A little clarification can go a long way, and we hope that the statement issued Wednesday by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Wednesday represents his true view of the Alaska Bypass Mail system in Alaska.
DeJoy had raised alarms throughout Alaska with comments he made about the Bypass Mail program during an Aug. 21 hearing of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Since 1972, the Alaska Bypass Mail program — created with the assistance of the late Sen. Ted Stevens — has authorized palletized shipments of consumer goods and groceries via air to rural Alaska communities at Parcel Post rates. As such, it continues to be a key component of Alaska’s transportation infrastructure.
But on Aug. 21, DeJoy said he was considering cutting the Alaska Bypass progam to save the money for the U.S. Postal Service.
“That’s an item on the table,” DeJoy told the committee while substantially overstating the program’s cost.
The comments prompted a meeting earlier this week between DeJoy and all three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation.
We’re not privy to what was said at the meeting. However, the delegation on Wednesday released a joint statement.
“After a productive and educational meeting with Postmaster General DeJoy earlier this week, we are pleased to see that he has come to recognize the importance (of), and is committed to maintaining, the Bypass Mail program in Alaska,” the statement read. “As we expressed to him repeatedly in our meeting — the USPS in Alaska is vital to our way of life. Bypass Mail is frequently misunderstood by those in the Lower 48, sometimes causing it to be unfairly targeted. Simply put, the Bypass Mail program — which is a critical service for rural Alaska — helps to fulfill the USPS’ universal service obligation, all while saving the USPS money.”
After the meeting, DeJoy himself published a clarification of his Aug. 21 comments.
He said he appreciated talking with the Alaska congressional delegation, which “spoke forcefully on the importance of Bypass Mail to rural Alaska, and I assured them that it was not my intention to single out Bypass Mail while testifying at the August 21st Senate hearing, or to suggest that we were eliminating the program.”
DeJoy said he’d been referring to a “much broader effort to inventory all postal programs, as a part of our larger work to understand the Postal Service’s finances given the legal requirement that the Postal Service be financially self-sufficient.
“I welcomed the chance to explain my comments, and I look forward to continued work with the Alaska congressional delegation on issues of importance to the Postal Service and Alaskans,” DeJoy said.
Alaskans should appreciate Postmaster General DeJoy’s clarification, especially the part where he said it wasn’t his intention to suggest that the USPS is eliminating the Bypass Mail program.
We understand he’s been on the job only since May 6, and there must be a huge learning curve in running the U.S. Postal Service.
The conversation with the delegation assisted Mr. DeJoy’s understanding of USPS operations in Alaska, and we all can be thankful about that.