Outside the box

For the first time in the nation’s history, respondents to the decennial census will have the option to complete the survey online.

The U.S. Census Bureau is working with the Postal Service to use Informed Delivery to provide customers with an easy way to access the 2020 questionnaire through the internet.

Informed Delivery allows users to preview their incoming mail on smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Residents who use the free feature will be able to see images of their census questionnaire envelopes before they arrive in the mail. These customers will have the option to click on the response image and be taken to the 2020 census login site.

All 23.5 million Informed Delivery subscribers will receive the census email notification, making this the largest campaign in the feature’s history.

“Informed Delivery enhances the mail experience for our customers, and that includes the millions of households who will receive their census questionnaire in the mail,” said Chris Karpenko, the Postal Service’s brand marketing executive director. “Using Informed Delivery to complete the survey will be easy and convenient, helping the Census Bureau obtain critical data that is needed in communities across the nation.”

The Postal Service and the Census Bureau tested Informed Delivery’s ability to raise awareness of the census in 2018.

In March, USPS began delivering 590 million census mailpieces — one of the largest mailings in postal history.

Employees can register for Informed Delivery at informeddelivery.usps.com. Sign-up is voluntary and must be done off the clock.

Travel update

Due to the spread of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the Postal Service is requiring advanced written approval for business travel for all officers, executives and non-bargaining employees.

This precautionary measure, which took effect last week, is consistent with recent guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

USPS is encouraging employees to use videoconferencing and teleconferencing in place of travel when possible.

Official travel requests for any area or district employee must be approved in advance — in writing — by the area vice president. Travel requests for headquarters employees must be approved in advance by the employee’s vice president or executive leadership team member.

The Postal Service issued a memo to employees detailing the action last week. Employees who have questions should speak to their manager or supervisor.

Fighting Irish

Smiling man displays homemade greeting cards

Jerry Kennedy is still going strong.

The Indianapolis resident has been sending homemade St. Patrick’s Day cards to friends and family since 1951. His mailing list grew two years ago after he was profiled in Link and began receiving notes of appreciation from Postal Service employees who were charmed by his devotion to the mail.

Now Kennedy has added those folks to his list, which means he creates and mails more than 250 cards annually.

“I sent more out this year than any year,” he said.

Kennedy, who’ll turn 92 in May, was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and endured several painful chemotherapy treatments, but now he’s in remission. “I lost all my hair, but it’s finally coming back,” he said.

The longtime University of Notre Dame football fan has been using stamps honoring its late president, Father Theodore Hesburgh, to mail his cards, and he continues to add a poem or song of Ireland to each of his creations.

“That’s why I was so determined to send out my cards again,” he said. “I just love doing it.”

Remove and discard

The Postal Service is again reminding employees about the proper handling of mail transport equipment (MTE) tags and labels.

The labels identify the destination for each mail container, which means a misplaced label can send the mail to the wrong destination.

Employees are responsible for removing all labels and tags from sacks, trays and tubs when they empty the mail. The Mail Transport Equipment Service Centers do not remove labels or processing tags from MTE.

Old tray labels must be thrown away, and any tags must be collected and reused. This is especially important this year, when the Postal Service will handle high volumes of election, political and census mailings.

“The small act of removing the tags and labels makes a lasting impression on our mailers when they receive clean, ready-to-use MTE for their organization’s mail,” USPS reported in Postal Bulletin’s March 12 edition. “Failing to remove these tags and labels inconveniences our customers and could lead to loss of brand loyalty or trust.”

The Postal Bulletin article has additional information.