[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 77 (Friday, April 20, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23643-23647]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-9537]


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POSTAL SERVICE

39 CFR Part 111


Advance Notice of Implementation of Full-Service Intelligent Mail 
Required for Automation Prices

AGENCY: Postal Service.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Postal Service is planning to move to the Full-Service 
Intelligent Mail[supreg] option to access automation prices for 
letters, postcards and flats, effective January 2014. The ``Full-
Service'' Intelligent Mail program requires use of unique Intelligent 
Mail barcodes (IMb\TM\) applied to letter, postcard and flat 
mailpieces, trays, sacks, and containers, such as pallets, and 
submission of electronic mailing documentation. This plan includes the 
transition to the use of eDocumentation, along with additional 
information to support the By/For relationships, and replacement of the 
10/24 transition tray label with the full use of the 24-digit tray 
label Intelligent Mail barcode format.
    This Federal Register document provides advance information to help 
mailers prepare and plan for the transition to Full-Service and asks 
for information about the possible challenges mailers perceive to 
moving to Full-Service, the operational changes they will have to make, 
the costs and benefits of those changes, and steps the Postal Service 
could take to assist mailers in moving to Full-Service. The USPS\TM\ 
looks forward to mailer feedback on all aspects of this plan. In 
addition, the USPS strongly encourages current Full-Service users to 
provide feedback about the benefits and value-added they have 
experienced by converting to Full-Service.

DATES: Comments on this advance notice of proposed rulemaking are due 
June 4, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Mail or deliver written comments to the Manager, Product 
Classification, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Room 4446, 
Washington, DC 20260-5015. Comments and questions can also be emailed 
to mailingstandards@usps.gov using the subject line ``Full-Service 
January 2014.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Ana Cikowski; email: ana.cikowski@usps.gov; phone: 202-268-8079.
Himesh Patel; email: himesh.a.patel@usps.gov; phone: 703-280-7498.
William Chatfield; email: william.a.chatfield@usps.gov; phone: 202-268-
7278.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In January 2009, USPS offered the mailing industry two Intelligent 
Mail barcode (IMb\TM\) options for automation discounts. The options 
included the ``Full-Service'' option, requiring unique IMbs, and the 
``basic'' IMb option, which does not require unique barcodes. 
Currently, a large number of mailers are using the Full-Service and 
basic IMb options and enjoy the additional benefits and value of using 
these options.
    As part of the transformation of data visibility and continued 
evolution of

[[Page 23644]]

technological innovations, the Postal Service is planning to move to 
the Full-Service Intelligent Mail option to qualify for any automation 
letter, postcard, and flat prices, effective January 2014. Full-Service 
Intelligent Mail combines use of unique scan codes with the provision 
of electronic information on mail makeup and preparation to enable a 
variety of high-value services and efficient mail processing, and to 
establish a stronger partnership between mailers and the Postal 
Service. The vision is to create 100 percent visibility into the mail 
stream by 2014. This vision means that customers will know in real time 
where their mail or packages are in the postal network and precisely 
when they are delivered. Use of the IMb, especially Full-Service, 
allows the mailing industry to use information and technology to build 
value in the mail.
    Even though the use of basic IMb is a good first step to create 
visibility in the mail stream, it does not require unique barcodes. 
Uniqueness of the IMb barcode provides customized information which is 
a major benefit to customers who can then use this information to 
create successful marketing campaigns. Thus, the movement to Full-
Service is fundamental to the 100% visibility strategy and a major step 
into the future of the technology evolution.
    The plan is that effective with the proposed starting date of 
January 2014 only Full-Service mail pieces would be eligible for 
automation pricing. Also, as published in a separate Federal Register 
proposed rule, letters and flats with POSTNET\TM\ barcodes would no 
longer be eligible for automation prices as of January 2013 (See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-02/html/2012-5050.htm).
    There are secondary benefits to using Full-Service. Barcode 
uniqueness also enables preciseness of measurement of the amount of 
time between operations in the postal system and opens the door to the 
next level of achievement in processing efficiency and service 
performance. Full-Service Intelligent Mail offers a sound foundation 
for continued improvements in providing robust service for commercial 
mailers.
    Full-Service Intelligent Mail offers a number of advantages to 
mailers and the Postal Service. These advantages are tied directly to 
the Full-Service requirements. For mailers, these advantages include:
     Unique barcodes enable the Postal Service to provide 
mailers with comprehensive information on the status of mailings as 
they progress through the postal system.
     ``Nesting'' information provided by the mailer enables the 
tracking of the individual pieces and trays based on scans performed on 
larger containers.
     Visibility allows mailers to more effectively respond to 
customer inquiries on the status of valuable bills, statements, 
catalogs, and publications.
     Full service mailings receive access to free address 
change information and tracking information from mail entry to final 
destination.
     Waiver of annual mailing fee for permits where all postage 
statements contain 90% or more Full-Service pieces.
     eDocumentation combined with Full Service unique barcodes 
will provide access to Seamless Acceptance and eInduction. Both will be 
paperless processes:

--Seamless acceptance will be an automated verification process based 
on comparing electronic documentation with scans of Intelligent Mail 
barcodes collected in postal operations and through the use of handheld 
scanning technology at points of induction. Data captured through 
scanning will be compared to mailer submitted electronic documentation 
and reports of overall mail quality will be trended over a period of 
time. Participation in seamless acceptance will allow mailers 
additional production cycle time prior to entering their mailings.
--eInduction will leverage scanning technologies to simplify the 
induction process for mailer transported mailings. eInduction will 
allow containers with IM container barcodes and appropriate electronic 
documentation to be offloaded and inducted straight into postal 
operations without the use of hard copy PS Forms 8125 or 8017.

     Full-Service also provides the ``Mail Anywhere'' model 
which allows for the use of a single permit at any PostalOne! site for 
mailings containing 90% or more Full-Service pieces (applies to First-
Class, Standard, and Bound Printed Matter).
    Many mailers find the visibility information provided by Full-
Service mail useful in planning their own operations, in assessing the 
success of advertising campaigns, and in improving their own customer 
interaction. Knowledge of where a mailpiece is located in the postal 
network and when that piece should be delivered can prove useful in 
communicating with customers.
    Advantages for the Postal Service include:
     Visibility into the flow of mail through the postal 
network, enabling enhanced diagnostics of service performance.
     Scan information on containers, trays and pieces allows us 
to measure the number of hours and minutes between operations. This 
data has been used to identify operational bottlenecks and that has 
enabled us to significantly improve service for commercial First-Class 
Mail, Standard Mail, and Periodicals.
     The ability to provide real-time alerts to operations 
enabling them to respond and avoid possible service failures.
     Advance notification of volumes and makeup of commercial 
mail, enabling improved resource planning.
     Accurate tracking of mail volumes as they move through the 
postal network, again enabling improved management of operations and 
resource planning.
     Simplified mail acceptance processes.
     The ability to measure service performance for each Full-
Service mailer.
    Mailer use of Full-Service Intelligent Mail is a key part of the 
Postal Service's ongoing strategy for providing cost-effective and 
service-responsive mailing services. Efficient use of postal resources 
can be achieved with advance information on content and makeup of the 
mail that is flowing through the postal network. Postal sorting 
equipment captures volume and destination information on mail as it is 
sorted. The Postal Service has built and is refining systems that make 
information available to downstream facilities and operations so that 
it can be used for operational planning. This planning data offers 
significant opportunities for improved efficiency and service 
performance. However, these benefits cannot be fully captured when a 
significant proportion of mail (that prepared and entered by large-
volume commercial mailers and mail preparers) does not provide similar 
information. The information on the content and makeup of mail that is 
provided by mailers who participate in Full-Service Intelligent Mail 
meets this information need.
    Full-Service Intelligent Mail also enables simplification of 
current mail acceptance procedures. Under seamless acceptance, which is 
possible only with the data and unique identifiers of Full-Service 
mailings (pieces nesting in trays and trays inside containers), 
business mail acceptance procedures will be scaled down, with 
automation mailings verified during mail processing operations.

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    The Postal Service has worked closely with mailers, software 
providers, and mail service providers to simplify, refine and evolve 
our Full-Service offerings over the past four years since Full-Service 
requirements were introduced. Thousands of mailers, software providers 
and mail service providers have demonstrated their ability to meet the 
requirements for Full-Service Intelligent Mail. The Postal Service 
continues to develop new tools, and to enhance and simplify existing 
tools, to make it easier for mailers to prepare and submit Full-Service 
mailings.
    In support of the POSTNET discontinuation and Full-Service 
requirement, and to assist mailers transitioning to the Intelligent 
Mail barcode, the USPS is announcing two online self-service tools: The 
Automated Business Reply Mail (ABRM) tool and the Intelligent Mail 
Small Business (IMsb) tool. These tools allow mailers to print an 
Intelligent Mail barcode on reply mailpieces and outgoing mailings, 
respectively.
    The Postal Service recognizes that there are costs to converting to 
Full-Service Intelligent Mail. To help the industry offset those costs, 
we are investigating further increasing the incentive for Full-Service 
mail users.
    We are interested in gaining insight into the challenges mailers 
perceive in their ability to move to full participation in the IMb 
Full-Service offering, including the anticipated cost or, for those 
already using this offering the actual cost, of doing so and 
information on steps the Postal Service could take to assist mailers in 
moving to full participation. We are also interested in the perceived 
benefits, and for those already using this offering the actual 
benefits, to mailers from moving to full participation in the IMb Full-
Service offering. Mailer input about the changes needed to make to move 
to Full Service and the costs of those changes is extremely important 
information to support the plan to move to the Full-Service requirement 
for automation discounts. We are looking for responses from both 
current Full Service users and non-users. Mailer responses to this 
advance notice of proposed rulemaking should address the following 
topics so that the Postal Service can develop appropriate plans and 
responses to these concerns:
     Your role in the mailing industry (mail owner, mail 
preparer, software vendor, hardware vendor, or other).
     Your business's use of the mail, including approximate 
annual volume of mail by class (First-Class Mail[supreg], Standard 
Mail[supreg], Periodicals) and shape (cards, letters, flats) of mail 
and the frequency of your mailings (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, 
or annually).
     The value your business has gained from the use of Full-
Service.
     Your recommendations for others to convert.
     Your lessons learned and ideas to enhance the transition 
processes.
     How your mailing patterns have changed based on the value 
added with Full-Service.
     If not participating in Full-Service, the changes you will 
be required to make to move from your current mailing practices to the 
use of IMb Full-Service. Include upgrades to software, hardware, 
changes to mail preparation procedures, and submission of 
edocumentation.
     The estimated one-time investment cost and any ongoing 
costs of changes to mail preparation and printing.
     Value of increased visibility, access to free or lower 
fees for address change information, and elimination of permit fees.
     Value of simplified acceptance procedures.
     Value of ability to use a single permit at multiple 
mailing locations.
     Any mail volume patterns that you foresee as you convert.
     Other specific areas of concern or challenges.

Requirements for Full-Service Intelligent Mail

Intelligent Mail Barcodes

     Mailpiece barcode. The 65-bar Intelligent Mail barcode 
(IMb) accommodates 31-digits of data on letter and flat mailpieces. The 
IMb contains additional fields that encode ancillary services, identify 
the mailer and the class of mail, and allow unique numbering/
serialization of the mailpiece. The USPS will issue a unique Mailer ID 
to each full-service IMb mailer, which must be included in the 
Intelligent Mail barcode. Mailers are required to uniquely number each 
mailpiece in a mailing, and not reuse numbers for a period of 45 days 
from the date of induction.
     Tray barcode. An Intelligent Mail tray barcode (IMtb) is 
required on letter trays, flat trays and sacks. Unlike today's 10-digit 
tray barcode that contains only routing information, the 24-digit 
Intelligent Mail tray barcode includes additional fields to identify 
the mailer and uniquely number each tray or sack. Mailers must include 
their USPS-assigned Mailer ID in the Intelligent Mail tray barcode. 
Mailers are required to uniquely number each tray or sack in a mailing, 
and not reuse each number for a period of 45 days from the date of 
induction. Pieces inside each tray must be linked or nested to the IMb 
tray barcode.
     Container barcode. An Intelligent Mail container barcode 
(IMcb) is required on all containers used to transport mail such as 
pallets, all purpose containers (APCs), rolling stock, and gaylords. 
This 21-digit IMcb includes fields to identify the mailer and uniquely 
number each container. Mailers must include their USPS-assigned Mailer 
ID in the IMcb. Mailers are required to uniquely number each container 
in a mailing, and not reuse each number for a period of 45 days from 
the date of induction. Trays inside the container must be linked or 
nested to the IMb container barcode.

Electronic Documentation and Appointment Scheduling

    Full-Service mailings must be accompanied by electronic 
documentation in addition to or instead of the printed postage 
statement and presort documentation currently required to mail at 
automation rates. Mailers typically furnish hard copy postage 
statements and documentation, or supply a computer terminal at their 
site for USPS acceptance personnel to view their documentation. Many 
mailers have transitioned to electronic submission of their postage 
statements and mailing documentation to the Postal Service's 
PostalOne![supreg] system using Mail.dat[supreg], Mail.XML, or Postal 
Wizard.
    Full-Service IMb mailers are required to use one of these three 
methods to send their electronic mailing information to the PostalOne! 
system. The PostalOne! system translates the customer-generated 
electronic information into postage statements and supporting 
documentation, such as qualification and container reports, that are 
used for verification, acceptance, and induction processes. By 
submitting documents electronically, mailers avoid the creation of 
paper-based forms, use this technology to manage their mailing data, 
and enable the Postal Service to capture its own efficiencies.
    Mailer electronic documentation for Full-Service mailings contains 
information about Intelligent Mail barcodes applied to mailpieces, 
trays or sacks, and containers. Also, it identifies the unique 
Intelligent Mail barcodes applied to each mailpiece, tray or sack, and 
container; it describes how mailpieces are linked to handling units, 
such as trays and sacks, and how mailpieces and handling units are 
linked to containers. In addition, documentation provides linkage among 
containers, trays and sacks when mail is

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co-palletized, combined or comingled (in-house or at a different 
plant). The electronic documentation identifies spoilage or shortage of 
pieces in a mailing. Additionally it identifies the preparer of the 
mailing and the mailer for whom the mailing is prepared (i.e., Mail 
Owner). Mail Owner identification is required for all Full-Service 
pieces in the mailing. Mailers that otherwise meet the full-service 
standards and use Postal Wizard for mailings that do not require 
additional documentation to support presort (mailings of fewer than 
10,000 pieces with postage affixed to each piece at the correct price 
or if all pieces are of identical weight, the pieces are separated by 
price, or mailings all at an MAADC or MADC price) are not required to 
submit this additional documentation.
    Appointments play a critical role with service performance 
measurement, processing and delivery of mail. At the USPS facilities 
that support FAST[supreg] (Facility Access and Shipment Tracking), 
mailers will be required to schedule appointments using the FAST system 
for drop-ship mailings and for all origin-entered mail verified at a 
detached mail unit (DMU) and transported by the mailer. Mailers may 
schedule appointments online using the FAST web site or they may submit 
appointment requests through PostalOne! FAST Web Services using the 
Mail.XML specification. For improved service performance measurement, 
visibility, and operational planning, USPS recommends that mailers link 
their Intelligent Mail container barcodes (IMcb) to their appointments. 
Mailers can provide container barcodes as part of the stand-alone 
content creation, appointment creation, and update processes through 
PostalOne! FAST Web Services. Mailers can also receive closeout data 
through FAST online reports or PostalOne! FAST Web Services.

Additional Mailing Information Available With Full-Service

    Mailpiece quality and visibility information is available through 
the online USPS Business Customer Gateway tool and through PostalOne! 
Web Services (Mail.XML). Mailers can query the information or obtain an 
automated subscription. USPS, as part of the Full-Service program, is 
making the following information available: Container and tray 
induction and processing scans, IMb tracing bundle and piece scans; 
start-the-clock information; address correction data; and certain 
quality and documentation error reporting information. An IMb embeds 
the following data:
     Barcode ID: The barcode identifier is a 2-digit field used 
to specify the presort makeup.
     Service Type Identifier: Indicates class of mail and 
requested special services such as scan information or address 
correction.
     Mailer ID: Mandatory 6- or 9-digit identifier of mail 
owners and/or mailing agents, assigned by the Postal Service based upon 
mail volume of owner/agent.
     Serial Number: Complementary with Mailer ID for a combined 
total of 15 digits, leaves mailer/agent with 6 or 9 digits for unique 
mailpiece identifier. Mailpiece IDs must not be reused within 45 days 
of induction date.
     Delivery Point Routing Code: The None, 5-, 9- or 11-digit 
ZIP Code corresponding to the delivery address.
    For accessing automation prices through Full-Service, information 
required in the Intelligent Mail barcode includes Service Type 
Identifier (showing class of mail), Mailer ID, delivery point routing 
code, OEL information (if printed on the mailpiece) and a unique serial 
number.
    To view final specifications and for detailed information on how to 
generate the Intelligent Mail barcode, access the Intelligent Mail 
barcode link from RIBBS http://ribbs.usps.gov.

Intelligent Mail Tray Barcode for Trays and Sacks

    Starting in January 2014, Full Service automation discounts require 
pure 24-digit Intelligent Mail Tray barcodes (IMtb). An IMtb contains 
the following information:
     ZIP Code:TM A 5 digit ZIP Code used to identify 
the destination of the tray or sack.
     Content Identifier Number (CIN): Describes tray or sack 
content, including presort level and class.
     Content Label Source (L SRC): Designates whether tray or 
sack contents are automation compatible.
     Mailer ID: A 6-digit or 9-digit Mailer ID assigned by the 
Postal Service for use in the Intelligent Mail barcodes.
     Serial Number: A mailer will use this field to uniquely 
identify individual trays or sacks. If a 6-digit Mailer ID is assigned, 
the mailer will have 8 digits to uniquely identify the handling units. 
If a 9-digit Mailer ID is assigned, the mailer will have 5 digits to 
identify the handling units. To participate in the Full Service option, 
the Serial Number field is populated with a unique number for each 
handling unit (tray or sack) in the mailing. These unique mailpiece IDs 
must be maintained unique for 45 days from the date of induction.
     Label Type: Indicates Mailer ID field length.
    To access automation prices through the Full Service option, 
mailers will be required to populate all fields in the Intelligent Mail 
tray barcode to include a unique serial number.
    To view the final specifications and for detailed information on 
how to generate the Intelligent Mail tray barcode, access the 
Intelligent Mail tray label link from http://ribbs.usps.gov/.

Intelligent Mail Container Barcode for Pallets, APCs, Rolling Stock

    Mailers typically label containers of mail deposited with the 
Postal Service. For Full Service, mailers must apply a unique 
Intelligent Mail container barcode (IMcb) to container labels and keep 
the barcode unique for at least 45 days from the date of induction. 
This IMcb includes fields to identify the mailer and uniquely identify 
each container. To comply with the Full Service option standards, 
mailers must apply a label to all containers such as pallets, APCs, 
rolling stock, and gaylords.
    The Intelligent Mail container barcode has two formats. The format 
a mailer uses depends upon the Mailer ID assigned by the Postal 
Service. The IMcb label specifications are available in two physical 
sizes for the IMcb barcode labels: One is the 8'' min x 11'' format 
available at RIBBS, and the other one is the 4'' x 7'' self adhesive 
format, also available at RIBBS.
     Application ID (Appl ID): ``99'' indicates the source of 
the barcode.
     Type Indicator: ``M'' indicates a mailer-generated 
barcode.
     Mailer ID: A 6-digit or 9-digit Mailer ID assigned by the 
Postal Service for use in the Intelligent Mail barcodes.
     Serial Number: A mailer will use this field to uniquely 
identify individual containers. If a 6-digit Mailer ID is assigned, the 
mailer will have 12-digits to uniquely identify the containers. If a 9-
digit MID is assigned, the mailer will have 9 digits to identify the 
containers. To participate in the Full Service option, the serial 
number field is populated with a unique number for each container in 
the mailing. These unique mailpiece IDs must not be reused for 45 days 
from the date of induction. To access the automation prices through the 
Full Service option, mailers will be required to populate all fields in 
the Intelligent Mail container barcode to include a unique serial 
number. To view the final specifications and for detailed information 
on how to generate the Intelligent Mail container barcode, access the 
Intelligent Mail

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Container barcode link from RIBBS http://ribbs.usps.gov.

Electronic Documentation

    To participate in Full Service, mailers must submit their postage 
statements and mailing documentation, when applicable, electronically 
using one of three methods: Mail.dat[supreg], Mail.XML[supreg], or 
Postal Wizard[supreg] to transmit electronic information. These data 
are transmitted to the Postal Service's PostalOne! system, where they 
are used for verification, acceptance, payment, service performance 
measurement, and induction planning and processing. The PostalOne! 
system can also use this information to automate payment processes 
using ACH Debit or Credit payment methods. With the PostalOne! system, 
mailers have access to their mailing documentation and financial 
transaction information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    Mail.dat: Mail.dat file submission is part of the overall 
PostalOne! application and provides customers the capability to submit 
mailing documentation over a secure connection. Mail.dat uses industry-
standard electronic file formats to facilitate communication. Mailing 
information is used to generate documentation to support verification, 
payment, and induction processes. Mail.dat specifications are available 
at http://ribbs.usps.gov.
    Mail.XML: The Mail.XML is an overarching communication 
specification that allows mailers to communicate electronic 
documentation and manage appointments with the Postal Service, while 
enabling it to provide quality, address correction, induction, and 
visibility information back to mailers. Mail.XML can also be used to 
communicate between mailers and consolidators/transporters. Mail.XML is 
part of the overall PostalOne! application that enables a just-in-time 
connection (send information when you are ready to share). The Mail.XML 
Web Service uses a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to submit 
information in an Extensible Markup Language (XML) format that ensures 
data are sent and received by applications written in various languages 
and deployed on various platforms. Mailing information is sent via 
Mail.XML to the PostalOne! system where the information is stored and 
used to generate documentation to support verification and payment. 
Mail.XML specifications are available at the following link: http://ribbs.usps.gov.
    Postal Wizard: The Postage Statement Wizard is an online tool that 
allows mailers to enter their postage statement information using a 
secure PostalOne! account. The Postage Statement Wizard verifies 
completed information for an online postage statement and automatically 
populates the Permit Holder section of the postage statement based on 
the account number provided. It guides the user through items needed to 
complete the statement. The Postal Wizard automatically calculates 
postage and validates information entered. Once a postage statement is 
completed online, electronic statements will be submitted directly to 
the acceptance unit.
    For detailed information about electronic mailing information 
options, access the following RIBBS link http://ribbs.usps.gov.

Stanley F. Mires,
Attorney, Legal Policy & Legislative Advice.
[FR Doc. 2012-9537 Filed 4-19-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7710-12-P