Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to pause some planned reforms for the USPS until after Jan. 1 2025, after several members of Congress expressed concerns about their impact on the 2024 elections.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to pause some planned reforms for the USPS until after Jan. 1 2025, after several members of Congress expressed concerns about their impact on the 2024 elections. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

With pressure mounting, DeJoy agrees to pause consolidations at dozens of USPS facilities

The postmaster general has reversed course after saying his vision was the only viable path forward.

The U.S. Postal Service is pausing some of the most controversial reforms to its mailing network as its leadership has agreed to the demands of a growing, bipartisan chorus in Congress. 

The mailing agency has halted its plans to consolidate dozens of processing facilities until at least Jan. 1, 2025, ensuring the network overhaul is paused until after the upcoming presidential election in which millions of Americans will be voting by mail. A large swath of lawmakers across the ideological spectrum have called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to delay or cease the changes, some of which would shift the bulk of mail processing across state lines. 

The decision marks a reversal for DeJoy, who just last week remained resolute in defending his vision as the only viable path forward for his agency. He called the issue an existential one, saying his reforms were “what we must continue to do to survive.” 

Among its sweeping changes, the Postal Service is currently moving processing operations away from hundreds of cities and towns in favor of 60 mega-centers throughout the country. USPS is conducting “mail processing facility reviews” at local facilities to determine if they are good candidates for this consolidation effort, a procedure DeJoy has now agreed to temporarily stop. That will lead to nearly 60 facilities remaining open in their normal operations, the postmaster general said in a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich. 

“In response to the concerns you and your colleagues have expressed, I will commit to pause any implementation of these moves at least until after Jan. 1, 2025,” DeJoy said. “Even then, we will not advance these efforts without advising you of our plans to do so, and then only at a moderated pace of implementation.” 

While mail delays have spiked in fiscal 2024 and have been particularly acute in areas that have spearheaded postal management’s reform efforts, DeJoy rejected pushback from lawmakers, his regulator, members of the Postal Service’s governing board and other stakeholders that the changes will harm USPS performance. The postmaster general has acknowledged and apologized for issues that have arisen, but called them short-term problems on a path toward sustained improvements. 

“We do not see these planned actions as at all consequential to service,” DeJoy said in his letter. “Rather, they are important elements of achieving a network that can provide greater service reliability in a cost-effective manner. The career workforce will not see layoffs, new equipment will be installed, the facilities will not close, deferred maintenance will be performed and working conditions will be substantially improved.” 

He added he has failed to convince much of Congress and some of his own workforce of the merits of his plan, but vowed to continue outreach efforts so all parties can align with his vision. He noted planned investments and savings associated with the planned consolidations will also now be delayed, estimating the cost reductions at between $133 million and $177 million annually and the positive investments to be $430 million. DeJoy also stressed that despite protestations from many lawmakers and stakeholders, USPS has conducted its facility reviews in a transparent manner. 

Many lawmakers had sounded the alarm that mail delays resulting from the network changes, even if only temporary, could impact the upcoming election. USPS has vowed to once again institute its special procedures to comb through every sorting site to ensure mailed ballots are delivered in a timely manner, but the newly announced pause will help alleviate many of those concerns. 

Peters applauded DeJoy’s announcement, but said he still has “concerns about additional changes” and USPS should go further to pause other elements of its Delivering for America plan that could impact service. 

“I will continue to push for a comprehensive study by the Postal Regulatory Commission to ensure any changes implemented do not impact mail delivery,” Peters said. “It’s absolutely critical that we understand the full scope of these changes, as well as their impact on service and communities, before moving forward.”

PRC is currently seeking increased scrutiny of the agency’s reforms, asking USPS to either request an advisory opinion from the commission or to justify why it does not require one. In addition to the processing changes, USPS is in the midst of consolidating mail sorting away from individual post offices in favor of centralized centers and rolling out an “optimized collection plan” that will require mail to sit overnight at post offices instead of being collected each evening for transportation to a processing center.

A recent inspector general report found the standing up of a new regional processing center in Richmond, Virginia, led to worse service, an uninformed public, decreased employee availability and a spike in late and canceled mail transportation trips. 

The changes have caused “additional labor and transportation costs, and it is uncertain if expected savings will be achieved,” the IG said. Previous IG reports have found prior efforts to consolidate facilities—which differed from DeJoy’s plan in that they were intended to shutter facilities rather than repurpose them—led USPS to perform worse while realizing just a tiny fraction of the cost reductions it had anticipated.