The United States Postal Service (USPS) wrote a letter to explain delayed and undelivered mail in the District of Columbia in response to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
On September 1, Norton had penned a letter to USPS about the delays in delivery of mail and undelivered items in DC, which have been receiving complaints from the public recently.
USPS named a number of actions it is taking to solve the problem in its response, including loaning employees to impacted offices, authorizing high levels of overtime, closely monitoring unscheduled absences, and trying to fill vacant positions.
Sherry Harper, Executive Postmaster for DC, said she sincerely regretted the frustrations or inconvenience experienced by residents due to “inconsistent delivery in Washington.”
“Please be assured that the U.S. Postal Service is doing everything within its power to provide timely and efficient delivery service,” Harper wrote.
She explained that USPS’ delivery operations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused an increase in employee absences and reduction in employee availability.
“As you know, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides postal employees with up to 600 hours of Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) in response to the ongoing pandemic. Congress enacted the law with the understandable consequence that employee availability would be affected, particularly for federal agencies,” Harper noted.
“Under federal law and our collective bargaining agreements, positions held by those on leave are reserved for the eventual return of absent employees, and limits on the size of our workforce mean that the necessary work must be absorbed by the remaining employees. Periods of high employee absences impact operations as managers and supervisors work to balance available employee workhours with operational demands. This will continue until such time as employees return from leave,” the executive postmaster added.
Norton said in a release that she will keep monitoring the agency in DC in terms of the promised improvements.
In her letter two weeks ago, the congresswoman told USPS that residents from all eight wards of the District have been contacting her office about mail delivery issues in the city.
Norton had also relayed the problem to then-Acting DC Postmaster Eddie Masangcay in April and he said USPS was looking to hire more employees for efficient mail delivery.
She stated in her latest letter to USPS that complaints continued after the correspondence with Masangcay, hence, she requested an update on the hiring process and other measures taken to address mail delivery problems in the District.