US POSTAL SERVICE POSTS LOSS - FAILS TO FIRE EXECUTIVES WHO RIPOFF THE PUBLIC
According to a story by Richard Powelson of Scripps Howard News Service printed in the Riverside, California, Press-Enterprise on January 21, 2001, an audit by the Inspector General revealed that United States Postal Service executives cheated the public by misappropriating chauffeurs and limousines in excess of 520 times over four years, oftentimes giving rides to spouses and delivering packages without postage. The study was conducted last year when the Postal Service was almost $200 million in the red and clamoring for the one-cent postage hike that went into effect on January 12, 2001.
The Postal Service is projecting a revenue loss for this fiscal year of at least $480 million.
Only the Postmaster General is allowed the use of a chauffeur for office-to-home travel. Other executives are authorized use of official vehicles and drivers at certain management levels and while on official business.
Of nine unidentified executives mentioned in the report, the biggest abuser used a chauffeur 460 times over two years.
Representative John Duncan (Republican - Tennessee) said the chauffeur service "is definitely an abuse of power. I think that all these people who have done it should be made to reimburse the Postal Service, and this man who repeatedly did this should be fired."
Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican - Alabama) said he will seek a review of postal procedures by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to prevent further abuses. Sessions, who earlier this year instructed his staff to look for ways to cut waste and fraud in the federal government, remarked that "it's ironic that Americans were hit with a 1-cent stamp increase this month and at the same time we learn that postal officials are ripping off taxpayers with limo service between their homes and offices."
Deputy Postmaster General Nolan disagrees. Writing to auditors, he commented that although some use of official vehicles and chauffeurs "was inappropriate...[it] did not rise to the level of 'willful'" that to his way of thinking is required for prosecution, suspension or firing. Nolan further asserted that some of the executives had retired and/or made "appropriate restitution."
Postal spokesperson Gerry Krienkamp said autitors did not check the reasons for executives using chauffeurs to get home or to the office. He surmised that they may have found using a USPS chauffered limousine cheaper than a taxi. According to Krienkamp, executives were required to make restitution of $362 for two of the incidents. But he did not know why spouses at times got chauffeur service or why cakes or packages were sent home with chauffeurs. The audit said poor logs were kept.
This page last modified on January 21, 2001.