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The POC chairman, the Postal Service vice president of International Business, is pursuing a new results-based approach for managing the work of the POC towards improved management processes necessary to align strategies with structures and management systems such as performance measurement, budgeting, strategic planning, and communications. Under this approach, the POC will review the UPU resolutions, UPU objectives, programs of the Bucharest World Postal Strategy, and the draft 2005-2006 Program and Budget. Necessary alignment can then be accomplished throughout the entire structure of the UPU: the International Bureau (IB), the Council of Administration (CA), and the POC. The goal is to establish joint accountabilities for all three bodies and provide greater transparency in the implementation of programs. The Postal Service was also successful in gaining a leadership role in several groups key to furthering its priority objectives.
In addition to POC-related activities described, the Postal Service is coordinating implementation of 2004 UPU Congress decisions across its functional areas.
1. Automation Activities
The Postal Service continues to automate mail distribution operations to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The foundation of this effort is barcode technology, which includes barcoding mail, processing barcoded mail in automated operations, and adjusting the workforce as necessary to capture savings.
A. LETTER MAIL AUTOMATION
In 2005 the Postal Service continued to improve automated processing of letter mail through deployment of additional hardware and software.
Letter mail address recognition rates continued to rise as additional hardware and software upgrades were deployed for existing multi-line optical character reader (MLOCR), Delivery Barcode Sorter Input/Output Sub-System (DIOSS), and remote computer reader (RCR) equipment. Improvements were deployed to 342 mail processing centers under the Letter Recognition Enhancement Program (LREP) and via Advanced Facer Canceller (AFCS)-OCR deployment. LREP is an incentive-based program where the supplier is paid based on the incremental performance improvements achieved. LREP improvements deployed this year raised the letter mail encode rate to more than 91 percent while slightly reducing the error rate.
The AFCS-OCR program connects the existing RCR to the AFCS. The AFCS culls, faces, and cancels letter mail through a series of automated operations. It enables the on-line sortation of letter mail to either local or outgoing destinations and reduces downstream mail handlings.
Another enhancement currently being evaluated uses an additional database that is expected to improve address coding to high rise buildings and firms. Pilot testing was completed in May 2005 and deployment is anticipated to begin in mid-2006. Future improvements are projected to yield an additional 2-3 percentage point increase in the overall system encode rate by late 2007. Recognition rate improvements are also planned for over 9 thousand wide field of view cameras that started deployment on all barcode sorters in early 2004. Deployment was completed in December 2005.
The DIOSS machine is a further advancement of delivery barcode sorter (DBCS) technology that includes OCR and input/output subsystem capability. This allows automated processing of mail that currently requires manual distribution. Deployment of 395 of these systems is expected to begin in 2006. As a result of this program, 646 MLOCRs have reached end-of-life and will be removed from service. They have electronic components that are either already or soon will be obsolete. Components that are reusable as spare parts will be salvaged and sent to the parts depot in Topeka, Kansas.
Deployment of 1,632 additional DBCS stacker modules was completed in December 2004, seven months ahead of schedule. These modules enable an increase in delivery point sequenced mail by providing additional depth-of-sort on the DBCS machines and capacity for the growing number of delivery points.
B. FLAT MAIL AUTOMATION
The Flat Identification Code Sort (FICS) program applies an identification (ID) tag to each nonbarcoded flat and saves the address encoding result from the OCR or the remote encoding center (REC). Deployment of FICS was completed in June 2005 on all 534 automated flat sorting machines (AFSM) 100. FICS reads the ID tag and sorts the mail using the saved ZIP Code information. By eliminating multiple keying of the same images at the REC, FICS helps to further automate flat sorting operations. It also supports future efforts in flat delivery point sequencing and Intelligent Mail, making information about mail status more available to customers.
The Flat Recognition Improvement Program (FRIP) is increasing recognition rates and lowering error rates on the AFSM 100 and the Upgraded Flat Sorting Machine (UFSM) 1000. The result is fewer misdirected flats and better customer service.