Former BRAC Members Endorse Plan to Close Postal Facilities

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Eleven former commissioners who served on the congressionally appointed Base Realignment and Closure Commission in the 1980s and 1990s sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 1 that endorsed applying the BRAC model to plans to close unneeded U.S. Postal Service facilities.


The postal plan was proposed this summer by the presidential postal commission, appointed by President Bush to consider the future of the USPS. It suggested that a commission be established to oversee post office closings similar to the system used to close unnecessary military bases. Once closings are recommended, they would become final unless Congress disapproved of them in their entirety within 45 days.


The letter was circulated by former U.S. Rep. Jim Courter, who chaired the 1991 and 1993 rounds of the BRAC. Courter is also chairman of the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank in Arlington, VA.


Other signers included former U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon; Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Harry McPherson, former special counsel to President Johnson; Robert D. Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats Co.; Gen. Duane Cassidy, former commander in chief of the U.S. Transportation Command; and former U.S. Rep. Beverly Byron of Maryland.


The presidential postal commission noted in its recommendations that, "With mail volumes stagnant, with opportunities to outsource and provide better service at less cost, and with less fixed infrastructure to maintain, the Postal Service has significant opportunities to rein in the costs of its logistics network."


Its findings went on, however, to describe strong political pressures to preserve postal facilities, and jobs, even though they comprise "an expensive and inefficient status quo."


"The future effectiveness of the U.S. Postal Service is going to largely depend on controlling costs and increasing productivity," Courter said. "The BRAC process can help achieve those critical improvements."


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