U.S. Postal Service watchdog investigating reports of service disruptions - senator


  • World
  • Saturday, 15 Aug 2020

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Postal Service worker wears a protective face mask during a delivery route on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General is investigating reports of service disruptions and other issues raised by lawmakers, a spokeswoman for Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Friday.

"We have learned that the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General is investigating all aspects of our request from August 7th and that they've already requested documents as part of the review," spokeswoman Saloni Sharma said.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb said the office is "in receipt of the congressional request and are conducting a body of work to address concerns raised," but declined to comment further.

The Aug. 7 letter from a number of U.S. lawmakers asked for "a thorough audit of all operational changes put in place in recent weeks to determine the rationale behind these changes, if any analyses of their impact were conducted before implementation, their effect on the quality of mail delivery, and how it will impact services needed for the 2020 election."

New Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has donated $2.7 million to Trump and his fellow Republicans since 2017, has ordered operational changes and a clampdown on overtime in a bid to fix the financially troubled service, which reported a net loss of $2.2 billion in the last quarter.

The lawmakers also asked if DeJoy and his wife have "met all ethics requirements regarding disclosure, divestment, and recusal from decisions in which he may have a conflict."

A spokesman for DeJoy did not immediately comment.

The changes include scaled back retail hours and orders for delivery trucks to leave on time even if mail is still being loaded. They have led to delays across the country, workers and political leaders say.

The disruptions come as elections officials plan to send tens of millions of ballots by mail ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, despite unfounded claims by Republican President Donald Trump that mail voting could lead to widespread fraud. Experts say mail voting is as secure as any other method.

The Postal Service has told at least five states -- Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Missouri and Washington -- there is "significant risk" voters will not have enough time to complete ballots and return them under current state laws, according to correspondence seen by Reuters.

(This story was refiled to fix typo in name in pargraph two from Shaloni to Saloni)

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Chris Reese and Daniel Wallis)

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