The USPS recently made an unexpected move to extend the CASS / MASS deadline for cycle M. I say unexpected because many of the software vendors, including BCC, had already achieved our CASS cycle M certification well in advance of the original deadline of August 1, 2009.
Upon hearing the news, I contacted the National Customer Support Center (NCSC) to find out what was behind this extension. The explanation I received was tied to three reasons:
- Some software vendors simply were not ready. This is surprising to me since CASS cycle M had a two-year lead time for preparation.
- The testing process overall was taking longer than normal. Whether this is really a reflection of the NCSC (who grades the CASS tests) or if the delay is tied to the unnamed software vendors, I am not sure. I can say, though, that improvements certainly need to be made to the CASS and PAVE testing process. Advancements in Mail.dat and related postal data structures should be leveraged to expedite software certification.
- Testing time for MASS certification was also running longer than usual. This is not too surprising since MASS testing (address testing for MLOCR hardware devices) is longer and more involved than the CASS software certification. We saw some of these delays two-years ago during MASS cycle L. However, I am certain that improvement opportunities are available here as well.
CASS / MASS certification is essential for the mailing industry. By creating a certified platform for address quality, mailers can be assured that crucial ZIP+4 codes are being assigned at consistent and at the highest level possible. As a testament to this, the passing score for CASS certification is over 98% across several categories, including some categories that require 100% accuracy. This is based on grading a list of 100,000 USPS provided addresses.
CASS / MASS cycle N, the next cycle, is currently scheduled for August 1, 2011. With two years before this next deadline, let’s hope improvements will continue to expedite the grading process and improve overall address quality. BCC customers can be assured that we are already working on known cycle N requirements today.