Animal costumes. Gingerbread houses. Mock stripteases. What do all these things have in common? They\’re all activities undertaken at staff retreats for employees of the United States Postal Service\’s Office of the Inspector General under Postal IG Karla Corcoran\’s watch, according to whistleblowers.
When gigantic losses were projected for the Postal Service last year, Corcoran hosted a conference where she was suspended on a web of strings, the cost of which was estimated at between $615,000 and $1 million.
Corcoran has been under investigation by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), and the President\’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency since October.
Staff members in the IG\’s office told several senators that they were made to go on "bizarre" staff retreats, where employees were required to dress up as the Village People, participate in mock trials, build gingerbread houses, and perform mock stripteases.
"The Office of the Inspector General at the Post Office exists to monitor the agency for fraud and waste, so it is particularly disturbing that the IG herself has been accused of such egregious abuses," said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist. "Meanwhile, postal rates continue to increase and fund such waste."
Corcoran\’s office also paid between $50,000 and $150,000 to a private law firm, which it claims was for advice on audit standards, but watchdog groups say also paid for help on Corcoran\’s personal issues, including her severance pay and problems with whistleblowers.
"If a private business had the problems of the United States Postal Service," continued Norquist, "people who waste money in this fashion would be the first ones to go."
The President\’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency expects to release its report in the next several months. Meanwhile, two senators and Citizens Against Government Waste, a taxpayer advocacy group, have called for Corcoran\’s dismissal.