“There is still confusion about the post office closing appeal process.  The Postal Service announced a moratorium on post office closings until May 15, but the Commission is still busy on a daily basis with reviewing post office closing appeals and issuing decisions about those. 

There is a difference between the approximately 3,600 post offices that were listed for closing in the RAOI, which we commented on at the end of December, and an ongoing list of post offices developed before that Initiative — about 800, a couple of hundred that were already suspended and closed, and about 600 post offices that were active.  And the Postal Service was proceeding with those post office closings and actually closing post offices during the whole process of our review of the 3,600.  And when they announced their moratorium on December 12, they said that any office that was then open would stay open until May 15, but that those offices that had been under review prior to the 3,600 offices would continue to be under review and decisions about closing them would continue to be made. 

Therefore, if there’s a discontinuance notice placed on a post office, it will require, if people in the community feel it’s necessary, an appeal to the PRC, and we’ve been asked by the Postal Service to continue our normal statutory process of handling those appeals and making a decision within a 120 days.  So we have many post offices that had been noticed for discontinuance — those were not part of the 3,600 post offices — and we are continuing to review appeals that have been submitted to us on those post offices, and there may still be some post offices in that group of 600 which will continue to get notices of discontinuance and we may get appeals on those. 

Those that are in the 3,600 will not have a final decision on discontinuance until May 15 but they may well have a mass number of decisions on May 15, which then we would have to hear if there are appeals.  I am told that the Postal Service is reviewing those 3,600 and may in fact have a second community meeting for most of those 3,600 and may have a different approach for some of them at the end of May 15. 

But what we know for certain is that there are approximately 600 post offices that were not covered under the moratorium with regard to review and appeal and that those 3,600 that are in the moratorium could well be subject to discontinuance and appeal immediately after May 15. 

I hope that clarifies for people the situation that we are in as a regulatory agency we are obliged to hear these appeals and have to respond within a 120 days so we can’t delay any appeal that comes before us.  And there are well over a hundred dockets in front of us that we are dealing with. It’s a significant workload and we are trying very hard to do the necessary reviews. . .

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