The US postal service said it has lost $2.2bn in the three months running up to the end of June amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the postmaster general warning the agency is in a “dire” financial position.
The service has continued declines in first-class and business mail combined with increased costs due to PPE and staff changes, postmaster general Louis DeJoy told the postal board of governors at a meeting on Friday.
Mr DeJoy, the newly appointed leader of the service, stressed that without intervention from Congress, the agency faces an impending cash flow crisis.
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“Our financial position is dire, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues,’’ Mr DeJoy said.
“Without dramatic change, there is no end in sight,’’ he added.
The agency has continued to incur financial losses that officials warn could top $20 billion over two years.
Later on Friday, Mr DeJoy said USPS has implemented a freeze on management hiring and is seeking approval for early retirement offers for non-union employees as part of a host of changes he said would improve efficiency and focus.
“By running our operations on time and on schedule, and by not incurring unnecessary overtime or other costs, we will enhance our ability to be sustainable and … continue to provide high-quality, affordable service,” Mr DeJoy said.
The comments come as Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that changes implemented by the postmaster general “threaten the timely delivery of mail – including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers and absentee ballots for voters – that is essential to millions of Americans.’’
The criticism comes over fear that postal delays could threaten 2020 ballot deliveries in November’s election, which is expected to rely heavily on postal voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr DeJoy called election mail handling “a robust and proven process” in his remarks to the postal board, and said that “the Postal Service has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time in accordance with our delivery standards, and we will do so.”
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“However … we cannot correct the errors of (state and local) election boards if they fail to deploy processes that take our normal processing and delivery standards into account,” he said.
The Trump administration has been accused of trying to degrade the postal service ahead of the November elections in order to limit mail-in voting, which Mr Trump apparently fears will benefit Democrats rather than Republicans,
Additional reporting by agencies.