Through Rain, Snow, Sleet and Darkness of Night

Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

Yesterday my office began receiving calls regarding the closure of the Regional Encoding Center (REC) in Beaumont. My staff immediately went to work to inquire if the impending bad news was in fact true. When my office attempted to obtain information from the US Postal Service (USPS) regarding the alleged REC closure, none of the high level postal representatives admitted to being aware of plans to close the facility. It appears the decision to close the REC occurred with little or no notice to the community.

Today, I have sent a letter requesting a straight answer from the USPS. The talk on the street is that the REC would be closed in November of 2007 as a result of a drop in productivity, caused by Hurricane Rita. The Beaumont REC has consistently been ranked as one of the top ten facilities in the country due to the efforts of more than three hundred career employees and five hundred temporary employees reason enough to keep it open.

I am strongly opposed to closing this facility. I have been working to keep the REC open since the first rumors started making the rounds last March. I spoke with the USPS and they said they would keep us informed and I expected them to keep their word.

In May of 2006, I signed a letter with other Members of Congress asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to make changes in the realignment procedures of processing, distribution and bulk mail centers. A GAO report showed that stakeholder input was not being adequately considered. A failure to keep the public informed seems to be a pattern of the USPS.

Then in June, my office again communicated with the USPS when rumors resurfaced and we were advised that there were no plans to shut down the operation. Again, we were promised to be kept in the loop.

I am extremely disappointed with the failure of the USPS to keep community stakeholders, including those who work for postal facilities, informed of plans that will affect them. I believe the citizens of Beaumont deserve an opportunity to voice their grievances when decisions that could lead to cutbacks or changes in mail service in Southeast Texas are made.

The USPS bureaucrats in Washington, who make decisions that affect jobs in the community and the mail service, have a duty to communicate with the people and get public input before they close the Post Office doors in the darkness of the night.