Carper Pleads for Reform to Avoid Closing 82 Postal Facilities

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The sponsor of the Senate Postal Reform Act says passing it now could delay Phase 2 of the Postal Service's 'network rationalization' plan for at least two years.

Carper: "Congress can't remain idle."
Carper: "Congress can't remain idle."

Following Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's announcement this week that 82 postal facilities have been slated for closing in 2015, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) issued an appeal to his fellow Senators to work toward quick passage of his Postal Reform Act. Doing so, he maintains, will keep these plants open for at least two more years.

“I have heard from a number of my Senate colleagues that the Postal Service is failing to meet the needs of its customers in many communities throughout the country, including some of those that would lose a processing center under this most recent plan,” Carper said in a statement issued yesterday. “Closing more mail processing centers will only make these existing problems worse and hurt the Postal Service's efforts to generate new mail volume and remain competitive in the growing package delivery market.”

Donahoe said this implementation of Phase 2 of the network rationalization plan approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission could no longer wait for action by Congress. In a letter to customers dated June 30, Donahoe wrote that “the uncertainty regarding legislative reform and review of postal rates in the courts continues to delay needed capital investments to acquire package sorting equipment and replace an aging mail delivery fleet.”

The closings, which will be initiated in January of 2015 and are expected to be completed by fall, should generate $750 million in annual savings for the Post Office, Donahoe stated. Approximately 15,000 postal employees will be affected by the cuts, most of them being reassigned to other facilities. Phase 1, executed in 2012 and 2013, consolidated 141 mail processing facilities and trimmed $865 million from the Postal Service's annual budget.

Facilities to be closed include processing & distribution centers, network distribution centers, air mail centers, and logistics & distribution centers. As a result, the average time it takes First Class Mail to reach its destination will increase from an average of 2.14 days to 2.25 days. USPS claimed, however, that speed of package delivery will not be affected. It also noted that the load-leveling plan it initiated earlier this year for presort mailers would not in any way be affected by Phase 2 closures.

In his letter, Donahoe expressed confidence that the new schedule of cuts would “establish the low-cost, technology-centric delivery platform necessary to serve the mailing industry for decades to come.” Carper wasn't so sure.

“The hard truth is that these piecemeal efforts undertaken by the Postal Service are likely not enough on their own to fundamentally fix the Postal Service's serious financial problems. Only bipartisan, comprehensive reform can put the Postal Service back on solid financial footing,” Carper said. “Congress can't remain idle. I urge my colleagues to join me this summer in addressing these concerns.”

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