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Ga. residents experience mail delays after 'Delivering for America' goes into effect

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

U.S. Postmaster General Lewis DeJoy has been under fire for his cost-cutting strategies from the moment he took office in June 2020. He argues these are necessary to stabilize the post office's finances, but critics say they're destroying the quality of the service. At issue now is his 10-year plan to consolidate 60 mail processing facilities across the country. It's called Delivering for America, but it's causing major delays in getting letters to their destinations. In Georgia, after the Postal Service consolidated four facilities there into one, residents have experienced some of the country's worst mail delays. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Sarah Kallis reports.

SARAH KALLIS, BYLINE: Claire Graveline is getting married in August, but a lot of her save-the-date invitations for her wedding got hung up in the mail.

CLAIRE GRAVELINE: It's been an adventure.

KALLIS: It caused issues with her wedding planning.

GRAVELINE: Gauging the total guest count, which - obviously, it's a domino effect, right? Like, it affects all of the services that you have to book and organize with vendors.

KALLIS: She says, six weeks after sending the save-the-date cards, a third of her guests still hadn't received them. So with her fiance, they called all 200 guests.

GRAVELINE: It can feel disappointing that you can't depend on the postal service and just their ability to handle important mailings reliably and efficiently beyond wedding invitations.

KALLIS: She's not alone. Only an estimated 36% of mail is getting delivered on time since a new processing facility in Palmetto, Ga., went online in February. It has caused delays of absentee ballots for the state's primary on Tuesday. One county reported that a number of ballots never made it to their elections office. The Postal Service says equipment is still missing. There aren't enough truck drivers, and there are staff shortages.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JON OSSOFF: I don't think you're fit for this job.

KALLIS: That's Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, grilling postmaster general Louis DeJoy in a fiery Senate committee meeting after complaints of slow mail service.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OSSOFF: I've got constituents with prescriptions that aren't being delivered. I've got constituents who can't pay their rent and their mortgages. I've got businesses who aren't able to ship products or receive supplies.

KALLIS: DeJoy defended the Palmetto facility and said the problems were just temporary.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LOUIS DEJOY: The team is working very hard, and I can assure you that in the long run - that you will have probably the best service in the country.

OSSOFF: No, the long run is too long.

KALLIS: Problems with the consolidation have gotten so bad that postmaster DeJoy halted any new movement on his plan until next year. Meanwhile, in Georgia, officials say their new processing centers will get more sorting machines and improved transportation to get letters to people on time. For NPR News, I'm Sarah Kallis in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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