Management Instruction

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1 Management Instruction Date May 1, 2008 Effective Number Obsoletes Unit Immediately PO PO Processing Operations Loop Mail Program Introduction This management instruction (MI) establishes standardized procedures for the identification, isolation, handling, tracking, and prevention of loop mail at Post Offices, stations, branches, processing and distribution centers/facilities (P&DC/Fs), and bulk mail centers (BMCs). Purpose Loop mail is mail sent to an incorrect destination as a result of a wrong barcode and/or wrong ZIP Code. If loop mail is left uncorrected in an automated processing environment, it will continue to be sent to the wrong address creating needless multiple handlings, increasing transportation costs, and adversely impacting service. The causes of loop mail include the following: OCR/RCR miscodes. Wide field-of-view (WFOV) misreads. Double-feeds. Remote encoding center (REC) keying errors. Manually stamped Return-To-Sender (RTS) endorsements. Inaccurate delivery point data in the Address Management System (AMS) database. Scope Incorrect mailer-applied barcodes and/or ZIP Codes. These procedures are applicable to all Postal Service processing and distribution facilities, customer service facilities, and delivery units. William P. Galligan, Jr. Senior Vice President Operations CONTENTS Introduction Purpose Scope Definition Responsibilities Headquarters Processing Operations Delivery Operations Customer Service Operations Marketing Area In-Plant Support Delivery Programs Support Marketing District Business Mail Entry Senior Plant Manager In-Plant Support Maintenance Operations Programs Support Postmaster/Station Manager Delivery Units Supervisors Responsibilities Carrier Responsibilities Clerk Responsibilities Processing and Distribution Center/Facility (P&DC/F) Manager, Distribution Operations (MDO) Responsibilities Supervisor, Distribution Operations (SDO) Responsibilities Manual Return to Sender (RTS) Mail. 10 1

2 Definitions CONTENTS Package Services Bulk Mail Centers (BMCs) International Service Centers Exhibits Loop Mail: Loop mail is mail that has a barcode and/or ZIP Code for an office but the address is not in that office. Detection may occur at a carrier case, manual distribution case, box section, firm holdout, a stacker on automation, or in a carrier s Delivery Point Sequence (DPS) mail. Missent Mail: Missent mail is mail that was sorted to the wrong delivery unit, station, or branch and has a barcode or ZIP code for another office. Missorted Mail: Missorted mail is mail that was sorted to the correct office or zone but received by the wrong carrier for delivery. Missequenced Mail: Missequenced mail is mail that was sorted to the correct carrier route but in the wrong DPS order. Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA): UAA mail is mail that can not be delivered as addressed because the recipient has either moved and filed a change of address order or physical delivery is impossible due to reasons other than a move, such as, illegible writing, refused, attempted not known, and no such street. This mail piece must be processed through the Postal Automated Redirection System (PARS) or Computerized Forwarding System (CFS). Mail known as Return to Sender (RTS) mail is included in this definition. Mismatch Mail (MM): MM mail is mail with a POSTNET or ID Tag that differs (mismatch). MM most commonly originates on DBCS-OSS or DBCS equipment from double feeds. Electronic Mail Improvement Reporting System (emir): e-mir is a system that must be used to report customer-prepared mail with bad barcodes and/or ZIP Codes. The system is used when the quantity of improperly prepared mail is sufficient to impact the efficient processing and/or efficient delivery of the mail. Responsibilities Everyone shares the responsibility to identify, isolate, and correctly process loop mail. The following paragraphs specify the responsibilities for handling loop mail by organization. Headquarters Processing Operations 1. Establishes a National Loop Mail Program that standardizes the procedures for identification, isolation, and handling of loop mail. 2

3 2. Provides technical guidance to the field on methods to improve readability and establish guidelines that enhance the coding accuracy of the Advanced Facer Canceller System Optical Character Reader (AFCS-OCR), Remote Computer Reader (RCR), and Remote Bar Coding System (RBCS). 3. Establishes Web-based reports that analyze key success factors for efficiently identifying and processing loop mail. 4. Provides reporting procedures for using emir. Delivery Operations 1. Establishes procedures for the return of loop mail, missent mail, and return to sender mail to the P&DC/F. 2. Ensures that all facilities are aware of the difference between Loop Mail, RTS mail and missent, missorted and missequenced (3M) mail, and the procedures for handling the different categories. 3. Ensures that all facilities are aware of the procedures to retrieve and review daily the Mail History Tracking System (MHTS) reports and that all DPS errors are delivered in a timely manner. Customer Service Operations 1. Establishes procedures for the return of loop mail, missent mail, and return to sender mail to the P&DC/F. 2. Ensures that all facilities are aware of the difference between Loop Mail, RTS mail, and 3M mail and the procedures for handling the different categories. 3. Ensures that all facilities are aware of the procedures to retrieve and review daily the Mail History Tracking System (MHTS) reports and that all DPS errors are delivered in a timely manner. Marketing 1. Establishes acceptance procedures that verify the accuracy of mailer-applied barcodes and ZIP Codes. 2. Establishes precertification programs to ensure that the mailer-applied barcodes and ZIP Codes are accurate. 3. Establishes procedures for approval of Courtesy Reply, Business Reply, and Permit Reply mailpieces to customers. 4. Establishes automation-based rate requirements. 5. Establishes procedures to respond to emir reports. 3

4 Area In-Plant Support 1. Implements loop mail procedures for the Area as described in this MI. 2. Audits processing facilities regularly to ensure compliance with established loop mail procedures. Delivery Programs Support 1. Implements loop mail procedures for the Area as described in this MI. 2. Audits delivery units regularly to ensure compliance with established loop mail procedures. Marketing 1. Monitors and updates, as required, acceptance procedures that verify the accuracy of mailer-applied barcodes and ZIP Codes. 2. Monitors and updates required precertification programs to ensure that mailer-applied barcodes and ZIP Codes are accurate. 3. Provides mailers with the procedures for approval of Courtesy Reply, Business Reply, and Permit Reply mailpieces to customers. 4. Provides mailers with information about automation-based rate requirements. 5. Provides procedures to respond to emir reports. District Business Mail Entry 1. Provides the necessary resources to ensure the technical guidance on mail preparation and business mail operational procedures to employees in Business Mail Entry Units (BMEUs) as specified in the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM ) and Handbook DM-109, Bulk Mail Acceptance. 2. Accepts, verifies, classifies, and computes postage on all classes of domestic and international business mail. 3. Provides seminars for customer groups (e.g., postal customer councils, printers, envelope manufacturers, advertising agencies, presort bureaus, and small business mailers) about proper mailpiece address hygiene, design, and mail preparation. 4

5 4. Provides technical assistance, customer contact, and follow-up to resolve mail-quality issues regarding address hygiene and design of the mailpiece that may contribute to loop mail. 5. Assists account representatives and the Business Service Network with premier accounts as necessary to ensure that problems regarding address hygiene and mailpiece design are addressed and explained to the customer. 6. Assists in determining whether missent mail was caught in a loop because of address hygiene deficiencies when it is first determined that the problem is unrelated to directory deficiencies or machine problems. 7. Advises customers on the proper use of Facing Identification Marks (FIMs) and barcodes for Customer Reply Mail (CRM) and Business Reply Mail (BRM) pieces and conducts a review of customer s mailpiece before going to print. 8. Provides the correct FIM and barcode positive to customers for CRM and BRM after consultation with Address Management. 9. Ensures the accuracy of BRM ZIP+4. Senior Plant Manager 1. Provides the necessary resources to identify and correct potential loop mail distribution problems in the mailstream. 2. Provides the resources necessary to correctly distribute loop mail. 3. Ensures that loop mail is isolated throughout the distribution process until the loop mail is distributed to the correct carrier route. In-Plant Support 1. Develops local loop mail processing and distribution guidelines that conform to this MI. 2. Develops local loop mail processing and distribution operating plans for letters, flats, and FCM/Priority parcels. 3. Supports correction and prevention efforts as requested, including analysis of sort programs to ensure their accuracy. 4. Analyzes probable causes of loop mail (e.g., RCR and RBCS recognition errors and directory deficiencies). 5. Performs the following tasks to minimize occurrences of loop mail: a. Report loop mail problems. b. Identify specific causes of loop mail problems. c. Develop and provide reports (as necessary) that will assist operations in correcting loop mail problems. 5

6 d. In conjunction with Operations Program Support, develop and provide a mail preparation plan for delivery units, ensuring that loop letters, flats, and parcels are captured at the site of origin and withheld from the automation mailstream. 6. Ensures that bin standardization guidelines are being adhered to. Maintenance 1. Assists In-Plant Support with the generation of diagnostic reports. 2. Maximizes machine performance and equipment availability through adherence to regularly scheduled preventive maintenance routines. 3. Monitors and controls machine parameter settings as defined by national policy to ensure optimal coding accuracy. Operations Programs Support 1. Provides accurate Carrier Route, ZIP+4, and DPS information. 2. Maintains accurate Carrier Route, ZIP+4, and delivery point data in the AMS database. 3. Performs AMS audits periodically to ensure database accuracy. 4. Establishes report procedures that identify delivery unit(s) with high occurrences of loop mail so that in-depth diagnostics can be performed and corrective measures implemented. 5. Establishes standard operating procedures for delivery units regarding the receipt and review of the MHTS report. The MHTS identifies DPS errors and is designed to improve service and avoid carrier backtracking, minimizing the effect of 3M mail. 6. Establishes standard operating procedures for delivery units to process 3M mail that is detected in the MHTS report and/or is isolated in manual distribution cases. 7. In conjunction with In-Plant Support, develops and provides a mail preparation plan for delivery units to ensure that loop letters, flats, and parcels are captured at the site of origin and withheld from the automation mailstream. Postmaster/Station Manager 1. Ensures that all clerks and carriers are aware of the difference between loop mail, 3M mail, and RTS mail and the procedures for handling the different types of mail. 2. Ensures delivery units identify and dispatch loop mail in accordance with local P&DC/F guidelines. 3. Provides the necessary resources to correctly process Loop Mail. 6

7 4. Periodically monitors the loop mail section of the throwback case (see Exhibit 1) and develops reports that measure the amount of loop mail by type, which is returned by stations and/or branches to the P&DC/F for processing. 5. Ensures that MHTS reports are retrieved and reviewed daily and all DPS errors are identified to ensure mail receives timely distribution. 6. Ensures that procedures for processing 3M mail are being followed. Delivery Units The identification and segregation of missent and missorted mail from the normal mailstream are important elements in the Loop Mail Program. All Post Offices, stations, and branches must implement procedures for the return of loop mail, missent mail, and RTS mail to the P&DC/F. Adhere to the following procedures: 1. Identify loop mail and return it to the processing center to be processed in the manual operation. 2. Identify missent mail and separate it from loop mail by using missent mail placard 240M (see Exhibit 2) and return it to the processing center to be incorporated into the appropriate operation. 3. Send missorted mail identified by the carriers and the MHTS report to the hot case as soon as possible for distribution to the correct route. 4. Recase missequenced mail identified by the MHTS report into the carrier case in the proper line of delivery. If there is significant volume, submit emir report. 5. Isolate the UAA mail due to a move and send to the appropriate PARS or CFS site. Properly endorse return-to-sender mail pieces and send to the P&DC/F to be processed in the appropriate operation. 6. If volumes warrant, transport loop mail using a separate standardized piece of equipment (e.g., APC/GPMC) using the appropriate Loop Mail placard 230 L, F, or P (see Exhibits 3, 4, and 5). For smaller offices or offices that do not generate sufficient volumes to justify a separate container, place loop mail in letter trays or flat trays using the appropriate Loop Mail placard 230 L or F placed prominently on the top of the tray sleeve so the mail is readily identified and separated at the processing facility. Include the date and information identifying the associate office, station, or branch on the placards that identify the loop mail and/or missent mail. 7

8 Note: Trays containing loop mail must be labeled as shown below: MANAGER DISTRIBUTION OPERATIONS [NAME OF] P&DC/F LOOP MAIL [NAME OF OFFICE, CITY AND STATE] Supervisors Responsibilities 1. Ensure that all clerks and carriers are aware of the difference between loop mail, 3M, and RTS and the procedures for handling the different types of mail. 2. Ensure that missequenced mail identified by the MHTS report is re-cased into the carrier case in the proper line of delivery. If significant volume, submit emir report. 3. Ensure that missorted mail identified by the carriers and the MHTS report is sent to the 3M case as soon as possible for distribution to the correct route. 4. Ensure clerks identify loop mail and follow procedures given under clerk responsibilities. 5. Ensure that loop mail is dispatched on the next available trip to the P&DC/F to be processed in the manual operation. 6. Ensure that missent mail is uniquely identified (using missent mail placard 240M) and dispatched to the P&DC/F for processing in the appropriate operation. 7. Ensure all 3M mail, returned by carriers from their route, is sorted in the appropriate hold-out. 8. Ensure that carriers identify and isolate loop mail and follow procedures in the section below in carrier responsibilities. 9. Ensure that all missequenced and missorted mail from the previous day is distributed prior to the carrier leave time. Carrier Responsibilities 1. Identify and separate loop mail at the carrier case. 2. Return loop mail to the throwback case prior to carrier leave time. 3. Notify the delivery unit supervisor of recurring errors so that diagnostics can be performed and corrective action initiated. If significant volume, submit emir report. 8

9 Clerk Responsibilities 1. To prevent loop mail from re-entering the automated mailstream, the POSTNET, the human readable ZIP+4 or Intelligent Mail (IM) barcode, and the ID Tag on the back of the mailpiece must be obliterated (only when the mail is actually loop mail) by using a black grease pen or black felt-tip marker to fill all the white spaces between the bars so that the barcode reader can not read the barcode and return the mailpiece to the original address. Remove the Flats Identification Code Sort (FICS) label from Flat Mail. Do not obliterate the POSTNET or IM barcode on RTS mail. POSTNET Barcode Intelligent Mail Barcode POSTNET Barcode Intelligent Mail Barcode Note: On those pieces that will be analyzed, do not obliterate the barcode until a copy of the mailpiece is made. The person conducting the analysis needs the barcode information to perform a complete analysis of the mailpiece. 2. Prepare loop mail using loop mail placard 230 L, F or P for return to the P&DC/F. Do not commingle mail types within the same tray or flat tub. Isolate loop mail with loop mail and missent mail with missent mail and dispatch on the next available trip to the P&DC to be processed. 3. Do not commingle loop mail with collection mail or missent mail. 4. Cross out or slash through incorrect ZIP Codes on nonbarcoded as well as barcoded mailpieces. If known, place the correct ZIP Code on the address side of the mailpiece. 5. Foreign mail for destinations outside the United States may contain a group of numbers that resemble a ZIP Code. Do not obliterate these numbers. 6. Review loop mail for recurring errors and give copies of all pieces to his or her supervisor for coordination of in-depth diagnostics with In-Plant Support. 9

10 Processing and Distribution Center/Facility (P&DC/F) Manager, Distribution Operations (MDO) Responsibilities 1. Establish a loop mail log for offices that are reporting excessive volumes of loop mail or not returning loop mail in a timely manner. 2. Ensure the distribution of all loop mail and MM mail is processed in specially designated manual cases (see Exhibit 6) and pouch racks to prevent it from inadvertently being returned to the automated mailstream. 3. Ensure that all loop mail and MM mail are processed and dispatched on time in accordance with the site operating plan to ensure that all mail meets its service commitment. 4. Loop mail on the Automated Package Processing System (APPS) machines is usually caused by Information Based Indicia (IBI) codes that have the wrong ZIP imbedded or from the use of Postage Validation Imprinter (PVI) applied barcodes that have the incorrect ZIP. APPS sites must black out the IBI barcode and PVI barcodes when incorrect ZIP Codes are identified. A single BLACK LINE (preferably black marker) through the barcode will suffice. The APPS uses optical character recognition to determine the ZIP from City State lines of the destinating address. 5. All Loop Parcel pouches dispatched from the manual unit must bear a sack label identifying the contents as Loop Parcels with directions to process at the manual unit downstream. 6. Due to the APPS misreading return-to-sender parcels, these parcels must also be isolated from the APPS mailstream and directed to the appropriate manual operation for sorting and dispatch. 7. All Loop Parcel pouches dispatched from the manual unit must bear a sack label identifying the contents as Loop Parcels with directions to process at the next manual unit downstream. 8. Ensure the mail is identified with loop mail placard 230 L, F, or P and/or sack label when dispatched. 9. Ensure that loop mail is processed and dispatched on the next available transportation in accordance with the operating plan for the appropriate operation. 10

11 Supervisor, Distribution Operations (SDO) Responsibilities 1. Ensure that letter and flat loop mail and MM mail are processed exclusively in designated loop mail cases or racks. 2. Ensure that letter and flat loop mail are identified by placard 230 L or F and flowed to downstream manual operations. Ensure that loop parcels are identified by placard 230 P or loop mail sack label when flowed to downstream operations or facilities. Note: When mail has been identified as loop mail, Up-the-Ladder processing must not be attempted. Do not process on automation or mechanization. Flat sorter operators must ensure that loop mail is not processed on an Upgraded Flat Sorter Machine (UFSM) 1000 in the keying mode. In many instances when loop mail is keyed on the UFSM, the mail gets rerouted back to the AFSM 100 in a downstream operation and consequently becomes loop mail once again. 3. Ensure that missorted flat mail in automation is identified as early in the process as possible to minimize service impacts from loop mail. With Flats Identification Code Sort (FICS), most plants are now acquiring the destinating sort result from the AFSM 100s during origin/outgoing primary processing. This sort result stays with the mailpiece through all subsequent handlings. 4. Ensure that quality-of-sort checks are conducted during origin processing to eliminate loop mail at the moment it occurs and minimize the potential service impacts. Recurring errors must be brought to the attention of In-Plant Support and/or Maintenance so that diagnostics can be performed. 5. Ensure that loop mail is processed in accordance with the locally established operating plan. 6. Ensure that loop mail placard 230 L or F is attached to bundles or placed in full trays when identified letter or flat loop mail is ready for dispatch. Trays for dispatch must be labeled with the appropriate Content Identifier Number (CIN) 169, 170, or 171 depending on the type of mail, indicating that the contents are noncodeable and must remain in the manual mailstream. 7. Ensure that a loop mail sack label is attached to sacks containing loop parcels ready for dispatch. The sack label must indicate to downstream facilities that the contents can not be inducted onto the APPS and must remain in the manual mail stream. Note: Bundles of loop mail may be placed in trays identified as being manually processed to reduce partially full loop mail trays; however, the loop mail placard 230 L must be securely fastened to each bundle in the tray. 11

12 Manual Return to Sender (RTS) Mail Forwarded mail with an RTS label is a prime candidate for loop mail when mixed with mail processed through automation. As a preventive measure, all mail hand-stamped RTS with an official return endorsement must be processed manually in designated loop mail cases or designated pouch racks. All non-pars and non-afcs RTS mail should contain a legible return-to-sender stamp with the appropriate block for the reason for nondelivery checked. When processing manual RTS mail, the original mailing address and the POSTNET or IM barcode should not be obliterated. Prep and dispatch manual RTS as loop mail. Package Services Bulk Mail Centers (BMCs) 1. Keyers on the parcel sorting machines must be instructed to key the ZIP Code as it appears on the package. 2. All RTS parcels must have a valid carrier endorsement (e.g., finger stamp). If not, keyers must be instructed to key the parcel to the original delivery address for appropriate carrier endorsement. International Service Centers Foreign mail bearing 5-digit postal codes may cause distribution problems at automated sites. International 5-digit postal codes are sometimes the same as valid U.S. ZIP Codes; therefore, mailpieces encoded with those foreign postal codes may be misdirected through automated or mechanized processing to domestic destinations. 1. In instances where foreign mail is miscoded, give special attention to the MLOCR/DIOSS and RCR directories content and sort programs so that miscoded foreign mail can be minimized and captured. Stacker checks are a valuable tool for monitoring miscoded foreign mail. 2. Loop mail handling and/or identification procedures must be used for subsequent processing of miscoded foreign mail. 3. Process manually CFS-forwarded mail addressed to a foreign country. Distribution clerks should not obliterate these postal codes. 12

13 Exhibit 1 MISSORT LETTERS MISSORT LETTERS LOOP MAIL BOX MAIL ENDORSED BUNDLED LETTERS ENDORSED INDIVIDUAL LETTERS MISSORT FLATS PREF LOOP FLATS ENDORSED BUNDLED FLATS MISSORT FLATS NON-PREF BOX MAIL FLATS ENDORSED INDIVIDUAL FLATS 13

14 Exhibit 2 MISSENT MAIL THIS MAIL MUST BE REWORKED AND/OR DISPATCHED TO THE CORRECT FACILITY FROM Placard 240, March 2008 TO DATE 14

15 Exhibit 3 THIS MAIL MUST BE PROCESSED MANUALLY IN THE O30 OPERATION DO NOT AUTOMATE LOOP MAIL LETTERS FROM Placard 230L, March 2008 TO DATE 15

16 Exhibit 4 THIS MAIL MUST BE PROCESSED MANUALLY IN THE O60 OPERATION DO NOT SEND TO ASFM 100 OR UFSM 1000 LOOP MAIL FLATS FROM Placard 230F, March 2008 TO DATE 16

17 Exhibit 5 THIS MAIL MUST BE PROCESSED MANUALLY IN A RACK/BELT OPERATION DO NOT SEND TO APPS/SPBS LOOP MAIL PARCELS FROM Placard 230P, March 2008 TO DATE 17

18 Exhibit 6 Typical Loop Mail Case in P&DC/F 18

19 Exhibit 7 LOOP MAIL FLOW CHART Loop Mail is identified by a carrier at a station, branch or Associate Office Loop Mail is identified by a clerk at a P&DC/F Automation Loop Mail is identified from DBCS Bin 4 (Code Mis Match) Carrier returns mail to the throwback case & notifies supervisor of recurring errors Clerk obliterates postnet or IM barcode and prepares mail for the P&DC/F Loop Mail is properly labeled and placarded and dispatched to the P&DC Loop letter, flat and parcel Mail is processed exclusively in designated manual Loop Mail cases or racks Loop Mail is identified with placard 230L, F, or P and/or sack label with proper CIN code for dispatch Loop Mail is dispatched on next available transportation in accordance with the operating plan 19

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