Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday, a single-day charity drive held annually on the fifth day after Thanksgiving, is Dec. 3.

Postal Service employees can participate by donating to the Combined Federal Campaign, the federal government’s workplace charity effort.

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to encourage people from around the world to come together and do good deeds to help others.

“The movement raises support for causes people believe in, in the form of donations of money, food and clothing, volunteer time and acts of kindness,” said Kathleen Harper, a human resources program and policy analyst who oversees the Postal Service’s CFC efforts.

USPS employees raised more than $161,340 on Giving Tuesday last year through donations to charities participating in the CFC.

“I anticipate that on Dec. 3, employees will make an even bigger positive impact,” Harper said.

Postal Service workers have already pledged almost $1.75 million during the CFC’s current cycle, surpassing the amount donated at the same midpoint during the previous cycle.

Employees have also shared stories of being helped by organizations that participate in the campaign.

The Postal Service’s goal for the current CFC cycle, which ends Jan. 12, 2020, is $8.3 million. Employees can donate to participating charities by using the online donation system or with a paper pledge form.

Seasonal smarts

The USPS Ethics Office wants employees to remember that complying with the organization’s rules on giving and receiving gifts is especially important during the holidays.

The Ethics Office Blue page has a presentation to help employees become familiar with the rules, which are known as the standards of ethical conduct.

The presentation includes the standards that apply to receiving and exchanging gifts between employees and outside sources, including customers, contractors, contract employees and vendors.

Under the guidelines, coffee, soda, doughnuts, cookies, non-alcoholic drinks and other refreshments aren’t considered gifts unless they are part of a meal. Also, if a vendor sends chocolates, a cheese platter, coffee or other treats to a facility, these items are considered a gift.

The guidelines prohibit employees from directly or indirectly soliciting or accepting gifts from a customer or supplier.

There are also guidelines for attending holiday parties hosted by outside organizations.

In addition to the presentation, the Ethics Office has prepared a Q&A document with additional guidance for employees.

For more information, email the Ethics Office at ethics.help@usps.gov or call its hotline at 202-268-6346.

Sustainability success

The Postal Service is seeking nominations for the 2019 Postmaster General Sustainability Excellence Awards.

The annual awards recognize areas, districts, facilities, teams and individuals who help foster sustainable workplaces.

According to the call for nominations, USPS wants nominators to share stories from fiscal 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019) that “demonstrate innovation, leadership and measurable impact on sustainability and environmental goals.”

The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

The Sustainability Blue page has the call for nominations, as well as a list of recipients from previous years.

In remembrance

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, an annual commemoration of the 1941 attack, will be observed Saturday, Dec. 7.

Postal Service facilities are required to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff this day.

To fly the flag at half-staff, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant and then lower it to the half-staff position. The flag should be raised to the peak again before it’s lowered for the day.

For more information, refer to the Postal Service’s Administrative Support Manual, which explains the organization’s guidelines on U.S. flag display and maintenance.

News Briefs

Open season chat

Let’s chat. Postal Service employees can participate in a live chat with health insurance experts Wednesday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. EST.

The chat is part of an online virtual benefits fair that is running during this year’s open season benefits enrollment period.

The fair offers information about the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP), as well as flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

Long Term Care Partners, the company that manages the FLTCIP, is organizing the fair.

Participation is voluntary and off-the-clock. Employees can register at the FLTCIP site.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has additional information about this year’s enrollment period.

Semiannual report. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) completed 1,362 investigations during the six-month period that ended Sept. 30.

These investigations led to 436 arrests and almost $1.48 billion in fines, restitutions and recoveries. This amount includes more than $77 million that was returned to the Postal Service.

The data is included in the OIG’s latest Semiannual Report to Congress, which notes USPS accepted almost 93 percent of the agency’s recommendations during the six-month period.

Great news. The Postal Service recently mailed the latest issue of Great Lakes Area Update to employees in the area.

The newsletter, which is also available on Blue and LiteBlue, features articles about promoting USPS products and services, local executive assignments, Postal Inspection Service investigations and other topics.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.