In late January, USPS announced the consolidation of 18 more mail processing facilities, on top of the 92 already scheduled for this spring. In addition to these changes, USPS is quickly moving forward with its Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program, which continues to analyze and restructure the carrier routes. What do these changes mean for mailers? How can you ready yourself (and your customers) for the mail processing bumps ahead?

USPS successfully consolidated 48 plants in late summer 2012. Fortunately, these consolidations went quite well. The USPS planning committee did a fantastic job - navigating and implementing thousands of steps in the process. This same team will be handling this year's changes. A complete list of the locations impacted by these consolidations is available at
Just like last summer, your mail entry should not change throughout this consolidation period. Facilities today will continue to accept mail, even if the actual mail processing moves to another location. However, you may see changes in the available hours for these facilities. Designated processing facilities may experience backups as they absorb the new mail volume. Your best tool to manage the unknown is information. Look at the list of consolidations - both closures and absorption facilities. If you send mail to any of those locations, talk to your contacts there to get their take on the situation. Depending on how your mail is routed, you may be better off taking your mail directly to the processing facility. Start those conversations now to plan for the future. If you experience any problems with your mail service, reach out to your Business Mail Entry Supervisor or Postmaster.

DUO Emphasizes Address Quality
The Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program looks benign on the surface, but may cause some delivery issues as it is implemented. DUO plans to move the home base of some carriers from one facility to another. Moving the carrier function further away from retail facilities could result in re-assignment of routes among carriers. This means the route knowledge of some long-time carriers could be compromised. To handle this, be extra-vigilant about your address quality processes. You could see a small spike in returned mail from affected routes.

The POSTPlan program will reduce the open hours of thousands of smaller retail USPS locations across the country. While this generally will not affect your outgoing mail, it can affect your incoming mail. The restricted hours will limit the availability of retail windows, potentially causing mail from those facilities to be delayed by a day or two.
In addition, the First-Class service changes implemented last year are already affecting incoming mail. Mail that used to be delivered overnight within a facility service area can now take a day or two longer to be delivered. This is especially important to note for transactional mailers. When return payments are delayed, it can have a direct impact on your accounting processes.
To combat delivery delays, communicate these changes to your mail recipients. Let them know that getting their payment back in a timely manner is good for both you, and for their credit status. You may also want to explore extending your required payment dates to adjust for mail delays.
USPS is moving fast to right-size itself this year. With changes happening at all levels of mail processing, it's likely your mail be affected. Being proactive, getting information early and adjusting your processes ahead of time will get you ahead of the curve. Additionally, tracking your mail can help you identify small problems before they grow. As always, information is your best defense.