Senior Florida Congressman
Challenges St. Petersburg Consolidation
APWU Web News Article #38-06, June 26, 2006
U.S. Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) has asked Postmaster General John E. Potter to respond to a detailed list of questions that challenge the Postal Services’ plan to shift mail processing operations from the St. Petersburg Processing & Distribution Center to the Tampa P&DC. Young asked Potter to postpone any further decisions about the merger of operations until the USPS provides more information and community leaders have an opportunity to study it.
In a strongly-worded June 19 letter to Potter [PDF], the senior member of the House Appropriations Committee echoed the concerns of civic leaders and postal workers that the proposed consolidation would cost the city its postmark and delay mail service.
Young asked Potter to address a series of specific questions and wrote, “it is imperative that our local elected officials and members of our community have all the available information about your cost-benefit analysis and your assumptions about future customer service.”
The 16-term congressman asked that Potter show how the consolidation fits within national USPS plans to realign its network, noting that an April 2005 Government Accounting Office (GAO) study concluded that the consolidation effort “lacks sufficient transparency and accountability, excludes stakeholder input, and lacks performance measures for results.”
Young asked whether completed consolidations had achieved USPS objectives without diminishing service. “It is hard to determine where your estimates come from without more details,” Young wrote. “The one-page fact sheet that was distributed” at a town meeting on June 14, “only provided five scant bullet points under the heading Business Case,” he noted.
Questioning the underlying rationale for the consolidation, Young said, “Information provided to me by the American Postal Workers Union indicates that the St. Petersburg mail processing facility scores better than Tampa in terms of efficiency and productivity.” He pointed out that redundancy in the current two-plant arrangement for the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area is critical for west Florida coastal communities when hurricanes and other natural disasters strike. Noting that Florida was hit eight times by major storms in just the last two years, Young said “any one of those storms could have damaged or knocked out one or the other of these mail processing facilities.”
The congressman also requested that Potter answer in detail how the consolidation would affect service in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, asking point-blank, “Will the process of trucking mail back and forth across Tampa Bay result in longer delivery times?”