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March 5, 2009

Post Office Mansion?

Posted: 12:21 PM ET

We received a tip about the United States Postal Service buying a $1.2 million mansion from a former postmaster in Lexington, South Carolina, who voluntarily relocated to Carrolton, Texas for a job as a customer service manager. Right away we wanted to know more.

abbie

The same day we got that tip, CNN aired a story about Postmaster General John Potter getting job perks, and receiving a salary that some critics say is far too high.

In January, Potter testified to Congress that the Postal Service was experiencing a "severe financial crisis," and needed help with its finances. At the hearing, Potter said he had cut travel, and frozen executive salaries.

The Postmaster told members of Congress he feared USPS would suffer a $6 billion deficit for this fiscal year, and he was even recommending a cutback in the number of days USPS would deliver mail.

Despite all of this, it wasn’t until last week that the Postal Service said it would set a new limit on how much it would spend on houses purchased in its relocation packages.

In the past, there were no limits. In one case, the USPS paid $2.8 million for a home.

If you compare this home purchase policy with those of various government agencies, you can see just how generous it really is. For example, the Food and Drug Administration has a $330,000 cap for home purchases when an employee is relocated. The Department of Homeland Security tells CNN it would rarely pay to move an employee, but if it did, the total cost would not exceed 25 percent of his or her salary.

I wonder what we would find out if we compared the way USPS home purchasing and relocation policies compare to the relocation packages of Fortune 500 companies.

With the economy in a recession, and the housing market struggling, do you think USPS should buy million dollar mansions, while at the same time, increase the cost of stamps, and cutback on delivery days? Would your company buy your home in a market like this? I bet you wish it would.

Filed under: Abbie Boudreau • Special Investigations Unit


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