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Customer Supplier Agreements (CSA)

The most talked about new program from the USPS is Intelligent Mail Full Service.  By some estimates fully 1/4 of all mail being processed today is full service qualified; and one of the pillars of the Full Service qualifications is the Customer Supplier Agreement (CSA) association to Start-the-Clock. 

A CSA is a negotiation agreement between the USPS and a mailer, and is designed to ensure there is clarity around the requirements for origin-entry mail preparation and acceptance times. 

Time-sensitive mail entry instructions

The USPS is required to measure service performance for market dominant products stemming from the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA).  Subsequently, the USPS must define the date in which it takes possession of the mail. 

CSA’s have typically been used by large volume commercial mailers who deal with time sensitive mailings or have other special requirements.  With the introduction of Intelligent Mail, the use of CSA’s will be greatly increasing to help the USPS detail timeframes for which mail is considered to be entered into the postal stream thereby serving as reference for Start-the-Clock designations (Day 0).  The “window” established for mail acceptance is called the Critical Entry Time (CET). 

Customized mail preparation

CSA’s are also used to describe separation, containerization, and labeling standards requested of the mailer that are not covreeed in the optional containerization requirements described in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM).  This would occur when such mail prepration variations mutually benefit the USPS and the mailer, as an example the prevention of back hauling.

Considerations before signing a CSA

Do you have room (floor space) to accommodate separation and containerization?

  • This may require separating a pallet or “breaking” a pallet to pull trays from it.

How will this affect your Full Service Intelligent Mailing?

  • Electronic Documentation will be affected, Pallet Placards must maintain uniqueness.

Are separations required prior to presort?

  • This would result in multiple presorts, mutiple postage statements, and may result in separations failing to meet presort minimums.

Is your staff equipped to manage this process?

  • What is the training cost associated with the production team learning proper separation?
Participating in CSAs

Mailers meet with a variety of postal personnel, including (but not limited to), the Manager, Business Mail Entry, District Manager, Plant Manager and Postmaster, to discuss the mailer’s operational capabilities, and volumes, as well as mail preparation, verification, and processing requriements.  A CSA is then negotiated, and signed by both the Postal Service and mailer. 

If you are interested in learning how to participate you should contact your local Business Mail Entry office.  If you have already signed a CSA you can access your CSA information electonically through the Business Customer Gateway, but must first add the CSA to your profile.

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