Norton Receives USPS Response to Her Letter on Delayed & Undelivered Mail in All Eight D.C. Wards
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) received a response to her most recent letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) about delayed and undelivered mail in the District of Columbia. In her September 1, 2021, letter, Norton noted that all eight wards continue to contact her office about late and undelivered mail. USPS described several actions it is taking. Norton said she will continue monitoring USPS in D.C. for the effects of the promised improvements.
Norton’s letter and USPS response follow.
September 1, 2021
Postmaster, District of Columbia
United States Postal Service
Washington, DC 20260
Dear Postmaster Harper:
I write because residents of all eight wards of the District of Columbia continue to contact me about late and undelivered mail.
As you may know, I sent a letter to then-Acting D.C. Postmaster Eddie Masangcay in April about mail delivery problems in the District. He responded that the United States Postal Service was “seeking to hire additional employees… to deliver mail as expeditiously as possible given the circumstances.” Given that large numbers of residents continue to contact me about late and undelivered mail, I request that you provide an update on the hiring process as well as an update on what other measures you are taking to address mail delivery problems in the District.
I appreciate your attention to these matters and ask that you respond in writing by September 8, 2021.
September 8, 2021
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-5101
Dear Congresswoman Norton:
This responds to your September 1 letter concerning mail delivery service in Washington, D.C. I understand your concerns about inconsistent delivery in Washington, and we sincerely regret any frustration or inconvenience that your constituents may be experiencing as a result Please be assured that the U.S. Postal Service is doing everything within its power to provide timely and efficient delivery service.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased employee absences and reduced employee availability, which continue to impact our delivery operations. As you know, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides postal employees with up to 600 hours of Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) in response to the ongoing pandemic. Congress enacted the law with the understandable consequence that employee availability would be affected, particularly for federal agencies.
Under federal law and our collective bargaining agreements, positions held by those on leave are reserved for the eventual return of absent employees, and limits on the size of our workforce mean that the necessary work must be absorbed by the remaining employees. Periods of high employee absences impact operations as managers and supervisors work to balance available employee workhours with operational demands. This will continue until such time as employees return from leave.
In response to this situation, we are utilizing a host of measures to alleviate delays and provide more consistent service. They include loaning employees to impacted offices, authorizing high levels of overtime, and closely monitoring unscheduled absences. Available carriers in Washington have been working their non-scheduled day each week and have the option to work on Sundays. Additionally, we have been working diligently to fill vacant positions and to bolster our supplemental carrier staffing. Since the start of April, we added 87 City Carrier Assistants in Washington; however, retention of our supplemental workforce continues to be a challenge.
The Maryland District, of which Washington is a part continues to employ extensive recruitment strategies to reach prospective employees for local operations, including but not limited to: regular job postings, social media advertising, and, in the near future, the display of banners at Post Offices and the hosting of in-person, drive-through job fairs. It is our goal to increase employee availability through the return to duty of our existing employees and the augmentation of our complement through hiring.
Despite the present challenges, you can be assured that the management team of the Washington Post Office, which I lead, is committed to providing your constituents in the District with the best possible service each day. That commitment extends to our workforce, as our dedicated employees are working around the clock to alleviate delays and deliver mail as expeditiously as possible. We also seek to be responsive to the community. Just last evening, Eddie Masangcay, who acted in the Postmaster position for the last several months, joined me in a virtual meeting with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6E to discuss participants' mail delivery concerns. We will continue that responsiveness and maintain our strong focus on service.
If I can be of further assistance with other postal issues, please let me know.
Sherty L. Harper