Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement regarding her recent tour of Post Office facilities in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico:
“In recent months my office has received a substantial number of complaints from constituents about U.S. Postal Service (USPS) operations in the Territory. The majority of these inquiries pertained to delays in mail delivery, caused by structural damage to the USPS sorting facility in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In response to these complaints, we held several meetings with USPS leadership to demand immediate improvement and requested tours of several facilities in the Territory and on the island of Puerto Rico.
“Over the last two days, myself, Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR), staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and other Congressional staff visited USPS facilities on the island of Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. These tours included:
- Guaynabo Post Office, Puerto Rico
- Carolina Sorting and Processing Center, Puerto Rico, that most U.S. Virgin Islands mail passes through; and
- Aubrey Ottley GPO (Sugar Estate Post Office) on St. Thomas, to assess the operations and better understand the issues such as delayed mail, damaged packages, long lines, and other problems that has negatively affected Postal Service customers here in the territory.
“What we found was unacceptable. While there are many dedicated public servants working in these locations, including many of our veterans, there are issues that regional management urgently need to address, including updating manual processes that could be automated, more aggressively responding to equipment needs and logistical adjustments, and more actively working to understand the unique challenges of delivering mail to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“During our tour of the Carolina facility, we discovered that it does not have adequate electrical and HVAC infrastructure in place to support all the necessary machinery. However, we did see crews working to bring the building up to standard. We were told that the necessary upgrades should be complete by mid-December. When we inquired about damaged packages, we were told that the way items are packed by a shipper could cause some of the damage. USPS staff also noted that they needed to do a better job documenting how many packages are damaged and where in the supply chain this damage is taking place.
“USPS promised to address the staffing issues it has been facing in the VI and Puerto Rico, which are also a substantial contributor to delays. In addition, we know the rates for the rental of mailboxes has dramatically increased along with certain shipping costs. This was not a primary focus of these visits, as it is an issue that we will need to address with USPS on a national level. We will continue to monitor the issues we are facing with USPS and we are committed to keeping our constituents informed about any progress.