- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

After being questioned in writing by a senior Republican senator regarding her professional conduct, the inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service has replied by sending 600 pages of documents for his review and investigation.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa demanded answers last month to 24 lengthy and detailed questions about the management style of Inspector General Karla W. Corcoran. Mr. Grassley's aides said they were expecting direct answers to the questions, not hundreds of pages of documents sent along with a one-page letter signed by Mrs. Corcoran's director of legislative relations.
"[The letter] said that the inspector general looks forward to cooperating fully with the senator," said Jill Gerber, a spokesman for Mr. Grassley. She said his staff hasn't had a chance to digest all of the material.
Mr. Grassley has collected testimony and documents from more than 50 current and former employees of the Postal Service Inspector General's Office that he said contained "troubling disclosures" about the way the office operates.
The testimony provided to Mr. Grassley by current and former employees of Mrs. Corcoran contained a host of accusations, including charges that she is "verbally abusive and publicly humiliates" employees "often in front of peers and subordinates"; used her office to "hire and promote friends"; and forced several individuals "out of their positions because they were perceived as not having the organizational values or would not commit acts they thought were unethical."
Mr. Grassley said the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency also is investigating the allegations.
"We have had a lot of good people come to us and give us evidence of wrongdoing or mismanagement, or waste of taxpayer dollars within the agency," Mr. Grassley said. "Inspectors general police their agencies. Given this great responsibility, they have to be above reproach."
Sandra Harding, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Corcoran, said her office hasn't seen the testimonials Mr. Grassley possesses, so "it is extremely difficult for us to accurately and fully respond" to questions about the investigation.
"We are fully cooperating with Senator Grassley, and we have nothing to hide," Ms. Harding said. "However, without seeing the allegations it is extremely difficult for us to know specifically what Sen. Grassley is looking for. Nevertheless, we will do our best to respond to his requests."
The Washington Times first reported the complaints about Mrs. Corcoran in December and has since obtained copies of the 13-page letter sent to Mr. Grassley and the questions he sent to Mrs. Corcoran.
The complaints range from frustration over "team-building" exercises, such as building sand castles on the New Jersey shore, to strong-arming employees into early retirement who don't adhere to Mrs. Corcoran's "values."
Mrs. Corcoran, who declined to be interviewed for this story but submitted answers through her spokeswoman via e-mail, defends her "values-oriented" management style, saying it helps foster teamwork and efficiency.
The wording of many of Mr. Grassley's queries suggested that he already knew the answers based on the evidence given to him.
"When the senator writes such letters, he is not just going on a fishing expedition," said a Republican aide familiar with the investigation. "You don't want to lie to the senator. Only he knows which [questions] he doesn't know the answer to."
The complaints sent to Mr. Grassley claimed the number of reports issued by Mrs. Corcoran's office "has remained relatively constant since 1998," though the number of employees has risen 285 percent from 245 employees to 702.
Ms. Harding said "a comparison of the number of audits performed to total employees is not an effective measure of the productivity" of the inspector general's office.
"A better measure of productivity is coverage of significant issues, monetary results, and improvements on postal-wide operations," Ms. Harding said.
Mrs. Corcoran also was accused of forcing an auditor to resign "when she refused to alter audit results," and of placing an employee who returned from heart surgery "in a position requiring excessive travel for not demonstrating the organizational values."

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