The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has ordered a public review of various aspects of the U.S. Postal Service’s ten-year overhaul plan, including consolidation of sorting and delivery operations into regional centers, opening up a period of public input on the impact of the changes.
The review is being called for based on feedback from unnamed “stakeholders” concerned about the impact of the plan on postal operations and costs, and the need for more of a forum to address different components. In particular, concerns were raised in an April report to the PRC about costs and processing changes for so-called “flats” or large envelope mailers at new regional sortation and delivery centers. The first one opened in Athens, GA in November.
The PRC said the public review is not intended as way for it to offer an advisory opinion on the overall Delivering for America plan. However, it will be “beneficial to the interest of transparency to provide a forum to learn more about these strategic plan initiatives that may have a significant impact on the postal community,” the PRC wrote in its order.
As part of its review, the PRC will issue information requests to the USPS about proposed network changes as part of the overhaul plan, and interested parties can submit questions as well.
Delivering for America calls for major network consolidation, technology investments and other changes aimed at growing revenue and improving performance. It has lofty goals: creating $44 billion in new revenue while eliminating $35 billion in costs by 2031. One benchmark calls for achieving an average on-time delivery rate of 95% by the time the plan is fully implemented. As of April 21, the USPS reported an on-time rate of 91.5% for First-Class Mail, 95.8% for marketing mail and 87.8% for periodicals.
The plan has come under fire for raising postal rates while consolidating operations, including closing many local stations and slowing services last year. Some members of Congress are responding to service complaints in parts of the country.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is pushing hard for his reform agenda, continues to be a lightning rod for criticism from progressives and the target of lawsuits and federal investigations. At the same time, he has won grudging respect for helping shepherd a major bipartisan postal reform act through Congress last year.
Leaders of postal unions have come onboard with the Delivering for America plan, which calls for converting more than 100,000 part-time positions to full-time ones over its term.