Senators Respond to GAO Report on U.S. Postal Service Delivery Performance Measurement

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, responded to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found the on-time mail delivery performance results provided by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) are not complete and may not give an accurate assessment of service for many communities across the country.

The report, “Actions Needed to Make Delivery Performance Information More Complete, Useful and Transparent,” outlines deficiencies in the Postal Service’s measurement capabilities and makes recommendations to Congress to direct USPS and the PRC to improve the completeness, analysis and transparency of delivery performance information. Specifically, GAO called on USPS and the PRC to include more detail on the Postal Service’s performance beyond the national level to include area and district performance. 

“As my colleagues and I have heard through numerous committee hearings, round tables, and countless conversations with postal customers, stakeholders, and management, service across the country, particularly in rural communities, is suffering,” said Senator Carper, Ranking Member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “In order to fix these service problems, we need to figure out their root causes.  Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office found that the delivery performance results that the Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission provide do not give Congress or postal customers an accurate assessment of service. While the Postal Service can and should take steps to address these serious shortcomings in performance and transparency, Congress must also help the Postal Service get better in this area. My bill, iPOST, would help put the “service” back in Postal Service by stabilizing operations and requiring measurable improvements to delivery performance across the country. It would also require the Postal Service to publicize its performance data on its website so customers in all areas of the country can assess how the Postal Service is doing in their communities. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress, including Senators Heitkamp, Tester, and McCaskill, the Administration, and stakeholders to strengthen my bill and understand new ways we can help the Postal Service improve and maintain quality service across the country.”

“There is no question that mail delivery and service in rural areas like North Dakota are seriously lacking,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “Through my Fix My Mail initiative I’ve heard about the challenges residents face getting mail on time, and an independent report I requested backed up those stories showing severe mail delivery problems in my state. As we learned from this new GAO report, how can the Postal Service possibly improve delivery in rural communities if it doesn’t accurately track the time it takes to deliver mail to these areas? There is no reason why we shouldn’t have access to that data. But we can change that. Senator Carper and I worked to include provisions in his bill to require the Postal Service provide definitions for urban, suburban, and rural communities, and mandate mail delivery performance goals that hold the agency accountable for improving delivery in underperforming communities. The reality is that rural communities, like North Dakota, are disproportionately and unfairly impacted by cuts to mail service and delivery which have harsh impacts on families and small businesses living in those regions. But with real data at their disposal, as this bill would require, the Postal Service will know exactly where it needs to make changes.”

“Today’s report makes clear what we’d suspected about USPS service for rural Americans—that the Postal Service is unable to accurately measure its delivery times in rural areas. Until the Postal Service is able to accurately assess their own performance and address their ability to deliver on-time mail to rural customers, they can’t possibly consider further consolidations of processing facilities and post office closures,” said Senator McCaskill.

“Montanans tell me that there are serious delays in mail delivery and yet time and time again the USPS tells me they’re doing great,” said Senator Tester. “ We clearly need better data that reflects what’s actually happening on the ground. This report confirms what many of us in rural America have been hearing from our constituents for years.”

Over the past few years, in an effort to reduce costs and resize its vast network of processing and distribution plants, the U.S. Postal Service has shifted more and more mail volume from overnight to two to three day delivery. In response to concerns vocalized by constituents with delays in service beyond the Postal Service’s self-regulated delivery standards, Senators Carper, McCaskill, Heitkamp, and Tester requested GAO review the Postal Service’s ability to accurately measure delivery performance versus delivery standards across the nation and in some of the more rural areas of the country.