The Postal Board of Governors, on the recommendation of Postmaster General William Bolger, withheld final approval of a controversial plan to expand ZIP codes to nine digits, prepand ZIP codes to nine digits, presumably to allow the Reagan administration to review the proposal. But it approved spending $316 million for the first phase of the expansion, scheduled to take effect next year. The money will be used to buy automated equipment to be deployed through 1983 so mail can be sorted by computer to individual city blocks.
The Postal Service estimates that if the expansion from the current five-digit ZIP code to a nine-digit code takes full effect about 1987, it will cost $887 million. But it contends that the added automation will help hold down postage rates.