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Foreword

This OTA Technical Memorandum on postal automation responds to an October 5, 1983, letter of request from Congressman William D. Ford, Chairman of the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, Congressman Robert Garcia, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Postal Operations and Services, and Congressman Mickey Leland, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Postal Personnel and Modernization.

The Committee asked OTA to review the United States Postal Service (USPS) decision to utilize single-line optical character readers (OCRs) instead of multi-line OCRs, and to conduct a comparative technical and economic analysis of the two technologies in the context of the overall postal automation program. OTA did not assess the impacts of postal automation in other areas such as labor force requirements, mail processing organization, and privacy and security of the mail.

The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Civil Service, Post Office, and General Services, has also expressed an interest in this subject.

[n preparing this memorandum, OTA has drawn on information and analyses from a variety of sources, including the October 1982 OTA report on Implications of Electronic Mail and Message Systems for the U.S. Postal Service. USPS has provided extensive materials on prior USPS automation studies as well as current operational data. The General Accounting Office has provided useful perspectives and analyses based on prior work and on a directly related study conducted in parallel with OTA’s. On March 5, 1984, OTA held a postal - automation ‘workshop attended by mailers, manufacturers, and researchers who, along with USPS and GAO, participated in a vigorous discussion of key

issues.

Finally, OTA has benefited greatly from the excellent work

contractors -- Friendship Engineering Company for technical Science Consortium, Inc. for decision and economic analysis.

analysis

of two OTA and Decision

OTA appreciates the participation of those who helped bring this study to fruition. The memorandum is, however, solely the responsibility of OTA, not of those who so ably

advised provide

and assisted in its preparation. analysis and evaluation of options

Also, the purpose of available to Congress

this

memorandum

is to

and

USPS, not to

make

recommendations

as

to

which

option(s)

should

be

implemented.

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