The U.S. Postal Service presented to the public and Congress last week a plan that explains the process changes and technology applications that the agency thinks are needed to enhance the safety of postal employees and customers.
The emergency preparedness plan was devised after President Bush signed into law a $318 billion defense appropriations bill this year that included $500 million for the USPS to screen and sanitize the nation's mail.
The money going to the USPS would pay for additional security measures, not to help the agency make up for lost revenue from lower mail volume since the Sept. 11 attacks. The bill covers appropriations through Sept. 30, 2002.
Postal officials were required to send a report to Congress to detail how they would spend the $500 million.
The report explained that the postal service's plan is based on an assessment by the Postal Inspection Service, which found that the “inappropriate use of the mail is a continuing threat. … Potentially, the mail can be used to transmit a variety of threatening materials, including biohazards.”
As a result, the plan said that the USPS is emphasizing prevention, detection and risk reduction at the earliest point feasible in its distribution network.