WASHINGTON -- The Postal Service is considering closing more than 1 in 10 of its retail outlets.
The financially troubled agency announced Tuesday that it will study 3,653 local offices, branches and stations for possible closing. But many of those may be replaced by what the service is calling Village Post Offices in which postal services are offered in local stores, libraries or government offices.
"It's no secret that the Postal Service is looking to change the way we do a lot of things," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe at a briefing. "We do feel that we are still relevant to the American public and the economy, but we have to make some tough choices."
Currently the post office operates 31,871 retail outlets across the country, down from 38,000 a decade ago, but in recent years business has declined sharply as first-class mail moved to the internet.
In addition, the recession resulted in a decline in advertising mail, and the agency lost $8 billion last year.
The only Mid-Columbia office being reviewed is the Wallula post office serving ZIP code 99363.
Most of the offices that face review are in rural areas and have low volumes of business. As many as 3,000 post offices have only two hours of business a day even though they are open longer, said postal vice president Dean Granholm.
Coming under review doesn't necessarily mean an office will close. The post office announced in January it was reviewing 1,400 offices for possible closing. So far 280 have been closed and 200 have finished the review process and will remain open.
Once an office is selected for a review, people served by that office will have 60 days to file their comments. If an office is to be closed, they will be able to appeal to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.
"Today's announcement is a step in the right direction. There are, however, many difficult decisions ahead that must be made to improve operations, reduce costs, and return the Postal Service to financial solvency," commented Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Postal Service.
The post office "must consolidate facilities and streamline operations in the way that countless private sector companies have done to remain viable in the face of new markets, new technology and changing customer needs," Issa said.
-- The list of offices being studied can be found at: tinyurl.com/3dauq4f