Now open

Open season, the once-a-year opportunity for Postal Service employees to make changes to their health coverage or choose a new plan, is Nov. 14-Dec. 12.

Here’s what you should know:

You should review your coverage. The Postal Service wants you to evaluate your options to ensure you have the coverage you need without paying for services you don’t.

Making changes can save you money. Balance your benefits so you save money and maintain the health benefits you require. Most employees overspend on benefits because they do not take the time to compare and contrast plans.

Several options are available. You can choose from a variety of health, vision and dental coverage options through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, USPS Health Benefits Plan (USPSHBP) for noncareer employees, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

You can explore your options online. Go to the Open Season LiteBlue page to review your health plan and find out what’s available. You can compare multiple plans side by side through Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

You can make changes online, too. To enroll or change coverage in FEHB, USPSHBP or FSAs, go to PostalEASE or call 877-477-3273 (select option 1). Use the BENEFEDS site to enroll or make changes to your FEDVIP coverage and the FSAFEDS site to enroll in an FSA.

There’s another way to receive information. USPS is continuing a service that allows you to receive open season information and reminders though text messages. Sign up by texting BENEFITS to 39369.

Help is available. For assistance, call the HR Shared Service Center at 877-477-3273 (select option 5). The Federal Relay Service number is 800-877-8339.

The Postal Service will provide additional information and reminders throughout open season.

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USPS finances

The Postal Service has reported its financial results for fiscal year 2022 (Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 30, 2022). Here are the highlights:

Revenue. Operating revenue was $78.5 billion, an increase of 1.9 percent from the previous fiscal year. First-Class Mail revenue increased 3.3 percent, and Marketing Mail revenue increased 9.7 percent. Shipping and packages revenue decreased 2.2 percent, a reflection of a drop in volume after the pandemic surge.

Volume. Total volume was 127.3 billion pieces, down 1.2 percent from the previous fiscal year. First-Class Mail volume declined 3.4 percent, while shipping and packages volume declined 5.3 percent. Marketing Mail volume increased 1.4 percent.

•  Expenses. Operating expenses for the year were $79.5 billion, down 2.8 percent from the previous fiscal year. Operating expenses for the previous fiscal year included $5.1 billion in retiree health benefits expenses. There were no comparative expenses in 2022 because these prefunding retiree health benefit obligations were canceled by the Postal Service Reform Act (PSRA) in April. Were it not for these retiree health benefits expenses, operating expenses would have increased as inflation affected several operating expense categories, resulting in a 2.9 percent increase in compensation and benefits costs, a 12.8 percent increase in the cost of highway transportation, and a 13 percent increase in other operating expenses including rent, utilities and fuel for delivery vehicles.

Adjusted loss. The adjusted loss for the year was $473 million, compared with adjusted income of $1.5 billion for the same period last year. This excludes the impact of the PRSA, noncash workers’ compensation adjustments for the effects of actuarial revaluation and discount rate changes that are outside of management’s control, amortization expenses for pension benefits, and all retiree health benefits expenses. On a U.S. generally accepted accounting principles basis, the Postal Service had a net income of $56 billion for fiscal year 2022, due almost exclusively to the one-time, noncash boost from the PRSA.

“Our latest results show that we are making solid and steady progress — despite administrative, operational and inflationary headwinds — toward our goals of financial breakeven on an annual basis and sustainability on a long-term basis,” said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

“While we are not where we want to be and still have far to go, the execution of our Delivering for America plan is producing greater operational efficiencies, improving service performance, generating more revenue and enabling long-deferred investments to modernize our technology and operations infrastructure. Together, our leadership team and all our employees know we need to remain laser focused and drive hard to implement operational changes, capture the available efficiency gains and grow our revenue, consistent with the initiatives in our plan.”

The Postal Service’s Nov. 10 news release has more information.

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New prices

The Postal Service has announced Shipping Services prices for next year.

If reviewed favorably by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the changes will take effect Jan. 22.

Here’s a list of current and planned retail prices:

Priority Mail small flat-rate box: $10.40 (current), $10.20 (planned)

Priority Mail medium flat-rate box: $17.05 (current), $17.10 (planned)

Priority Mail large flat-rate box: $22.45 (current), $22.80 (planned)

Army/Air Post Office and Fleet Post Office large flat-rate box: $20.95 (current), $21.20 (planned)

Priority Mail regular flat-rate envelope: $9.90 (current), $9.65 (planned)

Priority Mail legal flat-rate envelope: $10.20 (current), $9.95 (planned)

Priority Mail padded flat-rate envelope: $10.60 (current), $10.40 (planned)

Some Priority Mail flat-rate retail product prices will be reduced compared with the temporary rate adjustment currently in place, and Priority Mail commercial rates will increase by 3.6 percent, below the rate of inflation.

Priority Mail Express service prices would increase by 6.6 percent, and First-Class Package Service prices would increase by 7.8 percent.

Overall, Priority Mail service prices would increase approximately 5.5 percent.

There is no price increase for Parcel Select Ground, and pricing for USPS Connect Local remains unchanged.

The proposed prices were approved by the Postal Service governors.

Shipping Services price adjustments vary by product. Although Mailing Services price increases are based on the consumer price index, Shipping Services prices are primarily adjusted according to market conditions.

The Postal Service governors evaluate shipping rates and fees and adjust them when needed to keep investing in the Postal Service’s Delivering for America plan, which is designed to reverse a projected $160 billion in operating losses during the next 10 years.

USPS filed the proposals Nov. 10 with the PRC, which will review and approve the prices before they take effect.

The Nov. 10 news release has more information.

Carrier appreciation

The Postal Service is celebrating Nov. 17 as City Carrier Appreciation Day.

City carriers participate in Customer Connect, a joint USPS and National Association of Letter Carriers program that encourages participants to identify sales opportunities.

Sales leads from letter carriers have brought in almost $3.5 billion in new revenue for the Postal Service since the program began in 2003.

“Customer Connect continues to capitalize on the special relationship between city letter carriers and our customers,” said Dan Versluis, Region 4 national business agent for the National Association of Letter Carriers. “City letter carriers not only help our customers with saving money, but also support the USPS to remain a viable and important service to the American public.”

So far in fiscal 2023, carriers have submitted more than 2,500 sales leads.

One of those recent leads is from a letter carrier in Colorado, resulting in a shipping deal worth almost $110,000.

While delivering mail on his route, Matthew Damian, who works at the Arvada Post Office, talked with a customer who was looking for a cost-effective way to ship packages weighing between 3 and 5 pounds.

After Damian submitted the customer’s information through Customer Connect, a sales representative followed up and closed a shipping deal worth $109,682 in new estimated annualized revenue for the Postal Service.

Sales generated from Customer Connect leads are included in the USPS Delivering for Main Street campaign to raise revenue through sales leads from employees.

The Postal Service is encouraging as many employees as possible to submit at least one lead through any of its six lead programs by Sept. 30.

Postal employees with ACE IDs can submit leads through the new Employee Lead Entry site on Blue by selecting the “Submit a Lead” link under “Featured Topics.” Employees who do not have an ACE ID can access the lead entry site through LiteBlue by selecting “Submit a Lead” under the “Resource Index” tab.

Customer 360 users can click on “Submit a Lead” to access the lead entry site on that platform. Letter carriers who use a mobile delivery device, or MDD, can enter leads while on street mode, under option “U.” Business Connect Portal users have to enter a lead through the lead entry site if an activity requires sales assistance or has resulted in a sale.

The Small Business and Lead Generation Programs Blue page has more information about Customer Connect and the other employee lead programs: Business Connect, Clerks Care, Mail Handlers, Rural Reach and Submit a Lead.