The Postal Service is reporting an uptick in on-time mail delivery, but still has yet to return to performance metrics the agency reported before the COVID-19 pandemic.
USPS this week reported delivering nearly 88% of first-class mail on time in May. That’s about a 10% increase in performance, compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2021, when it delivered about 78% of first-class mail on time.
The Postal Service, however, has yet to cross the 90% threshold for on-time delivery the agency routinely hit before the pandemic and in the early months of 2020.
On-time delivery of marketing mail has also increased to 90.6%, a 5.5% increase from the second quarter of FY 2021.
“While we are encouraged by the progress we have made on service performance so far this year, there is more work to be done to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers for service reliability,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. “The entire United States Postal Service is fully committed to addressing long-standing challenges head-on as we emerge from the pandemic.”
USPS, meanwhile, is telling Congress it expects to remain at or below these performance levels for the remainder of the fiscal year.
In its FY 2021 performance plan, updated last month, the agency told lawmakers it expects to finish the year delivering 88% of two-day first-class mail on time and deliver 69% three-day first-class mail on time.
The Postal Regulatory Commission, in its review of the Postal Service’s FY 2020 performance, found the Postal Service failed to meet annual performance goals for on-time delivery of mail and packages in 2020.
The PRC said the COVID-19 pandemic combined with a temporary surge in mail from the 2020 Census and election mail imposed significant challenges on the agency.
“The Commission acknowledges that the Postal Service faced unprecedented and unpredictable challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also recognizes that these impacts may continue into FY 2021 and beyond. As a result, the Commission recommends that the Postal Service develop a holistic strategy to lessen the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on service performance,” the PRC wrote.
USPS only met half of its benchmarks for providing a high level of customer service and fell short of its response rate goal for an agencywide survey.
While the PRC considers employee availability during the pandemic could have contributed to a lower response to the Postal Pulse survey, the American Postal Workers Union has also urged its members to avoid taking the survey.
APWU, in a message to employees in April, said management has a “history of trying to use survey results to limit and lower wages for postal workers.”
“The surveying of employees has been going on for years,” APWU Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman said in the online post. “Has it led to improvements at worksites? Has it led to better wages, hours, or working conditions? The answer is simply no. Management is still cutting staffing, they are still demanding postal workers work faster and harder with less resources.”
DOJ investigates DeJoy for campaign contributions
The leadership of USPS, meanwhile, is once again under scrutiny.
The Justice Department is investigating campaign contributions made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during his time in the private sector as a logistics executive.
Mark Corallo, an outside spokesman for DeJoy, confirmed the investigation, first reported by the Washington Post, but said a USPS inspector general report found no concerns in DeJoy’s financial disclosures and divestments.
“Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector. He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them,” Corallo said.
Corallo added that DeJoy is cooperating with the Justice Department, and has fielded questions from Congress on the issue.