MTAC concerns include USPS drop

While the US Postal Service re­vealed a 3% drop in mail volume for the first quarter of fiscal year 2008, is­sues of improved efficiency took center stage at last week’s Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee Meeting in Wash­ington, DC.

The decrease is “very, very troubling,” said Glen Walker, CFO and EVP for the USPS. Overall, the number of piec­es mailed during this quarter was down by 1.7 billion, Walker said.

The combination of the “rate shock” following the May 2007 rate increase and the rapidly declining economy re­sulted in “a lot less mail in the system,” Walker continued.

Revenues are up about 3.5% for the first quarter, largely because of the 2007 rate increase, Walker pointed out. The USPS’ net income for the first quarter is estimated to be $672 million.

The implementation of the Intelligent Mail barcode, and its role in the USPS’ proposed service performance measure­ment system, was discussed.

The USPS has said that, beginning in January of next year, it will require mail­ers to use one of two proposed options involving the Intelligent Mail barcode in order to access automation rates.

Tom Day, SVP of Intelligent Mail and address quality for the USPS, said that the Postal Regulatory Commission had “conceptually agreed” to the approach. The USPS’ proposed hybrid measure­ment system will use both internal and external systems.

To help mailers with the transition to the new barcode, the USPS announced that it will host four Intelligent Mail symposia in March.

Several speakers from the USPS discussed the deployment of the Flats Sequencing Systems, which is designed to automate the sorting of flat mail.

Other presentations, including one by Chris Lien, EVP of BBC Software, addressed a committee work group’s upcoming report addressing importance of address accuracy, as well as misguid­ed perceptions about direct mail. The discussion prompted several MTAC members to express concerns about the existence of multiple opt-out services, such as the DMAChoice service.

Jim Wilson, another member of the work group, suggested that perhaps all of this information should be gathered in one place, and questioned whether the industry or the USPS should spear­head that effort.

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