At Subcommittee Hearing, Witnesses Emphasize Importance of Postal Service’s Preparedness for Holiday Season
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 16, 2022)—Today, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, held a hearing to examine the United States Postal Service’s performance during the holiday season. Topics included analyzing peak mail season preparation for the upcoming holidays, how changes to the Postal Service infrastructure will affect its delivery efficiency, and vital investments necessary to maintain a sustainable Postal Service.
“The Postal Service has a statutory obligation to deliver the mail to 163 million households across our country every day. Peak holiday season should be the time for the Postal Service to showcase its ability to deliver for this nation. Today we will ensure that the Postal Service is ready to meet the moment,” said Chairman Connolly in his opening statement.
“We were reminded just last week of the critical role the Postal Service plays as millions of Americans once again opted to vote by mail during the midterm elections. And in the coming weeks, activity at post offices and mail processing plants around the country will ramp up significantly with a wave of holiday mail and packages,” said Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney in her opening statement.
The Subcommittee heard testimony from Tammy Whitcomb Hull, Inspector General of the Postal Service; Gregory T. White, Executive Manager of Strategic Initiatives, United States Postal Service; Edmund A. Carley, National President of the United Postmasters and Managers of America; Paul V. Hogrogian, National President of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union; and Michael Plunkett, President and CEO of the Association for Postal Commerce.
Members and witnesses discussed the necessity of the Postal Service to be prepared for peak mail season and what the agency did to address its cyclical and historical struggles with delivery delays during the holidays.
- In her opening statement, Ms. Hull explained: “Last year, the Postal Service moved to a strategy of maintaining more employees and facility space year-round. This strategy, along with hiring temporary employees and leasing temporary facility space, allowed successful delivery of more mail on time throughout the holiday season. We just released this year’s report on the Postal Service’s readiness for the current peak season. It plans to hire fewer temporary employees and lease less temporary space than last year. Postal management said it will still be able to provide timely delivery because it has more experienced employees, higher employee availability, increased package processing capacity, and an overall more stable workforce.”
- Mr. Hogrogian explained: “To answer the Subcommittee’s question — yes, the Postal Service is ready for the holiday rush expected during the 2022 peak season. We have the people, we have the equipment, and we have the space available to get the job done.”
- In response to a question from Rep. Shontel Brown on the Postal Service’s preparedness for peak season, Mr. White said: “Over the last two years, we have converted 100,000 part time employees into full time employees. We have leased 8.5 million square feet of multiyear annexes, so not just specific to one or two months but something we can upfit over the course of the year to ensure that we are ready for the December month. And then our employee availability has improved. Supervisor vacancies have gone down. From a staffing standpoint we are ready. From a facilities standpoint we are ready.”
Members and witnesses also analyzed Postmaster DeJoy’s 10-year plan, and its effects on the Postal Service workforce and delivery ability.
- In response to a question from Rep. Brenda Lawrence on the effects of Postmaster DeJoy’s 10-year plan on Postal Service customers, Mr. Plunkett said: “PostCom does have members that use commercial First-Class and periodicals class in their businesses, and in both cases the reduction in service standards has reduced the quality of those products and reduced their value. In some cases, specifically with regard to bills and statement, some of our members operate in regulated industries where adding a day or two on to delivery times can create significant regulatory and compliance challenges. So, when the Postal Service sought their change in service standards, we filed comments with the Postal Regulatory Commission opposing those changes and were dismayed that the Postal Service chose to go forward with them despite a negative report from the Postal Regulatory Commission.”
- Inspector General Hull added: “We’re paying close attention to how the Postal Service implements the Delivering for America plan and we are looking at how service — if there are declines in service, how they might impact that. We also look at the financial impacts of the 10-year plan and likely we’ll be looking at volume impacts as well as we move forward.”
Members and witnesses examined the Postal Service’s plans to recruit and retain employees and lease additional facilities to assess the agency’s preparedness.
- Mr. Hogrogian stated: “Despite limitations on service standards and consolidation uncertainty, in surveys of the American public, the Postal Service remains one of the best, and the most trusted, federal agency… The Mail Handlers Union looks forward to our continued work together to promote a sustainable Postal Service not just for its customers, but also for its essential and dedicated workforce.”
- In his opening statement, Mr. Carley explained: “We take our mission seriously, but postmasters that are short staffed in many areas of the country are personally delivering mail on some routes in order to fulfill that mission. In some regions, advertised vacancies get no applicants for many posting cycles. Labor market challenges are not unique to the Postal Service, but the extra security measures involved in hiring federal employees does make the process more difficult…When you compound that with retirements and other separations from the service, it will not be as easy to achieve the stated service standards that we have.”