- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2010

The U.S. Postal Service’s top marketing officer resigned Tuesday after increasing scrutiny into no-bid contracts involving his former associates, including one multimillion-dollar project that went to an executive he knew from his days as an executive at pickle producer Vlasic Foods.

The resignation of Robert Bernstock, president of the Postal Service’s shipping and mailing division, was announced in a memo from Postmaster General and CEO John E. “Jack” Potter to top postal officials Tuesday.

Mr. Potter credited Mr. Bernstock with leading the effort to “rethink and redesign the USPS customer experience,” adding that the executive’s resignation would be effective June 4. Mr. Potter also noted Mr. Bernstock planned to pursue other interests in the private sector.

The Washington Times reported in January that Mr. Bernstock continued to earn six-figure compensation by serving on outside corporate boards even as he worked full time for the Postal Service. He also came under scrutiny for awarding contracts to firms that employed his former associates.

The Federal Times in January reported on three contracts worth more than $1.3 million for former associates. Both the Federal Times and The Washington Times later reported on another multimillion-dollar contract to a firm that employed a former associate with whom Mr. Bernstock worked at Vlasic. The Postal Service’s inspector general has begun an investigation into the contracts.

Postal officials have defended their handling of the contracts, saying that the Postal Service’s legal staff reviewed and approved the deals and that Mr. Bernstock acted properly. Mr. Potter made no mention of the scrutiny of the contracts in his memo announcing Mr. Bernstock’s departure.

Instead, Mr. Potter credited Mr. Bernstock with helping to increase revenue and a new product that allows customers to buy greeting cards with prepaid envelopes. He also cited Mr. Bernstock’s work on the Postal Service’s marketing campaign “A Simpler Way to Ship.”

“Bob’s work will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the Postal Service and its customers,” Mr. Potter wrote.