Last week the Postal Service submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission its Request for an Advisory Opinion on POStPlan — the plan to reduce the hours at 13,000 small post offices. These downgraded offices will be called Remotely Managed Post Offices (RMPOs), meaning that the full-time postmaster responsible for administering the office will be located at another post office.
Along with the Request, the Postal Service submitted a Library Reference that contains a spreadsheet with the financial data used to calculate each office’s proposed status. The spreadsheet also has other information, like whether the post office was previously studied for discontinuance. It includes all the post offices set for reduced hours, as well as 4,600 post offices that will be upgraded to Level 18 as part of POStPlan.
You can download the spreadsheet from the PRC website here. The whole thing is too big for Google Docs, but we’ve put up an abridged version showing just the financial data, here.
When the POStPlan list was released earlier this month, we created a Google Fusion Table, which makes it possible to map the post offices and analyze the data in various ways.
Now that the Postal Service has released a list that includes both the upgraded and the downgraded offices, we’ve created a new Fusion table that includes the entire POStPlan list.
While we were at it, we also included every USPS facility (post offices, processing plants, parking lots, etc.). That information comes from the USPS website, which has facility reports for each state. The original facility reports are here (leased) and here (owned). Note that the reports have not been updated recently, but they remain the best publicly available source.
The new Fusion Table is here. For a map view, click on the “Visualize” tab.
If you’d just like to see the POStPlan offices, there’s another version of the table here. (The “experimental view” works well on this one — click on the link on the upper right.)
Note that the Fusion map doesn’t have a place for a legend, so keep in mind, red = 2 hours, yellow = 4 hours, purple = 6 hours, and green = upgrade to Level 18. Blue = postal facilities not affected by POStPlan (not all are post offices).
This new table has street addresses, so the map is much more accurate than our earlier map, which used zip codes.
When looking at the list and map, you can add filters for a particular state, zip code range, etc. Some instructions for using Google Fusion Tables are here.
A few preliminary notes on what the lists and map reveal:
Upgrades for what? In its Request for an Advisory Opinion, the Postal Service explains that it is upgrading 4,600 post offices to a level 18, and nearly 4,000 of them will serve as Administrative Post Offices. The Request makes it sound as if the rationale for an upgrade was that nearby RMPOs needed an administrative office for oversight purposes.
But this is not the case. One of the numerous fact sheets that the postmasters’ associations have provided says that the upgrades were based entirely on earned workload for FY 2011, not future administrative responsibilities.
Further evidence of that can be found by looking at the POStPlan map. There are many areas where there are several upgrades and no RMPO in the vicinity. And for some states, there’s almost as many upgraded post offices as there are downgraded. In Connecticut, for example, 60 post offices will be turned into RMPOs, while 50 will be upgraded. Why 4,600 post offices needed to be upgraded — and their postmasters given at least a 2% raise — is not clear.
Off RAOI, on POStPlan: In July 2011, the Postal Service published a list of 3,652 post offices being studied for closure under the Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI). Over the course of the next several months, nearly 400 offices were removed from the RAOI list, for reasons the Postal Service never explained. Now some 211 of them appear on the POStPlan list. A list of these 211 is here, and a Fusion table version is here.
Suspended and reopening? According to a list provided by the Postal Service to the Postal Regulatory Commission, as of January 1, 2012, there were 227 post offices under emergency suspension (list here). The POStPlan list contains 131 post offices under suspension. There’s no correlation between the lists. In other words, with perhaps a few exceptions, the post offices under suspension as of January 1 will not be reopening under POStPlan. The 131 POStPlan offices under suspension were thus apparently suspended after the first of the year. A list of these offices is here.
If you notice something interesting about the data or would like to see the numbers analyzed it a particular way, please hit the contact link at the top and send us a note.