Postal Inspector: Three Of Seven Cities Got Insider Edge On Postal Bid
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Postal Service officials gave inside information to three prospective competitors for a $67 million airmail operation, according to an investigative report obtained by The Associated Press.
Eight months before the Postal Service opened its competition for a Midwest air hub, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, ″were provided with the requirements ... and were kept up to date as the requirements changed,″ according to a report from the Postal Inspector’s office.
″Additionally, Terre Haute, Ind., received the requirements ... three months before the other bidders,″ the report said.
All three cities subsequently became finalists for the air hub contract, expected to be awarded in October.
The other finalists, according to congressional and city sources, are Toledo, Ohio; Peoria, Ill.; Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Ind. The Postal Service has not provided a list of finalists.
Competition has been fierce, and the bidding process was interrupted in April when Rep. Frank McCloskey, D-Ind., chairman of the House Postal Operations subcommittee, held a hearing to expose evidence that confidential information was leaked to Emery Worldwide in Dayton.
The new report was the first indication that Columbus and Terre Haute also got advance information.
The investigative report said the inside information was leaked through the service’s air transportation manager, James Orlando, and an underling, Robert Earlewine, general manager of the transportation office’s planning arm.
Earlewine sent ″potential operational requirements″ to unidentified people at the Dayton and Columbus facilities a day before the same proposal was sent to his Postal Service superiors, the report said.
Postal Service spokeswoman Sandra Stewart said she knew of no disciplinary action as a result of the probe. However, an Emery consultant has been temporarily suspended from doing business with the Postal Service.
The Postal Service is still looking into the case, but ″We don’t believe that this advance information significantly prejudiced other bidders when they received the proposal,″ Stewart said.
″The requirements changed repeatedly during the eight-month period,″ she said. ″Eleven other airports were able to submit very competitive proposals ... which shows there was adequate time for the preparation of proposals after everyone received the complete solicitation.″
The bid process will proceed on schedule, she said.
In Columbus, Jonathan Griffis of the Rickenbacker Development Corp., which received the inside information, declined to discuss the issue. He referred The AP to Lawrence Garrison, director of the Port Authority. Garrison did not return a call seeking Columbus’ perspective.
A spokesman for Consolidated Freight, parent company of Emery, said officials there cooperated with the investigation, and that a statement would be provided later.