A group of 19 states and the District of Columbia are calling on the Postal Service’s regulator to review the agency’s entire 10-year reform plan.
The states filed a filing on Thursday calling on the Postal Regulatory Commission to hold a public hearing and comment on the “Delivering for America” plan published in March.
The plan envisages USPS capital investments of $ 40 billion over the next decade, including the acquisition of its next-generation vehicle fleet, which will include electric delivery vehicles.
Through a combination of slower delivery standards, higher tariffs, new revenue streams, and bipartisan postal reform laws, USPS expects to reverse more than a decade of net losses by 2030.
Attorneys General warn that USPS is executing the strategy amid “several unprecedented changes in the operation and service of the postal service,” including increased demand for postal services and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The states argue that the full implementation of the plan without a full consultation by the PRC “deprives users of the postal service of their legal rights and undermines public accountability.”
The PRC has already issued two non-binding opinions on key elements of the plan – USPS is slowing delivery of nearly 40% of premium mail and nearly a third of the volume of premium parcel services.
The commission said in both statements that these changes are unlikely to save USPS much money, but warned of the impact on customers. However, states argue that these are “important but tight changes that are only a small part of the scope of the plan”.
“Because the plan is a comprehensive and holistic effort to transform the postal service, the only way to assess how the plan will affect the postal services – and whether the plan meets the postal service’s objectives – is to look at the plan as a whole considered. However, the post office has not requested an expert opinion on the overall plan, ”wrote the attorneys general.
USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum said the complaint has “no legal or factual value and the Postal Service intends to dismiss it under the rules of the Postal Regulatory Commission.”
“The Postal Service has and will continue to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements as we move forward with the implementation of our strategic plan to restore service quality and financial sustainability,” said Frum.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy admitted at the last meeting of the USPS Board of Governors that the plan involves “uncomfortable changes” and that the plan has had its share of critics.
The USPS Inspector General and Members of Congress, as well as two of President Joe Biden’s nominees for the USPS Board of Governors, have expressed doubts about the merits of the plan.
Former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman described the plan as “strategically ill-conceived” and said that it creates “dangerous risks that are not justified by the relatively low financial return.”
Meanwhile, former American Postal Workers Union General Counsel Anton Hajjar said the 10-year plan had “a lot to please,” including converting more USPS employees to career status and investing in a new fleet of delivery vehicles and equipment in processing plants.
However, Hajjar urged USPS to postpone slower delivery standards and instead focus on other elements of the 10-year plan.
Biden appoints PRC chair for full term
President Joe Biden expects to nominate Post Regulatory Commission Chairman Michael Kubayanda for a full six-year term.
The Senate confirmed Kubayanda in 2019 that it would serve the remainder of a sub-period that ended in November 2020, but commissioners can serve an additional bridging year if a replacement has not been nominated and confirmed.
Kubyanda told the USPS in the context of the commission’s opinion that his plan to slow down the delivery of high-quality mail “does not meet current needs”.
Postal unions support funds for USPS electric trucks
Meanwhile, the four largest postal unions are advocating plans in the House of Representatives to accelerate the postal service’s procurement of electric vehicles.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee last month approved a provision in the budget reconciliation package that will allocate $ 7 billion to purchase additional electric delivery vehicles and set up charging stations.
USPS owns about a third of all federal vehicles and ranks second after the Department of Defense for largest vehicle inventory.
Another $ 5 billion would go to the General Services Administration to buy over 160,000 electric vehicles and infrastructure like charging stations.
American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein said the funding would help USPS become a “Leader in EV Technology” and help the agency fight climate change.
National Postal Mail Handers Union President Paul Hogrogian said the spending would help the USPS catch up on investments already made by its competitors.
“Our colleagues from the private sector are already relying on electric and low-emission vehicles; It only makes sense that the Post would benefit from the efficiency of this fleet, ”said Hogrogian.
The National Association of Letter Carriers said “Investments in the agency, its people and infrastructure are essential”.
The National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association urged the House of Representatives to vote on the full budget reconciliation package soon
“There is no time to wait. America urgently needs to invest in our postal workers, technology and infrastructure, ”the union said.