UNCLASSIFIED (U)

14 FAM 730 

OFFICIAL MAIL AND correspondence

(CT:LOG-285;   05-15-2020)
(Office of Origin:  A/LM/PMP/DPM)

14 FAM 731  types of mail rooms

(CT:LOG-118;   02-16-2012)

a. There are four types of mail rooms subject to the policies in chapter 14 FAM 700:

(1)  Washington-area mail operations centers at HST, SA-1, SA-5, and SA-9 that are the responsibility of the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division (A/LM/PMP/DPM);

(2)  Washington-area mail rooms at HST and Department annexes that are the responsibility of bureaus other than A/LM/PMP/DPM;

(3)  Domestic office mail rooms that are the responsibility of the parent bureau; and

(4)  Post mail rooms that are the responsibility of the management section at posts abroad.  Post mail rooms may also be the location of military postal service (MPS) and diplomatic post office (DPO) activities.

b. Where policies or procedures differ between the four types of mail rooms, the differences will be so noted in the regulations or handbooks.  Where not so differentiated, the policies and procedures herein apply to all four types of Department mail rooms.

14 FAM 732  POLICY FOR HANDLING OFFICIAL MAIL

14 FAM 732.1  Use of Official Mail

(CT:LOG-242;   03-14-2018)

a. Official mail consists of items of an official nature that are sent and received by U.S. Government employees or contractors into a fee-for-service system to be delivered to private citizens, organizations, companies, or U.S. Government facilities not serviced by the Department’s internal mail and messenger service (IMMS). All classified material is considered official mail.  Fee-for-service systems include but are not limited to: U.S. Postal Service (USPS); commercial transportation services such as DHL, FedEx, or UPS; postal systems of foreign countries; and international mail systems.

b. All Department employees must receive official Department mailed business information and correspondence at an official Department mailing address to ensure proper screening and receipt of official correspondence.

14 FAM 732.2  Addressing Official Mail

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. Bureaus and offices that use information in local databases or mailing lists to address official mail must monitor the database or list to ensure addresses contained therein are correct and updated.

b. The delivery address and return address of all official mail delivered to or through the USPS must conform to the format published in USPS Publication 28, Postal Addressing Standards.  See also 14 FAH-4 H-311.3.

c.  Return address: All official mail entering into U.S. Mail channels, to and from the Department must show a complete and valid return address, including identifying the sending agency of non-Department mailers. For address formats for HST, State annexes, and posts abroad, see 14 FAH-4 H-311.

d. Delivery address to the Department: Must include an office symbol, as this assists in sorting and delivery of official mail.  For address formats for HST, State annexes, and posts abroad, see 14 FAH-4 H-311.4.

14 FAM 732.3  Transportation of Official Mail

(CT:LOG-242;   03-14-2018)

a. U.S. postal facilities located within the continental United States are to be used to the maximum extent permitted by security regulations, provided it is financially advantageous to the U.S. Government.

b. The Department’s official mail managers (OMMs) must promote cost-effective use of the taxpayers’ money in transporting official items through proper and efficient processing and use of internal messenger systems, the USPS, commercial transportation carriers, international mail, and the mail services of other countries.  OMMs must carefully weigh speed and security versus cost when deciding on which method to use to transport official mail.  Examples of less costly alternatives to expedited mail and commercial transportation companies are First Class and Priority Mail from the USPS and electronic transmission of documents by email, fax, etc.

c.  Methods of transport:

(1)  Pouch: Official mail intended for missions abroad is normally transported in diplomatic pouch (see 14 FAM 720). Diplomatic pouches are generally protected from inspection and detention by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations;

(2)  USPS: Official mail to domestic addresses is dispatched via USPS facilities located domestically. Official mail must either be metered or have stamped postage affixed. See 14 FAM 736.1, paragraph b, regarding funding to mail outgoing items that meet the Department’s definition of bulk shipment. Official mail dispatched through the USPS must comply with all provisions of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual or International Mail Manual, as appropriate, and is subject to inspection by USPS employees;

(3)  International mail: Official UNCLASSIFIED mail may be sent by international classes of mail to and from posts with adequate international air mail service. Costs are absorbed by the sending office/agency;

(4)  Express mail and commercial transportation companies: As careful custodians of taxpayers’ money, mailers should use express mail and commercial transportation companies only for the most urgent official business.  Items transported by commercial transportation companies are not exempt from inspection and customs duties in either the origination or destination country.  Both the items and the customs duties are the responsibility of the sending agency or bureau as the burden rests with the mailer to comply with the laws and standards governing domestic mail; and

(5)  MPS, DPO: Official mail must not be sent to posts through military postal service facilities and diplomatic post office facilities.  See 14 FAM 750 and 14 FAM 760.

d. Receipt of official items from commercial transportation companies:

(1)  Items delivered to Diplomatic Pouch and Mail operated mail centers at HST and SA-1 by commercial transportation companies will not be distributed to the addressee’s office.  Addressees will receive a call or email on the day of receipt and must retrieve the item from the respective mail operations center within 3 business days, after positively identifying the item as from a known sender.  If not claimed after three business days, the package is returned to the commercial transportation company for disposition;

(2)  When commercial transportation companies deliver items to State annexes in the metropolitan Washington DC area or to domestic offices, only the addressee or his or her representative must receive and sign for these packages.  Uniformed protective officers must not sign for/take control of incoming packages; and

(3)  At posts abroad, the post OMM must establish procedures for delivery and receipt of items from commercial transportation companies.

14 FAM 732.4  Handling Official Mail and Correspondence

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. All employees and contractors at the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail operated mail centers (HST, SA-1, SA-5, and SA-9) must have a TOP SECRET clearance.

b. UNCLASSIFIED and SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED material may be sent via USPS, commercial transportation companies, and international mail in sealed, addressed envelopes with no markings as to classification.

c.  CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET material may be sent domestically via USPS Registered Mail with a signature upon receipt.  The classified material must be double-wrapped in an envelope and secured with tape as specified in 14 FAH-4 H-322.2 Within the Department, only cleared U.S. citizens must handle USPS Registered Mail. See 14 FAH-4 H-315 for procedures sending classified items by USPS Registered Mail.

d. Classified material must be transmitted physically across international boundaries only within a diplomatic pouch accompanied by a professional Diplomatic Security courier; a nonprofessional courier appropriately approved according to 12 FAM 142, or the Defense Courier Service (DCS), where available.

e. TOP SECRET and TOP SECRET CRYPTOGRAPHIC material may never be transmitted through postal facilities or commercial transportation companies. TOP SECRET and TOP SECRET CRYPTOGRAPHIC material must be transmitted through classified diplomatic pouch or the DCS when available.

f.  Abroad: Unclassified material may be sent via post’s internal delivery system. Classified material may not be sent via post’s internal delivery system but must be hand-carried between offices and annexes by cleared U.S. citizens with a security clearance level equal to or exceeding the clearance level of the material being transported.  When transported between non-adjacent compounds, material must be double-wrapped as specified in 14 FAH-4 H-322.2.  Appropriate signature control must be maintained, see 12 FAM 539.4.

14 FAM 733  POLICY FOR HANDLING OFFICIAL correspondence

14 FAM 733.1  Definition of Official Correspondence

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. Official correspondence is items of an official nature that are placed by U.S. Government employees or contractors into:

(1)  The Department’s internal mail and messenger service (IMMS) that operates between Department mail rooms and annexes in the Washington DC metropolitan area;

(2)  A domestic office’s internal system that carries correspondence between offices; or

(3)  A post’s internal system that carries correspondence between offices and annexes.

b. Internal official correspondence is placed in envelopes with no postage affixed. The most common envelope used is Form OF-65A, B, or C, U.S. Government Messenger Envelope (small, medium or large), but there is no requirement to use it to transport official correspondence.  It may not be used for classified documents; see 14 FAM 732.4.

14 FAM 733.2  Transportation of Official Correspondence

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. The Department’s IMMS transports official items and mail between HST and Department annexes in the Washington metropolitan area via contractor.

b. At posts abroad, correspondence is normally deposited in the mail room and distributed either by pick-up or delivery.  Delivery of unclassified correspondence can be done by mail room staff, embassy drivers, an embassy contractor, or a local delivery service.  Delivery of classified correspondence must be handled by cleared U.S. citizens; see 14 FAM 732.4.

14 FAM 734  ABUSE OF MAIL AND messenger FACILITIES

(CT:LOG-285;   05-15-2020)

a. The IMMS may not be used to send or receive personal mail or correspondence of any kind.  If personal mail or parcels are received in the Department, they will be returned to the sender or donated to charity if the sender is unknown.

b. Personal use of official U.S. Government envelopes or use of official postage or funds for commercial transportation companies is prohibited, and persons violating this prohibition are subject to administrative or disciplinary action.  Bureau OMMs should contact the Department OMM and GTM for guidance on penalties for offenders.

c.  Individuals, organizations, and businesses are not authorized to use the IMMS to send unsolicited advertisements in the form of mass mailings or any other form to employees or offices of the U.S. Government.

d. Suspected abuse or misuse of official mail and messenger services must be reported to the Department or bureau OMM, who is authorized to open and inspect items before they are entered into the USPS or after delivery from the USPS.  Only United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) employees are authorized to open and inspect mail under their control.

14 FAM 735  official mail for transferred employees

14 FAM 735.1  Forward or Deliver?

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. Official mail should not be forwarded but should be delivered to the employee’s successor or office.  Consider mail as official if it includes a position title or office symbol, or is addressed by title (such as consular officer or procurement officer).

b. For example, mail addressed to JOHN DOE, 6180 KABUL PL, DULLES VA 20189-6180, is personal mail and should be forwarded.  Mail addressed to JOHN DOE, CONSULAR OFFICER, 6180 KABUL PL, WASHINGTON DC 20521-6180, is probably official mail and should be delivered to the consular section at post for disposition.

c.  If it is unclear whether or not mail for a transferred employee is personal or official, the mail control officer should consult the transferred employee, the employee’s successor, or the section to which the employee was assigned.

14 FAM 735.2  Change of Address for Official Mail

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. Offices moving in and within the Washington DC area (temporarily or permanently) must inform IMMS at least one week prior to the move date.  IMMS will provide the correct mailing address; offices are responsible for notifying their correspondents of the new address.  Contact IMMS at DPM-Answerperson@state.gov for detailed instructions.

b. The employee must ensure that correspondents and the mail room are informed of personal address changes.

14 FAM 736  FUNDING FOR OFFICIAL MAIL and correspondence

14 FAM 736.1  Funding for Domestic Mail

(CT: LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. The Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division (A/LM/PMP/DPM) centrally funds U.S. mail costs for all official Department mail (except Consular Affairs (CA) and Global Publishing Solutions (A/GIS/GPS)) originating in the Washington, DC metropolitan area intended for dispatch into the USPS.  This includes official mail, up to the definition of bulk shipment, generated in the Department and its annexes and official Department mail from posts abroad.

b. The Department does not centrally fund costs for official items to be mailed through the Department’s mail operations centers that meet or exceed the definition of bulk shipment in 14 FAM 723.3.  If a bureau or office needs to mail items with a combined volume of more than 6 cubic feet, the bureau or office must fund the mailing, or coordinate with IMMS at DPM-Answerperson@state.gov for postage reimbursement.

c.  The Department does not centrally fund costs for official mail originating at domestic offices.  Postage for mail originating at domestic offices is funded by the office’s parent bureau.

d. The Department does not centrally fund costs for official items sent by express mail and commercial transportation companies (e.g. FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.).  Express mail and commercial transportation costs must be budgeted and funded by the sending bureau.

e. The Department does not fund postage for official mail of other U.S. Government agencies.  Postage costs must be paid by the generating agency.

f.  For procedures on using postage meters for official mail, see 14 FAH-4 H-312.

14 FAM 736.2  Funding for Overseas Mail

(CT:LOG-118;   02-16-2012)

a. Posts pay the local (foreign) postage costs for official mail originating in the Department and sent to post to be entered into a foreign postal system.  Posts can avoid extraneous charges by approaching local authorities and claiming unhindered delivery by citing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and any relevant bilateral agreements between the United States and the host-country government.

b. Posts pay the postage costs for all official mail originated by posts abroad to be entered into the international mail or local postal systems.

14 FAM 736.3  Funding for Mail and Messenger Services

(CT:LOG-118;   02-16-2012)

The Department’s internal mail and messenger service (IMMS) is centrally funded by appropriated funds.  Domestic office mail rooms are usually funded by the bureau that operates the domestic office.  The internal correspondence delivery system at posts abroad is usually a mail room function and is funded by customer agencies through International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS).

14 FAM 737  RESPONSIBILITY FOR OFFICIAL MAIL AND correspondence HANDLING

14 FAM 737.1  Official Mail Manager (OMM)

(CT:LOG-202;   08-10-2015)

a. The Director of the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Division (A/LM/PMP/DPM) is the primary official mail manager (OMM) for the Department.  The responsibilities of the Department’s OMM may be assigned in writing to a subordinate U.S. Government employee in A/LM/PMP/DPM.  The Department’s OMM is responsible for:

(1)  Promulgating, interpreting, and publicizing regulations relating to official mail and messenger service;

(2)  Overseeing the acquisition, use, and disposition of mail supplies and property for mail operations centers, DPM/U and DPM/C;

(3)  Acting as the contracting officer’s representative (COR) or government technical monitor (GTM) on any contracts to operate mail operations centers, DPM/U and DPM/C;

(4)  Ensuring that the mail operations center managers receive the training they need to perform their assigned duties; and

(5)  Promulgating and establishing controls on postal expenditures to create a cost-effective mail management program for the Department.

b. Every bureau and post must appoint in writing a U.S. Government employee to be a local OMM.  Bureau and post OMMs (usually the bureau’s executive director and the post’s management counselor) are responsible for:

(1)  Enforcing and carrying out policies relating to official mail and correspondence;

(2)  Reviewing annually the bureau or post mail room’s mail security plan;

(3)  Overseeing the proper use of mail supplies and property;

(4)  Monitoring the proper expenditure of appropriated funds for postage and fees, including using a finance system to track mail costs, payments to service providers, mail room personnel costs, and separating mail room overhead from other administrative expenses;

(5)  Requesting budgets for postage, fees, supplies, and property; and

(6)  Enforcing controls on postal expenditures to support a cost-effective mail management program.

c.  Since the OMM performs an inherently governmental function, it must not be performed by a contractor.

14 FAM 737.2  Mail Control Officer

(CT:LOG-224;   05-03-2017)

a. At domestic mail facilities, the OMM must appoint a direct-hire U.S. citizen employee, cleared at the appropriate level for the mail and correspondence handled, to be the mail control officer.  At bureau-level domestic facilities such as the National Visa Center or Diplomatic Security domestic offices, the bureau OMM must make the appointment.

b. At every post abroad, the OMM must appoint a direct-hire U.S. citizen employee, cleared at the appropriate level for the mail and correspondence handled, to be the mail control officer in charge of the post’s mail room.  (See 14 FAM 763 for posts with diplomatic post offices.)

c.  The mail control officer is responsible for:

(1)  Enforcing the policies set forth in this subchapter and in 14 FAM 740 and implementing the procedures set forth in 14 FAH-4 relating to the processing of official mail, internal correspondence, and personal mail;

(2)  Ensuring that personal mail for departing employees is forwarded according to guidelines listed in 14 FAH-4 H-255.4;

(3)  Informing all users of the mail room of the policies in this subchapter and in 14 FAM 740 and the procedures in 14 FAH-4 Pouch and Mail Handbook to ensure that abuse of the Department’s mail and messenger services does not occur;

(4)  Monitoring the use of mail and messenger facilities for suspected abuse, and receiving and acting on reports of suspected abuse from others (see 14 FAM 734 for policy and procedures on reporting abuse);

(5)  Ensuring compliance with GSA’s Mail Center Security Guide and the Department’s safety regulations promulgated by OBO/OPS/SHEM (overseas) or A/OPR/FMS/DESD (domestic);

(6)  Encouraging mail room employees to utilize the Mail Manager’s Resources section of the GSA Web site, to get involved in professional affiliations and councils, and to submit and read best-practice nominations;

(7)  Monitoring the use of official postal meters and franking machines financed from official funds; and

(8)  Conducting quarterly unannounced audits of mail room U.S. and local postage and mail meter accounts.

14 FAM 737.3  Mail Operations Center Manager

(CT:LOG-202;   08-10-2015)

a. Every mail operations center in the Department must have a mail operations center manager appointed in writing by the Department’s OMM or designee.  The mail operations center manager may be an employee or a contractor.  The manager should be professionally certified in one of the following: USPS Executive Mail Center Manager Program, Mail Design Professional Program, or Certified Mail and Distribution Systems Manager.  If not professionally certified, the manager should have qualifying experience in one of the following: USPS postal experience or military postal experience.

b. Mail operations center managers are responsible for day-to-day oversight of the Department’s mail operations centers, including:

(1)  Supervising mail operations center procedures, in particular the protection of mail, the identification of items that cannot be mailed, and the handling of suspicious mail;

(2)  Reporting misuse of official mail and correspondence policies to the mail control officer;

(3)  Monitoring daily compliance with GSA’s Mail Center Security Guide and the Department’s safety regulations promulgated by A/OPR/FMS/DESD; and

(4)  Managing the use of official postal meters and franking machines financed from official funds.

14 FAM 738  PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING OFFICIAL MAIL AND correspondence

(CT:LOG-118;   02-16-2012)

For procedures on handling official mail and correspondence, see 14 FAH-4 H-300.

14 FAM 739  UNASSIGNED

UNCLASSIFIED (U)