USPS' Porras Retires Amid Controversy

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M. Richard Porras, the chief financial officer of the U.S. Postal Service, retired Friday after a report sharply criticized the fact that the agency spent $248,000 dollars last year in relocation expenses paid to him and USPS controller John Ward, both of whom moved less than 50 miles away from USPS headquarters and continued working there.

In a statement, Postmaster General William J. Henderson said that Porras, "after 37 years of dedicated public service, will retire to pursue opportunities in the private sector. He stated that the [USPS] has a number of challenges it must address without any unnecessary distractions."

Earlier this month, a news report surfaced that found the USPS spent $142,311 to move Porras further from USPS headquarters, but closer to Dulles International Airport and to Potomac, where the USPS operates a training academy. Ward moved 30-miles -- at a cost of $105,817 -- that puts him three miles from USPS headquarters and cutting his commute to five minutes. The relocation costs allowed the two executives to pocket $25,000 each as a "miscellaneous allowance."

On April 20th the USPS' Office of Inspector General issued a report -- made at the request of the chairman of the House subcommittee on the postal service and the USPS' Board of Governors -- that found the payments exceeded those offered by private industry, were not approved by the postal board of governors and ``could be perceived as a way to circumvent the statutory limits on compensation."

Under existing rules, the USPS' "relocation benefit" usually goes to executives given new duty assignments that require a household move of at least 50 miles. But in these two cases the USPS -- and PMG Henderson -- approved exceptions to the rule because the agency wanted to make sure Porras and Ward would not leave the agency for better-paying jobs in a good economy, Henderson argued.

He also said that "effective immediately, no deviations from our relocation policy will be granted when the move does not involve a change in the work location.''

Porras reportedly would not say what prompted his sudden decision to leave his $151,800-a-year job. He said he would stay on until a successor is named.

Porras joined the USPS in 1967 and worked his way up through the ranks serving in various positions in California, Tennessee and New Jersey before he was named USPS Controller in 1986.

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