Conversion to Automated Mail Processing and Nine-Digit ZIP Code--A Status Report

GGD-83-84: Published: Sep 28, 1983. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1983.

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GAO reported on the current status of Postal Service plans to implement automated mail processing and the nine-digit ZIP code.

GAO found that the Postal Service will be in a position to implement the automated mail processing system as scheduled. Although there are several recommended program improvements and some uncertainties about equipment performance, GAO believes that none of these concerns warrants a delay in implementation. One concern is that the performance of the optical character reading equipment is uncertain. Results of recently completed tests of this equipment were not reviewed by GAO, but the Postal Service claimed that these tests indicated that the equipment will perform up to expectations. Performance of the bar code sorting equipment was also uncertain, but GAO found no catastrophic or uncorrectable problems with the design or performance of the sorters. GAO found that improvements are needed in Postal Service programs to improve the optical character readability of mail and administer the postage rate incentive proposed for large-volume mailings of ZIP-Plus-4 mail. GAO also believes that the Postal Service estimate of potential usage of ZIP-Plus-4 is questionable because of deficiencies in study methodology for a market study commissioned by the Postal Service. GAO further found that the National ZIP-Plus-4 Directory is substantially complete and reasonably correct, although some improvements are attainable.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should develop policies and procedures for training and equipping acceptance unit staffs to check for compliance with OCR readability criteria.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should develop policies and procedures for determining whether mail is eligible for the ZIP-Plus-4 discount.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should provide technical support to large-volume mailers by making technical support available to CSR's and associate office postmasters.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should provide technical support to large-volume mailers by providing training for Customer Service Representatives (CSR's) and associate office postmasters to enable them to effectively communicate OCR readability problems to mailers.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should provide technical support to large-volume mailers by establishing an orientation program to analyze mail from large-volume mailers and to demonstrate to these mailers the capabilities and limitations of the OCR.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should issue written guidance clarifying organizational responsibilities for these programs and establishing management responsibilities for program oversight, including oversight of budget support and training.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postal Service should ensure that Phase II equipment test results accurately reflect anticipated operating results by (1) staffing Phase II optical character reader/channel sorter (OCR/CS) and BCS release-loan and acceptance tests at levels consistent with normal operating conditions, and (2) using Postal Service, not contractor, personnel to operate BCS's during testing.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Postal Service should conduct, as planned, an extended test on one or two of the bar code sorters (BCS's) already accepted in Phase I to (1) identify BCS performance capabilities, (2) identify potential design defects, and (3) obtain reliability data. If design flaws are detected, the Postal Service should fully enforce existing contractual remedies.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  9. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Postal Service does not believe it is feasible to use OCR's to qualify particular mailings. It agreed, however, to use OCR's as a diagnostic tool to determine how well mail that has already been accepted actually performs.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should develop policies and procedures for using actual OCR readings to monitor implementation of the ZIP-plus-4 rate incentive program.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

 

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