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b. Surface Air Support System
Since deployment in 2001, the Surface Air Support System (SASS) has integrated scan data received from transportation suppliers with existing transportation systems and has ensured service performance accountability and accurate payment verification. With SASS the Postal Service created a central visibility database to receive assignment data from the Surface Air Management System and scan data from Postal Service facilities and from transportation suppliers. In 2004 SASS began reconciling payment for the air carriers using scans received from these suppliers to measure performance.
c. Breakthrough Productivity Initiative
Priority Mail Standardization
A Field Operations Standardization Implementation objective is national improvement of Priority Mail service performance through shape-based separation and standardized processing methods. The objective will be achieved by separating Priority Mail items at the induction point and maintaining the separation throughout the mailstream. Specific focus will be placed on capturing Priority Mail flats and processing in flats operations at both origin and destination.
The Postal Service developed a Priority Mail Operations Performance Toolkit, which is available on the Breakthrough Productivity Initiative Web site, for area and field use. In 2004 this toolkit was made available to the field as a monthly and year-to-date comparative analysis tool, which can select national performance data, individual area data, or site specific data to track and monitor mail processing workhours versus volume within each of the Priority Mail operations.
1. Delivery Point Sequencing
Today more than 13,000 postal delivery units receive their letters in delivery point sequence (DPS). These units account for more than 99 percent of all city carrier routes and 77 percent of all rural routes. Table 2-3 shows the total number of delivery points for 2004.
a. Flats Sequencing System
During 2004 the Postal Service continued developing two alternative strategies aimed at fully automating the flat mailstream: a Flats Sequencing System (FSS) and Delivery Point Packaging (DPP).
FSS would complete the automation of flat mail by sorting flat mail into carrier-walk sequence. This type of sortation is referred to as delivery point sequencing and has been used in letter mail operations for over a decade. Presently, flat mail is sorted only to the zone and carrier level. This mail then must be sorted manually into delivery order by the carrier prior to beginning deliveries for that day. This labor intensive process would be significantly reduced with FSS.
*In 2004, the Postal Service adjusted reporting of rural and highway contract deliveries to customers who have mail delivered to a Post Office Box as an alternate delivery point to a physical address. Prior to 2004, both a delivery address and a Post Office Box held by the same addressee, were included in the count of "possible" delivery points.
In addition, on rural and highway routes, the Postal Service no longer counts a vacant delivery point (unoccupied for more than 90 days) as a "possible" delivery point. These adjustments made in 2004 reduced total delivery points by 0.8 million. Accordingly, the change in delivery points is 1.0 million. The actual growth in delivery points was 1.8 million. Data is not available to adjust the number of delivery points recorded for prior years.
Unlike letter mail, which is fairly uniform in size and address location, flat mail covers a broad range of sizes and has highly variable address placement. Advanced mail handling technologies must be developed, refined and/or adapted to allow for the automated sequencing of this diverse mailstream.
FSS concept development was completed in 2004. Development, testing, and evaluation of prototype systems will be conducted in 2005. If successful at all stages, and if the FSS approach proves economical, a production contract could be awarded in late 2006.
b. Delivery Point Packaging
In addition to the FSS, the Postal Service has simultaneously initiated development of DPP, a program which would combine letter and flat mail into one package and sort it in the carrier's delivery sequence.