‘Candid and optimistic’

The Postal Service is ready to deliver for customers this holiday season, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told the public radio program “Marketplace” this week.

“We started early this year with our planning and we’ve expanded capacity in people, facilities, automation and transportation,” DeJoy said. “So tell all your listeners to send us their packages. We’re going to deliver them.”

The 23-minute interview, which aired Nov. 17 and can be streamed at Marketplace.org, also addressed several other topics, including the Delivering for America plan.

DeJoy said the plan attempts to clarify service standards while fulfilling the organization’s mandate to provide universal service.

“We think that we can create an integrated mail-and-packaging network that delivers to [the country’s] 161 million addresses, six days a week, at affordable prices and cover our costs. That’s our goal,” he said.

The plan offers a path forward for the Postal Service after years of struggle, DeJoy added.

“We have lots of different administrative viewpoints and political viewpoints and industry viewpoints on what it is we should and should not do,” he said. “It’s been going on a long time now, which is why nothing has been done.… We haven’t met our service standard in the last 10 years and we spent significant amounts of money chasing diminishing mail volumes around the country, delivering to addresses expanding by a million a year. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

The interview concluded with host David Brancaccio telling DeJoy about going into a New Jersey Post Office where a self-service kiosk was on the fritz and where there was a note at the retail associate’s window saying the office could not accept cash.

“You’re very candid … about the infrastructure challenges of the Post Office,” Brancaccio said.

“We have 31,000 retail centers, we have 20,000 delivery units and we have no money. So that is a big, big part of the problem,” DeJoy responded. “Our network requires significant, significant investment…. We’re out to try and fix that.”

“You’re optimistic, somehow,” Brancaccio said.

“Candid and optimistic is the definition of me,” DeJoy replied.

Ho-ho-hot tips

The Postal Service is helping customers get ready for the holiday delivery season.

In a news release this month, the organization shared the following tips:

When shipping gifts, a reused box isn’t as sturdy as a new box and can weaken or break open in transit. However, if a box must be reused, customers should make sure any labels or markings are removed or completely crossed out, especially if the box has labels or markings associated with hazardous, prohibited or restricted materials.

Overpacking a box can cause the sides or the seams to bulge or break. If customers can’t fit everything in one box, they should consider sending items in multiple shipments. Free Priority Mail boxes can be ordered through usps.com.

Be on the lookout for hazards. Customers should clear any snow or ice on steps, sidewalks and driveways and around mailboxes. They should also remove yard equipment, toys and yard trimmings that could cause a mail carrier to trip.

Dog owners should keep their pets secured. If a carrier delivers mail or packages to the front door, it helps to place a dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door.

The Postal Service also wants customers to remember there are size and weight restrictions for packages sent through USPS. Unless customers use Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, the price they pay to ship items depends on the shape and weight of the package.

The Postal Service also has rules in place to keep certain hazardous, restricted and perishable items out of the mail. Customers can consuult Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail for more information.

Still open

You still have time to change your health coverage or enroll in a new plan.

Open season, the annual period when USPS employees can make benefits changes, ends Monday, Dec. 13.

Employees can choose from a variety of health, vision and dental coverage through the following programs and plans:

• Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program;

• USPS Health Benefits Plan (USPSHBP), for noncareer employees only;

• Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP); and

• Flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

Open season is also a good time to review and update your PostalEASE login information and beneficiary forms.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has information and resources, including FAQs, educational videos and a link to a health plan comparison tool from Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.