Watchdog asks postal regulator to seek USPS data on mail delays
Steve Hutkins on Mail Delays. At the end of this post, Steve issues a call to action. Perhaps, You may be able to help?
Today I (Steve) filed a motion with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) asking it to ask the Postal Service to provide on-time delivery reports for the past several weeks. These reports would offer more transparency into postal operations and show just how much the mail has been slowing down since the Postmaster General implemented his transformation initiative.
The service performance reports show the percentage of the mail that met the Postal Service’s service standards, i.e., the expectations for how long it will take for each type of mail to be delivered. For First Class mail, the standard is 2 to 5 days; for third-class mail (Marketing Mail), the standard is 3 to 10 days. Generally speaking, about 85 to 95 percent of the mail meets these standards. The mail that fails to meet the standards is, by definition, delayed mail.
Due to changes at the Postal Service earlier this summer, on-time scores have declined significantly, as illustrated in this graph included in a USPS presentation to representatives of the mailing industry in August. On average, starting in July, on-time performance on First Class mail, for which the target is 96 percent, fell to about 79 recent. In some districts, scores fell to around 70 percent. (You can find more of these charts here and here. And a couple of days after this post was first published, even more charts were released; the official version on the House Oversight Committee’s website omits the Priority chart, perhaps because it’s considered more confidential.)
The service performance reports on which this chart is based contain scores for all the USPS districts in the country, so it’s possible to see where the most widespread delays are occurring. They also break down First Class mail into 2-day mail (local) and 3-5 day mail (regional and national). The reports also indicate how much mail was one day late, two days late, etc. In other words, they provide a fairly complete picture of mail delays.
The Postal Service has this kind of data at its fingertips on a daily, even hourly basis, but it shares it with the PRC only on a quarterly basis, as required by federal regulations. (The Postal Service posts a summary version of the quarterly reports on its website here; the more complete versions given to the PRC are here.)
The next quarterly report covers July 1 – Sept. 30, but it won’t be available until mid-November. If the Commission were to ask the Postal Service to provide the reports on a weekly basis going back a couple of months ago, we could see in what districts and to what extent the operational changes have impacted on-time performance. We could also see if, by putting a hold on more changes, the Postal Service is able to return to the level of performance it was achieving before the changes were initiated.
My motion may be opposed by the Postal Service for one reason or another, so it would be helpful if it got some support. If you would like to write a letter on behalf of the motion, it’s easy to contact the PRC and get some instructions about the best way to do that. If you’re an elected official or an election official, or if you’re a commercial mailer whose business is being impacted, or if you represent an organization that depends on prompt delivery of the mail, your letter may have some extra clout with the Commission as it considers whether to grant the motion.
The motion is here. To read more, see this previous post. To reach the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), call 202-789-6800 or go to its contact page. You can file a formal comment here; be sure to reference Docket No. ACR2019.
—Steve Hutkins, editor, savethepostoffice.com
(Photo: Richmond 6News)
Pay them off. They need 9 billion, Nancy sort of over funded at 25 billion. Nancy is asking them to act like Fed Ex, gear up once a year for prompt delivery of election material, as if it were like holiday sales for Fed Ex..
The cheaper effort is to just pay them the 8 billion and extend the election deadline by three days. You can get the money from the widows and orphans fund, it is Constitutionally required, there is no escape. There is no conspiracy theory. They will lose money because of scheduled delivers are inefficient in a word with computer logistics.
I mean, if you want to worry about Constitutional provisions, there are worst problems with the sacredness of government debt:
Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment states, at its outset, that “[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
One is a 9 billion/yr tax, the other is a 100 billion/yr seigniorage tax. The widows and orphans can afford the former, not the latter.
Two separate topics and almost three,
1. The House’s subsidy of $25 billion was to tide the USPS over through the end of the year due to loss of business caused by the pandemic. USPS is more than just delivering household mail, it also delivers commercial mail and product in their last mile of delivery service which FedEx, UPS, and Amazon will not touch. That source of business has lessened with the shutdown of businesses due to the Pandemic and similar to what happened to the great recession in 2007/8.
2. The USPS “had” the capacity to handle additional postal demand which now comes into question due to the loss of various automated sorting equipment which was scrapped as shown in another post. This is not akin to what commercial business does by going out and hiring extra labor for Christmas.
3. You might have had an argument if you discussed there are worst problems with the sacredness of government debt in relation to unnecessary corporate and individual income tax breaks. Come 2025 those breaks will sunset. Individual taxes will increase and corporate breaks will remain as the individual tax increases will balance out the corporate ones. A gift to big business. Widows, orphans, and the elderly will be pimped by Herr Trump.
They should also publish the aging of the delayed items. If there is a big spike on “+1 day” then it possibly is almost exclusively the “dispatch the trucks on schedule” phenomenon that has been described. If it is spread out across longer delays then other things must be going on.
It is often a good first step to reestablish the boundaries between the various subprocesses in your overall process. Paying the final delivery personnel routine overtime to overcome problems in the sorting process seems to be an approach that has been regularly used. That does not fix the sorting process really. This is going to be a hard problem I think because adding labor to the sorting process (via overtime for delivery personnel) would point to simply adding more people to sorting as a possible solution. But the unusual pension funding accounting that USPS has to use, adding people probably is quite painful.
Tough choices to make but probably some incentive to use a lower class of service is in order, possibly one or more new classes of service. Airlines invented premium economy and other schemes. They did it for revenue, but the concept might be used to move first class into a true premium product that then gets to very close to 100% fulfillment.
Section four of the 14th Amendment is why the Republicans should never be allowed to hold up government activity over the issue of raising the debt ceiling. Under that provision, there is no right to have a debt ceiling. I wish President Obama had paid no never mind to Lawrence Tribe about that. Our country would be quite different had he used his own expertise in Constitutional law.