[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 38 (Tuesday, February 26, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 13006-13007]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04302]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

POSTAL SERVICE

39 CFR Part 111


New Intelligent Mail Package Barcode Standards To Enhance Package 
Visibility; Opportunity for Comments in Advance of Rulemaking

AGENCY: Postal ServiceTM.

ACTION: Request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Postal Service is exploring the advisability of requiring 
the use of Intelligent Mail[supreg] package barcodes (IMpb) or unique 
tracking Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMbTM) on all commercial 
parcels, and providing support to mailers to assure their ability to 
apply unique tracking barcodes to all commercial parcels.

DATES: Comments are due on March 28, 2013.

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. You may inspect and photocopy all written 
comments at USPS[supreg] Headquarters Library, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW., 
11th Floor North, Washington, DC, by appointment only between the hours 
of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 1-202-268-2906 in 
advance for an appointment. Email comments, containing the name and 
address of the commenter, may be sent to: MailingStandards@usps.gov, 
with a subject line of ``Package Visibility.'' Faxed comments are not 
accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeffrey L. Freeman at 202-268-2922 or 
Kevin Gunther at 202-268-7208.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Postal Service continues to enhance its 
operational capability to provide scanning data of IMpb and other 
tracking barcodes through the use of automated processing equipment and 
Intelligent Mail scanning devices. The tracking data provided by IMpb, 
including acceptance, enroute, and delivery status data, will provide 
value to the Postal Service, to mailers and to their shared customer 
base.
    IMpb can offer a number of additional benefits by providing mailers 
with access to piece-level visibility throughout the Postal Service's 
processing and delivery operations. The basic structure of IMpb 
includes:
     A routing code to facilitate the processing of parcels on 
automated sorting equipment.
     A channel-specific Application Identifier (AI) that 
associates the barcode to the payment method, supporting revenue 
assurance.
     A 3-digit service type code, which identifies the exact 
mail class and service combination, eliminating the need for multiple 
barcodes on a parcel.
     An option to use a 6-digit or 9-digit numeric Mailer ID 
(MID), to accommodate all mailers.
     A serial number that enables uniqueness and supports 
piece-level visibility.
    These features contribute to the data-stream efficiency within 
USPS[supreg] mail processing, delivery, payment, and reporting. 
Intelligent Mail package barcodes also include specific ``mail class 
only'' service type codes that may be used for parcels without extra 
services.
    The mailing industry was first provided notice of the intent of the 
Postal Service to require the mandatory use of IMpb on all domestic 
packages via an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, Federal 
Register notice (75 FR 56922-56923) on September 17, 2010. In response 
to input from the mailing community, this broad requirement was 
narrowed to generally apply only to commercial parcels mailed at 
presort or destination-entry prices. On January 28, 2013, the Postal 
Service implemented this initial phase of its IMpb standards by 
requiring IMpb use, including use of version 1.6 of the electronic 
shipping services manifest, for all commercial parcels (except Standard 
Mail parcels) claiming presort or destination-entry pricing.
    The Postal Service is now considering the addition, at a future 
date, of a new requirement for all remaining commercial parcels to bear 
an IMpb. Mailers of these parcels will also be required to transmit 
electronic documentation to the Postal Service using version 1.6 (or a 
newer version) of the Shipping Services Manifest File. If this 
requirement is adopted, it would apply to all commercial parcels, 
without regard to presort or entry level, and would generally include 
commercial parcels of all classes with the exception of Express Mail 
entered through Express Mail Corporate Account. The Postal Service 
would expect to implement these new standards on or about July 28, 
2013.
    Additionally, the Postal Service is investigating alternative 
processes that would permit some categories of Standard Mail to bear a 
unique IMb instead of an IMpb. If the Postal Service determines that 
the use of an IMb is a viable option in these limited circumstances, 
those mailers using this option will be required to transmit piece-
level data to the Postal Service in a Mail.dat or Mail.XML format. 
Mailers who use the IMb format will not receive delivery scans on their 
pieces unless they comply with Postal Service requirements for 
additional identifying marks indicating that confirmation services are 
requested. The Postal Service is also exploring options to accommodate 
a modified tracking process for some categories of Standard mail 
parcels, such as Simple SamplesTM and parcels bearing 
simplified addresses.
    Mailers will benefit from the tracking services provided with IMpb, 
both from improved service performance and from more efficient postal 
operations. The Postal Service anticipates that the enhancements to 
parcel visibility following these changes in standards will produce the 
following benefits:
     Enable customer-level service reporting;
     Support accurate customer volume reporting;
     Provide data for identifying, diagnosing, and correcting 
service issues;
     Enable the use of scanning technology to reduce 
distribution costs in delivery units by allowing non-scheme-trained 
employees to perform parcel distribution to carrier routes, resulting 
in greater flexibility in staffing and savings on training expenses;

[[Page 13007]]

     Provide advance notice of workload to improve planning in 
processing and delivery operations;
     Support improved understanding of, and opportunities to 
reduce, postal costs;
    If these new standards are adopted, the Postal Service also expects 
to provide support to its smaller and mid-sized mailers in applying 
IMpb-compliant labels to every commercial parcel. The Postal Service 
intends to provide pre-printed IMpb-compliant tracking barcodes to 
permit imprint and postage meter mailers for use with non-presorted 
mailings, and to provide tools for Merchandise Return Service (MRS) 
permit holders to enable their customers to print IMpb-compliant MRS 
labels online.
    To improve piece-level visibility within USPS processing, the 
Postal Service is investigating the operational feasibility of 
electronically associating individual parcel tracking numbers with 
specific sacks, trays, pallets, or similar containers. Depending on the 
results, the Postal Service may, at a future date, establish a 
requirement for all commercial parcel mailers to electronically 
transmit Intelligent Mail tray barcode (IMtb) and Intelligent Mail 
container barcode (IMcb) nesting data to the Postal Service. Nesting 
data would be required to be included in the shipment manifest or to be 
transmitted through another approved electronic documentation method. 
Recognizing that package mailers have not previously been required to 
use these barcodes, if this requirement is adopted, the Postal Service 
will work with the industry to support transitioning to the use of 
these barcodes, and to determine the proper timing for its 
implementation.

Stanley F. Mires,
Attorney, Legal Policy & Legislative Advice.
[FR Doc. 2013-04302 Filed 2-25-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7710-12-P