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USPS marketing executive to resign; IG investigation ongoing

May. 12, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Officials said May 12 that the Postal Service's top marketing executive, Robert Bernstock, will resign June 4. Above, Bernstock addresses questions during a Postal Service forum.
Officials said May 12 that the Postal Service's top marketing executive, Robert Bernstock, will resign June 4. Above, Bernstock addresses questions during a Postal Service forum. (Sheila Vemmer / Staff file photo)

The U.S. Postal Service's top marketing executive, who is under investigation for awarding nearly $5.9 million in controversial no-bid contracts to his former business associates, will resign June 4.

Postmaster General John Potter said in a statement Wednesday that Mailing and Shipping Services President Robert Bernstock will leave to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Bernstock joined the Postal Service in June 2008.

Postal Service Inspector General David Williams is investigating Bernstock's role in steering millions of dollars in consultancy and website modernization contracts to people he worked with in the private sector. Federal Times reported in January that Bernstock had http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20100110/DEPARTMENTS02/1100304/1018/DEPARTMENTS" target="_blank">directed more than $1.3 million in sole-source contracts to consultants Richard Sorota, Lynne Alvarez and Kimberly Wolfson. Bernstock had worked with all of them previously when he was an executive at Scotts Miracle-Gro, Vlasic and Nutrisystem.

In March, Federal Times reported that Bernstock had also http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20100318/DEPARTMENTS02/3180301/1034/IT04" target="_blank">directed a $4.5 million contract to Tatum LLC. The Tatum executive who is managing the company's work with the Postal Service, Elizabeth Shuttleworth, worked with Bernstock at Scotts Miracle-Gro and Vlasic.

The Postal Service acknowledged that Bernstock directed the contracts to those four people because he was familiar with them and how they worked. But postal officials said Bernstock broke no rules and said the general counsel's office found no wrongdoing.

Contracting experts and open government advocates contacted by Federal Times said, however, the contracts were concerning and had the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In late March, the Postal Service said it would not renew Sorota's $412,500 contract and Alvarez's $600,000 contract, and would openly recompete them.

IG spokesman Wally Olihovik said the IG's investigation is ongoing and will be finished in early summer.

Potter credited Bernstock with creating new pricing incentives and marketing campaigns that helped grow mail volume and revenue, redesigning the agency's website, and launching the first Postal Service mobile device applications earlier this year.

"Bob's work will have long-lasting, positive impact on the Postal Service and its customers," Potter said.

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