PRC Pans USPS's Load-Leveling Plan

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One plant does not a beta test make.
One plant does not a beta test make.

The Postal Regulatory Commission's advisory opinion on the Postal Service's load-leveling plan is to take a step back and do a more thorough job of assessing the implications for mailers before putting it into play. USPS had hoped to enforce the plan beginning today. It can still choose to do so, or wait and take the PRC's opinion under advisement.

Currently, mailers that qualify for a Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) discounted rate can expect Monday delivery of mail accepted by facilities on Thursday or Friday. Under the new load-leveling plan, Standard Mail accepted on Friday will not be delivered until Tuesday, and mail accepted on Saturday will have a promised delivery day of Wednesday.

“In arriving at our decision, we received many comments from mailers indicating they had expected a much more robust review process,” PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway (left) told Direct Marketing News. “There were questions raised about the impact that the Postal Service didn't explore. Each processing plant is different and what may work in some areas may not work in others.”

The Postal Service based the workload reduction plan on a single test at a DSCF in the South Jersey district, where it saw a significant reduction in work hours and overtime. “There's a question as to whether that was adequate or not. The beta test did not answer all the questions,” Goldway said.

The PRC's official decision, delivered to the USPS yesterday, suggested it should:

  • Perform a cost-benefit analysis at the national level to ensure that the load-leveling plan is cost effective, while providing the anticipated benefits

  • Assess the plan's impact on volume and co-mailing/co-palletization activities

  • Perform additional field testing, since the results of the limited testing may not be representative at the national level

  • Further analyze the plan's effect on service performance

  • Conduct more extensive customer outreach to obtain a clearer understanding of mailer's questions and concerns

“The Postal Service has been making many changes to save costs over the last few years. To make sure it meets its service obligation, we had to raise the point that it's difficult to maintain service when making so many changes all at once,” Goldway says. “They're trying to do a good job. They're not trying to hurt the mailers. But they're trying to achieve change really fast.”

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