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Colorado lawmakers slam Postal Service for delivery issues in mountain towns

January 6, 2024, 12:00 pm

Members of Colorado’s federal delegation again called on the U.S. Postal Service to improve poor mail service in Colorado mountain town communities.

A December audit from the Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General found the biggest challenge for Colorado mountain town post offices is hiring and retaining staff, leading to more mail and package delays than in the rest of the state and country.

Auditors made recommendations to address the causes of poor mail service based on their findings in 13 post offices and one processing and distribution center.

John Hickenlooper
Sen. John Hickenlooper

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper as well as Reps. Joe Neguse of Lafayette and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, all Democrats, wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy at the end of December asking for immediate action to address the issues they have previously raised concerns about. 

“The audit’s results reinforced the concerns our offices have heard from many of our Colorado communities, most notably about workforce shortages and delivery issues,” the letter says. “Constituents in our mountain communities rely on USPS for critical services such as delivery of medications and bills year-round, and during the holiday season it is especially important that we all work together to ensure timely mail delivery.”

The audit recommended that the district manager for Colorado and Wyoming analyze what in the work environment affects the Postal Service’s ability to hire and retain staff. It also suggested Postal Service leadership explore higher pay for staff in Colorado mountain towns. Management did not agree with these recommendations, because pay for Postal Service employees is negotiated at the national level, according to the audit, and because the relevant workplace conditions are well known and not unique to locations considered in the audit. 

Management also did not agree with a recommendation that an employee who fills the postmaster role at select facilities go through a formal postmaster training course, because the cost outweighs the benefit for someone who temporarily fills in. 

Management agreed with recommendations that the district manager should establish a program to verify that packages are properly handled, scanned and delivered; instruct mountain towns to report delayed mail; and improve communication between delivery and processing personnel when mail is delayed.

The final recommendation, which management also agreed to, is that the district manager should conduct a study on six delivery units to determine if there is sufficient space for staff and customers. 

A spokesperson for the Postal Service said the agency will respond directly to the officials who wrote them. 

In February 2023, Bennet and Hickenlooper invited DeJoy to visit Colorado and see firsthand how much trouble Coloradans have had with Postal Service delivery. Pettersen and Neguse also wrote to management of the Colorado-Wyoming District that same month and asked for solutions to constituent complaints.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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