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Military mail changes to save $4 million annually

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Changes to military postal operations will save the Defense Department $4 million annually while providing services comparable to those of any U.S. Postal Service office, a senior Military Postal Service Agency said.

James Clark, chief of the agency’s operations division, said the changes will go into effect during October and November 2014.

“As it relates to the Internet Change of Address and Postal Automated Redirection System, we are automating the redirection process of first-class military mail,” he said. “It will improve transit times. It would save costs in both transportation and labor overseas, and improve overall services.”

The MPSA facilitated the transition to a more efficient system that’s in line with the USPS and will produce millions of dollars in savings for DOD.

“When we did the business case study we had to determine what our return on investment would be,” Clark said. “So we did that with all the major commands, solicited their input, and are looking at $4 million in cost avoidance each year across DOD.”

Taken into account are labor and transportation costs, he said, noting that the savings likely will be greater, given the time that has passed since the case study was conducted.

The current redirection process is manual, Clark said, with mail shipped from the United States to overseas servicing military post offices, who then manually redirect it somewhere else -- whether that’s to another military installation overseas or back to the U.S.

Clark noted when the new process goes into effect domestically, the automated equipment is going to intercept that letter if a change of address is on file and redirect it to the new address.

“One of the biggest things that our customers … need to know is that in addition to their outprocessing at the military post office, they’re going to have to go online at USPS.com and complete an internet change of address,” he said.

The process, he added, is what feeds the automated systems to allow them to intercept and redirect mail within the U.S.
The changes will help to offer authorized military post office patrons the same services and systems that are available at any USPS post office in the U.S. However, if customers fail to perform that change of address online, they will not receive the benefits of these new technologies,” he said.

Similar to the existing USPS change-of-address process, authorized MPO patrons can expect to be charged the same $1 verification fee to their credit or debit cards, just as they would if they were changing their domestic address. The fee verifies that the person who is making the change of address is accountable for that information.

“These new services are a realization of the vast differences between USPS addressing and historic military addressing. MPSA is working with USPS and each of the services to update military addresses to conform with USPS standards,” he said. “The takeaway is all of the entities that have a stake in this are working together to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible and do our best to limit impeding existing services.”

With the majority of military addresses complying with USPS automated systems, and the MPSA working to stay engaged with the USPS, Clark said, a majority of service members will be able to benefit from the service.

“It is important to us that we stay in lockstep with USPS as they develop their technologies and service improvements,” he said. “We want equitable service for our service members and their families overseas, because they deserve it.”

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