We expect two things to happen simultaneously now that the ground-work is laid and Mr. ZIP has launched his code:
- Through intensive public education and primarily large mailer cooperation, the volume of mail ZIP-Coded will climb steadily over the next few years;
- At the same time, the code will be saving considerable amounts of money (estimated at $15 million of the $35 million the Department will have to absorb next year, for example) while providing a vital part of the essential criteria data for the ZIP Code reader now under development in our laboratories.
Our timetable calls for the first field test of our second step in planned mechanization – optical scanning – in about two years. Then the combination of proven machine and increasing coded volume will tell us over three subsequent years just how much ZIP Coded mail will be required to justify the installation of “X” ZIP Code readers at “Y” dollars in “Z” post offices.
You will recall that the basis of the ZIP Code system is the sectional center plan. You may also recall my Miami speech of last April in which I outlined a long-range program for planned mechanization for something over 200 offices. Putting the two together you find that I was describing to a substantial degree. Mechanization centering on the ZIP Code reader in fully 50 per cent of our offices which will be major handling point for incoming and outgoing mail.
This is planned and orderly mechanization. Coupled with sound criteria, and a large volume of mail standardized by code, It can. I am convinced, demonstrate to the Congress the need for adequate financing.
By making the long-delayed decision between the chicken and the egg and by putting Mr. ZIP on the payroll, we have laid the groundwork, I am confident, for a whole series of fruitful decisions on the part of the Department, the Congress and the mail user which will result in an entirely new mail system in which major mechanization can and will play a properly proportional role.
It will be a system which will continue to depend upon skilled and dedicated career employees but will require fewer new employees each succeeding year to maintain our multiplying mail volume. Remember, eighty per cent of our expenditures are for personnel.
Your cooperation today in putting Mr. ZIP to work will in its simplest basic terms, push back the day when rates will again have to increase.
Since so many invidious comparisons are made by the uninformed between our postal system and those of other nations, it might be well to review this major reorientation of the American Postal System in the words of the English philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead: “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.”