The United States Postal Service has sponsored the USPS cycling team since 1996, and Lance Armstrong, who came on board in 1998, gets the USPS logo plastered all over the world's media.
But, according to a draft report by the USPS Office of Inspector General, and obtained by Citizens Against Government Waste, the USPS has "bungled" its sports sponsorship programs.
The CAGW says the USPS has an "abysmal track record of botched marketing initiatives and mismanaged sports sponsorship expenditures."
Leslie Paige, CAGW's director of special projects, said:
Lance Armstrong is a champion and hero to millions of Americans. Each year, he delivers a stirring performance at the Tour De France. Unfortunately, Armstrongs top sponsor, the USPS, is going downhill fast financially and managing to lose millions on its sports sponsorships. Despite a corporate loss of $676 million in 2002, the most recent sponsorship contract with the cycling team reportedly cost the USPS more than $40 million. This does not include the costs associated with sending postal executives and their spouses on junkets to the Tour De France as they have done in the past.
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. Yet, they present no verifiable evidence of this and fail to quantify any impact to the bottom line with any of its sports sponsorships.
"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."
Besides the Posties, USPS sponsors the New York Yankees ($3.7 million), the New York Giants ($1.9 million), the Chicago Bears ($632,500), and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ($630,500).
The Posties cycling team gets the most, and Paige raged:
The USPS is a government-owned monopoly and does not need to spend money on brand advertising. In its current fiscal crisis, it cannot rationalize sponsorships of any kind. Postal officials simply recycle the feel-good mantra that these sponsorships boost the agencys image and make postal employees feel good. If postal officials want to retread their image, they should bow out of the sports sponsorships, redirect those revenues to improving mail delivery, reduce costly overhead, and furnish better customer
service. Lance Armstrong will continue to deliver without USPS sponsorship."
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organisation "dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government."
It was founded in 1984 by the late industrialist J. Peter Grace and newspaper columnist Jack Anderson, and has a claimed one million members and supporters. It was inspired by President Reagan's comment that there should be an agency that would "work like tireless bloodhounds to root out government inefficiency and waste of tax dollars."
CAGW does nit hide the fact it wants the US Postal Service to be abolished because it subsidises the mail.
It has criticised the USPS sponsorship of cycling many times in the past and started circulating a press release knocking Armstrong's team two days ago.
In 2002, David Williams, a policy expert with CAGW said:
I think any organization that is hemorrhaging money should not spend it on frivolous activities."
CAGW's pork barrel slur join the condemnation of journalist Leonard Saffir of Lake Worth Herald, not the biggest of America's newspapers.
He, and the Lake Worth Herald, wants the USPS to stop sponsoring Armstrong because the USPS has not treated some of its former and existing employees to the benefits Saffir says they have earned.
In January, Saffir wrote an open letter to Armstrong:
"I suppose its easier for USPS big wigs to hide their shame by supporting you, the worlds number one cancer survivor. You saw them all in Paris during your Tour De France victories in four star French restaurants and hotels wining and dining themselves, their spouses and direct mail clients, after flying first class, while a 25-year postal veteran lives on $954 a month.
"Your mission, I note, is, Enhancing the quality of life for those living with, through, and beyond cancer. If that truly is your mission and not words of your PR machine, Mr. Armstrong, how can you take millions of dollars from an organization whom, by their actions, believes in just the opposite."
And other provincial newspapers have also disliked USPS spending money on cycling.
In 2002, The Indianapolis Star filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the USPS for budget documentation.
The post office denied the request, John Fritze, said a reporter with the newspaper.