2019 Government Innovation Awards
Pennsylvania makes snail mail smarter
Pennsylvania Department of Revenue implemented the U.S. Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail barcode to improve delivery of tax-related mail and reduce costs associated with sending letters to incorrect addresses.
To improve delivery of tax-related mail and reduce costs associated with sending letters to incorrect addresses, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue implemented the U.S. Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to help verify addresses. Each 65-bar code, which is printed on outgoing mail to state taxpayers, contains a wealth of data, including a price identifier, the bureau and tax type, a serial number and a routing code.
The mail goes out at night, and the next morning, Business Manager Christine Sehar receives a file from USPS showing what was processed, what was undeliverable because of bad addresses and how many addresses were automatically changed. Those automatic changes are free because the implementation of IMb includes registration with USPS’ Address Correction Service.
The department is also registered for USPS’ Secure Destruction, so the service destroys any mail that cannot be delivered and is not federal tax information or a check. This has dramatically reduced the amount of returned mail that department employees must manually sort.
“Before the project started, there were just thousands and thousands of pieces of mail lying around the department, whether it was returned bad or returned good, and nobody could get to it to update the addresses in the system,” Project Manager Shane Lenker said. “With the implementation of IMb, all that mail has disappeared.”
Since launching IMb in November 2018, the department has collected more than $1.6 million in tax revenue and no longer has to pay for workers who used to handle the mail.
“We’re getting better, updated addresses, better information on the system — there’s a lot of direct benefit to this,” Lenker said.
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