US Senator Asks PMG to Explain Reported Changes

As if to illustrate that running the Postal Service as Postmaster General isn’t like running a corporation as its CEO, Senator Gary Peters (MI), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote PMG Louis DeJoy on July 17 asking for “information about operational changes at the US Postal Service that have the potential to affect the quality of service for Americans.”

Peters’ letter was inspired by the reports of plans to modify delivery procedures that were contained in a PowerPoint leaked by a USPS manager in Ohio and other documents. (For more on this, see the July 25 post.)

In his letter - below, or download a PDF of this article here - which cites passages from the documents leaked to the media by USPS employees, Peters particularly notes the comparison of the USPS “to a private company, rather than framing it as a public service.”  Before asking a series of questions, Peters further states that “Congress, the public, and postal stakeholders should be fully apprised of any proposed changes to postal services, particularly if they impact the speed of mail delivery for postal customers.”

The ensuing questions clearly imply that the Senator is displeased that DeJoy did not share the “business plan” that’s allegedly under development by the Board of Governors, a part of which would be the changes to transportation and delivery mentioned in the leaked materials.

Peters likely came into possession of the documents from one of the postal unions.  Though the changes in the documents would primarily impact city carriers, the president of the clerks union had quickly offered a belligerent response to the PMGs assumed plans.  As a senior member of the Senate committee with postal oversight, Peters was a likely contact to use to intervene on the unions’ behalf.

Politically, the letter also is a chance to tweak the committee chairman, Ron Johnson (WI), and his partisans in the Senate majority and the administration who put the current USPS governors in place (who then chose their political ally to be PMG).

Welcome to Washington

Politics aside, the letter is instructive to DeJoy that his latitude to run the USPS is more constrained than he might have believed before taking office.  As a private-sector executive, he likely never had to respond to Congressional questions when he wanted to revise his operations, and certainly wasn’t expected to seek input (let alone approval) from a wide range of “stakeholders,” all with their own ideas, concerns, and demands for what he should do.

Congressional politicians seldom add any real value by their meddling, and their communications often are more for the consumption of their constituencies than offers of real help to those to whom they write their messages.

Just the same, political interference is something with which PMGs – like those DeJoy has said failed to take action on costs – have had to deal.  There were changes they wanted to make as well, only to be undercut by the postal unions and their allies in Congress.  It’s all unproductive, but the new PMG might want to get used to it.


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