When you choose first-class service, you expect the best of the best, right? I mean… it’s right in the name! When it comes to USPS, that may not be the case much longer. Last month, in a press release on the USPS website, the carrier proposed changes to service standards on their First-Class package service. Today, we’ll discuss the proposed changes and the people fighting them, as well as the latest USPS performance levels.
Earlier this year, the USPS published Delivering for America: Our Vision and Ten-Year Plan
to Achieve Financial Sustainability and Service Excellence, a business plan Postmaster General Louis DeJoy says will allow the agency to break even in a decade. In it, they shared their basic mission: “to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient mail and package shipping services to all Americans—regardless of where they live— and at affordable rates.”
One initiative they’re employing in order to achieve their mission is the extension of service standards for First-Class Mail. While their long-term goal is to deliver 95% of packages on time 10 years from now, customers today should be prepared for longer delivery windows. The USPS says 47% of their current First-Class 3-day volume will remain unchanged, while 36% will be delivered in four days, and 17% will be delivered in five days.
The changes to USPS delivery targets don’t just impact the personal mail, paychecks, and bills of US citizens. They have the potential to impact future elections. A letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission from 21 attorneys general stated, “In 1996, 7.8 percent of Americans mailed in their votes; in 2016, 20.9 percent did; and in 2020, 43 percent of voters used the Postal Service to cast their ballots. The projected delays in inbound and outbound First-Class Mail resulting from the proposed services changes would slow election-related mail, frustrating the States’ ability to administer their elections and potentially resulting in voter disenfranchisement.”
The role of a state’s attorney general is to provide legal representation to that state. It comes as no surprise that the individuals in that role would come together to fight new service standards that may impact voters’ rights. The letter argues, “It proposed these changes to further a philosophy that would prioritize the services it offers in competitive markets over those that it alone provides and on which countless Americans depend.”
In a July 8 press release, USPS announced third quarter FY2021 results that are the highest they’ve been since third quarter FY2020. The release shows that 87% of First-Class Mail was delivered on time– a 9% increase over the previous quarter.
USPS credits a shift from air transportation to ground transportation for their third-quarter results, as they move to implement a simplified transport network that will reduce their middle mile from 11 steps to five. Barriers still exist, however, and USPS blames employee availability challenges after the American Rescue Plan came into effect, allowing all full-time government employees (including postal workers) to take up to 15 weeks or 600 hours of paid leave for COVID-19-related reasons.
While we are hopeful that USPS will achieve their 10-year goals, businesses using the Postal Service to ship packages should plan ahead and expect longer delivery times today.
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