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8. Mail Security
Postal inspectors, in consultation with district managers, provided security and mail-screening for the Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA, in July 2004 and the Republican National Convention in New York City, NY, in September 2004. Postal inspectors staffed communication positions at the U.S. Secret Service and Postal Inspection Service command centers. Inspectors provided protection for postal employees who delivered and collected mail near the convention sites, ensured that postal facilities in the area were secure, and helped develop response and evacuation plans in the event of an emergency. Inspectors performed mail-screening activities to protect Postal Service employees and customers from anthrax, radiation, and improvised exposive devices.
The Postal Service pursues a number of initiatives to reduce mail theft and identity theft by enhancing the security of delivery and collection equipment. One such effort has been the deployment of high security cluster box units. The Inspection Service has reported no successful mail attacks on these units, a great improvement over the thousands of attacks that occurred prior to the deployment. During 2004, 3,300 units were deployed in Phoenix. Overall, theft of mail in the Phoenix area has dropped by 40 percent.
New standards for wall-mounted, centralized, mail receptacles were finalized and published in the Federal Register in September 2004. Along with an improved form-factor that allows the deposit of a wider array of mail, this new standard includes improved security that prevents easy break-ins that plagued the predecessor units.
Other 2004 initiatives included security retrofits for collection boxes. One retrofit improved the lock compartment to prevent break-ins, while another placed anti-fishing kits on some 17,000 boxes to prevent removal of mail through the mail chute or mail deposit door.
In May 2004 the Hellenic Post and the U.S. Department of State requested the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to ensure the safety and security of mail for the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The Postal Inspection Service screened all mail destined to the U.S. Delegation. The Inspection Service also advised the Hellenic Post on general mail security procedures and protocols for the secure delivery of mail to Olympic venues and high-risk delivery points. No mail security breaches were recorded during the Summer Olympic Games.
In 2004 the Postal Service continued to meet customers' needs and demands for postage stamps that appeal to the nation's diverse population. The Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), through the Office of Stamp Services, receives approximately 50,000 proposals annually.
1. Stamp Program
The 2004 stamp program consisted of 34 issuances and 81 designs, not including semipostal stamps and reprints that remain on sale from previous years.
Works of art figure prominently, with five sculptures by Isamu Noguchi; a painting by Martin Johnson Heade: Giant Magnolias on a Blue Velvet Cloth; a Chippendale chair; an example of Navajo jewelry; 10 artifacts representing the art of the American Indian, and the popular Disney character art.
The program also celebrated sports with stamps for the 2004 Olympic Games and past Olympic champion, Wilma Rudolph. The Postal Service's Black Heritage, Literary Arts and Legends of Hollywood series continued with stamp issues, as well as stamps that honored veterans and raised public awareness of social and health concerns.
Nationwide, philatelic product sales rose from $40 million in 2003 to $49.9 million in 2004. This increase can be attributed to innovative products, including attractive pre-stamped stationery, specially designed keepsakes, and expanding sales channels, such as The Postal Store on www.usps.com and the USA Philatelic catalog.
2. Production Activities
In keeping with the Postal Service's mandate to manage costs, private stamp printing contracts were awarded to three private suppliers. Because of the competitive nature of these contracts, production costs for postage stamps dropped from a high of $135.5 million in 2001 to $88.5 million in 2004.
Overall stamp production increased from 35.4 billion in 2003 to 43.7 billion in 2004. This reflects the shifting of some stamp production from 2003 to 2004 to take advantage of the new pricing. Despite an increase in stamps produced, 2004 manufacturing costs decreased $7.8 million from 2003.