USPS Announces New BSA Agreements
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced new Business Systems Administrator Agreements (BSA’s). These agreements describe the terms and conditions for the use of USPS computing systems and Business Customer Gateway online services. Essentially, any mailers using PostalOne! to conduct electronic transactions with the USPS will need to read and accept the new agreement in order to continue access to the Business Customer Gateway. The new agreements were effective November 1, 2010, but mailers have a grace period until sometime in 2011 (yet to be announced) to accept the new agreement.
The BSA is responsible for managing their company’s profile information on the Business Customer Gateway, and also for activating and de-activating the company’s user logon ID’s. The BSA also controls granting of the appropriate access levels for services to people within their organization. BSA’s are also responsible for establishing where permits and Mailer ID’s are to be linked.
Why The Change?
The new agreement covers additional responsibilities for the BSA that became effective with the PostalOne! Release 25.0.0 on November 7, 2010. Effective with this release, the PostalOne! System sends important updates and notices to the BSA, and the new agreement also includes the addition of the new Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) service.
Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) Service
The BSA will now receive notifications from the USPS whenever there are situations involving assessment of additional postage or discrepancies requiring reconciliation on Intelligent Mail® Full-Service (IMFS) mailings. The BSA can, as an option, designate a special user, called a Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) to be responsible for receiving these notifications and for resolving these issues on a timely basis.
Timing of Error Reports
Verification checks for IMFS mailings can occur at different points in time. There are validation checks that occur when the Mail.dat® files are submitted to PostalOne! There are also the physical verification checks by the acceptance clerk, who checks the physical mailpieces and container preparation at the time the mail is submitted to the USPS. There are also checks that occur during the USPS processing of the mail, which can occur and be reported anywhere from 2 to 30 days after the postage statements have been finalized. If there are errors in the mailing, many will be reported in the MicroStrategy Error reports available online at PostalOne! Any errors not covered in these reports would be communicated to the BSA and/or VAE for resolution.
Resolution of Errors
The error resolution process will remain much as it has in the past, in that the mail owner/mail preparer must research the error to determine if the error is valid. If the mail owner/mail preparer feels the error is not valid, they have the opportunity to request a reconciliation or to dispute the error. For IMFS mail, this process will now be done online through the PostalOne! Help Desk. If the error is determined to be valid, then the mail owner/mail preparer must decide how and by whom the postage penalty, if any, will be paid. The mail owner/mail preparer also has the option to re-work the mail to correct errors, but this option is only available early on in the process, such as at the time the mail is tendered to the USPS and undergoes the physical verification. Errors found later on in the processing stream obviously will not be able to be re-worked.
Mailers should, if they have not already, read through the new BSA agreement and accept the new agreement. Mailers should also make any necessary adjustments in their assigned BSA’s and VAE’s. There are also likely internal processes and procedures that need to be established to insure accurate and timely resolution of any reported errors. Keep in mind that the USPS will begin assessing loss of IMFS discounts effective January 2, 2011 for mail not meeting certain IMFS requirements, so mailers should be reviewing this new agreement and putting the necessary processes and procedures in place BEFORE the January effective date.