Saying the United States Postal Service needs to cut costs and invest in growth, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday unveiled a strategic plan to overhaul the public mail service and set it on a path to breaking even over the next 10 years.
The “Delivering for America” plan would take numerous steps to alter mail delivery — including raising rates, slowing the delivery of first-class mail and cutting hours at post offices around the country — while eliminating a projected $160 billion deficit at USPS over a decade. DeJoy said that if all of his proposals were carried out immediately, the USPS would be in the black within just three years.
On the investment side, the plan calls for new processing equipment, energy-efficient trucks, more extensive training, new uniforms and more sophisticated technologies for use by mail carriers. At the same time, expectations for delivery of first-class mail would be pushed from the current three-day standard to five days, though the majority of mail would still be delivered within three days.
Some of the proposed changes would require assistance from Congress. Perhaps most significantly, DeJoy wants lawmakers to end the mandate for the USPS to pre-fund its retiree health care program, which costs the mail service nearly $5 billion per year.
Critics react: Appointed by former President Donald Trump, DeJoy has been accused by some Democrats of intentionally slowing the mail in the run-up to the election last fall, and some lawmakers have called for him to be removed. Whatever the cause, complaints about delays in mail deliveries have persisted, and critics of DeJoy’s proposal expressed concerns about any further cuts to service.
House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) rejected the “unacceptable decision to make permanent slower mail delivery,” while Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) called it “a draconian plan that guarantees the death spiral of the United States Postal Service.”
The American Postal Workers Union also expressed concerns about the plan. “At a time that the public is demanding faster delivery of mail and packages, proposals that would slow the mail and reduce retail services — such as changing service standards, plant consolidations and reducing operating hours at post offices — will only have a negative effect on postal workers and the public,” the labor organization said in a statement.
The bottom line: It will be hard to separate the proposal from the politics, but some parts of the plan could become reality as the mail service seeks to modernize and reduce losses. “The government has told us to break even, to be self-sustaining,” Ron Bloom, a Trump appointee who chairs the Postal Service’s board of governors, told The Wall Street Journal. “They’ve also told us that the only place you get money is from the sale of your product. The only way that circle squares is if we can charge a little more for our product.”