Tuesday, January 25, 2011

$72.2 Million for Breast Cancer Research

The USPS Express Dream Team participates in the annual Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" to raise funds for breast cancer research.

In December, national sales for the Breast Cancer Research semi-postal stamp totaled more than $1.2 million, raising $246,000 for research. Since 1998, when the stamp was issued, stamp sales have produced more than $72.2 million for breast cancer research.
The 55-cent Breast Cancer Research semi-postal stamp covers First-Class Mail postage and generates funds for this important cause. By law, 70 percent of the net amount raised goes to the National Institutes of Health and 30 percent goes to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.
Thanks to all Sales and Service Associates who promoted the stamps at the retail counter and to all employees/customers who purchased them. Also thanks to the USPS Express Dream Team who participated in the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" and raised more than $4,500 for breast cancer research.

She's One in a Million (USPS Mobile App Users)

People on-the-go seem to appreciate the USPS Mobile App for the iPhone. During fiscal year 2010, the app — giving iPhone and iPod touch users the ability to use Track and Confirm, find a ZIP Code, or locate the nearest Post Office, Automated Postal Center or collection box — was downloaded by more than 500,000 new users. Customers used the app 5.7 million times.

Boca Raton Retail Specialist Valarie Rother promotes postal products and services at every opportunity. Recently NewsLink featured her comments: "I’ve assisted many customers using the USPS mobile phone application on my smart phone. Not only can I look up a ZIP Code and track a package, I’m also educating customers about our app. Maybe we could incorporate the smart phone app into one of our terrific Priority Mail commercials."

Way to go, Valarie!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ... Oh My!

Lean Green Teams last year helped the Postal Service achieve significant results in energy reduction and resource conservation, saving USPS more than $5 million in decreased energy, water, solid waste to landfills and petroleum fuel use. In addition, team efforts helped USPS recycle more than 222,000 tons of material, which generated $13 million in revenue and avoided $9.1 million in landfill fees.

“Across the country, postal employees are participating in more than 80 cross-functional Lean Green Teams,” says Emil Dzuray, acting Chief Sustainability Officer, adding that USPS plans to deploy Lean Green Teams nationwide by 2012.

The teams are helping mesh low-cost and no-cost sustainable practices with performance management systems to help USPS meet the following reduction goals by 2015:

Facility energy use — 30 percent.
Water use — 10 percent.
Petroleum fuel use — 20 percent.
Landfill waste — 50 percent.

“With nearly 32,000 facilities, a presence in every community, and the largest civilian fleet in the nation, we know how important our efforts are to make a positive impact on the environment,” says Dzuray. “Our employee green teams are an important part of building a conservation culture and reducing our carbon footprint.”

To learn more about the Postal Service’s sustainability initiatives, visit usps.com/green and the green newsroom.

Why We Are Adjusting Our Infrastructure

For decades, the U.S. Postal Service expanded its national infrastructure to accommodate an expanding nation and increasing volumes of mail. The number of Post Offices, processing and distribution centers, vehicles, and employees increased exponentially.

In 2006, mail volume reached an all-time high of 213 billion pieces and since that time, it has been steadily and consistently declining. With the mail volume decline came the subsequent steep decline in revenue. Less revenue, coupled with the ongoing recession and the prepayment of retiree health benefits, has created a situation the Postal Service has never faced — the need to adjust its entire infrastructure to prepare for significantly less mail volume.

Why are we adjusting our infrastructure?

-- The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2010 — that equates to losing more than $23 million EVERY single day of the year.
-- Mail volume has declined by 43.1 billion pieces in the past five years — from an all-time high of 213 billion in 2006 to 170 billion in 2010.
-- The Postal Service is doing everything possible to reduce costs and save money — this will involve consolidating operations wherever possible.
-- In FY 10, the Postal Service cut spending by $3 billion, bringing total cost savings over the last three years to $10 billion.
-- By consolidating operations, adjusting delivery routes and restructuring administrative and processing functions, the Postal Service is adapting to meet the evolving needs, demands and activities of our customers.
-- Don’t look at the Postal Service and see only brick and mortar Post Offices with the flag pole in front of the building:
o Look online at usps.com.
o Look at the USPS app on mobile devices.
o Look at other retail outlets — grocery stores, office supply stores and pharmacies.
-- The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner, and more competitive. But it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities, and deliver value.
-- As a self-supporting government enterprise, the Postal Service receives no tax dollars. It relies solely on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses. Revenue generation is a matter of business survival.
-- As a familiar and trusted presence across America with highly recognizable products and services, and the largest distribution system in the nation, the Postal Service is seizing opportunities to generate new revenue

Friday, January 21, 2011

Optimistic Forecast

Direct and digital advertising expenditures in the U.S. this year will increase to $163.9 billion — 6.2 percent more than last year — according to a new report from marketing consultancy Winterberry Group. Of that total, the agency predicts direct mail spending will reach $47.8 billion, a 5.8 percent increase over last year.

Inspectors Caution Us to 'Play It Safe' at Work

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service reminds all employees to “play it safe” whether you're delivering mail or working in a postal facility. Pay attention to your surroundings when traveling to and from a postal installation. And leave your jewelry at home.

“If someone makes a threat, treat it seriously,” says Miami Division Inspector-In-Charge Enrique Gutierrez. “Even if you don’t see a weapon — even if you don’t feel like you’re in any danger — comply with the individual(s) and do what is asked.”

Here's some advice if you're present during a robbery or other threat:
-- Comply. Comply. Comply. Do nothing to endanger yourself or others. Give the suspect(s) what they demand as quickly and calmly as possible.
-- Stay calm. Do exactly as you are told. Say nothing to agitate the suspect(s). Make no sudden or suspicious moves that could be interpreted as hostile.
-- Do not attempt to intervene or follow the suspect(s). If you can do so without detection, form a mental image of the face, voice, accent, mannerisms, clothes and direction of escape of the suspect(s).
-- Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so; then call the National Law Enforcement Communications Center at (877) 876-2455; then follow internal notification procedures to ensure upper level managers are aware.
-- Politely decline all requests for comment from customers or media. Direct their questions to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

As soon a possible after the event, write down everything you saw and heard but please do not discuss the matter with others until after you are interviewed by law enforcement and an investigator with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This helps preserve the unique point of view of each witness. Discussion tends to blur the facts as each person, hearing what others say, unintentionally alters their own recollections to fit into one coherent story. Investigators need facts, not interpretation. Stay focused on exactly what you saw and heard.

Also adhere to the following basic security measures:
-- Secure all building access points. Do not allow piggybacking through facility entrances. Ensure the door you enter locks behind you, preventing others from unauthorized entry.
-- Wear your Postal ID at all times and challenge anyone without proper identification. Do not allow unauthorized persons to gain access to your facility.
-- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Notify your Postmaster, manager, or supervisor if you observe any suspicious activity. In turn, management will notify local authorities, the Postal Inspection Service, and senior postal leadership, per our Standard Operating Procedure.
-- Lock all vehicles (postal and personal) when not attended.
-- Ensure all postal vehicle keys are stored in a locked cabinet.
-- Ensure emergency phone numbers are posted at each telephone.

Popular Black Heritage Stamps 'Here to Stay'

Former Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan will join the Black Heritage Stamp Series in 2011.

To dispel recurring rumors that its long-standing Black Heritage Stamp Series will be discontinued, a senior postal official reiterated the Postal Service's continued commitment to honoring African Americans on stamps.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. These rumors continue to resurface around this time of year," explained David Failor, Executive Director of Stamp Services. "As a main component of our annual stamp program, the Black Heritage Stamp Series is alive and well, and here to stay.”

The 2011 Black Heritage stamp will honor former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas. It will be issued as a Forever Stamp and will go on sale in September. Commemorative stamps, including the Black Heritage Series, generally remain on sale for one year or as long as supplies last.

Jordan was one of the most respected and influential American politicians of the 20th Century. Her prodigious list of “firsts” includes being the first African-American woman elected to the Texas legislature, the first African-American elected to the Texas State Senate since 1883, and the first African-American woman from the South elected to the U.S. Congress.

Staunchly determined to help extend social justice and federal protection of equal rights to all American citizens, Jordan dedicated her life to working for the benefit of others and her legacy will carry on for generations to come.

Since 1978, the following Black Heritage stamps have been released:

Harriet Tubman (1978), Martin Luther King (1979), Benjamin Banneker (1980), Whitney Moore Young (1981), Jackie Robinson (1982), Scott Joplin (1983), Carter G. Woodson (1984), Mary McLeon Bethune (1985), Sojourner Truth (1986), Jean Baptiste DuSable (1987), James Weldon Johnson (1988), A. Phillip Randolph (1989), Ida B. Wells (1990), Jan E. Matzeliger (1991), W.E.B. DuBois (1992), Percy Lavon Julian (1993), Dr. Allison Davis (1994), Bessie Coleman (1995), Ernest E. Just (1996), Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. (1997), Madam C. J. Walker (1998), Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) (1999), Patricia Roberts Harris (2000), Roy Wilkins (2001), Langston Hughes (2002), Thurgood Marshall (2003), Paul Robeson (2004), Marian Anderson (2005), Hattie McDaniel (2006), Ella Fitzgerald (2007), Charles W. Chesnutt (2008), Ana Julia Cooper (2009), Oscar Micheaux (2010), and Barbara Jordan (2011).

Postmaster General to Streamline Management, Match Workforce to Workload

To help increase service levels, improve USPS flexibility and speed, and meet ever-changing customer needs in the communications marketplace, PMG Pat Donahoe says he plans to streamline postal management, improve customer service, and redesign operations to help control costs.

Those plans began to roll out earlier this month with the PMG’s creation of an eight-member Executive Leadership Team — which replaced the previous 10-member Executive Committee — and the reorganization of the senior executive ranks at postal headquarters.

That was followed by the closing of the Southeast Area office. All districts previously reporting to the Southeast Area now report to the Southwest Area office, with two exceptions: The Tennessee District reports to the Eastern Area and the Atlanta District reports to the Capital Metro Area.

“These actions are the beginning of a much larger process that will involve every level of the organization, including the closure of some districts,” says Donahoe. This could include the closure of some 10 districts nationwide and the elimination of about 7,500 positions through attrition, as eligible workers retire.

“As we continue our redesign, we anticipate that Reduction in Force and Voluntary Early Retirement processes will be initiated by the end of this fiscal quarter,” adds Donahoe. “We will provide as much information as we can and will be as transparent as possible about the goals and objectives throughout this time.”

Donahoe acknowledges change is difficult for many people, but it is imperative that USPS continue its evolution as a forward-thinking, fast-acting company capable of providing quality products and services for customers, and a welcoming, diverse, professional workplace.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Donahoe Officially is New Postmaster General

Patrick R. Donahoe today took the oath of office in front of employees and family members to become the 73rd Postmaster General of the United States and the CEO of the U.S. Postal Service.

Pledging to return the Postal Service to profitability and continue to provide high levels of customer service, Donahoe announced a new partnership with eBay as part of a renewed push to generate much needed revenue and the expansion of the Forever Stamp program for customer convenience.

“I am confident that we will emerge as a profitable, market-responsive organization that competes for customers and delivers even greater value to the American people,” Donahoe said.

The Postmaster General reiterated his commitment to working with Congress and the Administration, citing ongoing conversations with both the federal offices of Personnel Management (OPM) and Budget Management (OMB) to recover $6.9 billion the Postal Service has overpaid the Federal Employee Retirement System.

“We are looking for every opportunity to control costs and raise revenue. We will do everything we can to ensure that money can be used by the Postal Service to prefund retiree health care or pay down debt and avoid repeating the situation we found ourselves in with CSRS and prefunding retiree health benefits,” Donahoe said.

Despite the challenges facing the Postal Service, Donahoe said his belief in postal employees and the future of the Postal Service remains strong.

“Our employees have been and always will be our greatest asset and our greatest strength,” he said. “We are the indispensible means of delivery today, and our challenge is to make sure we remain the indispensible means of delivery far into the future.”

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to ID Suspicious Mail and Packages

Due to events last week — when two parcels mailed to Maryland state offices and one package at the USPS government mail facility in Washington, DC, were found to contain incendiary material — postal employees are reminded to remain alert for suspicious mail and packages.
While the chances of encountering suspicious mail are very low, employees who identify a suspicious item should follow procedures and remember the Three Ps:

Package — Don’t handle the package. Isolate it.

People — Clear the area of people. Notify your supervisor.

Plan — Contact Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (option 2) and, if smoke or vapors are present, call 911. Follow your emergency plan.

Employees should use Poster 84 as a guide in recognizing the characteristics of suspicious mail, including its shape, look, addressing and packaging.

Shape — Is it lopsided or uneven? Is it rigid or bulky?

Look — Are there oily stains, discolorations, or crystals on the wrapper? Does it have a strange odor?

Address — Is there a return address? Are there restrictive markings? Are there misspelled words? Is it addressed to a title rather than to an individual? Is it an incorrect title? Is it poorly typed or written?

Packaging — Is it sealed with tape? Is there excessive tape? Is there excessive postage?

Postal Service Announces New Pricing

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe today signaled a new direction in continuing to improve customer relations within the mailing industry by consulting with industry representatives on the effective date for new prices and by relaxing some guidelines on implementing Intelligent Mail services.

The Postal Service filed new mailing service prices with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Price increases are limited to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap of 1.7 percent, consistent with the Postal Law of 2006. Actual percentage price increases for various products and services will vary. It has been nearly two years since the last increase.

After consulting with key industry association representatives, the new prices would become effective on April 17, giving the mailing community more than 90 days to make the necessary technology and system changes to accurately handle the new prices.

Recognizing ongoing industry concerns with challenges associated with implementing the IMb, Donahoe announced that mailers can continue to use POSTNET barcodes to qualify for automation discounts. The POSTNET code was to end this May to enable broad adoption and use of the IMb. There will be no Full Service Address Change Service (ACS) charges.

Single-piece, 1-ounce First-Class letters will remain 44 cents with additional ounces increased to 20 cents. The price for mailing a postcard will increase one cent. The overall increase is capped at 1.741 percent – at or below the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. More detailed pricing information will be available later today online at www.usps.com/prices. Today’s announcement does not affect Express Mail and Priority Mail prices.

Prices for other mailing services, including Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services, and Extra Services, also will change. Business mailers will see price increases in a variety of categories.

The proposed price changes are expected to generate $340 million for the balance of the fiscal year and $720 million, if implemented for a 12-month period.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hungry for a Restaurant Discount?

Restaurant.com is offering 80 percent off gift certificates with a coupon code. Three hundred restaurants are participating in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties. In total, there are 1,000 participating restaurants in Florida.

Get $25 certificates for two dollars with some restrictions like added gratuity and a minimum purchase. It's important to read the fine print before you purchase as offers vary.

Click here for South Florida deals. Add code SPOON at checkout. It expires on January 13.

Source: Sun Sentinel

MLK Day Holiday: 'A Day On, Not a Day Off'

Legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The federal holiday was first observed in 1986, making 2011 the 25th anniversary of the King federal holiday.

In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President's national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community."

People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can get involved. Just fill in your interest area and ZIP Code in the Find a Project box to locate a volunteer opportunity in your community or plan your own project.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era and a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.

Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, he was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.

While Dr. King preached about justice, empowerment, love and peace, in the final months of his life, his attention was turned to fighting poverty. Sadly, more Americans live in poverty today than during Dr. King's lifetime. Forty-seven million Americans currently fall below the poverty line. Dr. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He had gone to Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.

Learn more about Dr. King’s life from The King Center website at http://mlkday.gov/leaving.php?website=http://www.thekingcenter.org/drmlkingjr/

It's 'Critical' for Commercial Mailers

With the Postal Service’s new Critical Mail service, recipients can indeed judge the contents by the packaging.

A new Shipping Services offering for commercial customers, Critical Mail is designed for time-sensitive documents and items such as event tickets, identification cards, and high-value direct mail.

An expedited product with a 1- to 3-day delivery target, Critical Mail provides customers with tracking and free Delivery Confirmation. Additional services such as insurance and Signature Confirmation also are available.

Customers must be Priority Mail Commercial Plus mailers and also must commit to a minimum volume to qualify for Critical Mail.

USPS is charging one price — $3.50 for automated letters and $4.25 for automated flat-sized envelopes — for delivery to all destination zones regardless of weight.

Critical Mail must be processed with automated First-Class Mail, and the pieces must be scanned — the same as all Delivery Confirmation mailpieces. Also, customers must use USPS-supplied envelopes for Critical Mail, which are available free of charge.

Pieces with postage applied may be placed in a collection box, picked up by a carrier, or entered through a Business Mail Entry Unit.

Six Zones Added to FSS Processing List

Automation revolutionized the way the Postal Service processed letter mail. Delivery Point Sequencing took it a step further — placing letter mail in the order of delivery. The Postal Service is applying that same kind of technology to processing flats — large envelopes, magazines, catalogs and circulars.

During the week of January 10, the following six zones will be added to the list of ZIP Codes with flats processed on the Flats Sequencing System (FSS):

Monday, January 10: Promenade 33012
Tuesday, January 11: Palmetto Lakes 33014, Miami Gardens 33015
Wednesday, January 12: Hollywood Hills 33021
Thursday, January 13: Margate 33076
Friday, January 14: Hialeah Carrier Annex 33016

Restructure: Flatter, Leaner, More Flexible

PMG Pat Donahoe has announced a new senior management structure representing a flatter, leaner organization with the flexibility to more quickly adapt to coming changes.

“The Executive Leadership Team and I have worked collaboratively with many others to create a smaller, more efficient structure that will empower senior executives with authority and provide the resources necessary to lead significant change,” said Donahoe.

There are organizations that do not continue under the structure announced today and the total number of officer positions has been reduced by six. The structure establishes a small number of new positions, and reflects changed reporting relationships.

Donahoe said the changes provide a more integrated focus toward accomplishing the key USPS strategic goals of strengthening the business-to-consumer channel; improving the customer experience; competing for the package business; and becoming a leaner, faster and smarter organization. The PMG and Executive Leadership Team have been working since early December to develop the structure.

Specifically, the new structure reflects the following changes:

-- Developing both market-dominant and competitive products now is the responsibility of one officer, the vice president of Domestic Products. Where those products are sold — in retail, online or in alternate spaces — becomes the responsibility of the vice president of Channel Access.

-- All customer interaction and support, whether for large corporations, small businesses or individual consumers, will be the responsibility of the vice president of Consumer and Industry Affairs. The Consumer Advocate remains a vital part of customer service and will report to this officer.

-- The engineering technology and systems that keep mail moving and prepare the Postal Service for the future of mail, including Intelligent Mail, will become an integral part of the Information Technology Department.

-- All Human Resources functions will be led by the Chief Human Resources Officer, supported by the vice presidents of Labor Relations and Employee Resource Management.

-- The Chief Sustainability Officer will continue the Postal Service’s leadership role in greening USPS and the mailing industry, reporting to the Deputy Postmaster General.

-- Strategy moves into a new role within the Finance Department.

The Southeast Area Office will close. All previous Southeastern districts now will report to the Southwest Area Office, with two exceptions: Tennessee District will report to Eastern Area and Atlanta District will report to Capital Metro Area.

“Today’s actions and announcements are the beginning of a much larger process that will involve every organization within the Postal Service,” said Donahoe. “As we continue our restructuring, we anticipate that a reduction in force (RIF) and a voluntary early retirement (VER) process will be initiated by the end of this fiscal quarter,” said Donahoe. “We will provide as much information as we can and will be as transparent as possible about goals and objectives throughout this time.”

Donahoe said he understands that changes like those announced today are difficult for many people. “I thank all employees for continuing to do a great job delivering for America,” he said. “It’s imperative that we all help the Postal Service continue its evolution as a forward-thinking, fast-acting company capable of providing quality products and services for customers — and a welcoming, diverse, professional work place.”

A full organizational chart will be shared within the next few months, according to Donahoe, and he committed to employees to keep all levels of the organization informed as the Postal Service moves forward.

Click here for an organizational chart of the new senior management structure.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Celebrating the Big Pink Bird in Davie

A little artsy, a little campy, and a whole lot of fun, Flamingo Fest is a celebration of the great pink bird!

On January 15-16, 9:30am to 5:00pm, Flamingo Gardens will be filled with Flamingos- Flamingo art and sculptures created by local artists, Flamingo crafts and merchandise, Flamingo educational programs, Flamingo kids craft projects, plus music, entertainment, and of course food!

Don't miss Alex Nelson on stage Saturday or the Charlie Steiner Jazz Trio on stage Sunday, and be sure to see the Rainbow Circus' Flamingo Stilt-walkers strut their stuff.

Visit http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=DXJxq&m=1a9LAAG9Fourqn&b=oKQG6xPBdNo4qQEvk_tJ5A for a full schedule of events or call 954 473-2955 for more information.

Admission to Flamingo Fest includes Flamingo Gardens' Botanical Gardens, Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary, Wildlife Encounter shows and tours of the historic Wray Home. Admission is free for members, $17 Adults, $8.50 ages 4-11, and free for ages 3 and under. Narrated Tram tour is additional.

FREE National Park Admission on Some Dates

The National Park Service has waived admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011 and has encouraged all Americans to make a New Year’s resolution to visit a national park this year.

With 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them places for easy and affordable vacations any time of the year. South Florida's Everglades National Park (pictured) is very popular with residents and tourists.

The 2011 fee-free dates will be the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15-17), National Park Week (April 16-24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (September 24), and the weekend of Veterans Day (November 11-13).

The first fee free days are centered on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at national parks such as Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. They are just a few of the dozens of national parks which trace the history of African Americans.

Several parks will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 17. It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a day on, not a day off.

Many national park concessions will also offer discounts on fee free days, saving visitors money on food, lodging, tours, and souvenirs. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

With January’s price change, the Postal Service introduced several flat-rate product innovations, increasing convenience and adding value for commercial customers using Priority Mail and Express Mail services.

New to the flat-rate lineup:

The Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope measures 15-by-9.5 inches and allows customers to send legal-sized documents without folding. It’s available for both domestic and international mailing.

The Priority Mail Padded Flat Rate Envelope measures 12.5-by-9.5 inches and can be used for lightweight merchandise. It’s available for both domestic and international mailing. Previously available only to Commercial Plus customers, the envelope now is available to all Priority Mail customers.

The Priority Mail Legal and Padded Flat Rate Envelopes cost $4.95 for retail and Commercial Base customers and $4.90 for Commercial Plus customers. If a customer brings in a legal or padded flat rate envelope for payment at a retail counter, the $4.95 price will be charged.

Also making its debut this month is the Express Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope, measuring 15-by-9.5 inches. It can be used to send legal-sized documents without folding and is available for both domestic and international mailing. It’s priced the same as the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope and Express Mail International Flat Rate Envelope, respectively.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting the Stamp of Approval

Of the 25.5 billion stamps, stamped envelopes and stamped cards produced in fiscal year 2010, 6.3 percent were commemorative stamps.

Most ideas for the commemorative stamp program come from the American public. Each year, 50,000 people send in proposals for consideration by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, a cross section of designers, historians and educators, who narrow the selection of stamp subjects to be issued. The committee reviews the suggestions and makes recommendations to the Postmaster General for final approval.

The Stamp Selection Process Stamp proposals are to be submitted in writing to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee. This allows everyone the same opportunity to suggest a new stamp subject. Subjects should be submitted at least three years in advance of the proposed date of issue to allow sufficient time for consideration and for design and production, if the subject is approved. All eligible subjects are reviewed by the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee regardless of how they are submitted, i.e., stamped cards, letters or petitions. Stamp proposals are to be submitted in writing to the following address: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 1735 North Lynn St., Suite 5013, Arlington, VA 22209-6432.

Federal Employee of the Year Nominations

Do you know a postal employee who consistently performs above and beyond the call of duty? A member of the South Florida Postal Family who deserves recognition for his or her heroic efforts in a life-threatening situation? A postal employee who generously volunteers his or her time to benefit others in the community?

If so, consider nominating this individual for recognition in the South Florida Federal Executive Board's 46th "Federal Employee of the Year" Awards Program. This is the only inter-agency federal awards program in South Florida. It pays tribute to all dedicated federal employees and service members who are part of the public workforce.

There are 10 award categories: Administrative, Clerical/Administrative Support, Law Enforcement, Management (except Agency Head), Professional, Scientific, Service to the Community, Technical/
Information Technology, Trades and Crafts, and Valor.

Start thinking about your nominations now. The Learning Development and Diversity Office will be posting nomination packages in the near future.

Work and Happiness

According to a survey by the attitude-research company Sirota Survey Intelligence of Purchase, NY, busy employees are happy employees.

A survey of 203,000 employees at various companies found people who have too little work are less satisfied with their jobs than those who are burdened with too much work. The most satisfied employees in the survey were those who say they have “just the right amount of work.”
Workers in the “just right” group rated their job satisfaction at 68 on a 100-point scale. Those with the second-highest satisfaction were workers with “too much work.” They rated their job satisfaction at 52. The least satisfied employees were those who say they have “much too little work.” They rated their job satisfaction at 32.

Jan 7 Check to Reflect Soc Sec Tax Reduction

Thousands of postal employees will have their Social Security employee tax rate decrease 2 percent in 2011.

The tax reduction is a result of the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010” signed into law December 17, 2010. The Act temporarily decreases the Social Security employee tax rate from 6.2 percent (of the first $106,800 in earned income) to 4.2 percent for one year — but some employees will not see any changes in their tax rate.

Here are the new law’s effects:

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees — They do not pay into Social Security. The new law does not change their tax rate. There will be no change in their retirement deductions.

CSRS-Offset and Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) employees — Social Security tax will be reduced by 2 percent, and there will be no change in their retirement deductions.

The Social Security tax rate change will be reflected in January 7, 2011 paychecks. The reduced Social Security withholding will have no effect on the employee’s future Social Security benefits.

For more information, contact the Accounting Help Desk at 866-974-2733, Monday through Friday, between 8 am and 8 pm.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

World-Class Shipping and Scanning

In the highly competitive package delivery business, customers expect more than on–time service. They also want to go online and track the status of their packages at any time. Product scanning generates a stream of package-status information that lets mailers and recipients track the progress of packages as they move from acceptance to delivery. Our customers expect accurate and reliable scanning data, and we have to deliver on that expectation. Scan every piece, every day!

Critical Mail: A New Expedited Shipping Service

With the Postal Service’s new Critical Mail service, recipients can indeed judge the contents by the packaging.

A new Shipping Services offering for commercial customers, Critical Mail is designed for time-sensitive documents and items such as event tickets, identification cards, and high-value direct mail.

An expedited product with a 1- to 3-day delivery target, Critical Mail provides customers with tracking and free Delivery Confirmation. Additional services such as insurance and Signature Confirmation also are available.

Customers must be Priority Mail Commercial Plus mailers and also must commit to a minimum volume to qualify for Critical Mail.

USPS is charging one price — $3.50 for automated letters and $4.25 for automated flat-sized envelopes — for delivery to all destination zones regardless of weight.

Critical Mail must be processed with automated First-Class Mail, and the pieces must be scanned — the same as all Delivery Confirmation mailpieces. Also, customers must use USPS-supplied envelopes for Critical Mail, which are available free of charge.

Pieces with postage applied may be placed in a collection box, picked up by a carrier, or entered through a Business Mail Entry Unit.

Online Holiday Sales a Cyber Success

According to online measurement company ComScore, e-commerce sales this holiday season rose 13 percent to $30.8 billion, up from $27.4 billion during the 2009 holiday season. Online sales during the final week of the holiday season were $2.5 billion, up 17 percent from $2.1 billion for the same week last year. And Thanksgiving Day sales soared 28 percent over last Thanksgiving to $407 million, while Cyber Monday sales reached slightly more than $1 billion, up 16 percent from last year.

Post-Holiday Retail Items Now on Sale

Several holiday-themed retail products are marked down 50 percent from the original price at your local Post Office.

The sale includes ReadyPost supplies that feature designs of the comic strip Peanuts or Evergreens. The sale on ReadyPost supplies expires January 14.

The “Let It Snow” CD, featuring 11 holiday favorites from contemporary and classic stars, and the holiday classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” DVD also are on sale. The CD costs $7.49 and each DVD is $6.49. The DVD/CD sale will continue throughout January.

You can find great deals on greeting cards. All holiday boxed greeting cards have been marked 50 percent off original prices. Individual holiday cards are not included in the sale.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Revenue Outlook Shortchanged

According to the FY 2010 Annual Report, the revenue outlook worsened after the Postal Regulatory Commission’s rejection of the Postal Service’s request for an exigent price increase. This increase, if approved, would have generated approximately $2 billion in additional revenue in 2011. Although the Postal Service has decided to appeal this ruling, no decision is likely to occur in time to impact 2011. Thus, the revenue outlook for 2011 is largely dependent on the course of the economy and, to a lesser extent, revenue initiatives.

Although the economy is largely responsible for the recent revenue and volume decrease, electronic diversion presents on ongoing, long-term challenge, particularly with respect to First-Class Mail.

First-Class and Standard Mail account for 94% of total mail volume. First-Class Mail is expected to continue its long-term decline, while Standard Mail is expected to grow slowly. Total mail volume is expected to be virtually flat in 2011, and then show steady growth beginning in 2012 as the economy continues to recover, but is unlikely to ever return to the peak 2006 levels.

For 2011, the Postal Service projects revenue to be flat versus 2010. Revenue will see a small boost from the recently announced Shipping Services price increases offset by First-Class Mail declines.

First-Class Mail volume is expected to decline during 2011. Even when employment, consumer spending, and capital investment recover, the growing use of the Internet and other electronic means of communication will continue to suppress mail growth. First-Class single-piece letters have been in decline for more than a decade and are expected to continue to decline in both the short- and long-term.

Standard Mail volume has fallen by approximately 20% since peaking in 2007. For 2011, Standard Mail revenue and volume are expected to begin a slow rebound.

Periodicals volume is projected to decrease modestly in 2011. While the projected declines in Periodicals are not as dramatic as some other mail categories, they represent the continuation of a long-term trend.

Shipping Services revenue and volume are expected to increase in 2011. This entire group is influenced by competitors’ prices, which often include fuel surcharges, and by our own advertising and promotional initiatives.

Lunar New Year Stamp has Kumquats for Luck

On January 22, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the fourth of twelve stamps in its Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which began in 2008 with the Year of the Rat. The Year of the Rabbit begins on February 3, 2011, and ends on January 22, 2012.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Mongolian heritage in many parts of the world. In the United States, as elsewhere, the occasion is marked in various ways across a diverse array of cultures. Parades, parties, and other special events are common.

Kumquats, such as those depicted in the stamp art, are given as gifts and eaten for luck at this time of renewed hope for the future.

They're 'Puppy Love' and 'the Cat's Meow'

Last year’s release of Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps appears to have created a strong case of puppy love with customers.

The stamps, featuring photographs of five cats and five dogs from animal shelters and rescue groups, earned the “Reader’s Pick from 2010” award for the best stamps of last year as voted by reader’s of Beyond the Perf — the Postal Service’s online complement to the USA Philatelic catalog. To view a list of the winners, go to http://www.beyondtheperf.com/content/readers-picks-2010.

To date, customers have purchased a total of 13.4 million panes, generating more than $117 million. An average commemorative stamp printing is 65 million individual stamps. USPS initially printed 300 million Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps — 4.5 times more than average.

“Sales of the stamps exceeded expectations,” said Stamp Services Manager Dave Failor. “USPS minted an additional 100 million stamps to meet demand — the only commemorative stamps within the past five years to receive a reprinting.”

The Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps continued the Postal Service’s half-century tradition of promoting attention and awareness of national social issues. The stamps received a boost from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, a well-known advocate for pet adoption — and Halo, a pet food company she co-owns. After introducing the stamps on the Ellen DeGeneres Show last March, USPS and Halo launched a Stamps to the Rescue campaign. Halo set a goal of feeding one million shelter dogs and cats by the end of 2010 — and delivered on its promise. Halo has donated food to more than 100 shelters throughout the United States.

The animals featured on the Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet commemorative stamps are based on photographs of cats and dogs from shelters and rescue groups — seven from an animal shelter in New Milford, CT. All were adopted into family homes.