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GSA Mail Center Security Guide – 5th Edition 2023

From the U.S. General Services Administration:  This Mail Center Security Guide, 5th Edition represents the collaborative efforts of the Interagency Security Committee (ISC), General Services Administration (GSA), and federal mail professionals to consolidate GSA’s Mail Center Security Guide Fourth Edition published in 2014 and the ISC’s Best Practices for Mail Screening and Handling Processes: A Guide for the Public and Private Sectors in 2012 documents into a single resource.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ……………………………………..6
Purpose ……………………………………………6
1.0 Mail Centers …………………………………7
1.1 Types of Mail Centers …………………….7
1.1.1 Offsite Screening Facilities/Remote Delivery Sites …….7
1.1.2 Isolated On-Campus Facilities………7
1.1.3 Primary Office Locations ……………..7
1.1.4 Single Room Mail Center Operations …..8
1.2 Mail Center Operations …………………..8
1.2.1 Incoming Mail Procedures ……………8
1.2.2 Outgoing Mail Procedures ……………9
1.2.3 Accountable Mail ………………………..9
1.2.4 Classified Mail ……………………………10
1.2.5 Interoffice Mail …………………………..10
1.2.6 Deliveries for Senior Officials ………10
1.2.7 Personal Mail ……………………………..10
1.2.8 Mail Center Opening and Closing Procedures …..11
2.0 Key Roles and Respons……………….. 12
3.0 Threats in the Mail Stream ………….. 13
3.1 Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) …14
3.1.1 Chemical ………………………………….14
3.1.2 Biological …………………………………15
3.1.3 Radiological/Nuclear ………………..15
3.1.4 Explosives…………………………………16
3.1.5 Other Dangerous Mailings ………….16
3.2 Illegal or Contraband Items …………..16
3.3 Hoaxes ………………………………………..16
3.3.1 White Powder Envelopes ……………17
3.4 Threatening Content ……………………17
4.0 Risk Management and Threat Mitigation … 17
4.1 Risk Assessment ………………………….17
4.2 Mail Center Classification …………….18
4.2.1 Daily Mail Volume …………………….19
4.2.2 Staff ………………………………………..19
4.2.3 Number of Satellites …………………19
4.3 Staff Vetting ………………………………..20
4.4 Mail Screening……………………………..20
4.4.1 Integrating Screening Procedures ….20
4.4.2 Screening Process Best Practices …..22
4.5 Mail Screening Technology ……………25
4.5.1 Mail Processing Tracking Systems ….26
4.5.2 Chemical Detection/Screening ………26
4.5.3 Biohazards …………………………………..26
4.5.4 Radiation/Nuclear Detection …………27
4.5.5 Explosive Detection ………………………27
4.5.6 Negative Pressure Environments ……28
4.6 Sorting and Delivery Best Practices ….28
4.6.1 Mail and Parcel Sorting …………………28
4.6.2 Interoffice Mail ……………………………..28
4.6.3 Outgoing Mail ……………………………….29
4.7 Incident Response …………………………..29
4.7.1 Initial Response …………………………..29
4.7.2 Response to Specific Threats ………..30
4.8 Post Incident Actions ………………………32
4.9 Communications …………………………….32
4.9.1 Internal Communications ……………..32
4.9.2 External Communications ……………..32
5.0 Training, Exercises, and Testing …….. 33
5.1 Recommended Training …………………33
5.1.1 Identifying and Handling of Suspicious Mail …33
5.1.2 Screening Procedures …………………34
5.1.3 Proper Use of Personal Protective Equipment…34
5.1.4 Incident Response Procedures ……..34
5.2 Exercises, Drills, Rehearsals …………….34
5.2.1 Exercises …………………………………….34
5.2.2 Drills…………………………………………..35
5.2.3 Rehearsals ………………………………….35
5.3 Countermeasure Testing ………………..35
6.0 Documentation ……………………………. 35
6.1 Mail Security Policy and Plan ………….35
6.2 Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) …….36
6.2.1 Key Elements of the OEP ……………..36
6.3 Communications Plan ……………………38
6.3.1 Communications Best Practices ……38
6.3.2 Communications with Management ….38
6.3.3 Relationship with Partner Organizations …39
6.4 Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)………..39
6.4.1 Key Elements of a COOP …………………40
6.4.2 Incorporating the Mail Management Program in the COOP……40
6.4.3 Objectives of a COOP for a Mail Facility ……40
6.5 Annual Review ……………………………….41
7.0 Contracts ……………………………………… 41
7.1 Performance-based Service …………….42
7.2 Reviews …………………………………………42
8.0 Conclusion …………………………………….. 42
Appendix A: Glossary ……………………………. 43
Appendix B: Acronyms ………………………….. 45
Appendix C: Online Resources ……………….. 47
Appendix D: Mail Center Security Checklist …… 48
Appendix E: Mail Center Screening Requirements and Best Practices… 54
Acknowledgements ………………………………….. 62

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