Watchdog Group Slams USPS for Sports Sponsorships

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The U.S. Postal Service spends far too much on sports sponsorships and has a "track record of botched marketing initiatives and mismanaged sports sponsorship expenditures," Citizens Against Government Waste charged last week.

The group's charges were prompted by a report from the postal service's Office of Inspector General published in March. Though the postal service does not make public the cost of sponsorships, CAGW said it reviewed an uncensored draft of the report that pegged spending on 11 sports sponsorships from 1996 to 2002 at $48 million.

A reported $40 million of that was spent on a sponsorship of the U.S. Cycling Team, CAGW said.

"Postal officials routinely pedal the line that sponsorship of the cycling team raises 'brand awareness' in Europe and results in $19 million in revenue annually," said Leslie K. Paige, CAGW director of special projects. "Yet, they present no verifiable evidence of this and, according to the IG report, fail to quantify any impact to the bottom line with any of its sports sponsorships."

Paige said "international sales account for only 2.6 percent of the USPS' total revenue, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the USPS' performance in the international arena is substandard. Congress, the presidential reform commission and the USPS Board of Governors ought to put the brakes on these wasteful expenditures."

The Inspector General's report included charges that the USPS had not effectively managed its sponsorships, was unable to verify revenue from them, lacked goals and objectives for some sponsorships and did not track use of tickets to events.

In a response issued when the report was introduced, USPS chief marketing officer Anita Bizzotto said the agency agreed with some of the inspector's recommendations and that it is tightening record keeping to better track costs associated with the sponsorships. In addition, she said, no new sponsorships would be undertaken without full review.

Bizzotto also said the report contained inaccuracies. For example, she said, it stated that the USPS had a sponsorship with DM Days in 2001. Bizzotto said that was false. She also said the USPS considers such sponsorships to be completely different from sports sponsorships.

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