USPS Network Optimization Updates (April 2012)
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) recently filed a request for a non-binding advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) regarding their plans for network optimization. The network optimization plans include USPS closure of hundreds of postal facilities and adjustments to the delivery service standards. The USPS plans to publish soon a Federal Register notice with additional details on the proposed changes, with a 60-day comment period. Based on this comment period, plus an additional 30 days for implementation of the final changes, we anticipate that changes to the existing delivery service standards will be implemented in April 2012.
Network facility changes
The USPS is proposing approximately 250 processing facilities be closed. The process for studying these proposed changes is called the Area Mail Processing (AMP) study, and a list of the facilities under study is available on the USPS' web site. The status of each AMP study is shown on its AMP web page. The mailing industry requested that the USPS put this information into spreadsheet format so the data is easier to use.
As part of this consolidation, the USPS is proposing modifications to the current delivery standards so that the reduction in the number of processing facilities will not impact service. These changes essentially involve the elimination of overnight service for First-Class and Periodicals mail. Based on comments from the mailing industry on the initial Federal Register notice regarding this change, the USPS has now proposed some options for First-Class and Periodicals mailers who still need overnight service:
The overall proposed delivery standard changes are shown below:
On a related note, a letter went out to postal customers in late November from the USPS indicating that they will no longer be staging and holding mail to meet requested in-home delivery windows. Many catalog and promotional mailers use requested in-home date windows to target delivery to the mailbox to meet sale dates, to manage incoming calls/orders, and so forth. Technically, the USPS is under no obligation to stage and hold mail to meet these in-home dates, but historically they have tried to accommodate these requested in-home dates whenever possible. However, due to the planned facility closures, the proposed revised delivery standards, and the cost-cutting mode that the USPS is in, they are no longer able to offer this service. Mailers can continue to make in-home date requests, but they should be aware that the USPS will no longer be able to stage and hold mail to accommodate those requests.
What it means for mailers
So, what does all this mean for mailers? The change in policy regarding the in-home dates will have an immediate impact. Mailers will need to monitor mail delivery closely and make any necessary adjustments in their mailing schedules. Once facilities start to close, mailers will need to make sure their mailing software is updated with the most recent postal destination data updates. This includes data such as Labeling Lists, destination drop ship data files (including re-directions), and so forth, and impacts both presort and post-presort software applications. The USPS plans to publish proposed Labeling List changes as part of its Federal Register notice for the service standard changes. Stay tuned for future updates as this situation progresses.
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