USPS to publish Move Update notice

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Postal Service has published a notice for comment on its Web site today proposing new standards for address quality.

The proposal would extend the Move Update requirement to all Standard Mail pieces and would require mailers to perform Move Update processing for discounted First-Class Mail and Standard Mail no more than 95 days prior to mailing. Move Update is the process for updating names and addresses in a mailing, and its revised standards will help ensure quality addressing on mail pieces and timely delivery to intended recipients. The agency will publish this notice in both the online and print Federal Register early next week.

"The Federal Register has been cleared through this building; it has left the building," said Alice VanGorder, the manager of address management at USPS who spoke at the quarterly Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting here May 16. "We expect it to be published this week. If not this week, early next week. Mailers will have 18 months to implement the new rules after the Federal Register notice is published."

There will also be a 30-day comment period beginning when the notice is published.

At February's MTAC meeting, Postmaster General John Potter said the agency would expand its Move Update rules to include advertising mail and change the frequency of the program.

Under current rules for Move Update, which is designed to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed mail, First-Class mailers can receive automation or pre-sort rates when they update addresses every 180 days using the Address Change Service, NCOALink or another USPS-approved service. Now the program will be expanded.

Ms. VanGorder also discussed the upcoming CASS Cycle, known as CASS Cycle L, under CASS Cycle L, which begins August 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.

"We are still on target for implementation on August 1," Ms. VanGorder said. "Right now 30 manufacturers have actually passed CASS and are certified."

CASS is a USPS acronym that stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The term CASS is widely used by the USPS when they refer to the verification status of an address list. For an address list to receive CASS certification, the list must be checked against the USPS Address Matching System CD-ROM, a match must be found for each address and the correct 11-digit Delivery Point ZIP code and corresponding barcode must be added.

Ms. VanGorder also discussed the upcoming CASS Cycle M and CASS Cycle N, which begin on Aug. 1, 2008 and Aug. 1 2009, respectively.

For CASS Cycle M, software vendors offering CASS software will have to make the agency's SuiteLibnk service available, and end-user mailers will have the option to use it. By CASS Cycle N, it will be mandatory for end-user mailers to use SuiteLink to receive automation discounts.

SuiteLink is a data-only product from the USPS that contains business addressing information, specifically identified as highrise default records, as a result of CASS processing. This data, resulting from the only product provided by the USPS, allows developers to create a software interface with the capability of appending the secondary (suite) information to a business address, providing the input address is a highrise default record.

Ms. VanGorder added that in the upcoming CASS cycles the USPS would seek end-user mailer input, as different to the current procedure, which involves input between the USPS and the vendor community.

The statement brought some cheers for end users in the audience.

Also during the presentation, Charlie Bravo, senior vice president of Intelligent Mail and Address Quality at the USPS, said the agency is also moving forward with its address quality strategy and its goal to eliminate undeliverable-as-addressed mail by half by 2010.

For example, he said the USPS has implemented several UAA initiatives, including the Move Update initiative, the agency's popular Internet change-of-address program, and several work groups focused on recommended practices mailers should use to eliminate UAA mail.

He also discussed the agency's Intelligent Mail barcode.

The Intelligent Mail barcode, formally known as the 4-State Customer Barcode, is the next generation of USPS barcode technology used to sort and track letters and flats.

Intelligent Mail Barcode technology, among other things, combines the capabilities of the POSTNET barcode and the Planet Code barcode into one unique barcode.

The 31-digit Intelligent Mail barcode (65 bars) is slightly longer than the 11-digit POSTNET barcode (62 bars), and it offers mailers certain flexibility in choosing the height and width of the barcode.

Mr. Bravo said that since September, when the barcode was formally launched, the agency has registered 81 customers for the barcode and that the scan rates have been great.

"Our customers tell us that the barcode is making their mailings more efficient and giving them more visibility into the mail stream," Mr. Bravo said. "They also appreciate the greater data capacity for their own coding purposes."

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