The U.S. Postal Service’s new 10-year strategic plan, which will slow down mail delivery, was sharply criticized by the regulatory board overseeing the agency Tuesday, delivering a blow to controversial Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and validating Democratic critics–though it will not necessarily stop it from moving forward.
U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on … [+] February 24.
DeJoy and USPS leadership announced a new strategic plan in March, which proposed such controversial measures as cutting post office hours and extending service standards, which could result in as much as 30% of first-class mail now being delivered within five days instead of three days.
The plan has been opposed by 21 state attorneys general and Democratic lawmakers–who decried its measures as “draconian”–but USPS leadership has insisted the changes are necessary cost-cutting measures to ensure the agency’s long-term financial health.
In an advisory opinion released Tuesday, the independent Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) struck down that argument, saying the plan’s directive to change service standards will not result in “much improvement, if any, to the Postal Service’s current financial condition.”
The PRC said USPS also “has not demonstrated evidence” to show the plan won’t hurt customer satisfaction, and the agency is not sufficiently adapting its plan to address “the concerns or issues raised by its customers and stakeholders.”
The PRC’s guidance is non-binding, so USPS can still move forward with the plan despite the commission’s concerns.
USPS has not yet responded to a request for comment on the opinion.
“The Commission finds that the [Postal Service] relies upon assumptions that may not be well founded and it may be unable to achieve successful implementation where reliability and efficiency are required,” the PRC wrote in its opinion.
5 billion. That’s the estimated number of pieces of mail that would be slowed down by the plan’s changes to first-class service standards, the Washington Post calculated in March based on the cuts affecting 30% of first-class mail items.
USPS has not commented on whether it will alter the plan at all in light of the PRC’s concerns and those of Democratic lawmakers and attorneys general. The agency’s board of governors has added three new members appointed by President Joe Biden since the plan was publicly announced, who have suggested they could try to impose changes to the plan.
DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors chair Ron Bloom, a Democrat, have repeatedly defended the controversial 10-year plan, saying the cuts to service standards are justified in light of the agency’s financial issues. “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter? Because something has to change,” DeJoy said at a congressional hearing in February, before the plan was officially unveiled.
The controversy over the 10-year plan is the latest to befall DeJoy, a longtime GOP fundraiser and Trump ally who started as postmaster general in June 2020. DeJoy previously imposed other cost-cutting measures that spurred widespread mail delays across the country last summer, making the postmaster general a prime Democratic target and leading to accusations of the postmaster general intentionally slowing down mail ahead of the November election. (DeJoy repeatedly denied those allegations.) Those controversial changes were ultimately reversed after being struck down in multiple legal challenges, and the Postal Service’s service performance has more recently returned to its performance levels from before DeJoy took office after a year of delays.
What’s in Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan for the USPS (Washington Post)