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Assuring the Safety of the Pentagon Mail: Letter Report (2003)

Chapter: CONSIDERATIONS FOR LONGER-TERM IMPROVEMENTS TO THE INSPECTION AND INTERCEPTION OF PENTAGON MAIL FOR HAZARDS

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Suggested Citation:"CONSIDERATIONS FOR LONGER-TERM IMPROVEMENTS TO THE INSPECTION AND INTERCEPTION OF PENTAGON MAIL FOR HAZARDS." National Research Council. 2003. Assuring the Safety of the Pentagon Mail: Letter Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10901.
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Page 6

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6 achieve credible advertising of the effectiveness of the defense without providing enough detail to suggest means of circumventing the detection and defense system. CONSIDERATIONS FOR LONGER-TERM IMPROVEMENTS TO THE INSPECTION AND INTERCEPTION OF PENTAGON MAIL FOR HAZARDS In the longer term, however, there are additional process improvements that could be made to the total system. The committee offers the following suggestions that might be considered as part of a “continuous improvement process”: • The Pentagon, through the DPO, should establish a strong communication link with the USPS serving the Pentagon so that it can better understand the USPS mail-irradiation and mail-handling facilities. The goal of such communication should be the optimization of the total mail-flow, inspection, and mitigation systems for USPS mail received by the recipients in the Pentagon. Regular communication is essential to the Pentagon's development of procedures to minimize the possibility of biological attack upon its facility and to ensure that such procedures are carried out in a cost-effective way. • Pentagon management should review all avenues of potential biological attack on its facility. • The Pentagon DPO should study and become thoroughly familiar with the work and operation of certain other DOD facilities. • Pentagon management should encourage efforts across government agencies to coordinate information about the various systems used for the handling, inspection, and mitigation of federal mail. Some agencies may require unique systems, but many agencies may find that a common system will satisfy their needs. • Pentagon management should encourage and support USPS efforts to proceed as quickly as possible with the construction of a Washington irradiation facility complete with improved mail-handling equipment that will minimize hazards associated with potential biological agents sent through the mails. The reduced transportation alone will provide a substantial savings in time and expense. • Pentagon management should encourage and support cross-agency efforts to establish the best available technology for the mitigation of biological threats to the mail. The committee believes that in the long term, x-ray irradiation of mail to destroy biological agents is a preferred methodology. Thorough studies of this irradiation technology should be carried out promptly so that decisions regarding future facility modifications to accommodate such improvements can be made. • Pentagon management should encourage a more thorough and detailed study of the entire federal mail-handling system with respect to biological agents, toxins, and chemical hazards; the study should recommend procedures and technology options that could be adopted by most, if not all, federal agencies. The present Research Council study was focused on the Pentagon handling of mail and was carried out very quickly. [Other specific and detailed conclusions and recommendations, if disclosed publicly, might provide details that could lead to the circumvention of Pentagon procedures leading to harm to Pentagon employees or the Department of Defense. Therefore, these

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