Closing post offices isn’t popular and the Postal Regulatory Commission has the workload to prove it. From July to the present, the number of pending appeals awaiting PRC action skyrocketed from 14 to 113. Small wonder, then, that the commission is reworking what Chairman Ruth Goldway calls a 35-year-old system.
Under newly unveiled rules, postal customers can submit petitions and supporting documentation in “plain language,” Goldway said in a news release today. Among other changes, the new procedures will ease requirements for petitioners who file appeals, but don’t use the Internet; allow people to file comments without formally intervening; and give participants more time to respond to U.S. Postal Service filings. The revamped procedures, which are also supposed to save the commission money, will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
As the PRC acknowledges, however, action on more controversial proposed changes is being postponed for now. And the commission could still face a fresh deluge of appeals later this year if the U.S. Postal Service delivers on plans to shutter up to several thousand post offices. Following a congressional backlash, USPS leaders have halted all closings–but only until May 15.
[Revised Jan. 26 to reflect updated number of pending appeals.]