USPS eyes plan to consolidate; Dothan on list

The U.S. Postal Service says it's planning to conduct a study to examine the feasibility of consolidating its operations nationwide, and Dothan is on the list.

The plan would include the possibility of combining several distribution centers around Alabama. One such plan includes consolidating the Dothan CSMPC into the Montgomery, Ala. P&DC.

The Area Mail Processing study involves a review of the mail processing and transportation operations to determine capacity needs, within the postal network, the Postal Service says, in order to increase efficiency and improve productivity.

The study, which is expected to be completed in early 2012, comes as the Postal Service faces one of the most difficult challenges in its history. Facility closures are "conceivable" as soon as February of 2012.

Annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past 5 years and is continuing to decline. Total First-Class Mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece First-Class Mail - letters bearing postage stamps - has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe, according to the USPS.

Even when the economy fully recovers, the Postal Service says it does not expect mail volume to return to previous peak levels, and is projecting annual deficits for the foreseeable future.

In the last five years the postal service has fought to stem the tide of insolvency, closing 186 facilities, pulling 1,500 pieces of mail processing equipment from operation. The deepest cuts have been to personnel. 110,000 postal employees have been shed through attrition in a cost-cutting effort that's reduced expenses by $12 billion, according to the Service.

Because the decline has created substantial excess mail processing capacity, the Postal Service says its now starting the studies to look at reducing the size of its mail processing network on a nationwide scale.

If the feasibility study reveals an opportunity to consolidate mail processing operations, the Postal Service says it will hold a public meeting to explain the proposed operational changes and potential impacts on service. It says it will also solicit public feedback and considered the public's statements before making a final decision.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.