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Circular 12-03

Indian Health Service
Rockville, Maryland 20852

Refer to: DAS


Effective Date:  July 5, 2012


  1. PURPOSE.  This circular revises mail management policy and mail handling procedures within the Indian Health Service (IHS) Headquarters, Rockville, Maryland.

  2. SCOPE.  The procedures refer only to physical mail and are not applicable to any form of electronic or voice mail.


    1. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), General Administration Manual (GAM), Chapter 12-00, "Mail and Related Services - General"

    2. GAM, Chapter 12-10, "Mail and Messenger Services"

    3. GAM, Chapter 12-20, "Official Mail"

    4. GAM, Chapter 12-25, "Department Policy and Procedures on Mail Cover"

    5. 41 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 102-192, "Mail Management"

    6. 5 CFR § 2635.704, "Use of Government Property"

  4. BACKGROUND.  The mail center in any Federal Government facility is a major gateway into the Government agency.  Reasonable measures in the normal practice of handling mail delivered by the United States Postal Service must be taken to ensure a safe working environment to deter terrorism (bombs and envelopes containing Anthrax, etc.).  In the past, each Headquarters Office was responsible for the delivery of outgoing mail and the pickup of incoming mail at the mail center.  This practice is no longer required, because the Division of Administrative Services (DAS) staff will handle all incoming and outgoing mail for each office within Headquarters.

  5. POLICY.  It is the policy of the IHS to take reasonable measures to ensure a safe environment for all its employees.  The DAS will implement and provide safe, secure, and accurate delivery of incoming and outgoing mail.


    1. Accountable Mail.  Accountable mail is any mail for which the service provider and the mail center must maintain a record that tracks the mail piece, including when and where it was delivered.

    2. Facility Mail Manager.  The Facility Mail Manager (FMM) is the person responsible for mail management at a specific facility.

    3. Incoming Mail.  Incoming mail is all mail coming into the Agency delivered by any service provider, such as the United States Postal Service (USPS), Federal Express, United Parcel Service (UPS) or any other agency.

    4. Mail.  Mail is a method for transmitting information and tangible objects, wherein written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes and packages are delivered to destinations through the USPS, express, and ground service provider or courier service.

    5. Mail Piece Design.  Mail piece design means laying out and printing items to be mailed so that they can be processed correctly by automated mail-processing equipment.

    6. Outgoing Mail.  Outgoing mail is mail generated in a Federal facility that is going outside that facility and is delivered by a service provider.


    1. Director, Division of Administrative Services.  The DAS Director is responsible for the overall administration of an efficient mail management program for IHS Headquarters.  The DAS Director designates an FMM to manage the Headquarters mail management program.

    2. Headquarters Facility Mail Manager.  The Headquarters FMM is responsible for:

      1. Ensuring awareness and compliance with mail standards set forth by the:

        1. USPS in the domestic and international mail manuals.

        2. Express and ground domestic service providers (e.g., UPS, Federal Express, etc.)

        3. General Services Administration, HHS, and IHS mail policies and procedures.

      2. Providing centralized control of all mail processing activities at the facility, including receipt of incoming express, ground, or courier shipments.

      3. Tracking incoming packages and accountable mail.

      4. Working with Headquarters programs to improve, streamline, and reduce mail practice costs by continually reviewing work processes and seeking opportunities for cost-effective change.

      5. Working closely with Headquarters programs that develop large mailings, to minimize postage and associated printing expenses through improved mail piece design.

      6. Reporting incidents to the appropriate authority.

      7. Reviewing reports of incidences of unauthorized use, loss, or theft of postage, including reports of any unauthorized use of meter impressions or other postal markings or express accounts.

      8. Ensuring mail security is established and procedures are incorporated into the Headquarters Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP).

      9. Providing the Headquarters COOP team assistance in implementing mail security procedures during a drill or incident.

      10. Providing training or orientation to Headquarters staff on mail practices, including training or orientation on the standards established by USPS and express service providers to ensure that outgoing mail meets these standards.

      11. Reviewing invoices from all service providers to ensure that Headquarters is getting reduced rates and discounts for all outgoing items and that invoices are reconciled and paid on a timely basis.

      12. Maintaining records of mail volume and expenditures for reporting requirements.

      13. Collaborating and maintaining professional relationships with the USPS and all other service providers.

      14. Keeping current with new technologies that could be applied to reduce mailing costs.

  8. PROCEDURES.  The IHS Headquarters mail room serves both the Reyes and Twinbrook Metro Plaza buildings and is located in Suite 100, Reyes Building.  The mail room is secured and restricted to mail room staff only.

    1. Delivery.  All IHS mail will be picked up and delivered by the designated Mail Clerk and processed in the central mail room located in the Reyes Building.

    2. Receiving.

      1. Mail will be received between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

      2. Each office will identify one delivery or pickup point for mail within the office suite.

      3. Mail room staff will conduct an initial screening of all incoming mail for suspicious letters or parcels and notify the receiving office of any items they determine to be suspicious.

      4. Headquarters staff responsible for receiving and distributing mail for their work teams will conduct a second screening of incoming mail for suspicious letters or parcels and notify their supervisors of any items they determine to be suspicious.

      5. The DAS will periodically conduct training for all staff members responsible for handling and opening mail for their offices.

      6. All DAS office support staff are available to assist other IHS staff with questions or concerns about handling and opening mail for their offices.

    3. Suspicious Mail or Packages.  Characteristics of possibly suspicious letters or parcels include:

      1. An unknown powdery or suspicious substance visible on the outside of the letter or parcel.

      2. The letter or parcel is incorrectly titled or is addressed to a title only.

      3. The letter or parcel has been mailed from a foreign country.

      4. The letter or parcel has excessive postage (usually stamps, not meter strips).

      5. The return address on the letter or parcel is missing, illegible, or appears false.

      6. The letter or parcel's return address does not match the city or State printed on the postmark.

      7. The letter or parcel is lopsided, oddly shaped, rigid, bulky, or unusually heavy for its size.

      8. The letter or parcel is wrapped with excessive security materials, such as masking tape.

      9. The letter or parcel is marked with "Prize Enclosed," or restrictions, such as "Personal," "Confidential," "To Be Opened Only By...," etc.

      10. The letter or parcel has a handwritten address or handwritten company label.

      11. The letter or parcel is wrapped in string, but is from an address or region that normally uses other means of packaging.

      12. The letter or parcel has no postage or postage that has not been cancelled.

      13. The letter or parcel includes nonstandard spellings of common names, places, or titles.

      14. The letter or parcel has generic or incorrect titles.

      15. The letter or parcel has leaks, stains, or protruding wires, string, tape, etc.

      16. The letter or parcel was hand-delivered or dropped-off.

      17. Any letter or package arriving before or after a phone call from an unknown person asking if the item was received.

    4. Responses to Receiving a Suspicious Mail or Package.  If a suspicious mail or parcel is discovered:

      1. STOP.  Do NOT handle the suspicious mail piece or parcel.

      2. Isolate the mail or package and vacate the area immediately.

      3. Do NOT open the mail or package.

      4. If the mail or package is OPEN, do NOT smell or taste it.

      5. Notify a supervisor, who will immediately contact security personnel.  Security personnel will notify the appropriate authority such as the local police, Postal Inspection Service, or Program Support Center (PSC) Security Office.

      6. If you suspect the mail or package contains a bomb (explosive), or radiological, biological, or chemical threat, isolate the area immediately and call 911.

      7. Tell employees to remain clear of where a suspicious package has been found and where it is isolated.

      8. Without touching the mail or package, record from each visible side of the item all available information (exactly as written name and address of addressee and of sender, postmark, cancellation date, types of stamps, and any other markings or labels found on the item).

      9. Inform the Rockville police, postal inspectors (if a mailed item), and the PSC Security Office personnel of all information recorded from the suspect item.

      10. Stand by to offer assistance to the Rockville police, postal inspectors, and PSC Security Office personnel.

      11. Ensure that all who have touched the mail piece wash their hands with soap and water.

      12. List the names of all those who have touched the letter or package. Include each person's contact information.

      13. Place in plastic bags all clothing and other items worn by a person when he or she was in contact with suspected mail piece in plastic bags, and have the items available to law enforcement agents.

    5. Use of Official Mail.  Official mail pertains exclusively to U.S. Government business.  Therefore only IHS mail may be transmitted officially.

      1. Do not use official mail for personal or unofficial purposes.  Do not use Government envelopes, labels, cards, etc., regardless of type, for personal mail or private associates mail.  Federal employment applications, personal messages (including holiday and birthday greetings), and chain letters are not official mail.  Do not send this material through USPS or through inter-office mail channels.  The penalty for using official mail or official postal markings for private use is $300.00.

      2. Use "U.S. Government Messenger Envelope," (Standard Forms 65A, 65B, and 65C) whenever possible for mail covered by the inter-departmental messenger service in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  Otherwise plain envelopes may be used.  The name, building, and mail-stop indicator for the addressee should be clearly shown on the envelope.  All mail delivered to the Hubert H. Humphrey Building and Cohen Building must include two phone numbers of the addressee.  Most of these numbers are listed in the HHS telephone directory.

    6. Official Address for IHS Headquarters.  The PSC screens all incoming USPS mail as part of the Department's overall mail security initiative, thus the need to consolidate multiple addresses into one official address.  The official correspondence address for the IHS Headquarters at Rockville is:

      801 Thompson Avenue
      Rockville, Maryland 20852

      The official correspondence address for correspondence delivered to the Twinbrook Metro Plaza (TMP) building includes "TMP Suite" accompanied with the suite number.  For example, the official address for the Office of Finance and Accounting is:  801 Thompson Avenue, TMP Suite 360, Rockville, MD 20852.

    7. Expedited or Overnight Deliveries.  All overnight delivery packages, e.g., FEDEX, UPS, are directly delivered to 801 Thompson Avenue and are not subject to the PSC mail screening process.

  9. PERSONAL MAIL.  The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR § 2635.704(a), "Use of Government Property," prescribes that an employee has a duty to protect and conserve Government property and shall not use such property, or allow its use, for other than authorized purposes.  The term Government property includes Government mail.

    1. Outgoing Personal Mail.  The Headquarters mail system is for outgoing official Government business mail only.  Personal mail will not be deposited in outgoing bins.  Headquarters employees shall deposit personal outgoing mail at the nearest USPS mailbox, and/or nearest express (overnight) carrier service drop-off location.

    2. Incoming Personal Mail.  Personal mail will not be received at or delivered to Headquarters.  Headquarters employees must arrange for a carrier to deliver or pickup personal mail at a location other than the work place.

  10. SUPERSEDURE.  This circular supersedes:

    1. Indian Health Service Circular No. 2002-03, "Mail Management Procedures for Headquarters," dated November 27, 2002.

    2. Special General Memorandum No. 2006-07, "Official Address for IHS Headquarters," dated September 29, 2006.

  11. EFFECTIVE DATE.  This circular is effective on the date of signature.

    /Yvette Roubideaux, M.D./
    Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H.
    Indian Health Service

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