Outgoing postmaster general's golden parachute
Updated 10:33 a.m. ET
Postmaster General John E. Potter could earn about $5.5 million in deferred compensation, retirement benefits and accrued annual leave for the rest of his life when he leaves the U.S. Postal Service next month, according to financial statements.
Potter also is eligible for up to two years of outplacement assistance and may continue receiving health-care insurance from USPS for up to one year after his departure. The details of Potter's compensation and separation package were publicly reported this week as part of the Postal Service's financial disclosure obligations under the Sarbanes Oxley Act.
Potter's departure package includes payouts from about $1.3 million earned in a special USPS pension benefit established for him from June 2001 to June 2007. He's also accumulated about $3.06 million in benefits through the Civil Service Retirement System. CSRS payments are made annually and Potter's sum is on par with the earnings of other federal employees who've served for more than 30 years, postal officials said.
Potter has also accumulated about $881,500 in deferred performance-based awards he's accumulated with 5 percent annual interest since joining the USPS executive suite in the 1990s. Finally, Potter is due $243,900 in accrued leave time.
A 2006 postal reform law permitted the Postal Service to compensate top executives with more generous pay and benefits packages to help recruit talented outsiders.
But critics note that Potter and other postal executives are career insiders who have seen their salaries rise through the years despite the Postal Service's poor financial performance.
Postal unions also argue that workers are being unfairly asked to make financial concessions while top executives earn six-figure salaries and retirement payouts.
And yet Potter's compensation and retirement package pales in comparison to similar incentives given to top corporate executives.
United Parcel Service CEO Michael L. Eskew's total compensation package totaled about $6 million in 2007 and FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith earned more than $17 million that year. Former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Lee R. Raymond left with more than $351 million in 2006 and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner earned north of $1 billion in bonuses, salary and stock options during his 21 years at Disney, according to estimates.
RELATED: Post columnist Anne Applebaum asks today: "Why, in this age of multiple courier services, cheap phone calls and e-mail, is the U.S. Postal Service still a government-owned company?"
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| November 16, 2010; 7:40 AM ET
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