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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Wants Postal Service to Reverse Changes that Lengthen First-Class Delivery and Return Night Time Delivery Risks to Letter Carriers

Oct 15, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released a letter Norton sent to United States Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe that asks him to reconsider the consolidation of more than 80 mail-processing centers in January 2015 that will delay First-Class and other mail delivery, without public input.  A recent USPS Inspector General report said the decision to consolidate several mail-processing centers across the United States should have included comment from the public, as required by law, but USPS moved forward without notice to the public.  Norton said, “Cutting services that customers have become accustomed to will not only lead to customer dissatisfaction, but it has the potential of affecting USPS revenue.”

In July, a USPS Inspector General report ranked the District of Columbia as the worst in the nation for late mail delivery, with more than two-thirds of residents and businesses receiving mail after 5 p.m.  Norton has written previously regarding the need to eliminate late deliveries in the District and nationally, following the killing of Tyson Barnette, a USPS letter carrier killed while delivering mail at night in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  USPS itself has set a goal of having 95 percent of its city carriers complete mail deliveries before 5 p.m. 

USPS also failed to conduct any feasibility studies to determine the impact of the consolidations on the 95 mail facilities that will be taking over the operations of the consolidated mail-processing centers or on consumers.  Besides increases in mail delivery times for First-Class mail, Norton cited new risks to letter carriers who will be delivering mail after dark and delays of medications and vote-by-mail ballots. 

Norton’s letter follows:



October 15, 2014

 

Patrick R. Donahoe

Postmaster General

United States Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza SW

Washington, DC 20260

 

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,

 

I am concerned about the impact of the United States Postal Service (USPS) decision to consolidate over 80 mail-processing centers in January 2015.  According to last week’s USPS inspector general report, the decision to consolidate several mail-processing centers across the United States should have included input from the public.  However, the report indicated that not only did USPS decide to consolidate these centers without notice to the public, as required by law, but the agency failed to conduct any feasibility studies to determine the impact of consolidation on the 95 mail facilities that will be taking over the operations of the consolidated mail-processing centers or on consumers.  Despite these issues, USPS has decided not to postpone the consolidation to do an impact study or inform the public of potential changes even though it has the ability to do so.

The consolidations will cause harm to the quality of USPS services and USPS workers.  As a result of the consolidations, there will be an increase in mail delivery times for First-Class Mail, with some areas of the country experiencing even higher increases than other parts of the country.  In addition, overnight delivery of some First-Class Mail will no longer be an option, but will be shifted to two-day delivery, and two-day delivery will be pushed to three-day delivery.  Customers will also be faced with delays in all types of mail, including medications and vote-by-mail ballots.  Cutting services that customers have become accustomed to will not only lead to dissatisfaction but has the potential of affecting USPS revenue. 

USPS letter carriers will also suffer from the consequences of the consolidations.  Letter carriers will, once again, be faced with the inherent risks of delivering mail after dark, and customers may receive their mail at night.  In July, a USPS inspector general report ranked the District of Columbia as the worst in the nation for late mail delivery, with more than two-thirds of residents and businesses receiving mail after 5 p.m.  I have written previously regarding the need to eliminate late deliveries not only in the District but in the nation following the killing of Tyson Barnette, a USPS letter carrier killed while delivering mail at night in Prince George’s County,

Maryland.  USPS itself has set a goal that 95 percent of its city carriers complete mail deliveries before 5 p.m.  It is estimated that eliminating late mail delivery can save USPS approximately $4.5 million per year. 

However, as a senior member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I am aware that the Congress is deeply implicated in changes the USPS believes must be made.  Many of my colleagues on the committee and subcommittee of jurisdiction continue to work to reduce the requirement that the postal service pre-pay retiree health benefits.

While the consolidations are expected to save USPS approximately $750 million per year, the costs to USPS customers and workers must be considered.  I urge USPS to reconsider the decision to move forward with the consolidations of mail-processing centers in January 2015, maintain the current standard for First-Class mail, seek public input before potential changes to USPS services, and conduct feasibility studies before making another decision to consolidate.  

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  I ask that you give full and fair consideration to this request, consistent with applicable law, rules, and regulations.  I request a response within 30 days.

                                               

Sincerely,

  

Eleanor Holmes Norton