USPS OKs Purchase of More MERLINs

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The U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors yesterday approved funding for the second installation phase of 1,003 Mail Evaluation Readability and Lookup Instrument systems.

MERLIN is designed to verify all acceptance requirements at automation speeds to reduce acceptance time. According to the postal service, it is also designed to help ensure that the proper revenue is collected and minimize the amount of improperly prepared mail in distribution operations. It also will give feedback to customers to help them improve their mail preparation and qualify for discounts.

Under the first phase of the program, 200 machines were sent to the Southeast and Southwest. The second phase will provide nationwide coverage in the remaining areas. All machines will be in place by August 2003.

The board also praised postal employees and postmaster general John E. Potter for their extraordinary efforts after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11. Potter, who spoke to the board at its meeting in Washington yesterday, explained how the USPS reacted during the crisis.

"Our response was consistent with the words of the president and the mayor of New York, who pointed out the importance of restoring a sense of normalcy to the American people," he said. "We set up a command center and began moving the mail to ground transportation, doing everything we could to contribute to this important goal."

The Direct Marketing Association also commended the USPS yesterday for its efforts during the recent national tragedies.

"The United States Postal Service sees the need for the mail to continue to flow as a major part of getting business back to normal," said H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the DMA. "Their quick action and dedication has certainly demonstrated this."

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