USPS Saying Rural America Will Be Served Better After Post Office Closings Is Truly Nonsense

The National League Of Postmasters filed the following testimony with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) addressing the USPS Retail Access Optimization Initiative.

Highlights of the testimony:
…. the minimal imagined savings to the Postal Service are a critical factor in evaluating a proposal that essentially produces a drastic reduction in availability and service. I know that the Postal Service has said that they will be able to serve rural America just as well if not better once all these post offices are closed, but that is truly nonsense. I suggest that the real proposition here is that the Postal Service is under financial stress and its urban-based leadership wants to back off from providing rural America the type of service it provides today, in order to concentrate its focus on providing service to large urban and suburban areas.

The postal network we have developed over many generations provides not only mail delivery but an essential governmental presence in every community and corner of the nation. I am convinced that in rural areas this federal presence goes as much to act of binding the nation together, as does the actual delivery of mail, and has been a significant factor in the success of the American system. As Mr. Jamison quite correctly points out, this network has truly served to bind the nation together, and dissolving and dismantling this important piece of our national infrastructure would be a tragic mistake. I would add that it could perhaps be a fatal mistake. This proceeding is the first step in that process.

While this proceeding is technically only focused on the 3,650 post offices that are currently on the chopping block, it is no secret that a much larger group—up to half of the post offices in the country—are waiting in the wings for their turn. That includes every small rural post office in the country. Whether they too will take their place on the chopping block will, in large part, depend upon how the Commission reacts in this Docket, and how clearly and strongly the Commission crafts its advisory opinion.

Consequently, I believe that the Commission must look to the larger picture in this proceeding, and consider the effect on a community and its economy when it loses its post office. Importantly, I also believe the Commission must look to the much larger cumulative effect on rural America if many thousands of small rural communities lose their post offices.

The Postal Service is more than a business. It is here to bind the nation together and to serve rural America by giving it the maximum degree of effective and regular service. Congress made that perfectly clear—a fact the Postal Service ignores— when it adopted the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the Postal Reorganization Act Amendments of 1976, and the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006

…the way in which the Postal Service is treating these community meetings raises very serious questions about the integrity of the Postal Service‘s effort in this initiative, and whether the Postal Service is seriously conducting these meetings with the goal of gathering information to understand and meet the needs and desires of these communities. Widespread information from the field indicates that in too many cases the ―community meetings‖ are simply canned briefings designed for public relations purposes, in order to create the illusion that the Postal Serviced is taking into account the needs of these communities and is following both the spirit and letter of the law. That truth of the matter is that the Postal Service is not taking into account the needs of the communities, and thus is not honoring the spirit of the law nor, in many cases, the letter of the law.

Of the 3,650 post offices recommended for review as part of the RAO Initiative, a significant portion are rural post offices. The primary purpose of the RAO Initiative is to reduce costs. As the Postal Service finally acknowledged on the day of Witness Boldt‘s cross-examination, the closing of these 3,650 offices is not the billion dollars that the Postal Service originally alleged, but estimated to save less than $200 million, or less than 3/10s of one percent of the Postal Service‘s operating budget. One could ―save more than that by playing with the rounding functions in the Postal Service‘s budget.

The Postal Service is charged with providing universal service, including a  maximum degree of regular and effective service to rural America. This Commission is charged with enforcing that mandate. The Postal Service is not doing that, and is not even trying to seriously perform its duty to gather information about the needs and desires of local communities and factor that information into its decisions.

I believe every participant in this proceeding wishes and wants in their heart the best for our nation‘s Postal Service. But the more important issue before the Commission in this docket is what is best for America and all of its citizens, especially those most vulnerable and dependant on their Post Offices.

Rebuttal Testimony of Mark Strong on behalf of the NLPM (PDF) and Rebuttal Testimony of Mayor Donald Hobbs on behalf of the NLPM (PDF) .

NAPUS Postmasters Provide Expert Testimony on Retail Access Optimization Initiative

On Monday, NAPUS National Vice President Curt Artery and NAPUS Retired West Virginia Postmaster Rita Zilinski submitted formal testimony to the Postal Regulatory Commission regarding the USPS request for an advisory opinion on its Retail Access Optimization Initiative  (PRC Docket Number N2011-1).  The USPS seeks PRC advise on whether its plans to review approximately 3,600 postal retail facilities, including 2,800 post offices, complies with established law.

NAPUS focuses its testimony on two specific aspects of USPS post office discontinuance plans. First, VP Artery, a hands-on  expert on post office operations,  highlights the misuse of the small office variance tool (SOV) as an inaccurate measure of post office workload. Artery’s  criticism is pivotal to the USPS initiative, since one of the two criteria for reviewing a post office for closure is having two or less workhours, as determined by the SOV. Second, Retired Postmaster Zilinksi, an authority on the relationship between a rural community and their post office,  establishes the importance of rural postal facilities to the area they serve.  In addition, she shows how the discontinuance of a rural post office can have a significantly negative impact on postal access and mail security in rural areas.  To view their testimony, link here

Closing a post office forces postal customers in many small towns or rural communities, like the ones I served, to receive their mail through a highway contract route via a single family mailbox erected in front of their residence or at the end or a rural road, or by a neighborhood delivery collection box unit (NDCBU). NDCBUs are key-operated mail receptacles, so-called cluster boxes that are installed at a designated area. The mail receptacles usually are not sheltered or illuminated, making them vulnerable to theft and weather.


11 thoughts on “USPS Saying Rural America Will Be Served Better After Post Office Closings Is Truly Nonsense

  1. It might be hard to comprehend to many people living in metropolitan areas but, in many rural areas, there is no – or sporadic and/or slow – internet connection. I have mobile broadband that is almost out-of-range of the nearest tower, it disconnects constantly. The tower does not have the latest technology either so, although I have a 4G router, the tower does not support it. Land line will not maintain a connection, the phone lines contain too much static and are full of “noise” that disconnects a modem.

  2. At the community meeting for our small town post office we were told that we could get PO Box service and full retail service at the post offices that are approx 6 miles away, one to the north and one to the south. What they didn’t bother to tell us is the fact that they are in the process of closing those offices too! The next closest Post Offices are 12 miles away and 23 miles away. The USPS representative at our meeting was obviously following a script. He ran through it rapidly and just repeated portions of the script during the question and answer portion of the meeting.

  3. I live in a community which has 135 p. o. boxes in the post office and 147 rural route boxes served by usps. my post office is on the list to be closed. All of you “dot com” people do not have a clue as to the importance of our mail service. We are 12 miles from another post office and we have many elderly residence who do not drive at all. There is another great reason not to close our post office, one most people care nothing about,and that being, we would loose our identity as a community.

  4. Fraternal order of PM main interest is to maintain member in management unions such as league and NAPS to insure dues are available to exert pressure for their case to maintain officies regardless of need for service. Offices exist that are a lost to exist and serve no real need. Many small officies need to be consolidated or eliminated and delivery provided from another nearby location. Small officies with no delivery are still in operation that are 2-3 miles from a large office. Congress must insure waste such as this is eliminated as many employees must be able to be employed 10-15 years and waste limits this necessity. 10 years needed.

  5. The management of the USPS has, for at least the last twenty years, sought to change the nature of the the Postal Service at a fundamental level. They have expressed a vision that reconstitutes postal services in this nation from essential infrastructure to merely another business entity. This attitude is in keeping with our increasing tendency towards viewing virtually all enterprise in the narrowest sense possible, as a generator of short term, immediate profits.
    The great economic engine of this country was built on the idea of long term, visionary growth, where each generation constructed and expanded a platform that succeeding generations could utilize to expand and grow opportunity. This model resulted in broader opportunity for all and a more equitable distribution of benefit.
    Today we are seized by a short term mentality that essentially limits growth. Rather than distributing an increasingly bigger pie we are simply redistributing wealth, and the direction is upward.
    We consume our infrastructure rather than build it. Postal management, acting much like a private equity company, has sought to carve up the infrastructure of the Postal Service rather than steward an essential national asset. They have been aided and abetted by a political climate and community that thinks in terms of immediacy. The fact remains though that senior postal managers could have expressed a brave vision that acknowledged the value of postal services and especially the importance and value of a national asset that binds the nation together and provides opportunity and utility. Instead they have jumped on the bandwagon of narrow short term interest. Worse, they have done so with an arrogance, cynicism and disdain for the American public that borders on malfeasance.

  6. Closing Post Officies will have no affect on American communications. INTERNET will continue to increases in connecting business and individuals. The USPS has no revealance in American public lifestle in 21st century. Smart phones, texting and new APP being introduced by Amazon, Apple, and other online firms left the USPS somewhere back in the 20th century delivering junk mail s a backup to EMarketing. Turnout the lights and lock the doors as the need for a USPS office no longer has a service need.

  7. Postal Management continues to lie to America about everything that they are

    doing. They are taking cues from their Republican masters who also issue

    bare faced lies like water from a fountain. They are ALL BUMS who only want

    one thing… turn this place in to a private business that serves ONLY THE BIG


  8. Gee, stop all of dis complaining! Majority of us know dat dese small rural Post Offices are witin a few miles of each other! And most of them have one or two mployees who hav the most seniority n dat community. Dese mployees dont want der Post Office to close got dey hav it made der. The Postmaster for dat rural PO gets around 65, 000 annualy for practically doing nuthin. The other mployees if any, do very little caus the volume of werk is little! Dese mployees ar the biggest whiners around. Nstead of acceptin change n consoladation
    dey may hav to driv a few miles further each day to go to werk, Whoopee! As i always say do yu want sum cheese with dat whine!!!

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