Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), is a meeting between key Postal Service leadership and mailing industry representatives. MTAC meets four times a year at Postal Service headquarters with a focus on collaboration and feedback. Discussions are grouped into four focus areas which are leveraged to:
- Discuss and provide feedback on proposed changes
- Review system updates and/or new system requirements
- Provide feedback on areas of industry concern
- Follow-up on action items from the previous meeting
Several hot topics got a fair amount of attention at this MTAC meeting.
Informed Delivery Promotion:
The morning of MTAC featured a general session with key postal leadership and mailing industry representatives to review and discuss the Postal Service’s readiness for the new Informed Delivery promotion. At the time of the discussion, the promotion was starting in less than a week (September 1st) and running through November 30th.
At the previous MTAC meeting, the mailing industry had expressed concern regarding the various postal systems’ ability to handle the sheer volume of mail that would be taking advantage of the promotion. Given the increasing number of Informed Delivery campaigns taking place leading up to the promotion, USPS systems were showing some areas in need of attention. The Postal Service shared all the work that has been done to tune and add capacity to the existing systems along with the series of releases that have occurred to ensure readiness. Based on discussions with the mailing industry, the Informed Delivery promotion could likely become the Postal Service’s most successful promotion to date. Areas of concerns included the number of campaigns, the volume of mail (and associated data) being fed through systems, and the ability to generate post-campaign reports.
In addition to concerns regarding USPS systems being able to handle the promotion, there was also extensive discussion around the program requirements to qualify for the promotion. There are several possible ways that mailers can set up and qualify for the promotion. These include using various combinations of the Mailer Campaign Portal (MCP), eDoc via Mail.dat, eDoc via Mail.xml, and the Postage Statement Wizard. The Postal Service shared that of mailers testing the promotion in the CAT (Customer Acceptance Testing) environment, only 60% of submitted jobs were successfully qualifying for the promotion. The Postal Service shared the top 10 reasons why test jobs were failing. By far the number one reason for mailing campaigns failing was because the campaign start date was in the past. Another concerning statistic that was shared was there were 60 customers that have registered for the promotion but have not submitted any test jobs in CAT. The Postal Service has published a comprehensive document covering the Program Requirements for the Informed Delivery promotion. Anyone looking to take advantage of the promotion needs to carefully review the scenarios and requirements to qualify.
New Package Platform:
The Postal Service is actively working on building a new package platform to replace the existing eVS system. Over the last several months there have been ongoing discussions with package mailers around the requirements and capabilities of the new system. MTAC Work Group #182 (Package Acceptance & Payment Improvements) was created to work through the extensive set of requirements and changes to mailers for the new system. The MTAC meeting at USPS Headquarters was leveraged to hold some extended face-to-face discussions with Work Group #182 on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. If you are an eVS mailer, there will be changes when this new system is implemented. MTAC Work Groups are open to all mailers, you do not have to be a member of MTAC to participate. If you would like to join the conversations taking place in MTAC Work Group #182 you can contact MTAC@USPS.GOV to request being added.
Possible Exit from UPU:
Another item being carefully watched at MTAC is the status of the Postal Service’s continued participation in the UPU (Universal Postal Union). President Trump is pushing for the United States to have self-declared rates (also known as terminal dues). This position is supported by the Postal Service as well. We are quickly coming up on the year notification that was given to the UPU that the United States will leave the UPU if it is not given the ability to have self-declared rates. The UPU is holding an extraordinary congress on Sept 24-25 in Geneva to discuss the terminal dues system. If the UPU agrees to allow self-declared rates, the United States will continue to be a UPU member and will need to quickly submit it’s set of self-declared rates. If not, the United States will withdraw from the UPU which will then require the Postal Service to negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements with individual countries. The Postal Service is actively working parallel paths to be prepared for either decision. All international mailers are going to be carefully following what happens with the extraordinary congress. One additional area of concern is if the United States withdraws from the UPU, it will impact election and military mail. The Postal Service noted that it is focused on countries with high volumes of election and military mail. The Postmaster General is also meeting with White House officials to ensure election and military mail and package shipments are not impacted.