By John Hannigan, CRCA representative on MTAC
It was unusually warm in Washington DC for the February MTAC meeting. Temperatures were in the 50s and the light drizzle that frequently fell on Wednesday was a welcome change to the snow that typically covers the ground.
The meeting was opened by the Postmaster General introducing new senior staff and promoting the National Postal Forum in San Antonio, Texas in May. The USPS senior leadership is ‘forward thinking, but data orientated’ in planning. The theme of the NPF is ‘Informed Visibility’ and the USPS is doing everything it can to provide mailers and customers with information about the mail flow.
Several issues that the USPS is faced with is new legislation in the Congress; the appointment (and confirmation) of new Governors; 90-day advance notice for all changes and being form competitive in the ‘last mile’ of delivery (focused on package services).
Other senior leadership reported that volume continues to be down, while service standard remain flat. Periodical training has been conducted at the district level for properly identifying and handling (although clients continue to comment about delays at the local level). New sort plans will be released in April to help improve delivery and provide better accountability.
As mentioned, the theme for 2018 is ‘Informed Visibility’ and the USPS is doing everything they can to promote the topic. This begins with the customers signing up to receive a daily email that includes images of mail that can be scanned by the sort equipment. Parcel notifications are also included with an online link for tracking progress. Right now, periodical and other flat materials are not included. There is testing going on however a roll-out date for including them is contingent on the ability for equipment to scan. Initially, the USPS is looking to include ‘bundle scan information’ that would provide ‘properly configured bundles’ to have information in the email notifications.
During our Periodical workgroup presentations, several items were discussed:
- Enterprise Payment Process (EPP) is replacing the CAPPS system. Customer can request an invitation to begin the transition through their Business Customer Gateway (BCG) account. The USPS cautions that the person responsible for finances be the person to request the invitation because the requestor cannot delegate responsibility to anyone else regarding this service. By the end of 2018 the USPS hopes to have every BCG customer converted to EPP, with a March 2019 sunset of CAPPS. The USPS will be sending letters to all CAPPS customers providing information on how they can sign up for EPP.
- The USPS is monitoring bundle breakage because it causes delays in delivery and additional manual handling of materials. Bundles must be prepared properly by mailer to comply with the Domestic Mailing Manual (DMM). Publishers will be notified of penalties assessed, through the BCG, for additional handling. The emphasis here is that Publishers need to communicate with their printer/mailer to make sure they follow proper procedures.
- Beginning in April, the Cycle O data will be used for all encoding of mail. With the release of new labeling lists for presorting mail that more accurately reflects delivery service needs, the USPS hope to provide better visibility so that an Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) can be scanned, and the delivery routing provided.
- Informed Delivery: If you are not personally using Informed Delivery, you should sign up now. The USPS will send an email of scanned images on a daily basis when you have mail to be delivered to a street address or PO Box. This service is for individuals only and not available to business addresses. The USPS reports that about 65% of the emails get opened, with the majority on mobile devices/tablets. It provides access to your mailbox even when you are away from home and someone else is getting the mail. And with the future inclusion of periodical/flats to be delivered, it will assist published in tracking delivery standards. It is a very cool feature that has tremendous impacts on the future. As of late February over 8 million people have signed up with a goal of 20 million by years end.
- Informed Visibility campaigns: The USPS has been working with ESPN the Magazine and some other periodical customers to test campaigns in conjunction with Informed Delivery. Once campaigns are available for other periodical mailers, they will be encouraged to use the Informed Delivery service to enroll their subscribers and be able to get better visibility of delivery issues.
Do you know what the USPS delivery standard for your publication is? Visit: https://ribbs.usps.gov/modernservicestandards/ssmaps/find_map.cfm and select you proper Mail Class and origin location. Most delivery standards are set at 3-days for the local area where mail in introduced to the USPS system.
Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.