By Tonda Rush, National Newspaper Association general counsel
Community newspapers using Centralized Account Processing System (CAPS) for postage payments through trust accounts should be aware that the US Postal Service plans to shut down CAPS after April 1. Companies that will not be ready for the conversion may apply for an extension at their Business Mail Entry Units before March 15.
Following the shutdown, all centralized payments must occur through the Enterprise Payment System (EPS), which draws postage directly from the mailer’s checking account.
National Newspaper Association members may review a useful how-to Pub Aux Live! webinar (member login required) conducted by USPS for community newspapers on Feb. 14, before beginning their EPS applications.
The changes in CAPS so far do not affect publishers who present hard-copy checks directly at an entry post office or BMEU, but publishers should be aware that USPS wants businesses to convert to electronic systems across the board.
“We are seeing a hard push to move away from paper systems,” NNA Government Relations and Postal Chair Matt Paxton, publisher of The News-Gazette, Lexington, Virginia, said. “Because of NNA’s advocacy, USPS understands why many community newspapers still need to do paper filings and paper checks. But we know that era will come to an end at some point as more and more businesses make this conversion.
“Right now the emphasis is upon electronic postage payment. While NNA is advised April 1 will not necessarily bring a hard stop to CAPS, the system is on track for a shut down shortly. USPS says it will make an effort to contact publishers before cutting them off. But we know that the communication plan doesn’t always work the way it should. A publisher could still find their mail on the dock without a way to mail after April 1 if the transition to EPS has not been done on time.”
Paxton said that for many newspapers, the payments are handled by printers, and publishers may not have received direct notice that CAPS is ending.
“Multiple players can be involved in this supply chain. It is important when setting up your EPS account that you have thought through who needs access to the information about payments at your company and who needs access to see activity in the bank account. The system can be set up so that the financial end is secure, while others can have access to the balances before releasing a mailing. This exercise may involve bookkeepers, printers, circulation managers and publishers. I am urging publishers to get on top of this change immediately so they do not unhappily discover disruptions in their mailing later this year,” he said.
Additional information on how EPS works is available here: https://postalpro.usps.com/eps.