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Mail Delivery Statistics Incorrect

ail Delivery Statistics Incorrect

As a graduate student at MIT, one thing I have learned is that a good way to check numbers is to do an "order of magnitude analysis." In the Friday issue of The Tech, David F. Lambert, chair of the mail services re-engineering redesign team, stated "that only one tenth of the Institute previously received personal mail delivery" ["New Mail Center System Prompts Dissatisfaction," Nov. 17].

According to the MIT World-Wide Web page, MIT employs 8,200 staff on campus. In addition, there were 4,472 undergraduates and 5,302 graduate students enrolled last year. Undergraduate mail is sent directly to the living groups and is separate from the MIT system, so we're talking about 8,200 plus 5,302, or 13,502 people being served by MIT mail. One tenth of that is about 1,350 people, the number of people Lambert claims "previously received personal mail delivery."

I work in Building 37, which used to have personal mail delivery. Conservatively, there are 50 graduate students and staff with offices on my floor. To be even more conservative, let's pretend the building has only five floors (it actually has six floors plus the basement). That's a total of 250 mail recipients in this building alone. 1,350 divided by 250 is 5.4. Lambert is claiming that, before re-engineering, only six buildings were served with door to door mail delivery.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the numbers don't work out. Like many redesign team leaders before him, Lambert has used a bogus statistic to support his plan. Why wasn't this statistic challenged before? Are the millions of dollars of savings we're supposed to achieve based on equally shaky numbers? And what party pays if the forecast savings don't appear? These are real questions which need to be addressed now.

David Y. Oh G