Postal Service needs to boost service and its lousy image

In the wake of three revealing audits, perhaps it's time to make changes in the Postal Services' top management.

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The U.S. Postal Service, despite the growing use of the Internet for communication and paying bills, is still important to this nation.

America needs letters and packages delivered quickly and affordably.

Yet, Postal Service officials aren't doing themselves or the country any favors by the way they manage -- make that mismanage -- the agency.

It was revealed this week that dozens of former top executives and hundreds of former employees have returned to the Postal Service as private contractors, sometimes making double the salaries they made as full-time workers, The Washington Post reported. The information was found in one of three recent financial reports on the agency.

The Post reported the audits found the Postal Service is doing a poor job tracking its use of no-bid contracts, contributes more to worker health and life insurance benefits than other federal agencies and should consider closing more of its regional offices to help address an expected $230 billion, 10-year budget gap.

The Postal Service has awarded more than 2,700 contracts to former employees since 1991 and awarded 17 no-bid deals to former executives between 2006 and 2009, according to one of the audits. Most of those executives earned six-figure sums, the report said. One unnamed executive received a $260,000 no-bid deal in July 2009 to train his successor just two months after retiring, according to The Post.

At the same time, Postal Service officials are awaiting permission to raise rates. The reports of this waste, incompetence or worse makes higher rates particularly troubling.

Every time the price of a stamp goes up the number of items mailed goes down. The public and the Postal Service would be better served by keeping rate increases modest and predictable while aggressively operating more efficiently.

"It appears unethical to hire back former executives at nearly twice their former pay to advise new executives who were placed in their position based on their expertise and years of Postal Service experience," the report said. "There is also employee morale and public image issues management must consider when the Postal Service is closing post offices and seeking a reduced delivery schedule."

Perhaps it's time for the Postal Service, which is still tethered to the U.S. government, to clean house -- starting at the top.

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