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Premature Approval?

November 27, 1987

As a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service, I read with great interest Don G. Campbell's article "Postal Service Gets Stamp of Approval" (Nov. 19), which dealt with various innovations and adjustments instituted by the agency which the writer believes helped create a more competitive service and turned this ponderous old bureaucracy into a vigorous business in the communications field.

However, despite those advancements and the resulting rosy picture as portrayed by Campbell, I strongly believe that the future of the postal system is bleak unless major changes are made updating the delivery service.

In my opinion, the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals jumped the gun when it gave the postal system its stamp of approval for such superficial reasons as the introduction of extended hours at branch post offices, the introduction of computerized equipment at many Post Office retail windows, the use of a new type of mail vans etc. without even considering the foremost problem of an outdated, time consuming and decrepit delivery system, which is the major facet of the postal network.

Up until now the department was able to handle the amount of mail and muddle along with some degree of difficulty, but with the introduction of the computer and the use of very complex electronic machines at postal sectional centers nationwide--where mail is processed by city sectional breakdowns and then sent to local postal stations where letters are further sorted as to houses and streets--letter carriers in local areas are drowning in mail and the outmoded delivery system is on the verge of a breakdown.

Currently many carriers are working up to 10 hours daily and sorting mail as to address (usually called casing) some four hours or more each morning.

Consumer advocate Ann Robinson, according to Campbell, declared that postal officials hope to give the mail deliverer an eight-hour day, including an hour and a half to two hours every morning to case mail, which I believe is a total dream and a total impossibility for at least the near future.

The delivery facet (casing mail and street delivery)is still backward. It hasn't been improved since it was first used many decades ago. Unless the computer is introduced into the system and each postal branch is made part of a computerized network hooked up with headquarters in Washington, D.C.--in addition to fresh and original thinking by top postal executives--the current postal service as a nationwide, single, unified and comprehensive mail service serving the needs of all the people and businesses will be destroyed.

JESSE LEVINE

North Hollywood

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