Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Capital News Service – Maryland’s congressional delegation awaits a response from a letter it sent on Nov. 22 to embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy about the United States Postal Service’s preparations to deliver mail on time during the holiday season.

The delegation’s letter, which was signed by all of its members, requested DeJoy’s response to a list of questions by Dec. 1. So his answers are late already.

Congressional critics for months have been pressing for DeJoy’s removal – and it could come soon.

Some of the questions the delegation asked DeJoy are about how he is implementing the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General’s recommendations to improve mail delivery services.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, told Capital News Service the delegation was told to expect a response soon.

“But clearly the lack of response is part of the larger problem, and what we’ve seen is a pattern of conduct by the post office that doesn’t get things done on time,” he said.

The Baltimore region had the nation’s second highest missing mail inquiries compared to other major metropolitan areas from October 2019 through June 2021, according to a Nov. 4, 2021, OIG audit report.

“After last year’s problems, our constituents are understandably concerned about package delays this holiday season,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

“Last year, for a variety of reasons, we were overwhelmed and were not able to meet the demands of the nation,” DeJoy said during a Postal Service Board of Governors meeting on Nov. 10. “… We are ready…so send us your packages and your mail — and we will deliver timely.”

Recent OIG service performance data shows 89% of packages were delivered on time in the Baltimore District from July to September of this year.

“There continue to be significant service problems in Maryland,” the lawmakers said, “but this is a welcome improvement from the poor service our constituents received last holiday season.”

“That said, the OIG’s report on Baltimore revealed several problems that could contribute to a recurrence of delays this holiday season,” they continued, citing the fact that 42% of sampled packages were improperly scanned.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, told CNS in an email that “timely mail delivery is critical for more than just holiday goods – it allows Marylanders to receive their medication, Social Security checks, and other vital items.”

The delegation asked DeJoy to provide a progress report on the number of additional package sorting machines deployed, seasonal employees hired for the holiday season and annex facilities activated for peak-season surges.

Maryland’s delegation also asked DeJoy what has been done to implement some of the OIG’s recommendations, including developing and implementing a plan to comply with package scanning and handling procedures, opening a new city carrier training academy for the Baltimore region and establishing criteria for the Baltimore postmaster to ask for outside area help for mail deliveries.

Many Democrats are displeased with DeJoy’s performance and want him out. An appointee of President Donald Trump, DeJoy has angered lawmakers for slowing mails, cutting overtime hours and other steps viewed by critics as efforts to undermine the Postal Service.

“I give him an F grade — failing,” Van Hollen said. “I have long called for DeJoy to be removed as postmaster general, and I hope that the newly constituted Board of Governors will act to do that in the coming months, if not weeks.”

President Joe Biden announced his intent on Nov. 19 to nominate Daniel Tangherlini and Derek Kan to the Postal Service Board of Governors to replace Ron Bloom and John Barger.

“We are hopeful that, if and when the President’s new nominees to the Board of Governors are confirmed, we will have the votes necessary to remove Postmaster General DeJoy from the job,” Jaime Lennon, spokesperson for Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Timonium, told CNS in an email. “It is long past time to hold DeJoy accountable for the gross deterioration of service that has occurred under his watch.”

Ruppersberger wrote to Lora McLucas, the USPS Maryland district manager, on Monday to follow up on the implementation status of the recommendations in the OIG’s report.

“While I am encouraged that your office agreed with the findings and set a target implementation date of November 30th for the recommendations in the report,” Ruppersberger said, “I continue to hear from constituents who are experiencing mail delivery issues at an overwhelming rate.”