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The Harte Hanks Blog

USPS Network Rationalization: The Facts According to Each Side

USPS mailbox network rationalization
Credit: Teresa Boardman

Fifty senators, mostly democrats, recently signed a letter requesting that Phase 2 of the USPS Network Rationalization plan, due to occur in January of 2015, be delayed for one year. This facility consolidation effort consists of the closure of 82 mail-processing facilities across the United States and was already postponed a year, originally scheduled for January 2014. The USPS, as well as many colleagues of these senators, however, remain in strong opposition to this proposed moratorium.

Let’s take a look at what both sides have to say.

The Letter Senders

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal quotes the aforementioned letter as saying: “…it has been more difficult for the American public and small businesses to receive mail in a timely manner,” in reference to the conditions that followed a change in USPS service standards over 2 years ago.

The general sentiment of the letter articulates a concern for the loss of 15,000 “good-paying postal service jobs,” a direct impact on 37 U.S. states and damage to local communities, mail service efficiency and the overall economy.  They feel that since the first phase of network rationalization, closing 141 facilities, service standards have suffered, and the additional closures will only lead to continued failure.

“This one-year moratorium will give Congress the time it needs to enact the comprehensive postal reforms that are necessary for the postal sService to function effectively into the future,” they conclude.

Furthermore, slowed mail arrival time resulting from plant consolidation has led some to express mail-carrier safety concerns. One Government Executive article indicates that nighttime deliveries have become more common in one region, citing “mail not arriving to its penultimate locations on time” from “the consolidation of two distribution centers into one” as the root cause.

The Other Side

In contrast to the pleas of many senators to suspend the intended consolidation, many others are in favor of the upcoming facility closures. Possibly the most compelling argument promoting the closing of these reportedly underused post offices appears in an article from the Washington Examiner providing data that states: “…office visits are down 19 percent since 2004 and millions of customers now only access USPS online.”

Additionally, the USPS makes a similar point arguing that “the changes are necessary as it adjusts its business model to compete with the Internet.” With increasing financial troubles in recent years, they are concerned that “a moratorium could threaten the progress it has made in regaining stability,” and are asking that legislation “allow it more financial flexibility.”

From the mouth of the USPS

When asked to comment on the senators’ appeal, the Postal Service provided this written statement:

“In 2012 and 2013 the Postal Service consolidated 141 mail processing facilities. This rationalization of our network was highly successful, resulted in negligible service impact, required no employee layoffs, and generates annual cost savings of approximately $865 million. The Postal Service expects the completion of network rationalization will generate an additional $750 million in annual savings.”

What’s next?

With both houses of Congress on recess through early September, there has been no conclusion as of yet.  However, with so much riding on both ends, it will be interesting to see how this dilemma plays out.

For more information on the current state of postal affairs along with relevant news and issues, check out our most recent Postology Report.


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