The U.S. Postal Service is in a terrible mess, partially because of the flood of unexpected business during the pandemic and staff shortages caused by the virus as well, but also worsened by its own decisions.

Less than a year after 91 percent of people told a Pew Research poll that they had favorable views of the agency, the service’s reputation is in tatters. Elected leaders, businesses and ordinary citizens are sharing nightmarish stories of lost or delayed packages, late holiday cards and missed bill payments.

The delivery is so bad, some people are resorting to tests to see for themselves the depth of the problem. An Adamstown woman, Chris Gregory, told News-Post reporter Steve Bohnel about her experiment.

She mailed two sets of cards on the same day in mid-January — one from her post office in Adamstown and one across the Potomac River in Leesburg – to family and friends in Reston, Woodsboro, and North Dakota.

Those in North Dakota and Reston got their cards within a week from the Leesburg location, but the mail still had not reached Woodsboro as of last week. As for the mail from Adamstown, no card had reached its destination as of late January, Gregory said.

It is a story that is being repeated again and again, here and around the country. More than a dozen people have called or emailed the News-Post detailing similar issues.

Christmas presents mailed in early December showed up in mid-January. Bill payments sent on time arriving weeks late, so that folks are being charged late-payment fees. It goes on and on.

The main problems were caused by the pandemic — an enormous increase in volume because folks shopped from home at the same time that many workers were falling ill with the virus. That really was beyond the control of the service.

But those issues were compounded by Louis DeJoy, a huge financial backer of ex-President Trump, appointed as Postmaster General last summer by the Republican-dominated USPS board of governors.

DeJoy immediately established new policies he asserted were needed to increase efficiency, including prohibiting delivery trucks from waiting for late mail or making extra trips, dismantling sorting machines, cutting overtime and reducing hours at retail post office locations. The changes created massive backlogs and rapidly diminished on-time delivery rates.

DeJoy said he wants to run the postal service more like a private business. If true, it is one of the worst-run businesses in history, driving away customers in droves.

The Washington Post reported this week that DeJoy is expected to soon “outline a new vision for the agency, one that includes more service cuts, higher and region-specific pricing, and lower delivery expectations.”

That really sounds like a winning combination. Not!

Democrats charge that DeJoy’s real mission has been to cripple the Postal Service, first to undermine mail-in voting in the November election, and in the long term to harm the service’s biggest customer, Amazon. The gigantic retailer is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, and as such became one of Trump’s worst enemies.

Whatever DeJoy’s true motivation, the damage done to the Postal Service has been immense and probably long lasting. People are changing their habits in ways that could be permanent. Many are using the internet to pay all of their bills, rather than mail checks. Birthday gifts are being sent by Venmo or other peer-to-peer services. Packages are going to UPS, even if the cost is a little more than the post office.

President Biden cannot step in to set a new direction for the post office because he does not have the power to fire DeJoy. That can only be done by the board of governors.

Trump appointees dominate the nine-member board because Senate Republicans refused to confirm President Obama’s nominees, leaving vacancies Trump promptly filled. Today, there are four Republicans and two Democrats on the board, plus three vacancies.

If Biden quickly filled the vacancies with Democrats, he might be able to persuade the board to fire DeJoy, but one of the two Dems on the board was appointed by Trump, and he approved of the DeJoy appointment. Would he now vote to remove him?

As we said, it is quite a mess, and one that is not going to be cleaned up anytime soon.

(9) comments

Greg F

Getting Biden to deal with the board on USPS is one thing, but there is a pandemic that is the hot button now that is only one of the things that the previous POS left seriously damaged and dysfunctional in his wake that need urgent attention. No, DeJoy cannot be fired, and that is something that may need to be dealt with in terms of changing the nature of USPS governance...and dealing with their massive union. Trump had DeJoy, an unqualified donor with a conflict of interest in another shipping company to the tune of $75Million, to dismantle the functions of USPS to benefit him in his election chances. That's the sole reason DeJoy is there. Bought position for the purpose of doing Trump a favor of helping election, for a favor in return in helping DeJoy's profitability. Quid pro Don (Bosco...you listening?) DeJoy promptly took out fully functioning sorting machines that could process tens of thousands of pieces of mail per minute, and left them disassembled to this day in warehouses. Add covid to the mix, it is a perfect storm. Add massive influxes of packages from unprecedented online orders and that both FedEx and UPS dumps last-mile packages onto USPS and stopped taking packages in many markets at the height of it, it was a disaster. It will take time to get this fixed....it took time to get that bad. The pension system also has to change that was messed with by the GOP also. So there's that.

shiftless88

And the neglect by Republicans by refusing to act on Obama's nominees. Keep these things in mind as they complain about Dems.

MD1756

The USPS has been running deficits long before Trump. While he and the pandemic have made matters significantly worse, the blame is not his alone. People need to stop viewing their party as if it can do nothing wrong. Both major political parties have done some things right and have done plenty of things wrong. For example, when Congress can't even get budgets passed in a timely manner (one of their most basic functions), it forces the Departments and Agencies to be less efficient and effective with their money because they cannot properly plan and having an uncertain budget leads to plenty of missed opportunities.

NewMarketParent

@MD1756

Good point. Unfortunately, only one party plays with the debt ceiling and not passing a budget.

Greg F

MD1756....the reason they are running deficites is on the GOP, who made them pre-fund their pensions....something no other agency is required to do. This was a move to purposefully undermine the union and to destabilize the USPS so that it became a target for privatization....the golden goose the GOP wants to put to someone they likely have in mind, to capitalize and make a boatload of cash in doing so, and take away the constitutionality of the agency as a whole. Come on...why else would Donnie Damage go so far as to put a paying donor with no qualifications in that ALSO has a direct financial interest in a competitor to USPS? Bosco keeps talking quid-pro-quo.....but he's mum on this one because it's obvious to a 2nd grader.

MD1756

Here is an article for you regarding pension obligations: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ebauer/2020/04/14/post-office-pensions--some-key-myths-and-facts/?sh=754a9fad47f5 As for the rest of you response please try to be a little more civil on these pages. There is no need for name calling of anyone, public or private person on this discussion site. You must have missed my comment on another article that asked for people (at any point of the political spectrum) to stop with the name calling. And having worked for the federal government for 27 years, I can safely say both parties put people in positions they do not belong in, although some certainly do more harm than others and some do more good than others.

tatt2ed

MD1756...[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Greg F

@MD - here is a pre-DeJoy take on why the USPS is how it is, PRIOR to Trump taking his action by taking a paying donor with financial conflicts in a competitor to destroy it further by removing the sorting machines, cutting out OT and other aspects. This is a prior article linked at the bottom (I know you won't read it) that takes DeJoy and the election out of the equation. Here is a passage from it...THIS shows why this is not on the dems..but GOP entirely: "Then there is the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which some have taken to calling "the most insane law" ever passed by Congress. The law requires the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer subsidies, to prefund its retirees' health benefits up to the year 2056. This is a $5 billion per year cost; it is a requirement that no other entity, private or public, has to make. If that doesn't meet the definition of insanity, I don't know what does. Without this obligation, the Post Office actually turns a profit. Some have called this a "manufactured crisis." It's also significant that lots of companies benefit from a burden that makes the USPS less competitive; these same companies might also would benefit from full USPS privatization, a goal that has been pushed by several conservative think tanks for years.

Paying retiree obligations isn't the issue here; rather, being singled out as the only company with a congressional requirement to fully fund those obligations is. It puts the USPS at a huge competitive disadvantage. Yes, a retirement crisis is brewing; most private-sector pensions are wildly underfunded. But the solution is to mandate that ALL companies cover a higher percentage of their future obligations -- not just one entity." https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-04-04/congress-not-amazon-messed-up-the-u-s-postal-service

Greg F

@MD #2. In addition to the first article I posted from 2018, here is an even EARLIER one from 2013. USPS...being killed by 1000 cuts by the GOP. This is PRE-TRUMP so you can't pin any influence from him on this like we know you love to do, and what the others all want to do. This will establish that the recency of events is the continued efforts of GOP, with trump taking up the volume to high on the destruction. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-xpm-2013-feb-07-la-na-tt-postal-service-20130206-story.html

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