Postal Service ends contracts tied to top official
The U.S. Postal Service confirmed Friday it will not renew two no-bid contracts awarded to former colleagues of a top official.
The Federal Times first reported that Mailing and Shipping Services Director Robert Bernstock has awarded almost $5.9 million in noncompetitive contracts to former business associates since he joined the mail agency in 2008. The deals went to consultants Richard Sorota, Lynne Alvarez and Elizabeth Shuttleworth, who worked with Bernstock at Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. and Vlasic Foods.
The Postal Service said it will not renew a $412,500 contract with Sorota when it ends on March 30 and a $600,000 contract with Alvarez when it expires May 17, said Postal Service spokesman Gerald McKiernan. The Sorota contract has already been put out for new bids and the Alvarez deal will be up for bids in the next two weeks, he said.
McKiernan defended the deals, saying Bernstock hired the outsiders to "jump-start" the process of reviving the Postal Service's marketing efforts.
Officials have not decided whether to renew a $4 million consulting deal with Shuttleworth's employer, Tatum LLC, set to expire in September, McKiernan said. The company is working with two other firms on a three-year, $147 million contract to help upgrade the Postal Service's online and telephone operations.
In addition to approving no-bid deals, the Washington Times has reported, Bernstock earned more than $270,000 in cash and other compensation in 2008 by serving on the boards of two private companies.
The Bernstock news could spoil the Postal Service's ongoing efforts to earn congressional and regulator approval for changes that would end Saturday mail delivery and potentially close thousands of post offices. Rank and file workers and union officials believe the mail agency should focus on cutting district and regional managers and reducing the salaries of top executives.
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| March 26, 2010; 10:52 AM ET
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