Final Rule to Revise USPS Service Standards

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[from a USPS Industry Alert]

Today the Postal Service sent the final rule to revise service standards for market-dominant mail products to the Federal Register.  The final rule will be posted on our “Information for Mailers” webpage at http://about.usps.com/news/facility-studies/welcome.htm by COB Monday, May 21. Highlights excerpted from the final rule are provided below.

Highlights

The Postal Service is adopting new rules for market-dominant service standards, with an interim version that will apply from July 1, 2012, through January 31, 2014, and a final version that will apply on February 1, 2014, and thereafter.  Should subsequent events or changed circumstances so warrant, the Postal Service will be able to revisit the final version before February 1, 2014.

First-Class Mail

Under the interim version of the overnight business rule for First-Class Mail, the overnight service standard will be applied only to intra-Sectional Center Facility (SCF) mail.  It will no longer apply to any inter-SCF mail. Under the final version of the overnight business rule for First-Class Mail, the overnight service standard will not apply to mail that is entered anywhere other than the designated SCF, nor will it apply to mail that does not meet all of the preparation requirements for Presort mail.  On February 1, 2014, when the final version of the rule takes effect, the Critical Entry Time (CET) at the SCF will become 8 a.m., with a 12 p.m. exception that will be available only to intra-SCF Presort First-Class Mail that is sorted and containerized to the 5-digit ZIP Code or 5-digit scheme level.

Under the current two-day business rule for First-Class Mail, a two-day service standard is applied to mail pieces for which the driving time between the applicable P&DC/F and ADC is twelve hours or less. The interim version of the two-day business rule will revise this metric to six hours.  The final version will revise it to six hours between the applicable P&DC/F and SCF. The current three-, four-, and five-day service standards for First-Class Mail will remain unchanged.  All First-Class Mail that qualifies for a two-day service standard under the current two-day business rule, but does not qualify for a two-day standard under the new rule, will qualify for a three-day standard.

Periodicals

The Postal Service is changing the delivery day range for end-to-end Periodicals mailed within the contiguous forty-eight states, from the current one to nine days, to two to nine days in the interim version of the new rules, and three to nine days in the final version.

The new rules make three significant changes to the service standards for destination-entry Periodicals.  First, they revise the overnight service standard to exclude Periodicals entered at Network Distribution Centers (NDCs) and Auxiliary Service Facilities (ASFs).  This revision is being made to reflect the capabilities of the Postal Service’s transportation network.

The Postal Service is changing the delivery day range for destination-entry Periodicals mailed within the contiguous forty-eight states, from the current one to two days, to one to three days in both the interim and final versions.  The Postal Service is changing the delivery day range for destination-entry Periodicals that originate or destinate outside the contiguous forty-eight states, from the current one to seven days, to one to eleven days in both the interim and final versions.

On February 1, 2014, the CETs for destination-entry Periodicals at facilities that do not employ the Flats Sequencing System (FSS) will change from 4 p.m. for mailings that require a bundle sort, and 5 p.m. for mailings that do not require a bundle sort, to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.  The CETs at FSS facilities will not change.

Standard Mail and Package Services

The new rules do not revise the service standards for Standard Mail and Package Services pieces mailed within the contiguous forty-eight states.

Expanded appointment windows and BMEU impacts

In response to mailers’ concerns about potentials for loading dock shortages and longer waiting times at mail entry locations, the Postal Service will expand appointment windows at facilities and modify volume restrictions.  Further, the Postal Service plans to retain all current business mail entry units (BMEUs) for the time being.  Should the Postal Service decide to relocate or consolidate any BMEU operations, it will notify mailers 120 days beforehand, and it will relocate or consolidate the units to nearby locations that minimize impacts on mailers.  As the Postal Service moves forward with implementation, it is committed to communicating any changes simply and clearly.

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