USPS Names New Officials

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The U.S. Postal Service named two people to top positions this week to ease tension over its recent relocation flap.

Richard J. Strasser was named acting chief financial officer and executive vice president. Donna M. Peak will serve as acting vice president of finance and controller.

Former controller John Ward will return to the marketing department and will assume the duties and responsibilities of vice president, core business marketing.

Ward was involved in a recent controversy prompted by a report that found the postal service spent $248,000 last year to relocate Ward and chief financial officer M. Richard Porras. Both men moved less than 50 miles from USPS headquarters and continued working there. The relocation benefit usually goes to executives given new assignments that require a household move of at least 50 miles. Porras abruptly retired last month, and rumors began circulating that Ward might do the same.

The postal service's Board of Governors, embarrassed by the relocation payment, also announced at a closed-door meeting last week that the postmaster general's power to grant relocation benefits to top postal officers has been taken away. Chairman Einar V. Dyhrkopp announced the policy change, saying the payments "in this circumstance were not in the best interests of the U.S. Postal Service." The board voted to change its bylaws to assume control of the relocation benefit process and "will undertake a review of all officer incentive plans, including compensation and other benefits."

At last week's meeting, the governors heard a presentation by Julie Rios, manager of information systems and expedited/package services, discussing the agency's Delivery Confirmation Service and a soon-to-be-available Delivery Confirmation "signature" service, which will store recipient signatures electronically to validate delivery. Customers will be able to request a copy of the signature, and the information will be faxed or mailed to them directly. As for delivery confirmation in general, Rios said 318,000 hand-held scanners were installed at 36,000 delivery locations in 10 months.

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