal Service will give House and Senate oversight committees a weekly update on delivery and performance metrics through the end of the year.

USPS officials pledged to provide these metrics the same day the House Oversight and Reform Committee warned it would file a subpoena for some of the documents the agency has yet to produce.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, in a letter to the top members of the House committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said his staff would provide lawmakers with performance data at the district, area and national levels dating back to January and continuing weekly through the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, USPS has seen on-time delivery rates improve while the agency continues to focus on consistently running its trucks on time.

While the Postal Service has seen some declines in on-time mail delivery over the past two months, DeJoy said other factors, including workforce shortages during the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters and other “unforeseen events,” have contributed to mail delays.

“As I testified, the intervening mail service declines should not have happened, but the changes are fundamental and necessary, and the Postal Service is strongly committed to fixing the problems by identifying and rectifying their root causes,” he said.

USPS data shows that performance metrics showed a slight improvement for the week of Aug. 22, with more than 85% of first-class mail delivered on time. However, the on-time delivery of first-class mail remains 4%-5% below this year’s baseline.

Read more: Agency Oversight news

Marketing mail has seen a faster recovery and has returned to delivery standards typical throughout the calendar year.

Agency data released by the committee showed an 8% decrease in on-time first-class mail delivery in mid-August, as well as similar declines for marketing mail and periodicals.

In a section of the letter titled, “Accountability rests with me,” DeJoy also smoothed over some of the more contentious moments of last week’s hearing, in which he and members of the committee butted heads over management changes made before and during his tenure at USPS.

“I am ultimately accountable for the decisions I have made as Postmaster General and will provide the data necessary for members of the committees to assess ongoing performance improvements,” he wrote.

During the nearly six-hour hearing, DeJoy defended his plans to keep USPS trucks running between mail processing facilities and post offices on-time, but pushed back on questions about the specifics of frontline operations.

“I’m not the COO, I’m the CEO of the organization,” DeJoy said last week.

DeJoy told several members that the decision to remove mail-sorting equipment at postal facilities predated his time in office, but he also rejected requests to turn on mail processing plants that had been recently decommissioned.

“You’re being selective in what you’re taking credit for or not,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said during last week’s hearing.

Read more: Congressional news

While USPS agreed to weekly data releases for lawmakers, committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said Monday she intended to issue a subpoena requiring DeJoy to turn over documents related to postal operations and mail delays since he took office in mid-June.

The scope of these documents ranges from the number of trips taken to deliver the mail, to the handing of election mail, to DeJoy’s vetting by the USPS Board of Governors.

“If there are any questions about whether you are legally authorized to produce these documents, please let the committee know, and we will issue a subpoena to resolve these doubts and compel their production,” Maloney said.

In a press release, however, USPS officials said they were “frankly surprised and confused” with the subpoena, adding the agency has been working with committee staffing on producing additional information. The agency, they added, had also arranged a briefing for committee members for its most recent data release.

“We will continue to cooperate with the oversight committees in both the House and Senate, and we fully intend to comply with our obligations under the law,” USPS said in the statement.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service last Friday filed an objection to a request for the Postal Regulatory Commission to release weekly on-time reports since DeJoy became postmaster general.

USPS Chief Counsel for Global Business and Service Development Anthony Alverno argued that the agency submits this data to the PRC on an annual and quarterly basis, and that the commission’s regulations “do not compel more frequent reporting.”

Read more: USPS news

“Adhering to all these well-established timetables allows the Postal Service to properly review and finalize all its data and ensure its accuracy before the Postal Service files these data with the Commission,” Alverno said.

Steve Hutkins, a retired New York University professor and administrator of the blog “Save the Post Office, “filed the request for data with the PRC.

In a tweet, Hutkins said would ordinarily agree with the Postal Service’s objection made on procedural grounds, “but in normal times I’d never have filed the request.”

Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) defended the committee’s subpoena Monday, saying DeJoy’s testimony last week left the committee with “more questions than answers.”

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