Final Rule to Revise USPS Service Standards

May 19, 2012

[from a USPS Industry Alert]

Today the Postal Service sent the final rule to revise service standards for market-dominant mail products to the Federal Register.  The final rule will be posted on our “Information for Mailers” webpage at by COB Monday, May 21. Highlights excerpted from the final rule are provided below.


The Postal Service is adopting new rules for market-dominant service standards, with an interim version that will apply from July 1, 2012, through January 31, 2014, and a final version that will apply on February 1, 2014, and thereafter.  Should subsequent events or changed circumstances so warrant, the Postal Service will be able to revisit the final version before February 1, 2014.

First-Class Mail

Under the interim version of the overnight business rule for First-Class Mail, the overnight service standard will be applied only to intra-Sectional Center Facility (SCF) mail.  It will no longer apply to any inter-SCF mail. Under the final version of the overnight business rule for First-Class Mail, the overnight service standard will not apply to mail that is entered anywhere other than the designated SCF, nor will it apply to mail that does not meet all of the preparation requirements for Presort mail.  On February 1, 2014, when the final version of the rule takes effect, the Critical Entry Time (CET) at the SCF will become 8 a.m., with a 12 p.m. exception that will be available only to intra-SCF Presort First-Class Mail that is sorted and containerized to the 5-digit ZIP Code or 5-digit scheme level.

Revised Network Rationalization: Map & user-friendly list

May 18, 2012

Yesterday the Postal Service released a revision of its Network Rationalization plan to consolidate over two hundred mail processing facilities. 

When the plan was originally announced on December 5, there were 252 facilities on the list.   After the AMP (Area Mail Processing) studies were completed, a new list was released on Feb. 27, with 223 facilities approved for consolidation.

The Postal Service has decided to implement the plan in two phases.  The first phase consists of two stages.  The first stage of phase 1 will take place this summer, when some 48 facilities will be consolidated.  The Postal Service will then suspend consolidations during the busy mail period of the elections and holidays, and then resume again in January.  The second stage of phase 1 will include about 92 additional facilities, and it will begin in January. 

Phase 2 of the plan will be implemented in 2014, with 89 or more consolidations taking place, and bring the total number of consolidation to 229 (the Feb. 27 list had 223 facilities approved for consolidation, plus six studies still ongoing).  When the Postal Service released the lists this week, they were in a format that’s not very user friendly, so we’ve re-done the list in more manageable form.  There's a map too.  Here’s a list of the lists:

USPS list of AMP studies (2/27/2012)

USPS list of facilities to be consolidated summer 2012 (Phase 1, stage 1)

USPS list of entire Phase 1

STPO list of entire plan

STPO map of entire plan

Google Fusion Table (best for sorting, charting, mapping, downloading, etc.)

If you spot an error in the STPO version of the lists, please hit the contact link at the top and let us know.

And here's a list of just some of the news articles that have come out over the past 24 hours about the new plan.

What are people — and the Post Office — for?

May 15, 2012


It’s likely that I will be the last postmaster to serve the town of Webster, North Carolina.  The first postmaster, Allen Fisher, began his term in 1857, shortly after Jackson County was founded and Webster became the county seat.  The names of the postmasters that follow read like a county census.  In a rural mountain county that was fairly isolated well into the 20TH Century, the same family names filled many a civic obligation.

Miss Eugenia Allison was the longest serving postmaster, from 1914 until 1948.  Mildred Cowan served from 1950 through 1976.  When I became postmaster, I found letters Ms. Cowan had written to the old Post Office Department begging for a new building or at least better heat in the shack that served as a post office.

I will have been the third longest serving postmaster at Webster, although I don’t count that as much of a distinction.  I took a downgrade in coming here fourteen years ago.  Webster was on the same side of the mountain as my farm and that meant less of a drive.  More important, Webster was a one-person office, and I had soured on the idea of supervising others in a postal system where autocracy and duplicity trumped common sense and basic decency.  It’s been easy being here.

I live next door to the post office now, in a house that has stood since the town was founded.  I rebuilt the house and my life after a divorce.  Living next door to my office and being so accessible to my community has made the job of postmaster even more meaningful.

I had long planned to retire in July of this year.  I had the age and years, and health issues and personal concerns made it seem like the right time.  The changes wrought by the POSt Plan will take Webster to six hours a day whenever I leave, and while I have toyed with the idea of staying a couple of years to forestall that, it just doesn’t seem to make much sense.  I suppose the incentive payment is entering into my thinking, but not much.  It isn’t enough to make a difference.

No, if I am to be the last of the Webster postmasters, then I might as well get on with it.


THE POSTPLAN is little more than a cruel joke.  It offers hope to those who thought they might lose their local post office.  In reality it is little more than an interim step towards closing 13,000 post offices, maybe more.  The fact is that the dramatic prescriptions originally offered by Mr. Donahoe could never have occurred at the rate initially announced. It would have been operationally infeasible to close offices at the rate Mr. Donahoe wanted — 15,000 in five years.  But just by threatening those closures, POStPlan looks like a reasonable alternative.

It isn’t.

POStPlan: Map, Charts, & More

May 14, 2012

On May 9, the Postal Service released POStPlan, its new plan for small rural post offices.  The plan will impact 13,000 post offices.  Over the coming months, the Postal Service will begin holding community meetings to discuss the options: replace the post office with a "village post office" (a postal counter in a private business), close the post office and switch to rural delivery, or keep the post office open at reduced hours — two, four, or six hours per day, depending on the office's revenues.  Full-time careeer postmasters will be replaced by part-time workers at these part-time offices.  Details about the plan are here.

You can see the official USPS list here, and there's a map on Save the Post Office, here.  

A much better version of the map and list can be found on Google Fusion Tables: List and Map.  Google makes it possible to sort, filter, analyze, chart, and map the list in many ways.  There are several options and features, so here's a guide to help you get started.

On Privatization

Good Reading on Postal Privatization

Also: Sarah Ryan's "Understanding Postal Privatization: Corporations, Unions, and the "Public Interest"

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