Postal Service to announce plans to keep rural post offices afloat

May 9, 2012

The U.S. Postal Service intends to announce Wednesday that it has found a way to save hundreds of rural post offices it had planned to close, in part by cutting hours of the postmasters and other workers that staff them, postal and congressional officials said.

The move comes in response to pushback from members of Congress representing rural areas, who waged a vocal campaign in recent months to protect small post offices in their districts that were on the chopping block.

The Postal Service has announced plans to close almost 3,000 post offices across the country to save money, many of them in rural areas where the nearest alternative is miles away.

Postal officials have scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday to announced details of a new strategy to maintain rural service and possibly keep additional post offices open, by reduced hours and other strategies.

The Senate passed legislation in May to overhaul the debt-ridden agency, providing close to $11 billion to offer buyouts and early retirement incentives to hundreds of thousands of postal workers and allow the agency to pay off some of its debts. But senators placed restrictions on when, where and how hundreds of mail distribution centers and outposts in rural communities could be closed.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.
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