This article originally appeared in the May/June, 2018 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.
When the Postal Service first announced its new Green and Secure program, it was described as a new alternative method to meet the Move Update standard. However, this inadvertently caused confusion, as the Green and Secure program is a subset of ACS and does not alleviate a mailer from meeting the Move Update requirements. As with other Move Update methods, the Postal Service’s expectation is that Green and Secure participants will update their mailing addresses within 95 days of mailing. The USPS has proposed this program, but please note the final rule has not been published.
So, What Is Green and Secure?
First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail pieces that have an ACS Change Service Requested Service Type ID (STID) in the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) and are identified as Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) would be discarded rather than returned to sender. The program is intended to reduce the cost of processing UAA mail. Mailers would utilize an ACS Change Service Requested STID on First-Class Mail or USPS Marketing Mail, or a Secure Destruction STID on First-Class Mail.
Mail pieces bearing the above STIDs will be discarded or securely destroyed and will not be subject to Move Update assessment charges. In response to concerns expressed by members of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), the Postal Service agreed to change the Move Update calculation. Green and Secure change-of-address (COA) errors are now removed from the numerator so that fears of affecting the current .5% threshold are alleviated. Electronic notification and information will be provided via the Mailer Scorecard.
There’s a Minimum Requirement to Comply, and Then There Are Best Practices
A mailer could take advantage of the program and simply use the proper STIDs that direct the Postal Service to destroy undeliverable mail pieces without updating their addresses. No assessments, and who would know, right? The reality is that the Postal Service knows every notice that’s been sent to a mailer. At what point does it become egregious and raise a red flag? It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette.
So, how can you ensure your company is compliant with this new Green and Secure program? The best offense is a good defense: Work on ways to reduce the amount of UAA mail you are generating. By generating higher quality addresses, you have fewer pieces to worry about for the Green and Secure program, and you’re bolstering your Mailer Scorecard. Address hygiene is of the utmost importance to help reduce UAA mail, which is the first place to start. All mailers already know that the first step isto run your list(s) through CASS processing. Some software and service providers offer additional address correction services that leverage consumer data unavailable to the USPS to further improve CASS results.
You have similar options when it comes to updating addresses for individuals, families, and businesses that move. NCOALink is still the next best step and one that satisfies the Move Update requirement. However, best practices extend beyond mail preparation. Post-mailing, it’s essential to run ACS to learn which of your mail pieces may not have been delivered, and for what reason. ACS is free through the USPS when used with a Full-Service mailing.
As Senior Manager of Industry Affairs at BCC Software, Anita Pursley is entrenched in major industry events and associations, representing BCC Software and advocating on behalf of its customers. She has a breadth of industry experience and expertise, including serving for two years as the Industry Co-Chair of the Postmaster General’s Mailer Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) and similar roles at some of the industry’s largest and most influential companies.