Rep. Owens says post office closure plan used flawed selection process, urges halt
Friday, February 17, 2012 - 6:12 am

Rep. Bill Owens and more than 100 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives are calling into question the way the U.S. Postal Service made its selections of post offices to close.

The Parishville, West Stockholm and Hailesboro post offices are on the Postal Service’s closure list, but in December a nationwide closure moratorium was put in place until May, so they are safe until then.

But now Owens and a long list of other representatives have sent a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe asking him to put a hold on what is called the “discontinuance process” of selecting which post offices and regional mail processing facilities could be closed to save the floundering postal system money.

The representatives say there are flaws in the way the closure decisions were made in the first place, and nothing more should be done until problems identified with the process are resolved.

Recently, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) reviewed the Postal Service’s Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI), which is being used as the basis for the possible closure of more than 3,600 post offices and 250 mail processing centers, and found several major flaws.

“I have long been against the shuttering of postal facilities because Washington bureaucrats do not understand the impact that these closures have on rural communities,” said Owens. “The PRC has raised serious concerns that need to be addressed and fixed before closure studies continue. As we look to streamline the postal service and keep it solvent, we need to be certain that we’re working off a study more accurate than the one currently being utilized.”

There are 38 post offices and one mail processing facility that are under threat of closure in Owens’ 23rd Congressional District alone, including those in Parishville, West Stockholm and Hailesboro, and, with a flawed RAOI, it is possible many may have been improperly identified for closure.

The objections center on allegations that the data used were incomplete or reflect unfairly on rural post offices.