The Department of Labor, which administers the workers compensation program for injured postal workers, has suspended the postal service’s electronic access to data gathered under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). The move comes after the USPS refused to accept DOL’s privacy guidelines.
As the administrator of the FECA, OWCP has the exclusive authority to control access to and disclosure of FECA records, including those in possession of the federal agencies who employ our injured workers. Although the United States Department of Justice has confirmed OWCP’s exclusive authority over FECA records, the Unites States Postal Service (USPS) disagrees and is unwilling to abide by DOL’s rules and restrictions on disclosure of FECA claim documents. As a result, USPS has refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DOL in order for USPS to receive FECA data electronically. DOL takes its privacy stewardship responsibilities seriously and has taken steps in order to protect the privacy of USPS employees who submit medical and personal information in connection with an application for FECA benefits. Because we have been unable to resolve this disagreement and because USPS has not signed the MOU, DOL is suspending USPS access to electronic case information as well as the transmittal of certain FECA information to USPS, except in those limited circumstances required for FECA claims administration to avoid unduly penalizing USPS employees.
Specifically, OWCP notified USPS that, as of July 1, 2013, we will suspend the electronic transfer of FECA information and documents to USPS, suspend USPS access to the Agency Query System, and suspend access to specific case documents through electronic kiosks in DFEC District Offices. In addition, we will limit access to copies of correspondence sent to a claimant. Information required by the USPS Office of Inspector General and the Postal Inspection service for investigatory activities within the scope of their authority will continue to be provided.