USPS Publishes “Final Rule” with the Federal Register to Change Post Office Staffing Policy and the Definition of “Consolidation.” NAPUS and League Leaders Consult with Attorneys.
The Postal Service has filed a “final rule” with the Federal Register which would redefine consolidation and make it possible to arbitrarily change a main post office to a station or branch, which could conceivably make it easier to close the facility. This change would allow the Postal Service to convert a Post Office into, or replace it with, another type of USPS-operated retail facility, without following the discontinuance process, effective on December 1, 2011. The change would also make it possible to change the staffing of a Post Office such that it is staffed only part-time by a Postmaster, or not staffed by a Postmaster at all, but rather by another type of USPS employee, and it would not be a discontinuance action.
The other “final rule” change would also allow a Post Office to be operated or managed by a Postmaster or by another type of postal employee at the direction of a Postmaster, including when the Postmaster is not physically present.
The Postal Service filed the original proposed changes with the Federal Register on March 31, 2011. As previously reported on the NAPUS website, NAPUS and the League jointly sought legal counsel and pursued legal action and filed a formal complaint before the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to stop the proposed CFR changes. After months of back and forth comments with the PRC and a request by the USPS to dismiss the NAPUS/League joint complaint, the PRC issued a ruling on the complaint on August 11, 2011.
The PRC ruled that the Postal Service’s actions to review the possible discontinuance of more than 3,600 retail postal facilities was consistent with the relief that the League and NAPUS sought and was therefore moot. The remaining two claims about consolidating Post Offices and staffing of a Post Office were dismissed as premature, since the Postal Service had not yet implemented either change. Yesterday, the Postal Service filed plans to implement changes, which are listed in the final rule.
The course of action on the newly issued final rule with the Federal Register is currently under discussion between NAPUS and League leaders and legal counsel. Updates will be provided as additional information becomes available. A copy of the final rule can be found here