USPS Moves on Consolidation Plans

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service is proceeding with a program that involves consolidating some mail processing operations throughout its network, according to Paul Vogel, USPS vice president, network operations management.

Vogel spoke yesterday at the quarterly Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee meeting.

The effort is part of the Evolutionary Network Development Program that Postmaster General John E. Potter discussed at the National Postal Forum last year. It covers security, facilities, processing systems and transportation.

Under the program, in effect for three years and formerly called Network Integration Alignment, the USPS has closed 50 facilities and annexes and consolidated distribution operations for First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Periodicals in plants nationwide. The program also involves opening new post offices and facilities in growth areas, where demand for postal services is rising.

The USPS announced plans in October to consolidate 10 plants into nearby plants in these areas: Bridgeport, CT; Monmouth, NJ; Pasadena, CA; Waterbury, CT; Kinston, NC; Greensburg, PA; Mojave, CA; Boston; Marysville, CA; and Olympia, WA. Vogel said the areas “from a practical, logical and logistical point of view made perfect sense.”

The agency has “a formal communication process in place where we are telling the politicians, local community leaders, the unions and [everyone else involved] that we are considering doing something,” he said.

But Vogel added that no employees will lose their jobs from the consolidations, being reassigned instead.

Some audience members were concerned about being notified of the consolidations, because not knowing ahead of time how to address mailings could affect their delivery. Vogel said the USPS is devising a plan to notify mailers of such consolidations at the appropriate time.

Vogel also gave an overview of the postal service’s Surface Visibility program. It tracks visibility points from container loading to the unloading of both USPS and postal customer trailers. Wireless scanners are used to capture data.

“You will know, through this system we are designing, where containers that you have designated and you can identify are in the system,” he told MTAC representatives.

Vogel said 154 major plants will be activated for the program by the end of this month, “and roughly 85 percent of all [mail] volume are in these plants.” The agency aims to have full visibility of all mail volume inbound to its processing and distribution center docks. He said the USPS will expand Surface Visibility in 2006 to another 100 sites.

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