Delivering information when you need it most.

December 1997
Vol.1 No. 3 Page 5

DPS Quality
What Does It Mean To You?

by Roberta Hoag & Becky Volaski
It should mean that your DPS mail comes in the right order and with little or no missents or missorts every day. DPS mail had to pass a Quality Threshold test of 98% accuracy for each route before a letter carrier could take it to the street. If your DPS is not 98% accurate, what can you do about it?

Once the route has met the 98% Quality Threshold it should continue to receive mail at that quality level or higher. However, that isn't how it works, and the important thing is that DPS problems can be fixed -- most times painlessly and quickly.

If a piece is missorted - that is it ends up in the right office but on the wrong route it's because 1)the barcode is incorrect; 2) it "piggybacked" in with another piece into a sort bin on the sorting machine; or 3) a machine problem caused it. In any case it needs to be reported.

If a piece is missent - that is it ends up in an office it is not intended for at all, then the piece is "loop mail" and should be handled according to your instructions. One solution to "taking mail out of the loop" the barcode is marked out with a black marker and sent back to the plant separate from the regular mailstream and clearly identified as loop mail with a loop mail facing slip.

If it's missequenced then for some reason the sortplan put it there. These are easy to fix and can be fixed immediately. Something is wrong either in AMS or station input and can be changed.

There are several things that can be done to correct the errors but most importantly, identifying them is the first step. Knowing what to do with them is next.

A common error occurs when a block or segment is long and there are similar numbers within that single delivery range, i.e., 45, 145, 245. DPS only reads the last two numbers of the address. This error can be corrected by breaking the block face in the AMS (Address Management System) database, and assigning a different zip+4 for each 100 block.

Or, consider this. You have a large company on your route. It has been assigned a unique zip+4, yet most of the mail ends up in the residual mail while some of it goes to the DPS. Look to see if that company goes by other names. If this is happening the alternate names can be entered into the system so that more of the mail will sort properly.

Another example -- there is a street on your route named Beachwood Drive, yet most of the mail comes addressed as Beechwood Drive. To correct this an alias name can be entered into the system allowing both spellings to be recognized.

In Jersey City, NJ, Kennedy Blvd wasn't getting all the mail available through automation. It turns out that some mail was addressed as JFK Blvd, some as John F Kennedy Blvd, etc. AMS was asked to put the alternate names for all of the possible variations in use thus raising the readability.

Incorrect barcodes represent the largest percentage of errors in DPS mail. When identifying errors in DPS mail, letter carriers should notify their supervisor(s), and show them the piece of mail if possible.

Recurring errors are the easiest to find and correct, but all errors happen for a reason. Barcodes are applied either by the mailers or by the Postal Service. Customer applied barcode errors should be directed to the Postal Business Center. Postal applied barcode errors should be directed to the Quality Improvement Specialist either at the Processing plant or the District office.

Supervisors should know who these people are and what to do with DPS and automation errors. Identifying who applied the barcode determines who should get the information about the error.

Earlier this year the Postal Service brought on line a series of computers that allow for hand written and other types of poorly addressed mail to be read by a variety of different machines. This system has become known as Remote Encoding or Remote Barcoding System. Mail processed by Remote Encoding is identified by the orange marks (ID Tag) on the back of an envelope. Not all encoding errors are a result of human keying errors. There are a number of sources in RBCS that could spray an incorrect bar code.

The Source Identifier Mark (SIM) is used to identify which type of automation was responsible for finalizing a mailpiece. The SIM appears before the addon in the printed, numeric representation of the zipcode. It is sprayed when the finalized barcode is printed on the mailpiece. Next Column

The possible SIMs include the following, which are represented by a fictitious ZIP + 4 and is followed by the type of system generating the particular barcode:

Dash ( - ) 12345 - 6789 MLOCR/ISS - A

Slash ( / ) 12345 / 6789 RBCS Keyers

Greater ( > ) 12345 > 6789 Co-processor A

Alpha X ( X ) 12345 X 6789 Co-processor B

Plus ( + ) 12345 + 6789 RCR (remote Computer Reader)

AUTO 12345 6789 External Mailer

Knowing which piece of equipment applied the barcode isn't as important as whether it was Postal or Mailer applied. Directing the errors to the appropriate person is the key to correcting the errors.

The greatest key to the success of DPS in an office, is the feedback and communication from the carriers about the quality of the product received, to their supervisors. Automation errors in mail returned by the carriers at the end of the day should be reviewed by the manager/supervisor, to ensure they aren't AMS Database (Redbook) errors, then photocopied and forwarded to the appropriate persons.

Another step in ensuring a quality DPS product is the use of Station Inputs. There is a direct correlation between offices that use station inputs correctly and a lower error rate. The use of the Station Input Editor puts the control in the hands of the delivery unit to customize the sortplan to best suit the needs of that particular office or specific route.

All mail is DPSable (Automation Compatible), but not all routes are totally deliverable in a DPS environment. The AMS Database is the core of DPS. The information for the CLASS labels / Edit sheets must be accurate and in exact delivery order for the DPS to be processed in order. All deliveries must be included and identified, especially the multiple deliveries.

These deliveries may or may not be deliverable in a DPS environment, depending on the number of deliveries and volume involved. All too often the managers don't know the nature of the deliveries and assume that they are DPSable. The input from the carriers is essential when determining DPSable deliveries.

Mailer caused problems are not so easy to fix and take longer. However, changes in regulations for bulk mailers are addressing these concerns. We are expecting more from them in return for their discounts but it takes time to make the changes. Some of the more common problems I see are: insert shift, missing frame bars, plus 4s that are all zeros, barcodes that don't meet specifications, and poor addressing hygiene. These are things the business offices need to know about.

Every office should have policies in place to deal with these problems. Carriers delivering mail in an AO (Associate Office) need to get with its particular Mail Processing Center to find out who is the Quality Improvement Specialist.

In some plants there is no QIS so the DAS (Directory Analysis Specialist) does most of the address readability issues and corrects barcode problems. The DAS deals with the machine and directory problems and forwards the mailer applied barcode problems to the business centers.

The DAS might also run daily audits on the keying at the REC site (Remote Encoding Center). Every day technology gets more sophisticated and providing more and more tools at our disposal. Things can be done now that couldn't be done a year ago. Much can be done to get the mail where it belongs. All it takes is communication and teamwork. Sure it takes an extra effort and a little more time but the bottom line is this - our customers deserve it.

ED NOTE: Becky and Roberta were invited to write this article for Contracts & Conflicts by me because of their expertise in troubleshooting DPS.

Becky is currently the DAS, a job she has had for the last five years, for the Lafayette, IN Post Office. She is an 11 year employee with the Postal Service and has worked as an LSM clerk, and been a Tour 3 Supervisor. Becky can be reached at

Roberta is a 24 year employee of the Service. She has worked as a letter carrier and clerk prior to entering the management side of the business in 1981. She is currently the District DPS Coordinator for the Northern New Jersey District. Her E-Mail address is

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