U.S. Postal Service:

Information on Post Office Closures, Appeals, and Affected Communities

GGD-97-38BR: Published: Mar 11, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 1997.

Additional Materials:


J. William Gadsby
(202) 512-3000


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Postal Service's post office closures, focusing on the: (1) Postal Service process for closing post offices; (2) number of post offices closed since 1970; (3) number of proposed post office closures appealed to the independent Postal Rate Commission (PRC) and the disposition of those appeals; and (4) selected attributes of affected communities for fiscal years (FY) 1995 and 1996.

GAO noted that: (1) the Postal Service has a detailed process for deciding whether to close a post office and for effecting the closure; (2) the process is to include obtaining and evaluating post office operational and community demographic information, postal service delivery options, and comments from customers who would be affected by the closure of a post office; (3) the Service has closed 3,924 post offices since 1970; (4) PRC received the first appeal of a proposed post office closure in 1978; (5) since the 1976 amendments to the Postal Reorganization Act, there have been 2,614 post office closures and 296, 11 percent, of these closures were appealed to PRC from 1978 through 1996; (6) PRC affirmed the Service's proposals on 170, 57 percent, of these appeals, determined that it lacked jurisdiction for 31, 10 percent, of these appeals, which allowed the Service to proceed as originally intended, and remanded 58, 20 percent, of these appeals to the Service, usually due to incomplete data; (7) selected attributes varied in communities where post offices were either closed or were proposed to be closed but were appealed in FY 1995 and 1996; (8) attributes of affected communities included population and number of businesses, and attributes of post offices within these communities included level of postal service, postmaster salaries, post office revenues, and annual operating costs; and (9) in most cases, the annual operating costs of the closed post offices and those proposed to be closed exceeded their postal revenues.

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