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Improving the USPS

Jul 1, 2011 12:00 AM


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The annual National Postal Forum (NPF), held in San Diego, May 1-4, 2011, hosted approximately 4,000 attendees. Here are some highlights relevant to U.S. printers:

Free Confirm Data

Effective with the anticipated pricing change in January 2012, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will begin offering free Confirm mail tracking data for mailers participating in Intelligent Mail Full-Service. Remember, this free information will consist of just the raw scan data; mailers will likely need to use third-party services to interpret and use the scan data. The USPS also plans to enhance the visibility of the mail to all mailers participating in Intelligent Mail by providing more piece scan data, more bundle scan data, more tray scan data and more container scan data. No firm timeline was set for these scan enhancements, but these will be available to Intelligent Mail Basic Services mailers as well, likely as fee-based options. The free Confirm service also will be available to commercial parcel mailers using Intelligent Mail package barcodes.

First Class Second Ounce Free

The USPS also announced its plan to present a proposal to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to provide the second ounce free for First Class Mail. This proposal is an attempt to slow the decline of First Class mail volume by making the pricing more attractive. This proposal also is anticipated to be part of the 2012 pricing changes.

Software and website changes

Starting in 2012, the USPS plans to issue two major and two minor software releases per year on a published schedule. This will help reduce the frequency of mailing software updates and provide more advanced notice for planning purposes. The USPS also plans to modify both the USPS RIBBS website (https://ribbs.usps.gov) and its home site www.usps.com. The goal of these changes is to improve security, make the sites more user-friendly, and move the data fulfillment (e.g. NCOALink delete files, ACS files, etc.) to a separate Electronic Product Fulfillment (EPF) website.

Promote the value of mail

Starting in September 2011, the USPS will embark on a major multimedia marketing campaign to promote the value of mail. The USPS plans to work closely with customers during the development of this campaign and encourages mailers to develop their own campaigns to integrate and build on the USPS message.

Fix the financials

The USPS financial situation is very critical and it plans to address this using several different approaches. One is for the CFO, Joe Corbett, to take on the project of simplifying the USPS cost structure, including working with the PRC. A separate initiative includes a legislative strategic plan, which involves improved communication with members of Congress, particularly new members, about the USPS financial situation and other concerns.

Focus on delivery

The USPS also announced that its future focus will be more on the delivery of the mail and less on ancillary initiatives such as retail sales and other projects that distract from the service they provide better than any other postal system in the world: delivery to every household and business in America.

Monica Lundquist (mlundquist@windowbook.com) is postal affairs manager for Window Book Inc. These comments first appeared in the company's Postal Concierge Service “Weekly e-tips.” See www.windowbook.com/PostalConciergeEtips.aspx.