Chapter 2: Postal Operations
O. Operations Planning
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The success of our automation program depends upon our ability to ensure each mailpiece has the correct barcode. Address Management System (AMS) provides that capability by maintaining current data on each delivery point and by regularly providing that data to Postal Service facilities and customers.

a. Forwarding

The Postal Service uses the Computerized Forwarding System (CFS) to forward mail to the 17 percent of the nation’s population that moves each year. Over 3 billion pieces of forwarded mail and nearly 44 million change-of-address cards were processed in 2002. CFS sites are located in 215 postal facilities nationwide. Each CFS site presently consists of a centralized computer, mechanized terminals for processing letters, flat forwarding terminals for flats and magazines, and nonmechanized terminals for processing change-of-address cards and nonmachinable mail. The CFS database provides the data for all address correction activities.

b. 100 Percent Database Quality

Address Management is making progress toward the goal of providing a 100 percent accurate AMS database, by pursuing an aggressive policy of ongoing quality reviews and by developing technological and procedural improvements to ensure better communication between delivery and field AMS sites. These steps have resulted in improvements to AMS database quality. AMS now provides more timely delivery point address information for use in all automated mail processing, barcoding, and sorting operations. It also is the source of all address information products required by the commercial industry to prepare automation compatible mailings.

In 2000, the Postal Service initiated the National AMS Street Review Program, moving responsibility for AMS data quality measurements from the areas to Headquarters and ensuring that the measurements are applied evenly across the nation. The national team reviewed over 2,130 individual carrier routes.

c. Address Quality Improvement

Improving address quality reduces the amount of undeliverable-as-addressed (UUA) mail and improves the effectiveness of automated mail-processing operations. The Postal Service makes available to mailers, products and services that assist them in attaining and maintaining, 100 percent deliverable address lists. Mailers who use the resources detailed below are able to produce more deliverable mailpieces, and gain access to worksharing discounts.

1. Address Element Correction

The Address Element Correction (AEC) service was designed to correct addresses that could not be matched to the Postal Service’s national ZIP+4 file using Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) certified address-matching software. AEC corrects deficient addresses and identifies those that do not exist. Already, millions of addresses in mailers' files have been examined and corrected, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

AEC uses a variety of computer logic resolution processes to correct as many addresses as possible. It also produces a diagnostic report about the mailer's list management practices. The current electronic service resolves, on average, 33 percent of the previously unmatched addresses. More than 20 million addresses were processed in 2002 with 6.7 million addresses corrected.

2. Barcode Certification

To ensure the accuracy of barcodes applied by mailers, the Postal Service evaluates the ability of customers' hardware and software to produce properly constructed barcodes that meet Postal Service automation requirements. There are many printers that are certified as producing barcodes that meet the required physical characteristics. The National Customer Support Center (NCSC) in Memphis, TN, maintains a list of vendors for all business mail acceptance units nationwide.

3. Coding Accuracy Support System

The Coding Accuracy Support System improves the accuracy of the carrier route, five-digit ZIP, ZIP+4, and delivery point codes that appear on mailpieces. The program is a quality control measure that ensures that software vendors provide accurate, updated information and software to customers who purchase this information to process their mailing lists. CASS is available to all mailers, service bureaus, and software vendors who want to evaluate their address-matching software and improve the quality of their ZIP+4, carrier route, and five-digit coding accuracy. The NCSC grades this process and the results are returned to mailers to provide useful diagnostics for correcting deficiencies. CASS enables the Postal Service to evaluate the accuracy of address-matching software programs in the following three areas: (a) ZIP+4 delivery point coding, (b) carrier route coding, and (c) five-digit coding. CASS allows vendors/mailers the opportunity to test their address-matching software packages and, after achieving a minimum percentage of accuracy, be certified by the Postal Service.

4. Multiline Accuracy Support System

The Multiline Accuracy Support System (MASS) is an extension of the CASS. While CASS focuses on the processing of addresses stored electronically in computer data files, MASS tests the quality of address matching occurring on multi-line optical character reader (MLOCR) equipment and direct-view encoding stations. These systems have to lift an address image directly from a mailpiece to accomplish processing. MASS allows vendors/mailers the opportunity to test their machines and, after achieving a minimum percentage of accuracy, be certified by the Postal Service.

5. Customer Notification Letter

In April 1996, the Postal Service implemented a process to circumvent the fraudulent submission of change-of-address Orders. The Customer Notification (Move Validation) Letter is a notification to postal customers who have submitted change-of-address (COA) orders (PS Form 3575, Change of Address Order). The notification is mailed to Postal Service customers at their old address and includes details of the COA order, providing customers an opportunity to verify the COA information on file with the Postal Service. If a potentially fraudulent situation exists, the customer is instructed to contact the local Post Office for assistance. The telephone number of the local Post Office is provided. The notifications also include a question and answer section advising customers what to do if they are not receiving mail at their new address. There is also information on how customers may notify others of their new address, and a reminder to register or reregister to vote.

These notifications are generated for COAs entered into the Computerized Forwarding System database on a daily basis. They are mailed within 24 hours of receipt by the National Customer Support Center in Memphis, TN. More than 44 million Customer Notification Letters were mailed in 2002.

6. Locatable Address Conversion System

The Locatable Address Conversion System (LACS) enables business mailers to electronically update their rural-style addresses with new, locatable city-style addresses in areas that are experiencing 911 emergency response address conversions. There are currently 5 million converted addresses in the LACS file. Improved address quality increases mailer access to worksharing discounts and improves deliverability. The Postal Service licensed 13 firms to assist mailers in updating their address records or to perform the matching service for business mailers.

7. Presort Accuracy Validation Evaluation

The Presort Accuracy Validation Evaluation (PAVE) program is a process designed in cooperation with the mailing industry to evaluate presort software and determine its accuracy in sorting address files according to DMM standards. PAVE is available only to companies that develop presort software or manufacture presorting equipment for resale or internal use. Participation in the program is purely voluntary. Although this program evaluates and validates presort products manufactured by the developers, PAVE does not guarantee acceptance of mail prepared using PAVE-certified hardware and/or software. However, it does provide national approval of computer-generated facsimiles of Postal Service postage statements, standardized documentation, and other presort documentation.

8. Rapid Information Bulletin Board System

Rapid Information Bulletin Board System (RIBBS) was introduced to provide members of the mailing industry with rapid access to postal information. The information in RIBBS includes Customer Support Rulings, Federal Register notices, weather and natural disaster condition reports, DMM labeling lists, certified vendor information, office locator services, reports and data for ADVANCE participants, and minutes of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meetings.

9. Electronic Address Sequencing

Centralized electronic address sequencing service eliminates field workhours in the handling of manual address sequence cards and improves the consistency of the service provided. With average processing times of less than 5 days, the electronic service assists walk sequence mailers in updating their address lists in a much more efficient and time-saving fashion. In 2002, over 64 million addresses were processed for 148 customers. Validating that number of addresses via the manual card process would have cost over 59,000 workhours during the year.

d. The Welcome Kit

The Welcome Kit is a value-added program for customers who have recently moved. It is designed to reduce Postal Service costs and improve service. The Welcome Kit contains the following: the customer's address change Confirmation Notification Letter; local phone numbers and addresses for the customer's new area; a Settling-In Guide, with helpful information and advice on getting settled; savings on products and services customers typically need after moving; and information on how to notify the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Internal Revenue Service, and voter registration offices of the new address.

e. Move Update Implementation

The Move Update requirement of Classification Reform, which became effective July 1, 1997, was established to reduce the estimated $1.9 billion annual expense and negative service standard impacts that undeliverable-as-addressed (UUA) mail creates. The requirement specifies that addresses used to obtain all First-Class Mail presorted and automation discount rates must be updated for move activity within 180 days (six months) prior to the date of mailing by a Postal Service-approved method. Address Management has direct responsibility for all approved methods with the exception of the manual address correction process, which is mailpiece endorsement based. In addition to National-Change-of-Address Service, the Address Management processes include the following:

f. Address Change Service

The Address Change Service (ACS) offers mailers automated address correction service following the issuance of their mailings. Address correction notifications are generated from change-of-address orders (PS Form 3575) submitted to the Postal Service by customers who move. This change-of-address data is maintained in the CFS database. In order to participate in ACS, mailers are required to modify the address label or address block of each mailpiece for which an electronic ACS notification is requested. They are also required to use an ACS compatible ancillary service endorsement. ACS electronic notifications are provided at a fee of 20 cents per notification. However, participation in ACS does not eliminate the provision of manual address correction notifications (hardcopies), which are provided at the manual address correction fee of 70 cents each. By rapidly updating their address lists, mailers improve the deliverability of their mail. ACS processed 203 million corrections in 2002.

g. Electronic Publication Watch System

The Electronic Publication Watch (ePUBWATCH) system is a web-based periodicals complaint tracking and resolution system which allows a registered publisher to enter a subscriber's Postal Service-related complaint, request an electronic publication watch, or request the assistance of a Periodical Service Improvement team member through the completion of a Systemic Complaint Resolution form. ePUBWATCH was designed to replace the existing paper-based publication watch system in those delivery offices which have a delivery unit computer.

Development and testing of the Publisher's website, the Delivery Unit's Data Entry website, and the ePubwatch Reports website have been completed. All necessary hardware has been purchased and installed to support this web-based system. National deployment began in September 9, 2002.

h. The Collection Box Management System

The Collection Box Management System (CBMS) provides a monitoring tool for delivery unit management to ensure adherence to our collection box schedules and policies. The system consists of a data collection device that scans a barcode located inside a collection box to collect time, location and date information. The information collected by the scanner is then placed in a data transfer device at the delivery unit for downloading into the delivery unit computer. The data is then loaded into the CBMS software program, which allows management to quickly ascertain the status of each collection. A small percentage of delivery units still utilize the wand/button technology to manage collections. During 2003, the plan is to move CBMS from a DOS-based platform to a web-based application.

i. ADVANCE Notification and Tracking System

The ADVANCE Notification and Tracking System, commonly referred to as ADVANCE, is designed as a manual delivery confirmation system to meet the time-sensitive mailing needs of Standard and Periodicals mailers. ADVANCE tracks the delivery performance of qualified Standard Mail and Periodicals mailings in over 7,500 delivery units and in over 11,000 five-digit ZIP Codes. In 2002, over 5.3 billion mail pieces were tracked using ADVANCE, which represents a 23 percent increase over the same period last year.

j. Confirm

The Postal Service completed operational deployment of the new Confirm® service in 2002. This service notifies customers when their mailings enter the mailstream, and provides detailed information to mailers concerning the status of their letters and flats as they are scanned by postal equipment. This information will be available to subscribers on the Internet.

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Chapter 2 Table of Contents

A.  Public Perceptions, Customer
     Outreach and Mailer Liaison

B.  Product Development

C.  International Mail

D.  Mail Volume and Service

E.  Mail Distribution

F.  Delivery Unit Operations

G.  Stamp Services

H.  Licensing Program

I.  Commercial Sales

J.  Retail Programs:
     Building the Core

K.  Pricing and Classification

L.  Marketing Technology and
     Channel Management

M. The Internet:
     Transforming the Way We Connect
      with Our Customers

N.  Technology

O.  Operations Planning

P.  Financial Management