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University of Baltimore To Host Congressional Hearing On Postal Service Problems

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Members of Congress will hold a field hearing at the University of Baltimore on Monday to examine the longstanding poor performance of the U.S. Postal Service in Baltimore City and the surrounding area.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform's Subcommittee on Government Operations will meet at the university's John and Frances Angelos Law Center on N. Charles Street at 11 a.m. to examine the root causes and potential solutions to slow mail service, according to congressional staff.

The hearing's witness list includes Baltimore postmaster Eric Gilbert; the U.S. Postal Service's deputy assistant inspector general for audit, Melinda Perez; and USPS processing clerk and shop steward, Rictarsha Westmoreland.

Chuck Metzger, a member of the community nonprofit ReBUILD Metro, is also expected to testify at the hearing.

"Baltimore residents experience some of the worst postal service performance in the country," according to a release issued Democrats on the committee. "Single-Piece First-Class Mail designated for three-to-five-day delivery in the Baltimore area arrived on time only 63.2% of the time in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021."

An audit conducted by USPS Office of Inspector General in late 2021 found that a postal service hub in Baltimore was processing millions of fewer pieces of mail compared to 2020, even though work hours and overtime have gone up significantly

Auditors reviewed operations at the facility between August 2020 and this past July. They found that workers processed roughly 1.67 billion pieces of mail in that period, or about 70 million fewer items compared to the year before. Meanwhile, work hours rose by 14.6% and overtime was up 43.5%.

Additionally, the audit found that employee availability was 65%, well shy of the agency's goal of 95%.

Faulty equipment and a lack of management at the Fayette Street facility were just a few of the factors that contributed to diminished productivity, according to the audit.

Auditors determined a lack of managers resulted in inadequate supervision, which contributed to lower productivity, a problem that was made worse by a hiring freeze imposed by DeJoy between August 2020 and May 2021.

Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), the subcommittee's chairman, and members of the Maryland congressional delegation will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to discuss information uncovered during the hearing. Maryland Democrats Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Kweisi Mfume, Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Sarbanes are scheduled to attend.

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