As we pointed out in an article last week, the plan is getting panned in some quarters. Save the Post Office critiqued it and wondered why the USPS hadn’t passed it by the Postal Regulatory Commission for review.
So we sent the PRC a link to our article and asked if it had reviewed the plan and asked, “Does the PRC believe it should review the plan, or is the USPS within its rights to transform the network without PRC input?”
A spokesperson provided us with PRC Chairman Michael Kubayanda’s response. It’s detailed, and we are providing it verbatim below, including the background bullet points he provided:
“Current law requires the Postal Service to request an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission only for operational changes that affect service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis. Commission regulations require the Postal Service to file the request 90 days prior to implementation. Federal courts and the Commission have previously found that broad strategic plans alone do not trigger this legal requirement, although Commission leadership monitors such plans.
Specific elements of a strategy may trigger this legal requirement when the Postal Service moves to implement them on a nationwide basis. Earlier this year, the Commission identified the need for the Postal Service to request an advisory opinion on its proposed changes to Critical Entry Times for certain periodicals. Last week, on September 2, the Postal Service formally made the request for an advisory opinion on these changes. The Commission previously issued three extensive advisory opinions on proposed service changes from July 2021 through June 2022.”
• On December 17, 2021, the Commission issued an opinion interpreting the legal requirement to request an advisory opinion under Title 39, section 3661 of the U.S. Code.
• The Commission’s decision relied heavily on Buchanan vs USPS, a case decided by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Buchanan Court found that broad strategic plans alone do not trigger the sec. 3661 requirement. An analysis of how this legal reasoning applies to the present strategies begins on page 16 of the Commission’s opinion: (link).
• The USPS Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office do analyze Postal Service strategies, as included in these links. Congress and the Postal Service Governors also oversee the Postal Service’s strategic approach.
• Local pilot programs are an important step towards implementation but may not meet the nationwide or substantially nationwide standard until they are scaled up more broadly.
• The Commission issues findings in a timely and thorough manner in service of our mission to provide transparency and accountability of the postal system. We are steadily increasing our capabilities, including the deployment of software-aided modern analytical techniques which help in evaluating the postal network. We stand ready to review any changes that must be submitted to the Commission under the law.