Senator Marshall Questions United States Postal Service Postmaster General On Kansas City Mail Delays

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. questioned United States Postal Service  Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Inspector General Tammy Hull during a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) hearing on oversight and concerns with the United States Postal Service and the unreliability of mail services in the Kansas City Area. Previously, Senator Marshall has written letters to Postmaster General DeJoy demanding answers and accountability for the extreme mail delays that has had ripple effects through the entire state.

You may click HERE or on the image above to watch Senator Marshall’s full questioning. 

Highlights from Senator Marshall’s questioning include:

Senator Marshall: I don’t doubt the sincerity of you and your employees wanting to deliver a good product at an affordable price for the American taxpayers. So I want to start off with something very positive to report. As you all know, there’s a fentanyl explosion going on across this country. And we’re losing 300 Americans every day to fentanyl poisoning. We’ve lost 250,000 Americans to fentanyl poisoning. And now, criminals are using the United States Postal Service and other private carriers to send those fentanyl tablets to different locations, including in Kansas. I’m proud to report that your cooperation, the U.S. Postal Service’s cooperation with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and their canines, they’ve been able to capture 66,000 fentanyl pills. I sure hope the other public entities as well as the private entities are all cooperating with this effort as well to stop this horrible, horrible epidemic.

Senator Marshall: The city of Olathe is perhaps the fastest growing city in Kansas. It has a thriving downtown. Unfortunately, there’s a railroad right to the middle of downtown and a very busy postal office there as well. The city would like to move that post office somewhere else, outside of town probably. And they’re willing to throw some money at it as well. And so far they’ve met resistance from that –  I’m sure this is a blip on your screen. Mr. Postmaster General. But are you aware of the situation in Olathe?

Postmaster General DeJoy: No, I’m not. But I’m aware of other requests like this from other places.

Senator Marshall: Well we would sure appreciate your office taking a little closer look at it again, you have a city that’s willing to cooperate, help pay for part of the situation. I think your operations would be more efficient if your drivers weren’t coming in and all that traffic jam as well.

Senator Marshall: As you may know, the services in the Kansas City Metro Area are of great concern as well. What I understand is maybe a third of the mail is late, taking over three days. I believe that is your report as well. Are you familiar with that report in Kansas City, and what were your conclusions concisely?

Inspector General Hall: What we saw in the Kansas-Missouri area, and we did some work, I think it’s been about probably seven or eight months ago now. But a lot of the problems were related to staffing and an inability to retain staff in the delivery units primarily. And so as a result, some of the routes weren’t being delivered every day, because they just were understaffed in some of those locations. And some of it is due to the inability to hire quickly, and also the challenges in the labor force where wages have increased, maybe in some places faster than the Postal Service wages.

Senator Marshall: I’m gonna go through some numbers here, and I wish I could give them to you, you may want to write them down. But in 2001, the Postal Service employed 775,000 people. And were delivering 103 billion first class mail a year. 775,000 people, 103 billion first class pieces of mail. In 2013, your numbers bottomed out for employees for 491,000 and 65 billion first class mail were delivered and then in 2023, 525,000, so increased numbers from the decade before 525,000 employees and 45 billion pieces of mail. So I know you saw your point here that they have a problem and in particular area hiring folks. But yet the number of people employed by the post office is going up. The volume is less than half of what it was before. And I certainly understand the economic ramifications, but can you connect those two pieces in any way shape or form?

Inspector General Hall: It looks like a disconnect, right? And I think the challenge is that the Postal Service is everywhere. They’re in every neighborhood, every day and so you may see big broad nationwide numbers that look like one scenario, and that’s one of the reasons that we do a lot of really focused local work, because every city, every location in America kind of has its own story. And so what we saw the nationwide numbers are exactly what you gave, but in Kansas City specifically, they had real challenges in hiring in that location. So sometimes you see, you know areas that are not having problems or not having post servers not having problems filling positions, but in other places, it’s been a real challenge.

Senator Marshall: So Postmaster General, if we could follow up on that in the private sector, I would assume that they would move some employees to there, they would figure out a way to make sure that that customer service is continued. What ties your hands, what’s your assessment of the situation?

Postmaster General DeJoy: Two things. In 2001, 775,000 people we had, we didn’t have packages. Today, we have a whole bunch of packages that we’re moving around the nation, right. With regard to rural areas on delivery, it’s pretty simple. An age old labor position called a rural carrier associate is probably one of the most ill defined worst jobs in the nation. It’s the way we staff it according to different roles, that you have to work, everybody’s off day, and so on and so forth. So we’ve been making aggressive efforts to try and change that process, use the formula method that enables us to rebalance people and we’ve done a lot of work in epic world.

Senator Marshall: Last question to the Postmaster General, is there a disconnect between your alls leadership positions and the execution of your plans? Do you feel a significant resistance from the political appointees or the non political appointees? Why are we struggling? Postmaster General DeJoy: I think there’s just a disconnect from me and the organization when I walked in, right, because I’m trying to bring in commercial practices as required by law to deliver mail and packages in an innovative matter and cover our cost, right. And we had no effort, no practice. We had a random haphazard, unmanaged system. It took a long time to get this manager. I’ve reorganized probably 13 times since I’ve been there and different types of positions to find a balance and I have a leadership team that is very much engaging, and now we’re bringing it out into the field. And we have made significant gains – we delivered the Covid test kits to 165 million addresses across the country within two days, right in time of crisis. We’ve made significant gains as we engage in this change. It is plant by plant, person by person, driver by driver that has to take on a new way of working, a new way of thinking, okay, and it’s easy to criticize when you show up at the crime scene and see the damage. Okay, but the path there is long as people are working very hard to change hearts and minds in terms of how we perform and they are in fact doing that. I’m well qualified to recognize an organization that is changing how it executes, okay, versus the way we were staggered and letting things just happen to us. So that’s why I’m optimistic about the changes and it’s probably to no one’s satisfaction in this room or in this town. But it’s what we got. This is the plan we’re going with we’re moving forward and it is in fact having an impact and it will make the Postal Service better.