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Postal Service's Inspector General Quits Under Fire

August 20, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service's inspector general resigned Tuesday after members of Congress and a government report questioned her personnel practices and her spending for team-building staff retreats.

Postal Inspector General Karla Corcoran, whose office is supposed to guard against fraud, waste and abuse, "has expressed her intention to retire immediately," the governors of the Postal Service announced.

Corcoran conducted retreats where her employees had to dress up in costumes, participate in mock trials and tape testimonials for the inspector general.

Corcoran was unavailable for comment Tuesday, her office said.

She has defended her actions in previous comments. After a critical television report in May, she said, "I stand by the performance of my agency, which has identified more than $2.2 billion in savings and cost avoidances to the U.S. Postal Service and ratepayers over the past six years."

Corcoran also said team-building was common at federal agencies and corporations.

A new report by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, a group largely composed of inspectors general, found a number of deficiencies in Corcoran's office.

The report said Corcoran:

* Spent more than $1 million, including the cost of employee salaries, for each of the last three all-employee annual retreats.

* Cost her agency $100,000 in cancellation fees to move the December 2002 annual meeting location from Alexandria, Va., to Washington, a distance of about eight miles.

* Spent $41,796 on mechanical shades for two conference rooms.

* Created offices and positions to accommodate senior staff who expressed their intentions to leave the agency.

* Humiliated employees by yelling at them in public.

* Forced retirements of several employees, including one who refused to hide team-building expenses.

"The PCIE findings are stunning," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has been investigating Corcoran's office. He said the report shows "a pattern and practice of unprofessional conduct in her management," along with extravagant spending and questionable personnel practices.

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