Appeals of post office closings prove costly

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It costs the U.S. Postal Service and postal regulators more than $3,000 every time a facility decides to appeal a closure decision, a new report finds.

The joint report from the USPS inspector general and the Postal Regulatory Commission IG found that it takes 15 hours and $1,365 for the USPS legal department to process each appeal. Appeals then go through the Postal Regulatory Commission, where it can take anywhere from $1,806 to $2,496 and 19 to 29 hours to process them. Staff hours account for much of the cost.

About 23 percent -- or 126 -- of the 537 post offices USPS targeted for closure as of May 2012 appealed the decision. Facilities have 30 days after a decision to appeal to PRC.

The report recommended the Postal Service’s legal department strengthen its staff resource planning and better track attorney and staff hours spent on the challenges.

“This effort would support the organization’s retail network optimization initiatives and help control administrative and appeal costs,” the report stated.

The report noted USPS’ legal department recognizes its staff does not have sufficient resources to handle the workload.

The agency in May unveiled a plan halting an additional 3,000 post office closures, and presented a variety of alternatives such as opting for rural delivery in lieu of a post office, closing one post office and shifting some of its operations to another nearby, and changing employee hours.

CORRECTION: The joint report was by the USPS inspector general and the PRC inspector general.

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