Peters Investigative Update Shows Persistent Delays of On-Time Mail Delivery, Including Increasing Delays in Detroit and Across Michigan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released an investigative update with new U.S. Postal Service (USPS) data showing wide-spread fluctuations in on-time mail delivery, including recent and severe delays in the Detroit area. Peters’ update shows that while on-time mail delivery has improved nationwide due to congressional pressure and court orders, delivery performance remains below levels prior to Postmaster General DeJoy’s July 2020 changes. Peters also released an investigative update earlier this month showing on-time delivery remains a concern despite improvements following congressional oversight.

“Michiganders are counting on the Postal Service to deliver their mail on time, and this decline in service across the state is completely unacceptable,” said Senator Peters. “The Postmaster General must immediately comply with all court orders and confirm he has reversed damaging changes that caused severe disruptions to mail service. At a time when communities in Michigan and across the country are counting on the Postal Service more than ever to deliver their prescription drugs, business mail and even absentee ballots, these persistent and increasing delays only continue to hurt the people who rely on the mail to stay connected.”


The update shows that on-time First-Class Mail performance was below 80% in six Districts across the country, including in parts of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), Maryland (Baltimore), Mississippi, Alabama, the District of Columbia, and Michigan (Detroit). The update also shows that across Michigan, on-time delivery rates have declined dramatically in recent weeks. During the week of October 3 – 9, only 70.9% of First-Class Mail was delivered on time in the Detroit District – the worst performance of any District in the country for the most recent time period for which data is available. This marked the fourth consecutive week that on-time delivery declined in the Detroit District, which has experienced a 12.2 percentage point drop since the week of September 5 – 11. Performance for the Greater Michigan District, which serves the rest of the state, remains 5.6 percentage points below its average on-time delivery levels prior to the July changes. While nearly all of the recent delays have extended delivery times by 1–3 days for First-Class Mail, a delay of even one day can have a significant impact on important mail, including medicine, bills, or election mail.

Following this concerning data from USPS, Peters is continuing to demand that Postmaster General DeJoy take all necessary actions to reverse mounting mail delivery delays. In a letter to DeJoy, the latest in Peters’ efforts to restore on-time postal delivery for Michiganders and Americans, Peters demanded DeJoy provide Congress with up-to-date information on the steps USPS is taking to return to previous service levels. As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has fought to protect the Postal Service and its 245-year tradition of mail delivery. Peters recently released a report detailing the results of his investigation into how operational changes at the Postal Service ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy resulted in compromised service for Americans. He has also introduced the Delivering for America Act , which would block DeJoy from making any more changes during the pandemic, require DeJoy to reverse changes which have caused mail delays, and provide $25 billion in funding to USPS.

Text of Peters’ letter to DeJoy is copied below and available here.

October 20, 2020

Mr. Louis DeJoy
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Room 4012
Washington, D.C. 20260

Dear Mr. DeJoy:

In light of continuing and unacceptable delays in on-time mail delivery since you first directed operational changes to delivery within weeks of assuming your current position, I am writing again to raise concern and demand you take all necessary actions to reverse mounting mail delivery delays. As these delays continue across the country just weeks before the upcoming presidential election, it is incumbent upon you to take immediate and necessary actions to fully restore on-time mail delivery. On October 9, 2020, following an investigation of your actions, I released a report detailing how on-time delivery rates decreased in September nationwide. Improvement since the start of October has been unacceptably slow, and declines continue in some locations, including in Michigan.

Under pressure from Congress and the courts, the Postal Service has committed to walking back harmful changes that caused mail delays and improving election mail delivery. Last week, however, Congress received data showing that on-time mail delivery has not significantly improved across the country, and remains well below target levels. The most recent service performance data, for the week of October 3-9, show nationwide on-time delivery for First-Class Mail was 86.15%, an increase of only 0.18 percentage points from the week before. This is well below the target level, and well below levels prior to USPS operational changes in July 2020. In six Districts, First-Class Mail performance was below 80%: Detroit (70.94%), Capital (74.44%), Baltimore (74.49%), Mississippi (77.46%), Philadelphia Metro (79.67%), and Alabama (79.65%). Four of these Districts saw a decrease from the previous week. I previously requested a full explanation of weekly data in an October 9, 2020, letter to you, but you have not provided this information.

In my October 9, 2020 letter to you, I also requested weekly metrics to ensure USPS is complying with its procedures to quickly move mail, per recent court orders. I have not received this information. Specifically, I requested weekly data on the number of extra and late trips authorized, the number of machines reconnected, hours of overtime authorized, number of temporary employees hired to help handle the mail volume, as well as any other data or metrics USPS is compiling regarding its compliance with election mail policies.

USPS has released additional guidance on complying with court orders and quickly moving mail, but I have concerns about some of this guidance. USPS “Retail and Delivery Guidance on Postmarking Ballots,” issued on October 7, 2020, correctly instructs that post office window employees must hand-postmark a ballot if a customer requests it. However, the guidance says “in the rare instance where a ballot goes through processing and arrives at a Delivery Unit without a postmark or without a legible postmark, Delivery Unit employees must NOT postmark the ballot.” This is unacceptable, does not comply with USPS’s promise to ensure all ballots receive a postmark, and USPS’s technical explanation for this is not sufficient to merit the policy.

I expect you to fulfill your obligations to the American people as Postmaster General. In light of continuing and unacceptable delays in mail delivery, you should immediately rescind this ill-considered policy guidance, provide the data I have previously requested, and in addition, provide detailed guidance on when and how post offices will be allowed to accept, process, and deliver local election mail without routing it to a processing center, if there is not sufficient time to do so. USPS must also allow post offices to use these procedures days in advance of Election Day if needed, not only the day before, to expedite local delivery.