DeJoy to Congress: mail sorting machines will not be put back into service ahead of election

A United States Postal Service (USPS) worker works in the rain in Manhattan during outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York
FILE PHOTO: A United States Postal Service (USPS) worker works in the rain in Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2020. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

The new head of the U.S. Postal Service, Louis DeJoy, went before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, a few hours in which congressional representatives pulled no partisan punches but came up with some answers as to the postmaster general’s commitment to executing his role with integrity.

DeJoy defended himself against allegations that he had attempted, with influence from President Donald Trump, to slow mail delivery and damage the ability of Americans to vote via USPS considering the ongoing pandemic.

Accused of removing blue drop-off containers and up to 700 sorting machines, DeJoy argued that he has ordered these actions to be reversed and that he is only trying to clean up the organization which has fallen behind on housekeeping.

“The Postal Service itself is a library of OIG reports identifying flawed practices and billions and billions and billions of dollars of waste in ways that this committee – nobody – seems to pay attention to. And then the Postal Service, our management team helping fix ourselves both in terms of service and cost. We have a plan now to do that, part of it includes running our trucks on time,” DeJoy said. “I think we have a good shot [of making the postal service self-sufficient], we have some new revenue ideas… We’re finalizing some plans, I need to brief the board.”

The heat turned up when Boston Congressman Stephen Lynch expressed distrust of DeJoy’s responses to previous questions, claiming transportation issues never impacted the Pony Express and that even during the Civil War the Postal Service kept the public trust.

“Did you know that the Postal Service has never allowed itself to be in the position that it’s in today?” Lynch said. “Just two weeks after you became postmaster general, that all changed… In my heart, I’m tempted to ask after 240 years of patriotic service delivering the mail, how can one person screw this up in just a few weeks?”

Lynch questioned whether it was through “gross incompetence” or that DeJoy was intentionally stymying efficiency in the postal service.

As DeJoy attempted to respond, Lynch interjected asking more forcefully if the sorting machines would be put back in service.

“The answer is no and every accusation you make… is inaccurate and more misinformation for the American public,” DeJoy said.

DeJoy’s integrity has also been called into question due to his commitment to cut overtime despite a demanding election in November expected and with the vital role of USPS being viewed with skepticism. DeJoy claims that two weeks ahead of election day, the USPS will open up the opportunities for their sum 50,000 employees to make overtime pay.

This was contrary to an internal USPS memo entitled “PMG Briefing,” dated Aug. 12, which said, “Overtime will be eliminated. Again, we are paying too much in OT and it is not cost-effective and will soon be taken off the table. More to come on this.” 

According to DeJoy, this was issued by an individual in middle management and not a directive by him or that he was aware of. He also has not attempted and has “purposely not tried to find out,” who the person responsible was citing the difficulty of such a task with thousands of supervisors in the organization.

The committee demanded that DeJoy hand overall analysis leading to the decision to make these service changes for their review.