Chicago USPS poor mail delivery at issue

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A congressional subcommittee charged with overseeing the U.S. Postal Service will meet in Chicago on May 31 to explore the city's mail delivery problems.

U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-IL, chairman of the newly reconstituted House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District of Columbia, made the announcement last week.

"One of the reasons that we are scheduling this field hearing so far in advance is to allow the Postal Service time to put into place some of the reforms, changes and new systems they have promised will improve service," Rep. Davis said in a statement. "We expect to take testimony from postal officials, large mailers and everyday citizens to assess the level of progress achieved."

For many years, Chicago has had mail delivery problems, but recently the problems have escalated. In March, for example, postal officials said 91 percent of letters mailed to other addresses within the city were delivered within a day, compared with the national average of 95 percent.

During that month, Postmaster General John E. Potter visited Chicago to meet with senior Chicago postal officials to hear the city's plan for improving service. Postal insiders have attributed the problems to lack of staff as well as a need for upgraded equipment and the need for a general overhaul of processes. Reportedly, at the time, Mr. Potter called the city's delivery service the worst in the nation.

Indeed, mailers and mailing serve providers in the Chicago area have been hearing complaints of delays within the city.

"Anecdotally, there is no question that we are getting more complaints than usual about mail taking a lot longer to be delivered in the Chicago area," said Donald L. Harle, vice president of postal affairs at Diamond Marketing Solutions, Bloomingdale, IL.

Mr. Harle is also the vice chair of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee. His company handles Standard and First-Class mail nationwide. He said that Standard Mail originating in Chicago and delivered within the Chicago area is having the most delivery problems.

Mr. Potter also visited Chicago again this month. Currently, he has promised to hire 200 letter carriers as well as 25 mail-sorting technicians in Chicago. He also said his goal is to see Chicago's on-time delivery rate surpass those of New York and Los Angeles, which both have a 95 percent delivery rate.

Mr. Potter reiterated his commitment to Chicago at a hearing of the federal workforce subcommittee on Capitol Hill last week. Reportedly, he plans to staff up, upgrade equipment and reconfigure the delivery network.

"This commitment includes my personal involvement, as well," Mr. Potter said in written testimony. "I have visited Chicago twice in the last month to assist in the achievement of the service levels that our customers expect and deserve. I can assure you that changes underway will deliver results."

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