Postal Service Launches Mail Quality Programs

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The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled two quality improvement efforts, the Mail Quality Analysis Program and Standardized Acceptance and Verification program.

The Mail Quality Analysis program -- a joint effort between postal service plants, business mail entry units and revenue assurance personnel -- is designed to measure the quality of First-Class and Standard-A mail. It tests the quality of mail makeup and barcode readability on high-volume mailings as the mail is processed on barcode sorting machines. The program will roll out nationally in the next three to four weeks

The MQA program is expected to eventually lead to error-free, high-quality mailings; improvements in existing mail acceptance procedures; and a stabilization of automation rates for mailers.

"We implemented this program because we are always trying to improve our ability to check quality - and what this program does is use technology to do that, as opposed to using business mail entry personnel," said Scott Hamel, manager of rates and classification at the USPS.

In addition, Hamel said, the MQA system is different from the Automated Barcode Evaluator program because it's able to check a much larger sample of mail. ABE can check several hundred pieces of mail in an hour, while the MQA program can check several thousands of pieces of mail in an hour. Mailers will be expected to initiate quality improvements when the actual scoring reports differ from the documentation provided by the mailer. After June 3, postage adjustments will be made when error rates exceed 5 percent.

The USPS unveiled another quality program last week that includes new step-by-step procedures for postal clerks to follow when evaluating First-Class and Standard-A mail. The Standardized Acceptance and Verification program basically standardizes the requirements of mail preparation verification. Initial testing of the program with Multi-Line Optical Character Reader mailers began last week.

Initially, only mailings of 10,000 pieces will be verified using SAVE. Non-MLOCR mailers will first be verified under SAVE beginning March 1, with full implementation by July 1. During the phase-in period until March 1, mailings with errors using SAVE will only be assessed additional postage if the error rate is more than 5 percent.

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