Senator calls out USPS leadership as first-class financial failures

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and six of her colleagues do not think USPS plans to grow the package business are delivering as promised.

  • Senate Democrats are telling the Postal Service to rethink its 10-year reform plan. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and six of her colleagues are concerned about USPS mail volume, which has plummeted to a 40-year low. The senators are also skeptical about plans to grow the package business, which is not bringing in enough money to make up the difference. They warn that higher mail prices are also driving away more USPS customers and that the agency is falling short of its break-even goal. The senators are calling on members of the USPS Board of Governors to step in and come up with other ways for the agency to get on firmer financial footing.
  • Lawmakers are calling for better federal coverage of infertility treatments, but time may be running short to make changes. Carriers in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program began covering some in-vitro fertilization (IVF) medications just this year. But nearly 200 House and Senate Democrats are urging the Office of Personnel Management to set even higher requirements. They are now calling for coverage of IVF treatments, on top of the medications alone, for FEHB enrollees. But with just three months for OPM to reach benefit agreements with carriers, some federal health experts say it is unlikely that big of a change could happen for 2025. Still, OPM is strongly encouraging carriers to offer higher coverage options than the current minimum requirements.
  • A new update to digital identity guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology could make it easier for agencies to adopt phishing-resistant multifactor authentication. NIST’s supplement to the digital ID publication, released on Monday, offers agencies guidance for using synced passkeys. The technology, such as Apple’s Face ID and other security keys, is a newer form of password-less authentication. The White House wants agencies to adopt those stronger forms of security under the federal zero trust strategy. But NIST’s prior guidance had effectively barred agencies from using synced security keys. Now, the supplement opens up the door for agencies to use passkeys, especially for public-facing services.
  • The Army is launching a pilot program to help the service decide whether it is better to lease or buy commercial satellite communications to support its units. The service is currently fielding bundled commercial equipment, bandwidth and service packages to units in several regions across the globe. The Army will use the feedback to decide whether to implement the satellite communications as a managed service program at scale. This model aligns with the Army's Unified Network Plan, which will help the service keep up with technological advancements more affordably.
  • Federal employees’ participation rates in the Thrift Savings Plan are gradually rising. The most recent numbers show that over 95% of eligible feds are currently enrolled in the TSP. That is compared with about 90% participation back in 2019. At the same time, participation is also on the rise for military members in the Blended Retirement System. The TSP board reports that about 83% of eligible service members are enrolled in the retirement savings program. Back in 2019, that rate was just 65%.
    (April 2024 TSP participant report - Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board)
  • Agencies will soon get a chance to check out technologies that could help address their Freedom of Information Act backlogs. The Justice Department and the National Archives are hosting the NexGen 2.0 FOIA Tech Showcase next month. During the event, vendors will provide video demonstrations of their technology products, as agencies consider how artificial intelligence and other technologies could help manage rising FOIA case loads. DoJ is also leading the development of new FOIA business standards. Registration for the technology showcase is due by May 12.
  • The Air Force is looking for modern network capabilities, artificial intelligence and data sensing tools. These tools will support the Advanced Battle Management System, which is the service’s contribution to the Defense Department’s Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative. The service wants companies to submit concept papers first, with selected applicants later being invited to submit full proposals. Non-government advisers will be part of the evaluation process. Concept papers are due by March 31, 2025.
  • The Census Bureau is laying the groundwork for its next population count in 2030. Its plans for the next decennial count focus on new ways to increase overall response rates and how to reach out to hard-to-count and historically undercounted populations. The bureau will put these new strategies to the test starting in 2026. That is the first of two major field tests the bureau will hold prior to the decennial count.

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