Mailing Industry Task Force Cites Progress in 4 Areas

The Mailing Industry Task Force, a coalition of industry and U.S. Postal Service leaders, released its Phase II Progress Report this week at the National Postal Forum in Nashville, TN.

The task force began its Phase II initiative last year. In Phase II, the MITF Steering Committee reorganized its industry/postal working group and shifted its focus to support two objectives: stimulate mail channel revenue growth and make mail more effective.

This restructuring added members to the Steering Committee while three new working groups were formed — Intelligent Mail/Address Quality, Pricing/Payment and New Products/Services/Gateway — replacing seven work groups. An eighth committee on industry unification continues to operate independently as the Industry CEO Council. More than 72 companies and about 200 industry and USPS executives are involved in the task force.

The Phase II report highlights successes in four areas: Intelligent Mail and Address Quality; Pricing and Payment; New Products and Services; and the implementation of the Innovation Incubator Initiative, designed to promote the creation of innovative ideas to expand mail use by business and individual consumers.

For Intelligent Mail, the report cites the application of the next generation of barcoding, which the USPS embarked on to add speed, accuracy and rapid feedback services to mail processing.

The report said that testing of Intelligent Mail barcodes — technology enabled by the use of the postal service's four-state barcode — would be conducted this summer at select USPS facilities. The four-state barcode can track mailings, request address-quality services (including updated address-change information) and return-mail service.

The report also supported the development of the USPS' OneCode Vision, where a suite of services could be requested by printing a single barcode. It also said the OneCode Address Change Services initiative succeeded in relating barcode scan results to change-of-address orders.

As for Pricing and Payment, the report highlighted the postal service's planned Premium Forwarding Service, which would give customers another option for forwarding their mail when they are temporarily away from home. In November, the USPS requested a recommended decision from the Postal Rate Commission for a two-year experiment. This proposal is still under consideration.

PFS would re-ship all mail by Priority Mail weekly. The price: $10 per week, with a $10 enrollment fee.

The progress report also highlighted the development of a “retail overnight” concept as a promising initiative from its New Products and Services working group. It focuses on providing convenient, inexpensive methods to let retailers send merchandise with local next-day delivery. The task force is working with the USPS to develop a pilot.

Besides MITF co-chairs John Nolan, deputy postmaster general, and Michael J. Critelli, chief executive officer of Pitney Bowes, Steering Committee members include:

· Hamilton Davison, chairman, Cardsmart Retail Corp. and CEO of Paramount Cards Inc.

· Douglas Denton, vice chairman and chief technology officer, MBNA America

· Yvonne Furth, president, chief operating officer, Draft

· Scott Harding, CEO and director, ADVO Inc.

· Jeff Jurick, president and CEO, Fala Direct Marketing Group

· Judy Marks, president, Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies

· Charles Morgan, company leader, Acxiom

· Paul Reilly, president and CEO, Cenveo

· David Sable, vice chairman, Wunderman

· Michael Sherman, vice chairman, Crosstown Traders Inc.

· Donald Treis, chief executive officer, Arandell Corp.

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