Not to worry, the Postal Service responded. If the tiny Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) discounts scheduled for later this year are not enough to entice mailers, it said, two years from now the huge penalties for not using IMbs will force mailers to change their ways. Starting in May 2011, mail without IMbs will be ineligible for automation discounts, which typically are at least several cents per mail piece.
"Some mailers have said they find the pricing incentives insufficient to recover their investment in the program," said the GAO report. "For example, some large mailers said they invested millions of dollars to update and purchase hardware and software, while some smaller mailers expected to invest tens of thousands of dollars."
Other highlights of the report and the Postal Service's response:
- The Intelligent Mail program "lacks a comprehensive strategy" that includes a detailed plan or "goals and measures of success", the GAO said. The Postal Service agreed to beef up its planning but said the approach recommended by the GAO would drag out implementation too long.
- "USPS and mailers may not be ready for implementation given USPS's short-time period in which to simultaneously design, develop, test, and implement the Intelligent Mail program," the report said. Amen to that!
- An odd statement from the Postal Service: "Despite an extremely compressed schedule, the successful implementation of the Operating System environment on May 11 and the Test Environment for Mailers on May 18 demonstrates how well this effort works." May 11 and 18 haven't occurred yet, and mailers are reporting that the Postal Service is not ready for those key dates. See "Another Delay for Intelligent Mail?"
- USPS "lacks information on costs and savings attributable to the Intelligent Mail program," the GAO said. USPS responded that the program will give it valuable information enabling it to become more efficient but that "there is no sound financial method to specifically attribute these reductions to Intelligent Mail."
- "According to USPS, Intelligent Mail is the most complex project it has undertaken," the GAO report said.