As this paper and most other news organizations have reported, the U.S. Postal Service is in a financial crisis that necessitates the passage of comprehensive postal reform legislation to return the organization to sound financial footing now and for the future.
In the meantime, the vast majority of the steps the Postal Service has taken to reduce operating costs over the past several years have been transparent to our customers. Mail delivery performance remains strong, and we’ve enhanced our products and services, including package-tracking capabilities.
One initiative that has gained some attention is our efforts to sell some Post Office buildings with historical significance. Why would we do this?
Property disposals are one of the tools the Postal Service has traditionally used to increase revenue and decrease costs. Each facility’s size, location, costs and revenue, as well as the operations housed there, are taken into account. If the facility is too large for our needs and too costly to maintain, we need to sell it, even if it is an historic property.
When it comes to these actions, it is important to know that the Postal Service strictly adheres to all federal laws, rules and regulations pertaining to the sale of historic properties.
What’s more, the federally appointed Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was recently asked to submit a report to Congress on how the council can ensure that the Postal Service complies with the National Historic Preservation Act. The Postal Service has met with the council and provided documents to assist them. We appreciate their efforts to ensure the process remains strong, and we invite them to discuss any issues raised during the development of their report with Postal Service leadership in Washington, D.C.
All our stakeholders can be assured that the Postal Service, the roots of which date back to 1775, respects and values the rich history of this nation, which is why we carry out effective preservation efforts in buildings we continue to own.
We also ensure that these historic buildings are in better condition because of the covenants and easements in place for the future when we decide to relinquish ownership. In some instances, purchasers of historic postal facilities engage in preservation efforts that exceed those previously undertaken by the Postal Service.
Tom Samra is the facilities vice president of the U.S. Postal Service.