Mailers Group Urges Spending Changes at USPS

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A Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) workgroup that studies the U.S. Postal Service's capital expenditure program presented recommendations to transform the USPS' approach to capital spending at a meeting in Washington last week.

The recommendations urge the USPS to:

* Revive its process for justifying capital investments. Instead of measuring returns on multibillion-dollar investments by using the current short-term indicators, the workgroup suggested linking this to a future vision.

* Develop an enhanced information infrastructure that is linked to new processing technology. This will allow management to know where, for example, all unit loads of mail are in the mail flow at all times and to communicate this information to customers.

* Commit to increased automation in the processing and delivery of flats and parcels and to collaborate with its customers and business partners on how best to do this.

* Develop a program or process through which private-sector customers, vendors and partners could participate in the research and development of new technologies.

Joseph Schick, director of postal affairs at Quad/Graphics Inc., Hartford, WI, one of the chairmen of MTAC, said the recommendations are a prescription for the transformation of the postal service's approach to capital spending.

"Such a transformation," he said in a letter to the USPS' board of governors and postmaster general William J. Henderson, "is a critical first step toward the design and development of a new delivery network incorporating an enhanced infrastructure that will ensure the postal service's success in the 21st century."

Henderson seems to concur with the ideas. At the recent Postal Forum in Washington and at a board meeting this summer, he said postal management is on a quest to put an information platform in place, provide an activity-based accounting system and provide management with better operating information to decide how to manage current costs.

The MTAC workgroup, which is made up of postal customers and mailing industry experts, began meeting last fall and continued through July. The group was formed at the request the Blue Ribbon Committee, a panel of mailing industry executives formed in 1996 that spent a year working with postal executives to determine the strategic direction of the organization.

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