- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. Postal Service gives its executives moving expenses of $10,000 or $25,000 without requiring receipts, allowing employees to pocket any leftover money.

The mail service says it uses the payments as a way of easing transitions to new, sometimes more-expensive cities and ensuring that executives won’t be lured away by competitors.

One senior vice president received $75,000 — $25,000 each for three moves from June 1998 to February 2001. The mail service gave 265 executives $10,000 each and 10 others $25,000 each in the past two years, according to information gathered by Senate Finance Committee investigators.

The postal service defends the practice, saying Congress wanted it to operate like private businesses where salaries may be higher. Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, isn’t buying it.

“The American public does not want to pay more for postage so that you can give that amount to handouts to USPS executives,” he wrote in a letter yesterday to Postmaster General John Potter. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

Ralph Moden, the postal service’s senior vice president for government relations, wrote Mr. Grassley that unlike other executive branch employees, postal executives do not receive automatic yearly increases.

“Increases to salary are solely based on performance,” Mr. Moden wrote. “With no locality pay, we often have difficulty recruiting talented individuals for the more challenging positions, many of which are located in high cost-of-living areas.

“As a result, we use relocation benefits as an inducement to move to these higher cost-of living areas and defray the numerous expenses faced in such a move.”

Whether a postal executive actually gets to pocket moving expenses depends on the locations involved and the size of the living quarters.

Moving expense figures provided by the American Moving and Storage Association shows that someone moving a two-bedroom apartment likely would pocket thousands of dollars if given a $10,000 stipend.

The association, which represents interstate movers, said such a move from Washington to Los Angeles would cost between $5,500 and $6,400. The same move from Baltimore to Chicago would cost between $3,700 and $4,300; from Atlanta to Dallas, $4,100 to $4,600; and from New York to Boston, $3,800 to $4,400.

For an eight-room house, a $10,000 payment might not cover a Washington to Los Angeles move, typically between $9,000 and $11,000. It would be more than enough for moves from Baltimore to Chicago, $6,000 to $7,200; Atlanta to Dallas, $6,200 to $7,300; or New York to Boston, $6,200 to $7,300.

In addition to moving costs, executives might incur real estate agent and closing costs of home sales.

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