The Washington Post

The U.S. Postal Service has yet another plan to save money — but it might make snail mail even slower.

The mail delivery service — facing mounting financial losses that may top $10 billion by month’s end — announced plans Thursday to close hundreds of facilities that sort the mail as part of a four-year effort to cut $20 billion, slash hundreds of thousands of jobs and permanently reshape itself as a leaner organization.

“The sobering reality is that first-class mail volume lost will not return,” said USPS Chief Operating Officer Megan J. Brennan. “People are communicating and paying bills electronically, and we project a continued decline.”

In the past decade, deliveries of first-class mail — the most popular and profitable mode — have plummeted by nearly 50 percent.

Postal officials said Thursday that they no longer need a coast-to-coast delivery network originally established to process first-class mail overnight, preparing envelopes, catalogs and packages that travel only a few ZIP codes away for delivery the next morning.

The USPS plans to review the fate of 252 of its 487 mail-processing facilities in the next three months in hopes of shrinking the number of plants to fewer than 200 by 2013.

The changes would result in the elimination of 35,000 mail-processing jobs, part of a broader plan to cut 150,000 positions by 2015.

Locally, the Postal Service said it will study the fates of four facilities in Maryland — including one in Gaithersburg — and four in central Virginia. Customers will have an opportunity to meet with postal officials in a public setting before final decisions are made, Brennan said.

Feasibility studies of the processing plants are in addition to the possible closure of at least 3,700 post offices nationwide and a push for congressional approval of long-sought reforms.

Lawmakers are considering four competing bills that would generally grant the USPS the flexibility to end Saturday mail deliveries, close post offices based on market conditions and recalculate how much it pays annually into federal retirement, health-care and workers’ compensation funds. Although the USPS is a self-funding entity that doesn’t collect taxpayer money, it is the largest contributor to those accounts.

On Thursday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who co-wrote one proposal, said closing processing plants “cannot forestall the Postal Service’s financial collapse by itself.” His bill would establish a financial control board to help overhaul postal finances.

Postal worker organizations were also skeptical.

Despite Brennan’s assurances that closing processing plants should be seamless, “I can’t imagine that the change will go unnoticed,” said James F. Killackey III, executive vice president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors.

Killackey, a former USPS official, suggested that businesses relying on overnight first-class mail deliveries to nearby customers might have to wait at least two days for a final delivery. Or turn instead to United Parcel Service or FedEx.

Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the new plans would jeopardize the Postal Service’s unrivaled delivery network, arguably its greatest asset.

Read more on PostPolitics.com and the Fed Page

Postal Service proposal might slow deliveries

Postal Service warns it could lose $10 billion this year

Rewards of federal service

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is today. Get caught up on the race.
What to expect in the New Hampshire primary
The Post's Philip Bump says ...
Since he proclaimed that he'd win New Hampshire last summer, Bernie Sanders has seen a swing of about 50 points in his direction. Impressive. But not as impressive as the guy on the other side of the political aisle. Donald Trump has led the Republican field in New Hampshire for almost 200 days, and has held a lead in 51 straight live-caller polls -- every poll stretching back to last July.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the state.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont.
56% 41%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.