At Subcommittee Hearing, Postal Service Officials Detail Root Causes of Poor Delivery Performance in Baltimore Area
Washington, D.C. (February 14, 2022)—Today, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, held a field hearing in Baltimore, Maryland to examine the longstanding poor performance of the U.S. Postal Service in the greater Baltimore area, including an examination of the root causes and potential solutions to slow mail service.
“We are in Baltimore today to try to understand the root causes of [the Postal Service’s] historic underperformance. By working together to address issues we uncover, we can ensure that the Postal Service delivers mail to Baltimore residents consistently and on-time,” Chairman Connolly said in his opening statement.
The Subcommittee heard testimony from Eric Gilbert, Acting Executive Postmaster in Baltimore, U.S. Postal Service; Melinda Perez, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audit, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service; Rictarsha Westmoreland, Mail Processing Clerk and Shop Steward, U.S. Postal Service; and Chuck Metzger, Controller, ReBUILD Metro.
Members questioned witnesses about the root causes of the poor postal service performance in Baltimore, which declined significantly in 2020.
- In response to a question from Congressman Sarbanes about staffing issues, Mr. Gilbert explained why employee availability is such a challenge, saying: “Many folks are onboarded, and then when they physically get out there to perform the task it’s not something that they thought it would be. On an average, I receive ten to twelve resignations from non-career or pre-career employees a week…so, that aspect of it – it’s hard to retain our employees from the pre-career standpoint.”
- In response to a question from Chairman Connolly about the underreporting of delayed mail, Ms. Perez said: “So when we conducted that work in June of last year, we had asked about the root causes or tried to observe conditions as to why that may occur. And what we were told at the time by the management at those units is that it was an employee availability issue. But as we continued to dig a little further, there were also issues – as Mr. Gilbert has stated – with regards to hiring, retention, training, as well as being able to track metrics to understand when they are having issues with regards to executing all duties at those delivery units.”
Members and witnesses highlighted the negative effect recent operational changes have had on mail delivery.
- In her opening statement, Congresswoman Lawrence said: “The people and the workers of the Postal Service are committed. We need the leadership of the Postal Service to step up and take accountability for what’s happening, but more importantly to make the investments in the Postal Service that it will continue to be the one federal agency that gets the highest rating of approval.”
- In her opening statement, Ms. Westmoreland explained: “While [Baltimore’s] performance is embarrassing, it is preventable. We can restore the level of service postal customers deserve with better managerial decisions. While the United States Postal Service’s continued decline of service standards is at the root of many of the customer complaints I receive, the focus of my testimony will be on how a lack of staffing impacts the accuracy of our mail service.”
- Mr. Chuck Metzger highlighted the effect of poor service performance on ReBUILD Metro, a non-profit organization in Baltimore with a mission to revitalize East Baltimore through the redevelopment of vacant and abandoned properties: “During the first quarter of 2021, we did not receive mail for six weeks …. The lack of regular U.S. mail deliveries presents a significant hardship because our operations are dependent on receiving grant payments, donations, and vendor invoices on all of our mail.”
Members celebrated passage of the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 in the House and emphasized the long-term positive impact the legislation will have on the Postal Service.
- In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Connolly said, “We are here today in Baltimore, less than a week after the House’s historic passage of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022. That bill, of which I am an author and original co-sponsor, will put the Postal Service on the path of financial solvency — unshackling the Postal Service from unfair statutory burdens that kept it mired in unnecessary payments. The bill takes a pragmatic approach, planting the Postal Service on firm financial ground and readying it for the future.”
- In her opening statement, Chairwoman Maloney said, “The House just passed my legislation to put the Postal Service on a more sustainable financial footing. … With these reforms, the Postal Service will have the resources it needs to ensure exceptional performance for all Americans, regardless of whether they live in cities or in rural areas. And it will bring back to the Postal Service over $50 billion in ten years, and it will save taxpayers money – over $1.5 billion in ten years. It also brings reforms on delivery, where you will have a real live internet portal that you can check the delivery by zip code so that postal workers and community activists can work to improve postal delivery in your area.”