For the latest on the IMBC, let's look at the following: The usage of the Intelligent Mail barcode; release 4 (R4) of the USPS' update on PostalOne! (the USPS' database for all IMBC data capture and tracking); delay of the loss of discounts for data errors in the full-service submission; and the new ideas being sought to utilize the Intelligent Mail barcode to increase the value of mail resulting in greater mail volumes.

At the August 12 MTAC meeting, Tom Day, Senior VP of the USPS, reported that total volume of pieces processed with the IMBC has exceeded 25 billion mailpieces. The month of July had 17,015 jobs that were processed, with 99.75% being completed by PostalOne! within one hour, and none of the jobs exceeded four hours.

While these numbers represent significant growth in the use of the IMBC, there are still thousands of mailers that have not converted from the POSTNET barcode to the IMBC. With the "end of life" for the POSTNET barcode being May 2011, it looks like many may be waiting to the last minute to convert.

Striving to Be Error-Free

R4, scheduled for November 7, will provide the USPS with the ability to assess the quality of the full-service submission, looking for errors in the following areas:

Mailer ID

Service Type ID

By/For MIDs (CRIDs are valid)

FAST Appointment

Unique Barcodes (container, tray and piece)


In addition, Microstrategy reports available from the USPS will provide reporting with more detail about any errors in the areas noted above. Also, if a mailing fails a score of less than 70%, and the amount of postage due claimed by the USPS is greater than $150, a Full-Service Error Report will be sent by the USPS to the mailer with the option to pay the amount shown due, or to request a further review.

Some good news here is that the USPS is delaying the implementation of this Full-Service Error Report process until January 2011. Hence, it is highly recommended that mailers pay close attention to their Microstrategy reports, especially after the November R4 update.

While the USPS continues to improve its ability to measure the accuracy and quality of the mail, it also continues to want to find ways of using the IMBC to increase its overall value. Another new incentive to use Full-Service Intelligent Mail is the Reply Rides Free program, which provides mailers the opportunity to add a BRM or CRM into their mailing at no additional cost. The details are still being worked out, but unlike other recent incentives, there will be no volume requirements. However, this applies to First-Class mail only and limits the added weight allowed of up to .2 ounces. So, a mailer would pay the two-ounce rate and receive a credit of the second ounce rate for all pieces that met the requirements.

As more mailers use Intelligent Mail, new ideas will continue to develop to solve upstream business problems. On the first day of the most recent MTAC meeting, an Innovation Symposium was held with the purpose of generating ideas for the creation of new products and services that the USPS could offer to increase mail volumes. There were 10 breakout sessions and many great ideas resulted from this effort. Some of these ideas are only possible to consider because of the added data available from the IMBC.

The IMBC is viewed as very successful from the USPS' perspective. There's not much chance that the POSTNET barcode will be valid for postage discounts after May 2011, so it makes a great deal of sense to look at ways to utilize the IMBC to add value within your organization and get the project plan for the conversion underway.

Kevin Conti is Director of Mailing Solutions at Pitney Bowes Software. David Robinson is currently the Director of Address Quality for Pitney Bowes.