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Members of Congress Ask GAO
To Address Consolidation Concerns

APWU Web News Article #25-06, April 11, 2006

Echoing union criticisms of the USPS network consolidation plan, four key members of Congress expressed “concerns about the way the USPS is carrying out” the program, in a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The March 27 letter [PDF] to U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker was signed by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Representatives Tom Davis (R-VA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA).

“While we recognize the USPS may need to consolidate its facilities…,” the letter said, “... we are not convinced that USPS is following the recommendations made” in GAO’s 2005 report on consolidation. The 2005 study concluded that the USPS “strategy for realigning its mail-processing infrastructure lacks clarity, criteria, and accountability.”

The legislators’ letter noted that, “The GAO report recommended that the Service establish criteria, inform stakeholders as decisions are made, and evaluate and measure the outcomes of realigning these plants, including the costs and savings that result.

“Although GAO recommended that USPS increase its efforts to keep stakeholders informed,” the letter continued, members of the House and Senate have informed the legislators that “they and the communities they represent have not been adequately informed about the Postal Service’s plans, how the Postal Service proposed to analyze plant performance and make realignment decisions, and what are the potential effects on these communities.

“Therefore, we are asking that GAO follow up on its report and determine:

  • What criteria is USPS using to analyze and evaluate these plants?

  • How does it plan to communicate these criteria to affected parties?

  • How does USPS’s overall communications strategy target the appropriate affected parties and does it provide sufficient information throughout the process? and

  • How does USPS plan to measure the effects of realignment including costs incurred and savings realized?”

APWU President William Burrus praised the legislators’ letter. “I am pleased that the legislators have expressed their concerns,” he said. “The USPS has heard only one voice in preparing its consolidation plan — the voice of major corporate mailers. It is imperative that citizens and their representatives be provided with information as well as the opportunity to provide input when consolidation plans are made.

“The U.S. Postal Service belongs to the American people. Their voices must be heard.”

Collins chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, of which Lieberman is the ranking minority member. Davis is chairman and Waxman ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform.

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