USPS talks about CASS/DPV

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Postal Service is doing a lot of outreach to get the word out that beginning on Aug. 1 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.

Charlie Bravo, senior vice president of intelligent mail and address quality at USPS spoke to this issue at a presentation during the quarterly Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee meeting.

"We have done lot of communication on this issue and will continue," Mr. Bravo 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.

The delivery point validation system aids mailers in getting accurate delivery

addresses and identifying erroneous addresses.

Currently an option, beginning with Cycle L of CASS-certified software, 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. The USPS said that under the new system, an average of 2 percent of the addresses from a mailing list could lose their automation discount, but that mailers with higher quality address lists will experience smaller drops in matching level.

The agency first notified postal software vendors about the program in February 2006. It formed an MTAC workgroup to prepare for Aug. 1 implementation, publicized at several postal customer events and distributed a letter to mailers this month. In that letter Mr. Bravo and Anita Bizzotto, chief marketing officer and executive vice president for the USPS, explained the issue.

"Overall, this new DPV requirement will help you efficiently reach more of your intended recipients through our automated processes and avoid lost opportunities with your customers due to undeliverable-as-addressed mail," the letter said.

The letter also recommended that mailers not wait until Aug. 1 to improve their address lists immediately.

Mr. Bravo also said that the agency has e-mailed 174 surveys about the issue to NPF National Address Quality Specialist Certificate holders. He said 38 percent responded and 95.5 percent said they were aware of CASS Cycle L requirements. In addition, 52.4 percent have performed quality analysis in preparation for the changes and 88.9 percent have started preparations to meet the new requirements. Mr. Bravo said these are people who should know about the new rules. Last month he spoke at a conference with 120 attendees from telecommunications firms, and they also were aware of the changes.

The agency plans to continue spreading the message by making presentations at industry association meetings, conducting a Webinar for the agency's Business Service Network, sending e-mail blasts via the agency's DMM Advisory and having one-on-one consultations with mailers.

Mr. Bravo also addressed some issues the mailing industry has regarding CASS/DPV. One involved LACSLink, an automation tool that gives mailers a method to obtain new addresses when a 911 emergency system is in place. While CASS Cycle L-DPV requires the use of LACSLink, Mr. Bravo said the agency would give mailers about a year to fully integrate the solution. Another issue that has been raised involves call center uses of DPV.

"One request from the industry has been 'Can we run CASS with DPV at our call centers?'" he said. "And today the answer is yes."

He said the software can be remotely accessed from anywhere in the world.

Some mailers are concerned that using CASS/DPV will take mailers longer to process their addresses. The USPS is making DirectDPV available upon implementation of CASS Cycle L. Mr. Bravo said this system, which would be available through postal software vendors if they so choose, reduces redundant CASS processing of addresses. "With DirectDPV, instead of running the CASS Cycle L every time, after you run it the first time, you can just run the changes," Mr. Bravo said.

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