Postal commission clarifies role on contentious closure issues


The Postal Regulatory Commission emphasized its advisory role to the U.S. Postal Service during a public meeting Wednesday in explaining why it has not taken a larger role in debates over whether to focus on rural or urban post office closings.

The conversation surrounding possible operation-shrinking initiatives for USPS has revolved primarily around whether to shutter post offices in rural areas.

PRC Chairwoman Ruth Goldway said the commission has not taken a more vocal role to switch the conversation from closing rural offices to urban ones because its relationship with USPS is chiefly a responsive one. “When the Postal Service is considering a change in service that may be nationwide, they come to us and ask us for our advisory opinion,” she said.

She added while USPS operationally has plans to consolidate post offices in urban areas, it is not doing so in a way that necessitates action from the advisory panel.

“If we determine that the Postal Service is going ahead with some changes that are of nationwide impact without coming to us, then we might ask them to come to us,” Goldway said. “But at the moment, the normal procedure is that we respond to their proposals.”

The commission also responds to appeals of closure decisions.

Goldway stated at the start of the meeting that PRC currently is set to advise USPS on four contentious proposals: to change nationwide service standards; to consider changes to operating hours at up to 17,000 post offices; to offer enhanced services related to post office boxes; and to file for a Negotiated Services Agreement with marketing company Valassis.

“It’s going to be a very difficult three months for us,” she acknowledged.

The most recent advisory opinion PRC gave on the distinction between urban and rural service consolidations was in response to USPS’ Retail Access Optimization Initiative, the panel said. That opinion is dated Dec. 23, 2011.

Of that opinion, Commissioner Mark Acton said Wednesday, “we weren’t making a distinction between urban and rural other than the sense that there was a disproportionate impact between rural and urban. And we were encouraging a service that provided a plan that provided for suitable alternative access whether it was in an urban or a rural setting.”

Goldway pointed out that USPS has been working to cut costs in urban areas as well as rural, noting in particular the agency’s efforts to sell off some of its most valuable urban property.

Also talked about at the meeting was pending research to determine updated proper pricing and demand for postal services. The results of the research, being performed by PRC Office of Accountability and Compliance Director Margaret Cigno, PRC staff economist Elena Patel, and consultant Ed Pearsall, have no set release date.

PRC spokeswoman Ann Fisher cautioned that the work “is not intended to represent a commission viewpoint or position” and that “no conclusions have been drawn yet.”

Opening PRC meetings to the public was a point of pride for the five-member commission.

“We may not come to an opinion that everybody is pleased with, but we certainly want to make the commission itself open and accessible and understandable to everybody,” Goldway said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.