The Postal Service's sole-source contracts with associates of former executive Robert F. Bernstock had the tacit approval of Postmaster General Jack Potter, according to documents published last night.
"Potter stated he was aware of Bernstock bringing in outside contractors to the Postal Service 'almost from the start because he needed to get an infusion of new thinking and talent as quickly as possible,'" says an investigators' report of a Feb. 4 interview with Potter. "Bernstock informed Potter 'he was considering using people he was aware of as consultants, who he personally knew.'"
The report and related documents from the USPS Office of Inspector General were made public last night by The Washington Times as part of its ongoing investigation into Bernstock's brief and controversial stint as head of marketing for USPS. The Times article published last night focuses on discrepancies among the accounts given by Potter and other key officials regarding Bernstock's outside work.
"Potter advised Bernstock 'the bottom line was to follow the Postal Service procurement rules, have lawyers review the contracts, and do not circumvent the Postal Service rules and regulations,'" the OIG report said.
"Regarding whether Bernstock hired friends as contractors, Potter thinks the term 'friends' is too strong of a word. He said, "'Of course Bernstock is going to go back to his pool of resources, like former colleagues, people he worked with and thought had good skill sets.'
"Potter said it is normal for 'some people to trail each other their whole career.' He believes Bernstock reached out to people with the skills he needed and does not have a problem with Bernstock hiring former colleagues."
Potter also said some of the contracts were turning out to be excellent deals for the Postal Service because it would have cost far more to use either USPS employees or traditional contractors like McKinsey to accomplish the tasks.