[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 163 (Wednesday, August 24, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-20781]

[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: August 24, 1994]




Presort Accuracy Validation and Evaluation (PAVE)

AGENCY: Postal Service.

ACTION: Notice of establishment of program.


SUMMARY: This notice adopts standards for the Presort Accuracy 
Validation and Evaluation (PAVE) Program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: August 24, 1994.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George T. Hurst, (202) 268-5232, or 
Lynn Martin, (202) 268-5176.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 23, 1994, the Postal Service 
published in the Federal Register proposed standards for the Presort 
Accuracy Validation and Evaluation (PAVE) Program (59 FR 26609-26614). 
PAVE was proposed as a voluntary program in which the Postal Service 
would, upon request, provide testing for certain categories of presort 
software and hardware products to determine their accuracy in sorting 
address information according to the mailing standards of the Domestic 
Mail Manual (DMM). This program would assure those using presort 
software packages that a PAVE-certified product, if used properly, 
would have the capability of performing its intended function according 
to the current mailing standards of the Postal Service.
    The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed program was 
June 15, 1994. All comments received or mailed by that date have been 
    The Postal Service received comments on the proposed program from 
five different commenters. On the basis of the comments received, the 
Postal Service has decided to adopt the PAVE Program as proposed.

Evaluation of Comments Received

    One commenter commented that optical character readers (OCRs) 
should be tested by electronic media rather than the proposed physical 
test deck because manufacturers of OCR equipment and software cannot 
control the additional manual preparation that must accompany their 
process to prepare actual mailings.
    Most OCR software has parameter settings allowing users to assign 
certain groupings of mail to specific sort or stacker bins on the 
machine. Once mail is processed through the OCR, operators must 
manually remove the groupings from these bins and further arrange them 
into a properly packaged and/or trayed mailing. An electronic test file 
could be used to evaluate an OCR's software logic for sorting addresses 
to bin-type designations. However, this test would not be a true test 
of the ability of the presort software to follow accurately all the 
presort standards of a specific category; moreover, the test would not 
indicate whether the hardware could follow the sortation logic being 
tested. For these reasons, the Postal Service has determined that the 
use of a physical test deck of actual mailpieces for PAVE testing of 
OCRs is a more relevant measurement of an OCR's overall capabilities. 
Although such a test will require additional manual intervention to 
complete, this too is a useful indicator of the software/hardware 
developer's understanding of presort standards.
    One commenter stated that there should be mailer or user PAVE 
certification in addition to certification at the developer or 
manufacturer level.
    The Postal Service has determined that too many users of presort 
software and hardware products exist to attempt to certify them all 
under this type of program. Although it is understood that individuals 
can misuse even the best of software or hardware, the resources needed 
to evaluate the volume of potential end users of such products would 
not be cost effective. Because misuse of a PAVE-certified presort 
product could result in presort errors, the Postal Service does not 
propose to grant unique rate eligibility to users of PAVE-certified 
products. The Postal Service will continue to verify presort rate 
eligibility as it is done today and to pursue other options for 
evaluation of presort product end users.
    Referring to the physical OCR test deck, one commenter inquired 
about the availability of labels and tray tags. In addition, this 
commenter inquired about the information that would be required on 
packages and tray labels.
    PAVE Program standards will require that an OCR examinee presort, 
package (if appropriate), tray, and return the physical test deck to 
the Postal Service National Customer Support Center as though the 
examinee were submitting an actual mailing. Thus the information 
printed on packages and tray labels must conform to the information 
required by the DMM standards for the specific presort category being 
evaluated. PAVE Program participants will be able to obtain the same 
labels, tray tags, and other mail preparation supplies as all mailers 
are authorized from post offices.
    Two commenters stated that PAVE participants would likely have 
difficulty determining when a change to a presort product was 
significant enough to warrant recertification. The commenters stated 
that the proposed guidelines do not cover the variety of relatively 
insignificant changes that might be made to presort products in any 
specific year. One commenter stated that the use of a toll-free 
telephone number to determine the significance of presort product 
changes would be a good idea.
    PAVE Program standards note that a change significant enough to 
necessitate recertification would be a key alteration of the basic 
sortation logic of a presort product; a major change in the content, 
layout, format, or availability of computer-generated documentation or 
facsimiles; or a modification that caused significant differences in 
software operator use. Changes of less significance would not require 
recertification. The significance of some changes may require 
additional evaluation to determine whether recertification is 
warranted. The Postal Service will establish a toll-free telephone 
number to share information with presort product developers about the 
types of changes that would require a product to be recertified under 
PAVE. In addition, the Postal Service will begin to assemble and 
maintain a list of presort product alterations previously ruled on for 
their significance toward requiring recertification. Once developed, 
this list will be made available to customers on request.
    Two commenters requested that tests be included for first- and 
third-class flat-size barcoded categories, and one commenter inquired 
about a physical test deck for flats-processing OCRs.
    The Postal Service has decided initially to test the categories 
noted in the original proposal as follows:
    (1) Presorted first-class letter-size;
    (2) First- and third-class barcoded letter-size;
    (3) Second-class presort flat-size (carrier route, 3/5 digit, and 
    (4) Third-class presort letter-size (3/5 digit and basic); and
    (5) Third-class carrier route presort flat-size.
    The Postal Service has determined that these categories provide a 
wide yet manageable range of presort categories most often used for the 
initial test cycle. Though not able to test all presort categories 
every year, the Postal Service intends to include new testing 
categories in future years. The inclusion of more testing categories of 
flats will be examined at a later date. The future selection of a 
physical test deck category for flats barcoding OCRs will also be 
deferred to a later date and will then be evaluated based on the number 
of such machines in use by the mailing industry at that time.
    Also inquiring about the physical test deck, one commenter wanted 
to know where the barcode would be printed on the test piece to 
determine whether equipment adjustments would be necessary. In 
addition, this same commenter wanted to know how equipment that could 
not read barcodes would be certified.
    The physical test deck for OCRs used in the initial test cycle will 
have addresses and barcodes printed on inserts to appear through window 
envelopes in the lower right corner. The characters of the recipient's 
address will be of Gothic Text font in 10-point type; the same 
Helvetica-type, OCR-readable font used in the physical test deck for 
Postal Service Multiline Accuracy Support System (MASS) certification. 
Barcodes will be printed below the address on the insert in the lower 
right barcode clear zone as noted in Domestic Mail Manual C840.2.7. The 
addresses and barcodes will use black ink on a white background to 
establish the best readability conditions practicable. Participants 
will be notified if any change to this format is adopted for subsequent 
test cycles.
    One commenter stated that advance knowledge of ZIP Code ranges used 
in the physical test deck would be beneficial for individual users of 
OCRs. The commenter also stated that many OCR users develop local sort 
schemes to perform finer sortations of local mail in fewer passes on 
their equipment. These sort schemes are based on mail volume for 
specific geographical areas and cannot efficiently handle a wide 
variety of ZIP Codes. The commenter stated that advanced knowledge of 
ZIP Code ranges used in the physical test deck would allow such users 
time to reprogram their sort schemes to handle the ZIP Codes contained 
in the test.
    As noted, the Postal Service does not plan to offer PAVE testing to 
the end users of presort products. However, manufacturers of presort 
products may share this same concern. Because the PAVE test cycle is 
relatively lengthy, running from August to the end of December, 
participants can obtain information on ZIP Code ranges essentially 5 
months in advance of the certification deadline by ordering the tests 
as soon as they become available. The Postal Service has determined 
that this is sufficient advance notice of testing information to 
accommodate all participants.
    One commenter wanted to know how the Postal Service will grade 
physical test decks. This same commenter wanted to know what would be 
considered a passing grade.
    Physical test decks will be graded the same as electronic test 
files except that proper tray preparation will also be evaluated. 
Examinees will be responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the presort, 
the accuracy of the supporting documentation required to accompany the 
mailing statement, and the accuracy of hard copy documentation to 
support the accurate sortation and rate application of the mailpieces 
in the test deck. The entire test deck must be presorted, trayed, 
labeled, and appropriately documented, without error, according to the 
standards of the DMM, to obtain PAVE certification.
    One commenter wanted to know whether PAVE certification obtained on 
one model of OCR equipment would be transferable to similar OCR models 
offered by the same developer or manufacturer.
    Just as different versions of presort software will have to be 
individually PAVE-certified, the Postal Service has determined that 
different models of hardware will also require individual 
certification. Although different hardware models from a single 
manufacturer may share the same software and similar hardware sorting 
mechanisms, if the manufacturer of a piece of equipment determines that 
enough difference exists between it and another product to assign the 
equipment a unique model number or name, the Postal Service will treat 
the product as a different piece of equipment requiring its own PAVE 
certification. This is consistent with Postal Service certification 
programs for address matching accuracy and barcode quality.
    One commenter inquired whether postal personnel will be required to 
observe the processing of the physical test deck.
    The Postal Service has no plans at this time to conduct on-site 
observation of the processing of the test decks but may re-evaluate its 
position on this issue in the future if it appears that on-site 
observation is needed to ensure the integrity of the test.
    One commenter stated that OCR equipment cannot document overflow 
trays because the operator must decide how much mail will flow to the 
final tray and physically place that mail in the tray. This 
undocumented overflow makes some of the PAVE tests irrelevant.
    As previously noted, the Postal Service recognizes that some manual 
intervention will be required to complete the PAVE test deck for OCRs. 
Thus, individuals, rather than the specific equipment or software being 
tested, may in some instances determine the final placement of 
mailpieces in trays including overflow trays. Although non-OCR presort 
software can adhere to tray volume parameters established in the 
electronic PAVE test files and develop overflow trays of predictable 
volume, OCRs have difficulty determining exact tray volume because the 
operator makes this decision independent of the equipment. For this 
reason, the PAVE certification process does not require that OCR 
examinees provide computer-generated volume reports for such trays. 
However, manual documentation of overflow trays will be required to 
meet the DMM documentation requirements.
    One commenter stated that because the address matching process of 
the MLOCR is supposed to be turned off for PAVE processing of the 
physical test deck, further clarification is needed to understand how 
to report 5-digit, 9-digit, and delivery point barcodes and numeric ZIP 
Codes in the results. In addition, this commenter wanted to know why 
the test will require the reporting of 9-digit barcodes, which are not 
acceptable except for barcode rates for flats.
    Electronic test files for PAVE will contain some addresses with 5-
digit ZIP Codes and some addresses with 11-digit numeric ZIP Code 
information (5-digit ZIP Code, 4-digit add-on, and 2-digit delivery 
point code). Address matching mechanisms are not required to process 
these files and should not be used to determine the completeness of the 
address information. Examinees should treat the 5-digit addresses as 
noncodable and sort them as pieces that do not qualify for barcode 
rates, while treating the 11-digit addresses as correctly coded 
qualifying pieces. Similarly, the physical test decks for PAVE testing 
of OCRs contain pieces that have 5-digit barcodes and pieces that have 
complete delivery point barcodes. The 5-digit barcoded pieces in the 
OCR test decks have corresponding 5-digit ZIP Codes in the address. The 
delivery point barcoded pieces in these test decks have corresponding 
11-digit numerics printed in the address (5-digit ZIP Code, 4-digit 
add-on, and the 2-digit delivery point code--the correction character 
is not given numerically, but is included in the actual barcode on the 
piece). The 5-digit numeric/barcoded pieces are to be treated as 
nonqualifying, whereas the 11-digit (delivery point barcoded) pieces 
are to be treated as qualifying for the barcode rate. Although 
addresses in the PAVE test files have been selected so that matching or 
``cleansing'' processes should not corrupt test results, it is 
recommended that they not be used. PAVE certification does not require 
the identification and reporting of 9-digit barcodes.
    Two commenters expressed concern about the time frame established 
for returning test results, stating that more time may be required to 
reprocess PAVE tests if the first test failed.
    Even though the Postal Service has established November 15 through 
December 15 as the period for official evaluation and response of PAVE 
test results, it will strive to evaluate tests on receipt and provide 
results as quickly as possible to participants. The Postal Service will 
pay particular attention to examinees whose tests cannot be certified 
so that those examinees can be provided as much time as possible for 
    Two commenters suggested that the timing of the PAVE cycle may 
conflict with a relatively busy season in the mailing industry. Both 
commenters recommended that the Postal Service adhere to the current 
suggested time frames but remain flexible to re-examine this issue in 
the future.
    The Postal Service has determined that for 1994, the PAVE cycle 
will begin immediately, and end with the December 31 retesting 
deadline. However, the Postal Service will remain open to future 
recommendations to shift the PAVE cycle to meet industry needs.
    After considering these comments, the Postal Service has determined 
to implement the PAVE Program, effective immediately, as described in 
the Federal Register notice published on May 23, 1994 (59 FR 26609-
26614). To obtain detailed information on participation in PAVE, 
presort product developers may request the PAVE Program Technical Guide 
from the Postal Service National Customer Support Center by calling 1-
800-331-5746, extension 651 or 454. Participants may use the PAVE order 
form, included in that guide, to order PAVE tests.
Stanley F. Mires,
Chief Counsel, Legislative.
[FR Doc. 94-20781 Filed 8-23-94; 8:45 am]