UPDATE (Friday 1/16 2:05 p.m.): The USPS has said it has “nothing to announce today“.

Rumors are flying about a “Big Announcement” from the United States Postal Service to be announced this Friday, January 16. On several blogs covering Postal Service issues, the topic is hot. Local postal workers near our offices know about the announcement and all have their own theories.
The United States Postal Service
Because the Postal Service is such a large agency, the Big Announcement could be able pretty much anything (or nothing), but since there has been such an interest in what it’s going to be, we compiled a list of the leading possibilities:

Mass layoffs: The USPS could be planning to enact a Reduction in Force (RIF), the government’s term for layoffs. Usually a cost-cutting measure, the RIF will determine which employees will be laid off based on length of tenure, veteran’s standing, and employee standing and performance. Full explanation of RIF policies can be found here.

Early-out incentives: Another theory along these same lines is a program that may encourage people to retire earlier. Such an early-out offer may offer benefits like reducing or eliminating the penalty for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) takers or tax breaks on retirement benefits.

Postmaster General to resign: John Potter has served as the United States Postmaster General and CEO of the United States Postal Service since 2001, and has been involved in a recent investigation for receiving discounts and other benefits from Countrywide Financial Corp. Countrywide, a leading subprime lender has been a major player in sparking the financial crisis and has been criticized for using low teaser rates to lure in homebuyers that could not afford the houses they were purchases.  The investigation began in November, and this could be the culmination of that.

Potter was also publicly supportive of Chief Postal Inspector Alexander Lazaroff as he was being investigated for squandering USPS money on unnecessary travel and gambling last year.

Rate hikes: The USPS may be making an announcement about the shipping rates increasing. The rate hikes are schedule to take effect on January 18.

Working with Obama: Though the USPS is relatively autonomous, this announcement does come just days before the inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama. This could be a policy address attempting to get in under the wire.