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DeJoy says the U.S. Postal Service is ready to deliver a successful holiday season

One year after enduring an<em> </em>unprecedented backlog, the postal system is ready to handle mail and packages for the 2021 holiday season, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said. Here, an employee loads a sorting robot during a media tour of a U.S. Postal Service package support annex in La Vergne, Tenn.
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One year after enduring an unprecedented backlog, the postal system is ready to handle mail and packages for the 2021 holiday season, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said. Here, an employee loads a sorting robot during a media tour of a U.S. Postal Service package support annex in La Vergne, Tenn.

U.S. postal customers will not have to endure a repeat of the delay-plagued 2020 holiday season, according to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

"We are ready" for the looming peak season, when millions of Americans will mail and receive packages, cards and letters, DeJoy said Wednesday, during a meeting of the U.S. Postal Service's board of governors.

The U.S. mail system was in a crisis last year when an unprecedented backlog was blamed on several factors — from the pandemic that triggered demand but also complicated staffing to operational changes that promised more efficiency but also slowed delivery times.

DeJoy, who took charge of the Postal Service in June of 2020, acknowledged that the mail service was in crisis last year, stating, "we were overwhelmed and were not able to meet the demands of the nation."

This year will be different, DeJoy said repeatedly. But he also said the postal service doesn't expect to reach its standard of 95% on-time delivery until the 2023 fiscal year.

In February, DeJoy told members of Congress that the postal service was "in a death spiral," citing billions of dollars in losses.

The U.S. Postal Service has been working to improve its performance, DeJoy said this week, citing the addition of new facilities and equipment as well as "significant efforts to stabilize our workforce." Those and other changes will bring "significant additional capacity," he said.

Earlier this year, DeJoy unveiled his controversial 10-year plan for the Postal Service, which includes easing standards for delivery times, raising customers' rates and cutting some post offices' operating hours.

In response to a round of changes that went into effect on Oct. 1, 19 states and the District of Columbia filed an administrative complaint that seeks to sideline DeJoy's plan.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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