Backlash forces USPS to back off revamping state mail delivery

The post office faces a tricky dilemma when it comes to fixing the breakdown in mail delivery. Both the public and public officials have little, if any, confidence in the beleaguered agency responsible for creating the problem in the first place to get mail delivery back on track.

So it’s no surprise the post office’s proposed consolidation of services in North Dakota hit a brick wall among the state’s delegation, according to the Forum.

Changes to the Grand Forks and Bismarck post offices will be postponed until at least January, according to a letter sent by the United States postmaster general in response to concerns by U.S. senators about the agency’s facility review process.

In the May 9 letter, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said any changes stemming from its facility reviews would be put on pause until at least 2025. In North Dakota, the proposed changes would mean that almost all regional and package mail processing for the entire state would be centralized in Fargo, with Grand Forks and Bismarck being repositioned as local processing centers.

In the letter, DeJoy said the facility reviews are a “process of transparency, where we have undertaken analysis, notified the public and interested stakeholders, and provided opportunities for public input.”

It didn’t help that a December public meeting on the issue convened by USPS in Grand Forks only undermined support for the plan, partly due to the agency’s lackadaisical effort to inform stakeholders about the event in advance. Things went from bad to worse, leading the state delegation to oppose the USPS plans to streamline mail processing in the state.

Earlier this month, senators — including both Hoeven and Sen. Kevin Cramer, both of whom are Republicans representing North Dakota — sent a letter to DeJoy to express their concerns and urge pausing the facility changes due to the impacts on local communities.

“This plan includes moving mail processing farther away from local communities, by transferring operations out of local facilities and into more distant hubs,” said the letter, which was signed by more than 20 senators from both parties. “We are concerned about the impacts these changes have had so far, and the potential impacts that further changes could have.”

Moreover, it seems that the USPS’ consolidation efforts already implemented in other states don’t have a track record that results in greater customer satisfaction.

The letter continued: “In regions where USPS has implemented significant changes, on-time mail delivery has declined. In addition, it is not clear these changes will improve efficiency or costs. Despite these concerns, USPS has moved forward with announcing and approving additional facility changes across the country.”

For now, however, the proposed changes to mail processing facilities in Grand Forks and Bismarck remain on hold until sometime next year. Meantime, it’s anyone’s guess how the the coming release of the post office’s regional audit this summer will go over with public officials and their constituents.