Postmaster General Louis DeJoy acknowledged to United States Postal Service employees this week that recent procedural changes have had “unintended consequences,” but described them as necessary.
“Unfortunately, this transformative initiative has had unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels,” DeJoy wrote in a memo sent this week and obtained by CNN.
“However, recent changes are not the only contributing factors. Over the years we have grown undisciplined in our mail and package processing schedules, causing an increase in delayed mail between processing facilities and delivery units.”
As he faces mounting criticism for changes that have slowed delivery and capacity ahead of the November election, DeJoy also claimed in the letter the policy moves would increase “performance for the election and upcoming peak season and maintain the high level of public trust we have earned for dedication and commitment to our customers throughout our history.”
The Postmaster General, who started in June, also addressed the new postal service restructuring, calling it a “strategic plan to achieve operation excellence and financial stability.”
DeJoy described the financial situation of USPS as “dire” due to declines in mail volume and the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite Democrats’ attempts to get billions in stimulus funding for USPS, DeJoy said the agency’s “critics are quick to point to our finance, yet they offer no solutions.”
The USPS’ new procedural changes were laid out in a July memo and include staff hours being cut. CNN also obtained documents that indicate plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines from facilities across the country.
The cost cutting measures have led to delays across the country in mail delivery and raised concerns about the potential impact on mail-in voting in the November election, which is expected to increase as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Democratic lawmakers last week called on the Postal Service inspector general to investigate the operational changes at the agency. They accused the Trump administration of “deliberate sabotage to disrupt mail service” and DeJoy, a major Republican donor and Trump ally, of partisanship.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly alleged, without proof, that vote by mail is ripe for fraud and would cost him and other Republican candidates votes, though there is no evidence of widespread vote fraud and experts say neither party automatically benefits from expanding mail-in voting.
DeJoy said last week that the US Postal Service is “not slowing down election mail or any other mail” and has “ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time.”
He also said that while he shares a “good relationship” with Trump, “the notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the President or anyone else in the administration is wholly off-base.”
CNN’s Jessica Dean, Caroline Kelly, Jeremy Herb and Zachary B. Wolf contributed to this report.