Tuesday, February 07, 2012

If you know of a comprehensive list of post offices that might be closed, tell us; the USPS won't

Millville, W.Va., P.O., since closed
Steve Hutkins of Save the Post Office has found out what we learned months ago, that there is no public, comprehensive list of potential office closures on the U.S. Postal Service's website. "One gets the impression that the service would prefer that the public not have access to this data," he writes, correctly.

On a micro level, the information is not really secret, as Hutkins notes: "Every community that sees its post office close down ... knows about it, and there's usually at least one local news article when a post office closes." But, he says, most closures happen "below the radar," making it hard to see the national scope of the issue.

Hutkins sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Postal Service asking for complete list of closures, but the agency told him it would cost $650 plus photocopying to compile it, and implied it could not do it. He's been trying to get data from local news reports and other sources, but admits that's "time consuming and prone to error." Even the USPS website has incorrect information and isn't frequently updated, he says.

He reports some success: USPS released several lists to Ruth Goldway, chair of the Postal Regulatory Commission. She made a request in January for the information as part of the PRC's annual compliance report. Hutkins notes the lists have several errors and "anomalies," found by Evan Kalish of Going Postal, a photo blog recording offices forced to close. Goldway requested seven lists, five of which have been given with two forthcoming. Hutkins links to each list and adds his commentary about them on Save the Post Office. (Read more)

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