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US Postal Service conducting a study of timeliness of mail delivery to territory

The US Postal Service, through a contract with IBM, is again conducting a study on the timeliness of mail delivery in American Samoa and the Postal Service has confirmed that this is a legitimate study.

Local postal customers have received letters in their post office box announcing the Mail Measurement Study and Barbara Wherry-Skog, project manager at IBM for the study, signs the letter.

However, some local postal customers last week had questioned the legitimacy of the study because they were concerned with being “scammed” through such a survey, as there hasn’t been much talk about it in the community, although similar ones had been carried out in the US.

Samoa News emailed questions last week to Wherry-Skog who in turn referred questions to USPS for response.

On the question on whether this is a legitimate study, USPS Honolulu-based spokesman Duke Gonzales confirmed to Samoa News yesterday that it’s legitimate. “IBM has been contracted by the U.S. Postal Service to measure the on-time delivery of mail to American Samoa as part of the Offshore Special Study,” he said.

He explained that the Offshore Special Study is conducted every other fiscal year, from October to September and the last time it was conducted for American Samoa was from October 2014 to September 2015 — during fiscal year 2015.

Asked how many studies have been conducted so far for American Samoa on mail measurement, Gonzales said the territory was previously included in the fiscal year 2013 study as well as in FY 2015.

In her letter to local postal customers, Wherry-Skog said the study is conducted with the help of postal customers “who participate in a confidential Reporter panel.” A separate brochure explaining more about the mail study specific to American Samoa accompanies the letter.

Volunteers are being sought to “report the receipt of specific types of mail, both mail you already receive and test mail we send to you,” the letter says.

While much of the test mail will come from the United States, “we will also have test mail originally from American Samoa” and participants will need to collect their mail daily for this local mail, said Wherry-Skog.

According to the brochure, the study is not only conducted for American Samoa but for other US territories as well as Hawai’i and Alaska. It says that the measurement study for American Samoa is planned through September 2017 “and we are looking for more volunteers that are able to participate.”

It also says that volunteers are asked to participate for a period of six months but should volunteer to participate longer. Regarding incentive for being a volunteer, a participant would receive $1 for each test mail piece received and the volunteer typically receives between three to five pieces per week.