(January 4, 2015) The U.S. Postal Service next week plans to begin a new round of plant closings and consolidations that will affect dozens of mail-processing centers, including three in Mississippi, despite calls from more than half the members of the outgoing Senate to postpone the changes.
Earlier this month, 30 senators, all but one of them Democrats, issued a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe urging USPS not to move forward with its “network rationalization” program until the agency has completed its analysis of potential impacts.
The Postal Service is set to move forward on Monday with controversial plans for closing and consolidating many of its mail-processing centers. Grenada, Gulfport and Hattiesbug would be affected in Mississippi, with Hattiesburg and Gulfport business going out of state to Mobile, Alabama.
All told, the Postal Service plans to close 82 mail processing centers nationwide next year, starting Saturday.
Critics say the program will slow down delivery times and harm the agency’s brand.
Auditors reportedly have found incomplete impact studies for all of the 95 mail-processing facilities that are due to absorb operations from other centers, a situation that seems typical of the Postal Service, which apparently has been ill-managed for years.
So, postal customers would be justified in exclaiming, “Oh, great!” The post office has acted again on incomplete data.
The Postal Service insisted that it had fulfilled its obligations with the impact reports, but an independent review by Congress is the best method of determining that.
In a letter, some senators criticized USPS’ initial studies, saying the language in the reports was “so vague and uninformative as to be meaningless to the public.” They asked the agency to postpone its plans to accommodate further analysis.
USPS, it is reported, said in its annual report to Congress that the past three years of changes “resulted in negligible service impact, required no employee layoffs and generated annual cost savings of approximately $865 million.”
The next phase of consolidation will increase delivery times and eliminate overnight delivery for “a large portion of first-class mail and periodicals,” according to the inspector general’s report.
A service downgrade seems a sure way to ensure its demise.
A Postal Service fact sheet says the changes will only nominally increase the average delivery time for first-class mail, from 2.14 days to 2.25 days.