PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Postal Service’s performance and security came under scrutiny during a Congressional Committee Field Hearing in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Several members of the Pennsylvania Delegation participated and raised their concerns, asking questions about the mail service’s reliability. The Members of Congress reported an explosion in constituent complaints regarding on-time delivery, mail theft, crimes against postal workers and concern for the upcoming election cycle.
“If the postal service is in anyway shape or form broken that has a ripple effect on so many different aspects of everyone’s life,” said U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA District 1).
“Over the past two years, my district has had a dramatic increase in the amount of lost or stolen mail packages, undelivered packages, post office closures and poor performance by the local post office,” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA District 3).
Lawmakers said the on-time delivery rate in Philadelphia was just over 60 percent for a quarter of 2021.
Mail theft has also been a rampant problem affecting mail-in prescription delivery and personal checks and documents being stolen and altered. Not to mention, an increase in robberies involving postal workers that have tripled between 2018 and 2021.
Witnesses from USPS responded to questions and noted the dramatic decrease in Postal Police from nearly a few thousand officers to now just a few hundred.
The President of the National Association of Postal Supervisors Ivan Butts said, “The Postal Supervisors are 100-percent in favor of a strong Postal Police Officer workforce.
“Right here in Philadelphia in some challenging areas in this neighborhood (near Temple University) we have offices, that prior to Postal Police being shut down were not allowed to open or close, unless police were on premise.”
“There’s no dispute that police officers deter crime. Everyone accepts that fact except apparently the Postal Service,” said Frank Albergo, National President of the Postal Police Officers Association.
USPS leaders emphasized the ongoing challenges with recruitment and retention and the disuse of equipment that helped expedite service.
“This was particularly concerning as the delays escalated during the 2020 Presidential Election and delayed the receipt and return of mail-in ballots and we want to make sure those delays do not recur during this midterm election,” said U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA District 5).
Lawmakers believe the issues ultimately stem back to a management issue.
“Postmaster General DeJoy came to office in Spring of 2020, and he came in with a specific plan to shrink the size of the postal service,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA District 2).
U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and said field hearings were also held in Chicago and Baltimore. Lawmakers said this will continue raising awareness on the problems at the postal service.