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'Highest mail delay in the country' | Congressional members want to know what's causing Houston mail to be delayed

According to a 2021 Office of Inspector General audit of the North Houston Mail Processing Center, 59 percent of the mail processed in 2020 was delayed.

HOUSTON — On Tuesday, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia teamed up with Congressman Al Green to tour one of the nation’s largest mail processing centers, which is right here in Houston.

But they say they are not happy with how it went.  

Houston is home to 2020’s busiest mail processing center in the country, but also, it had the most mail that was delayed.

“This facility has the highest mail delay of any facility in the country. That’s unacceptable for the Houston region.”

According to a 2021 Office of Inspector General audit of the North Houston Mail Processing Center, 59 percent of the mail processed in 2020 was delayed.

Phoenix’s facility processed only slightly less mail. Yet only 42% of their mail was delayed. 

“Our concern is oversight and making sure that this facility does its job in delivering the mail on time," Congresswoman Garcia said. 

Prior to their third time visiting the facility, Congresswoman Garcia and Congressman Green wrote a letter to that auditor, asking what plans are in place to make sure mail arrives on time and how long would that take. But they say, they didn't get the answers they were hoping for. 

“Quite frankly, today’s visit with the post office here and with auditors this morning really gave us no answers to any of our questions," Congresswoman Garcia said. 

She says, today, they still don’t have answers. 

“People continue to rely on the post office for their medicines, for their benefits, the checks that come through the mail," Congresswoman Garcia said. 

And she says that’s concerning, especially as election season draws near. 

“That postmark has much to do with how the clerk will determine whether that ballot was mailed timely," Congressman Green said. 

In their April audit, the Office of Inspector General noted they did identify that mail delays were occurring due to late arriving mail and employee availability.

But Garcia says whatever the issues are, they should be addressed at every level. 

“I think it’s incumbent that management here and Post Office national to give them the resources to get to the root of the problem and the only way you can do that is by working together," Congresswoman Garcia said. 

Garcia says they plan to go back again soon for better answers. 

The USPS released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

The Postal Service is making changes and investments across its network to deliver the predictable, reliable service the American public and our customers expect and deserve. Our strategies for the future are laid out in “Delivering for America,” the Postal Service’s 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence.

“Delivering for America,” seeks to meet or exceed its goal of 95 percent on-time service performance for all mail and shipping product delivery based on standards as all elements of the plan are implemented. Ongoing service improvements, available here https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2021/0902-usps-service-performance-improvements-continue.htm, have been, in part, the result of a strategic shift to more ground deliveries, decreasing the agency’s reliance on the limited cargo capacities of third-party air carriers.

The Postal Service is preparing for the higher delivery demands of the 2021 holiday peak season through increased hiring of delivery and plant personnel, the leasing of millions of additional square feet of sortation facilities, and the installation of new processing equipment to accommodate higher volumes and customers’ evolving mail and package delivery needs. This includes new technology installed at the North Houston P&DC. Additional installations are currently underway across the country, as the Postal Service plans to have new equipment running at approximately 129 processing facilities by the 2021 peak holiday season.

Regarding the visit today by Congressional members to the North Houston processing facility, the Postal Service remains committed to assisting Members of Congress by addressing concerns, answering questions and providing information. The audit report by the Office of the Inspector General, released in April 2021, contains a comprehensive Postal Service response, which discusses our strategies for addressing specific concerns. We will continue to work with all stakeholders, including Congressional Members, to further our service improvements in all aspects of postal operations.

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