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COMPUTING

From...
Computerworld

Postal Service gears up for Y2K

May 21, 1999
Web posted at: 1:12 p.m. EDT (1712 GMT)

by Tom Diederich usps

(IDG) -- The U.S. Postal Service is evaluating numerous technology projects -- suspending some and axing others -- to cut costs, reduce redundancies and ensure that the year 2000 issue won't hamper mail delivery come Jan. 1.

"We have a couple of things going on now," said Postal Service spokesman Norm Scherstrom. "We're kind of tightening our belts -- individual managers have been asked to look into their own areas and determine where they can make cuts. And then we have a Y2K remediation effort going on, so we're not going to bring in any new systems."

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The Postal Service has spent about $600 million gearing up for 2000 in the past three years, employing an additional 2,000 people assigned to the Y2K issue, according to spokesman Mark Saunders.

"We're focusing on mission-critical systems that involve mail processing, transportation, delivery," Saunders said. "[Postal officials] set priorities, and keeping the mail moving is the top priority. Looking at theY2K initiative, they are making sound business decisions that are not dissimilar from other organizations."

Some of those decisions include project cuts and suspensions, he confirmed. Saunders said the Postal Service wouldn't name the targeted programs.

One Postal Service vendor was talking, however.

Electronic Clearing House Inc. said the Postal Service has suspended its electronic money order processing pilot. The project, launched in 1995, was in the testing phase in Dallas, according to company spokeswoman Donna Camras.

"We were in the process of working on software enhancements, but now everything has been temporarily put on hold," she said. "They haven't given us any idea of how long the delay will be, but we know that they're still interested."

Wishful thinking? Saunders said he couldn't confirm or deny that claim because the situation in general is "fluid."

"[Postal officials] are being very tight-lipped about it," Saunders said. "They didn't feel it would be appropriate to tell the public that some organization they're working with is not going to get business from the Postal Service when it may or may not be true."


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