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Chapter 2 Postal Operations
8. Postage Statement Redesign
In January 2006, the Postal Service released redesigned postage statements. The new format is modular in design and allows customers and software developers to use only the sections of the form they need. This new model provides ease-of-use for both customers and employees. By redesigning the forms, the Postal Service was able to reduce the number of forms from 43 to 11.
9. International Price Adjustment
On January 8, 2006, the Postal Service implemented its first comprehensive change in international prices and fees since January 2001. The overall 5.9% increase was designed to be in line with the 5.4% acrossthe- board domestic rate increase that was also implemented on the same date. However, additional adjustments were needed for some services and country groups to ensure that the associated costs were adequately covered. In addition, certain Express Mail and Air Parcel Post rate groups were realigned based on operational changes.
10. International Classification Changes
As a result of an agreement negotiated by the U.S. government with the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, mail destined to those two countries will be phased into the international rate schedules. These international changes took effect on January 8, 2006.
1. Advanced Computing Environment/Upgrading the Infrastructure
The Advanced Computing Environment (ACE) is a comprehensive effort that standardizes hardware and software products for all users and enables centralized support. The Postal Service is standardizing its printing environment with the Printing and Imaging Environment (PRIME), which will reduce costs and improve functionality. PRIME all-in-one devices typically provide scan to e-mail, copy, print, and fax services and significantly reduce the number of devices needed. To date, 2,433 PRIME devices are in place, and 10,650 devices—including more than 7,800 printers—have been targeted for disposal or relocation.
2. Information Security
To avoid security breaches, the Postal Service implemented a number of controls over its computer equipment and data systems. The most important control included encryption of sensitive data, especially on removable media, and management of data accessible outside the organization. Encryption is incorporated on workstations and removable media used in offices with sensitive data. Use of non-securable peripheral memory devices is not permitted. All remote access to internal networks is controlled through registration. The new controls will quarantine those who do not qualify for access. The controls also require a review of all the people who have access to sensitive data and the type of access they have. New policies place controls on personal information resources brought into postal facilities and prohibit use of nonpostal devices to access the Postal Service Intranet or to store Postal Service information.
Guidelines were issued encouraging managers to limit the assignment of laptop computers to employees.
3. Network Upgrades
The Postal Service continued enhancing the computing infrastructure by completing 2,500 upgrades to the Wide Area Network. Slow speed dial-up connections to the network at 4,200 smaller facilities have been upgraded to higher (broadband) speeds. The remaining upgrades to dial-up sites are scheduled for completion in 2007. The BlackBerry wireless communications system continues to provide remote communications capability to 6,200 Postal Service employees including Continuity of Operations team members, even when Postal Service facilities are without power or shut down. Features such as e-mail and the eApprover application enable managers to keep workflow moving remotely — anytime, anywhere.
4. Enterprise Data Warehouse
Initiated as a repository for key retail information and transactions, the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) is now the central source of information on retail, financial, and operational performance, serving thousands of users each day. Enhancements to the system that were implemented in 2006 are enabling cross-functional analysis. In 2007, the Postal Service will focus on how to push critical information to decision-makers and generate exception reports and alerts, rather than standard status reports.
For more than two decades, barcodes have been at the core of major advances in service quality and productivity growth. Automated mail processing — driven by barcodes — allowed the Postal Service to reduce costs at the same time it helped promote more rapid, reliable, and consistent service. Today, the vast majority of mail is barcoded, mostly by customers. The remaining codes are applied during processing by automated equipment that “reads” the address and converts it to a code. In either case, the barcode is the “map” that directs mail to its destination.
The Postal Service teamed with customers to take a critical next step in automation, with the introduction of the Intelligant Mail barcode. The new code contains triple the information of previous barcodes, greatly expanding the “intelligence” available from mail and thus its capacity for tracking and automated sortation. Ultimately, this new capacity will enable total mail visibility — the ability to “see” individual mail of all types at all steps in the process — from creation by the mailer and deposit with the Postal Service, through various stages of transportation and processing, up to the point of delivery. To date, mailer feedback on Intelligant Mail barcode readability and CONFIRM reporting has been very positive.
A similar unique barcode is also being deployed for parcels, the integrated parcel barcode (IPB). This barcode conforms to different standards in the parcel market, but its benefits are similar to those created by the Intelligent Mail barcode for letters and flats. It contains information about the package and the shipper, improving processing and providing end-to-end visibility for every package. As with the progress on letter and