USPS reiterates CASS/DPV plan

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service reminded mailers Nov. 2 that beginning in August mail pieces will receive CASS-related discounts only when the agency's delivery point validation process confirms the primary number -- or the first line -- of the addresses.

Jan Caldwell, manager of address management at USPS, reminded attendees at the quarterly Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting here at postal headquarters that the new system will improve addressing for mailers and the postal service by eliminating the need to manually process the mail because of incorrect primary numbers.

"Over 348 million pieces of mail are returned or wasted as a result of incorrect or missing primary numbers at an annual cost to USPS of $60 million," Ms. Caldwell said.

Letter carriers being required to deliver mail with incorrect or missing primary numbers costs the USPS more than $99 million annually, she said.

CASS, or Coding Accuracy Support System, lets the USPS evaluate the accuracy of address-matching software in three areas: ZIP+4 delivery point coding, carrier route coding and five-digit coding.

This offering lets vendors and mailers test their address verification software packages and, after achieving a certain percentage of compliance, receive CASS certification from the USPS.

The DPV system helps mailers obtain accurate delivery address information and facilitates identification of erroneous addresses contained in mailer address files.

For example, ZIP+4 codes typically represent a range of 100 or fewer house numbers on a given street. While 13300-13399 Maple St. may be assigned to ZIP+4 code 33556-5629, not all those house numbers represent actual delivery points.

DPV identifies those addresses that may be in a valid ZIP+4 range but are not valid addresses, thus allowing mail to be delivered in a delivery point sequence.

Currently an option, beginning with Cycle L of CASS-certified software, (which starts in August), the USPS will assign a ZIP+4 code to a mail piece only if the mailer uses CASS-DPV to confirm that the input address has a valid primary number.

CASS Cycle L-DPV also will require the use of LACSLink. This system gives mailers an automated method to obtain new addresses when a 911 emergency system has been implemented.

The USPS told software vendors at a Feb. 1 meeting that if the primary street number of an address cannot be confirmed with DPV, then no ZIP+4 code would be assigned to the mail next summer. Without a ZIP+4 code, the mail ceases to qualify for postal discounts.

USPS said that under the new system, an average of 2 percent of the addresses from a mailing list could lose their automation discount.

Mailers with higher quality address lists will experience smaller drops in matching levels, however.

Rick Arvonio, director of product management at USPS, said he didn't understand why some mailers are concerned that they could lose a discount for some of their mail when the new cycle kicks in.

"Yes, they will not get the discount, but they will also learn that they are mailing to an invalid address and can then eliminate that address from their list," Mr. Arvonio said.

"The new system will help companies' mailing costs in the long term because they won't have to produce mailing pieces that are being sent to invalid addresses," he said.

In general, he said, the new system "helps companies connect with their customers. And they can start dong it right now."

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