If you posted a letter across town on Friday, it might not reach your destination until today. That’s because, since October 1, the U.S. Postal Service has implemented changes that will slow mail down. While we are not thrilled with the delays, we welcome this news as proof of reform of an agency that desperately needs to adapt to the current economy.
As part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s strategic restructuring plan, first-class mail will take up to a day longer to reach its destination, although overtime is not uniform across the country. According to a analysis through The Washington Post, the longest delays will be west of the Rocky Mountains and parts of Florida and southern Texas. At DFW, customers can expect service around half a day slower than in the past.
The plan is part of DeJoy’s effort to keep the postal service solvent, which is not easy. The agency faces a projected deficit of $ 160 billion over the next decade. For fiscal 2020, its net operating loss was $ 3.6 billion, up $ 409 million from the previous year, according to an April report from the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Some of the financial pressures that the USPS faces are out of its hands. It does not receive funding from taxpayers and it is not allowed to set its own prices. In addition, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 required it to pre-fund 75 years of retiree health benefits in 10 years.
Any business facing this level of financial deficit would have long gone the Pony Express route. It is therefore only reasonable that DeJoy use the management levers still at its disposal. Delivery times are important.
DeJoy is being pushed back to Capitol Hill by lawmakers who say the changes will alienate clients and erode the agency’s credibility. They are joined by a group of 21 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania and New York. In our opinion, it is a bit late for these concerns. The USPS has taken its place alongside the Motor Vehicle Department as a poster child of bureaucratic complexity and poor customer service. And, to be fair, the Postal Service‘s monopoly on cheap letter delivery is a big driver of its customer base.
If DeJoy’s plan works, the service will increase reliability. The agency has not met its internal standard of 96% on-time delivery for almost a decade. Currently, only 86% of two-day mail and 58% of three-day and over mail arrive on time, according to the To postreports. DeJoy trades speed for reliability here, which could regain customer trust in the long run.
It is an industry that has seen fundamental disruptions over the past decades. Restrictions imposed by Congress and competition from companies like FedEx, UPS, and Amazon have eroded its business model.
Americans will need to adapt, especially older Americans and those who depend on the mail for essentials like medication.
DeJoy isn’t exactly an inspirational figure. He is currently the subject of a campaign finance investigation. But the USPS is long overdue for an overhaul, and it is taking action. If we’re going to post these Christmas cards a day early, that’s an adjustment we’re willing to make.