USPS studying 1,000 post offices for possible closure - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

One Spokane Post Office on the list

USPS studying 1,000 post offices for possible closure

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WASHINGTON. - The U.S. Postal Service is studying roughly 1,000 of its 37,000 post offices for possible closure which is the latest cost-cutting step from an agency scrambling to deal with a projected $7 billion deficit this year and larger losses in 2010.

The agency started its review earlier this year with approximately 3,200 post offices and decided about 1,000 of them are "candidates for further review."

Postal managers say they will consider several factors in deciding whether to close those facilities including mail volume, proximity to other post offices and the potential savings in labor and utility costs.
 
Post offices generate about 71 percent of the Postal Service's revenues each year; the rest comes through alternative channels, particularly the Postal Service's Web site.

"Each year more and more postal transactions are now accomplished online," said Jordan Small, the Postal Service's acting vice president for network operations.

The post office review is one recommendation from the Government Accountability Office, which last week added the Postal Service to its high-risk list, indicating the need for "broad-based transformation." GAO analysts say they are deeply concerned about the agency's finances. Postal officials say they will probably post another $7 billion deficit next year, even after slashing $8 billion in costs.

"The Postal Service urgently needs to restructure," said Phillip Herr, GAO's director of physical infrastructure issues. "With regard to delivery operations, the Postal Service has more than 350,000 carriers, and delivery services represent the largest cost segment."

Closing post offices is just one part of fixing the postal network, according to Herr. The Postal Service also needs to close some of its mail processing facilities, many of which have excess capacity. That's particularly a problem at facilities that handle first-class mail. Those facilities, on average, are operating at 50 percent of their capacity.

The Trentwood branch in Spokane is one of six post offices in Washington named on the list of those offices being studied for possible closure. The others are in Kent, Seattle, Tacoma and Yakima.

By Gregg Carlstrom
Federal Times

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