On July 21, Senator Tom Carper’s office asked USPS Government Relations staff if anything had happened at the USPS to cause a huge surge in mail delays, something they were getting even more complaints about on a daily basis. Carper’s office inquired if “Broadly, has something happened.”
“Broadly speaking, the internet and social media happened,” a USPS government relations official replied, according to a recently released USPS Office of Inspector General report. The USPS official went on to say “operationally we’re not seeing anything that has really changed in the last two or three weeks.”
This was completely untrue. As of July 10, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s USPS had instituted a series of policy changes that were designed to reduce costs but had the explicit impact of slowing down mail, a directive first reported by the Washington Post.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. At the end of June, USPS management had begun the process of instituting 57 separate changes across the agency in a bid to significantly reduce the number of work-hours per year and therefore cut costs, at a time when USPS was under pressure to deliver a massive surge in packages which are labor-intensive to sort and deliver. The changes happened a few months before large numbers of mail-in ballots were also expected due to the pandemic.