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U.S. Senators Capito, Manchin call on USPS to pause planned changes to the mail delivery network

West Virginia Press Association

WASHINGTON, DC — On May 8, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined a bipartisan group of their Senate colleagues in a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy calling on the United States Postal Service (USPS) to pause planned changes to its processing and delivery network that could slow down mail delivery until the potential impacts are further studied by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) and addressed by the Postal Service.

In the letter, the senators expressed concern over the impacts these changes have already had on communities across the country, including Charleston, W.Va., and the potential impact to timely mail delivery that further changes could cause. The senators urged USPS to request a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the PRC that analyzes the full scope of the network changes including changes to local transportation and postal facilities across the nation before moving forward with any such changes.

This effort was led by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

“We call on USPS to pause all changes, pending a full study of this plan by its regulator. While USPS claims these changes overall will improve service while reducing costs, there is evidence to the contrary in locations where USPS has implemented changes so far,” the senators wrote. “USPS must stop implementation, restore service in those areas where changes were implemented, and fully understand the nationwide effects of its plan on service and communities.” 

“The Postal Service’s primary responsibility is to provide timely and reliable delivery to every community across the nation. While USPS must continue adapting as an agency to remain stable and serve the public’s current needs, it must proceed with caution and understand the implications of its plans in order to protect mail delivery for all communities,” the senators continued.  

The full letter can be found here or below:   

Dear Postmaster General DeJoy and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors: 

We call on you to pause planned changes to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) processing and delivery network under the “Delivering for America” plan, until you request and receive a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission to fully study the potential impacts of these changes.  

USPS is moving forward swiftly with plans to consolidate and alter its facilities across the country, making irrevocable changes to its processing and delivery network which links all communities. This plan includes moving mail processing further away from local communities, by transferring operations out of local facilities (“Local Processing Centers” and Delivery Units) and into more distant hubs (“Regional Processing and Distribution Centers” and “Sorting and Delivery Centers”). The plan also includes “local transportation optimization,” an initiative that cuts the number of truck trips and mail collections at USPS facilities, causing mail to sit overnight in local offices. USPS has begun to implement this change without notifying the public, causing critical delays for mail that requires overnight delivery. 

We are concerned about the impacts these changes have had so far, and the potential impacts that further changes could have. In regions where USPS has implemented significant changes, on-time mail delivery has declined. In addition, it is not clear these changes will improve efficiency or costs. Despite these concerns, USPS has moved forward with announcing and approving additional facility changes across the country. The nature of these changes creates concerns that local and rural service could be degraded. For example, USPS proposals to remove all outbound mail operations from local processing facilities seem to particularly harm local mail – since mail sent to a nearby locality would first have to go through a far-away processing facility, often in another state. “Local transportation optimization” has also caused disproportionate impacts on rural areas. In some rural communities, it has eliminated the possibility of overnight delivery for critical mail like medications and laboratory tests. Taken together, these changes have a nationwide scope and would affect service across the country. 

We call on USPS to pause all changes, pending a full study of this plan by its regulator. While USPS claims these changes overall will improve service while reducing costs, there is evidence to the contrary in locations where USPS has implemented changes so far. USPS must stop implementation, restore service in those areas where changes were implemented, and fully understand the nationwide effects of its plan on service and communities. 

In particular, we urge the Postal Service to request a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), which would provide a robust and public process to study the impacts of these changes. The request and analysis must include the full scope of network changes, including the intersecting changes to facilities across the nation (conversions to Regional Processing and Distribution Centers, Sorting and Delivery Centers, and Local Processing Centers) and local transportation optimization. During a hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Postmaster General DeJoy stated that USPS would consider requesting an Advisory Opinion – and suggested that USPS may slow down “mail move” changes in 2024. Disappointingly, the Postmaster General did not commit to the scope of an Advisory Opinion, or to meaningfully stopping changes until further study is complete. 

The Postal Service must promptly request a comprehensive Advisory Opinion to study the impacts of its full plan. USPS should pause all changes, including administrative approvals and on-the-ground changes, until the PRC completes this study and USPS incorporates the results. USPS must improve service immediately in areas where changes have been implemented, and restore status quo operations as much as practicable. 

The Postal Service’s primary responsibility is to provide timely and reliable delivery to every community across the nation. While USPS must continue adapting as an agency to remain stable and serve the public’s current needs, it must proceed with caution and understand the implications of its plans in order to protect mail delivery for all communities. 

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. 

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