FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM MAILERS
(as of 02-23-12)
NOTE: When reading these FAQs, it is important to understand that the implementation of any consolidation or closure is contingent upon the outcome of proposed revisions to existing service standards. In addition, under no circumstances would implementation occur prior to May 15 of this year, in keeping with a moratorium on closing or consolidating postal facilities intended to give Congress and the Administration the opportunity to enact an alternative plan.
- Q1: What effect will the moratorium have on implementation? >
- The moratorium on closing facilities ends May 15.
- How the Postal Service proceeds on May 16 depends in part on the status of proposed service standard changes.
- It also depends on whether Congress or the Administration takes any action that could affect our ability to move forward (extension of the moratorium, for example).
- We will be prepared for each plant to begin implementation on May 16, but the precise schedule for each plant, and the completion of implementation, will vary based on four factors involved in the moves: employees, facilities, equipment and transportation.
- The most complex moves will take the longest.
- Q2: What effect will the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) procedural schedule in the service standards case (N2012-1) have on implementation? >
- The PRC recently denied the Postal Service’s request for an expedited schedule.
- We will continue to prepare for implementation so that we are able to move forward, without additional delay, if and when the decision to implement is made.
- Q3: Will the Postal Service implement service standard changes even if it doesn’t move forward with the proposed network and mail processing changes? >
- The Postal Service’s proposed service standard regulation changes were published on December 15, 2011. The rulemaking process will resolve the content of any service standard regulation changes that are ultimately implemented. The service standard changes and the service changes (and underlying operational changes) proposed in the Postal Service’s request for an advisory opinion from the PRC are interrelated, and would be implemented accordingly.
- Q4: When will a list of the plant closures – and the dates and addresses for when and where the mail will be directed – be provided to mailers? >
- The list of sites that were studied during the AMP process announced in September 2011 is now available on the Postal Service’s web site. The list provides the decisions made with respect to each site, and the name of the gaining facility for each site subject to closure or consolidation. The list can be found at: http://usps.com/ourfuturenetwork
- Hypothetical network rationalization service standard and label list files have been filed with the PRC in connection with the Postal Service’s request for an advisory opinion on changing the service standard for market-dominant products. These hypothetical documents are also available via the “Information for Mailers” web page at http://about.usps.com/news/facility-studies/welcome.htm. The potential changes depicted in these documents are provided purely to illustrate the nature and magnitude of the service standard and network changes as proposed by the Postal Service.
- No significant mail processing consolidations will be initiated during the peak mailing season (which is still being defined, based on input from mailers, but is roughly considered to be from around September through December).
- Right now, we do not know what the completion dates will be for plants that will be closing.
- We will not rush the net – we will take as long as is necessary to make these changes in order to ensure that we provide adequate notice to all those affected.
- Q5: Will Designated Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) discounts still be available for mailings entered at BMEUs that remain in impacted facilities? >
- Mailers will be encouraged to align their preparation and entry to the new network. However, they will continue to receive drop-ship entry discounts for mail entered at impacted facilities based on 3-digit ZIP Codes currently allowed.
Entry Point Changes
- Q6: Will critical acceptance times (blue box drop off times) be moved up in locations where a facility is closed so that mail can be moved longer distances to the gaining processing center? >
- At this time, collection box times, retail and BME hours will not change.
- Q7: Will turnaround mail still be processed on the same day it is entered? >
- Yes, we will continue to process turnaround mail on the day it enters the postal system. It is intended to go through cancellation and outgoing operations.
- Q8: But won’t these changes result in longer processing and delivery times for local turnaround mail, even in those locations that will not lose a mail processing facility? >
- The Postal Service has always advanced mail, provided sufficient capacity is available. If mail volume is available to run, we will advance mail as we have historically if sufficient processing capacity exists. This may lead to some turnaround mail being delivery point sequenced for delivery the next day if that scheme has not yet run, even though the mail may have a 2-day service standard.
- Q9: How will the proposed network changes affect plant load transportation? >
- For mail that is accepted at a mailer’s plant for transport to a processing plant under a plant load agreement, the proposed network changes will likely require adjustments in the “length of haul” to an alternate entry point in the network in the event that the original mail processing entry point is deactivated as the result of network rationalization.
- Q10: Will the Postal Service have a separate processing stream for remittance mail and caller service? >
- The Postal Service does not currently have a completely separate processing stream for remittance mail and Caller Service. Like other First-Class Mail, envelopes containing remittances and Caller Service volume flow through the letter mail processing network and are tendered to recipients depending on the delivery mode they have elected. Some are delivered to street addresses; most are delivered to Post Office Boxes. Some Post Office Box addressed mail is subject to Caller Service, under the terms of which it is aggregated at the destination plan and tendered to the recipient before reaching secondary operations and the delivery unit. Caller Service arrangements are a special service paid for by recipients, including recipients of bulk remittances. When implemented, the network rationalization plan under review in this proceeding will preserve these arrangements.
- Q11: How much First-Class Mail will receive overnight delivery in the future? >
- Three factors will have the most influence on the percentage of First-Class Mail that receives overnight delivery in the future:
- the degree to which First-Class Mail presort customers take advantage of the early entry time option to achieve overnight delivery;
- the proportion of Caller Service volume in which some proportion happens to have been entered into the mailstream the day prior, and
- the degree to which the Postal Service achieves overnight delivery for such mail.
- Q12: How will the Postal Service close up to 250 facilities without a negative impact on service? Service standards are not even being met today – how can we expect them to be met once there are fewer facilities? >
- We are using IMb and diagnostic data to manage cycle time and inventory in plants. We will only improve over time. Commercial First-Class Mail went through a similar process and now receives great service. Also supporting our service will be the fact that we will not have any major facility moves during the peak mailing season. We built enough capacity in the network model to handle surges in volume.
- Q13: What about natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods... How will a smaller network handle the logistical and processing changes those events always require? >
- We have a strong continuity of operations plan (COOP). For example, some equipment will be maintained in storage so that it is available to be used in another building or location when natural disasters create the need.
- Q14: How will the AMP decisions affect BMEU locations and hours? >
- BMEU hours and locations will not change in the near-term. As we begin to understand changes in mailer behavior, consideration will be given to adjustments in BMEU operations.
- If a decision is made in the future to relocate a BMEU, mailers will receive 120 days notice of any move or consolidation, and any changes to BMEU and DMU operations and DMU transportation. Should a BMEU eventually be moved, its new location will be in close proximity to the original.
- Q15: What are the roles of the Labeling Lists and Mail Direction File in conjunction with facility changes? >
- Labeling Lists and the Mail Direction File will be adjusted to reflect the changes in the network. The updates will be provided six times a year in compliance with the published schedule; mailers get 60 days notice, and have an additional 30-day grace period. Mailers are encouraged to continue to prepare and enter mail utilizing the updated Label Lists and Mail Direction File as they do today.
- Q16: What mail processing, acceptance, and transportation-related operations will be necessary at the BMEUs that remain open? >
- During the mail processing network rationalization transition, we expect acceptance operations to remain the same as today, except for possible changes to Critical Acceptance Times (CATs). CATs will be based on outbound transportation schedules to the gaining mail processing facilities. We don’t project any mail processing-related operations to be needed other than some inventory of mail transport equipment (MTE) for customer use.
- Q17: Will there be a surcharge to mailers entering mail at an impacted facility? >
- No. Currently there are no plans to impose surcharges on mailers entering mail at an impacted facility.
- Q18: If mail is accepted at an impacted facility, will it have the same service standards as mail accepted at an operational facility? >
- Because end-to-end service standards are being defined by the origin plant service area (OPDC/F), the service standards are the same by the manner in which end-to-end service standards are proposed. We expect to establish earlier critical acceptance times at impacted facilities in order to meet the Day 0 Critical Entry Time that will be established at the gaining facility.
- Q19: How many employees at BMEUs located at impacted facilities will continue to accept mail? >
- Staffing needs for specific BMEUs will be assessed based on changes in customer entry patterns resulting from the network changes.
- Q20: How will transitions be handled? As equipment is moved from facility A to facility B, there will be some delay before the equipment is operational in the new facility. What happens to the mail volume originally handled by facility A until facility B is up to speed? >
- The question illustrates why service standard changes should be made first. We will need service standard changes in place in order to free up processing machines so that they can start to be moved. All equipment moves will need to be choreographed; this also creates an opportunity for us to optimize layouts. Even in plants staying open, layouts are likely to shift.