WASHINGTON – Mail is being delivered as quickly in Southern Maryland as it is in other parts of the country for the first time in years, Rep. Steny Hoyer, an often-vocal critic of the U.S. Postal Service, said Wednesday.
At a House subcommittee hearing, Hoyer commended Postmaster General Marvin Runyon for facilitating the improvements. Two years ago, 63 percent of deliveries in Hoyer’s 5th District were on-time, then 19 percent below the national average.
Now, the percentage of mail received promptly has increased to 87 percent.
The Postal Service defines on-time delivery as first-class mail successfully delivered overnight within a local area, said Postal Service spokesman Frank Brennan.
“In past years, we had some pretty hot rhetoric,” Hoyer said, referring to his censure of Runyon’s administration of the Postal Service in 1994. “But I want to congratulate … you and all of the people that make it happen.”
Postal inefficiency was once rampant, said Hoyer, of Mitchellville, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee on treasury, postal service and general government.
He spoke of a town in Southern Maryland where local mail was being sent to Washington and then re-routed back to the town for delivery. The problem was solved with local mailboxes.
Delivery during this year’s “horrendous” January storms was only 4 percent below the national yearly average, Hoyer said.
Runyon credited structural changes within the Postal Service for the speedy winter service.
“We worked a lot of overtime,” Runyon said. “We changed the way we delivered the mail. … It has taken a lot of effort from an awful lot of people.”
The Postal Service expects to reach a 90 percent on-time delivery rate by June 30, Runyon said.
He also asked the panel for $138 million for the Postal Service for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
Most of the money, $102 million, would be used to reimburse the department for revenue lost from free and reduced postage rates for certain mail, such as for the blind and overseas voting, Runyon said. The Postal Service also requested $35.5 million to cover workers’ compensation payments for employees of the old Post Office Department, which it replaced in 1971. -30-