- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

Two Democratic senators are demanding that the inspector general of the Postal Service, whose job is to find and stop wasteful spending, be fired because of accusations that she has misallocated millions of dollars in her own office.As first reported by The Washington Times in December, Karla W. Corcoran has been under investigation by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, and the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency since October.Mr. Grassley’s office has collected reams of evidence and testimony on Mrs. Corcoran that charges she has wasted millions of dollars, employs cronyism in hiring and verbally abuses employees who don’t buy into her “values-based” management style.Whistleblowers, both current and former staffers in Mrs. Corcoran’s office, told Sens. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, and Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, that they were made to go on “bizarre” staff retreats at which employees were required to dress as the Village People, wear animal costumes, build gingerbread houses, do a mock striptease and participate in mock trials.”This is outrageous behavior,” Mr. Dorgan said yesterday in a written statement. “When people buy postage stamps, they expect that money is to be used to move the mail, not be wasted on exercises that have employees dressed in animal costumes.”The two senators wrote a letter to the chairman of the Postal Services Board of Governors, S. David Fineman, asking for Mrs. Corcoran to be fired.”While these stories are hard to believe at first, there is abundant evidence to support the whistleblowers’ accounts,” they said in their letter, released to the press yesterday.Mrs. Corcoran, in a statement released by her public relations firm of Madden Communications & Marketing, said she was “stunned” by the senators’ letter and has “nothing to hide.”“Their letter [to Mr. Fineman] is riddled with misleading facts and unfair accusations,” Mrs. Corcoran said . “I have no plans to resign, and 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.”Mr. Grassley and his staff have led a lonely congressional investigation of Mrs. Corcoran and find it curious that interest has suddenly been sparked from other senators.”I’m frankly surprised,” said a Republican committee staffer. “I’m not sure why Dorgan and Wyden are coming out on this, calling for the inspector general’s head.”Mr. Grassley would not yet join his colleagues’ call for Mrs. Corcoran’s resignation.”Senator Grassley feels that it’s important to thoroughly investigate someone and let any pending investigations be completed before taking the step of calling for someone’s resignation,” said Grassley spokeswoman Jill Gerber. “Of course, other senators have the right to do what they see as the correct course of action.”Mr. Grassley demanded answers in January to 24 lengthy and detailed questions about the management style of Mrs. Corcoran. In return, the inspector general’s office dropped off 600 pages of documents that Mr. Grassley’s office considered largely nonresponsive.”It is the illusion of cooperation,” said the Republican committee staffer. “There’s no substance to it. Talking to her lawyers is not what cooperation looks like.”Mr. Grassley has kept the Postal Service’s Board of Governors updated on the progress of his investigation during the past several weeks. A letter dated March 24 said he was “disappointed that Ms. Corcoran’s response [to his questions were] in large part evasive, incomplete, substantially inaccurate, and/or simply misleading,” and “calls into question her overall judgment.”That prompted Mr. Fineman to send Mrs. Corcoran a letter stating that he found the “allegations in Senator Grassley’s letter to be extremely disturbing.”Former employees of the Postal Service’s IG office have charged that those who don’t adhere to the “values” promulgated by Mrs. Corcoran were subject to verbal abuse, intimidation and transfers to far-flung offices.Mrs. Corcoran has consistently denied all the accusations and defends her management style as innovative. “I’m a passionate person, but I don’t hold grudges,” Mrs. Corcoran said in an interview in December, explaining that anyone who feels intimidated is misreading her intentions. “I honestly wish I had another personality, but it’s just not me.”The Postal Service’s Board of Governors meets Monday in Chicago and is expected to discuss the accusations against Mrs. Corcoran. The President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency is expected to release a report of its investigation of the Postal Service’s IG office in the next two months.

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