Hospitality shift

The Postal Service’s training and conference properties in Maryland and Oklahoma are working to recoup lost revenue as result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bolger Center in Potomac, MD, and the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) in Norman, OK, both have hotels and restaurants, in addition to conference rooms.

Before the pandemic, both properties hosted a steady stream of meetings, conferences and other events, which provided revenue for USPS and Aramark, the hospitality vendor that manages both sites.

“Covid-19 has definitely challenged the hospitality and travel industry, and our postal properties at Bolger and NCED are not exempt from that impact,” said Gail Hendrix, the Postal Service’s learning and development director. “While both properties are open, our business and our revenues look very different than we are used to.”

Hendrix said the Postal Service is working with Aramark to rethink and expand its offerings. “Like so many organizations, we are innovating and demonstrating our flexibility,” she said.

One example: Aramark is selling Thanksgiving dinners for pickup at both sites, using its food and beverage employees to make and package the meals.

“The food and beverage staff is small, but we must maintain this staff to support future business and the small-group bookings we are receiving,” Hendrix said.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

VP transition

Timothy Costello has been named Southern Area’s retail and delivery operations vice president, succeeding Shaun Mossman, who plans to retire from the Postal Service on Dec. 31.

The area has 18 postal districts spread across 11 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Costello, who was named to his new position Oct. 24, most recently served as acting sales vice president. Prior to that, he was district manager for the South Florida, Dallas and Alabama districts and served in detail assignments as district manager for the South Jersey and Tennessee districts.

He joined the Postal Service as a letter carrier in 1988, moved to customer services and served as Postmaster in Booneville, Vicksburg and Brandon, MS.

In the interim, Mossman is on special assignment with the chief retail and delivery officer to help complete the Postal Service’s restructuring and to finalize the organization’s retail and delivery strategic roadmap.

He was named to his most recent position in August as part of the organization’s restructuring. Mossman had been Southern Area vice president since 2016.

Before that, he served as finance and planning vice president, operations support manager for Western Area and district manager for the Nevada-Sierra and Big Sky districts.

Mossman joined the Postal Service in 1987 as a letter carrier in Newport News, VA.

Healthy savings

Postal Service employees who want to save money for future medical expenses have several options to choose from during this year’s open season, which runs from Nov. 9-Dec. 14.

If you enroll in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), you may be eligible to contribute to a health savings account (HSA).

An HSA allows you to pay for current medical expenses, and save for future expenses, on a tax-deductible or pretax basis. An HSA is yours to keep — even if you change health plans or leave the Postal Service.

Additionally, some plans offer health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which are funds you can use to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. HRAs are generally available to employees who enroll in a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP).

If an HDHP or CDHP doesn’t meet your needs, you can sign up for a flexible spending account (FSA), which allows you to set aside money on a pretax basis to pay for health and dependent care expenses.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has more information to help you evaluate your options and choose a plan that best fits your needs.

Staying grounded

The Postal Service’s policy limiting business travel during the coronavirus pandemic has been extended until at least Jan. 19, 2021.

The policy affects all business trips, including in-person training. Only travel that is deemed critical to the organization’s mission and trips that cannot be postponed will be approved.

However, certain travel will be necessary in order to maintain the efficiency of operations and to conduct certain business.

Each officer should review all travel requests to ensure they meet the policy criteria. Whenever possible, travel should be on a voluntary basis, recognizing that some employees may have health concerns or may be uncomfortable traveling during the ongoing pandemic.

The policy extension was announced in a memo to employees last week.

New look

The USPS Ethics Office has redesigned its Blue page to give employees easier access to ethics-related information.

The page is laid out with several blue boxes, each covering a topic, such as “Gifts from Outside Sources,” “Misuse of Time” and “Political Activity.”

Clicking on a box will take the visitor to a secondary page that will offer more information and links pertaining to the selected topic.

“We wanted to make it more information and user friendly,” said Jessica Brewster-Johnson, senior ethics counsel. “Instead of being a long list of links, it has questions and answers, and self-help guides. I think it is more of a source that people can use for information.”

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.