by: Scott MacFarlane Updated:WASHINGTON —
The United States Postal Service says it is losing billions of dollars and planning to end most Saturday delivery of your mail.
But Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane has learned the agency is spending $2 million to send its top executives to a pricey conference in San Francisco.
MacFarlane has obtained the agenda for the conference which calls for not only workshops and meetings, but also a golf outing, a dance party and a dinner event.
Government watchdog groups and the Postal Service disagree over whether it's worth the money.
The National Postal Forum conference is set to take place in March. It begins with a golf outing at Harding Park in San Francisco.
The four-day conference will draw 4,000 people to the city’s Moscone Center
Some 400 of the attendees will be staffers of the U.S. Postal Service, including the Postmaster General.
Documents obtained by MacFarlane show the event will cost the agency approximately $2.2 million, including travel and $220,000 for exhibit space.
The advertised hotels, before government discount, will cost nearly $300 a night.
Internal Postal Service documents show the event also includes a “Taste of San Francisco” banquet at a hotel featuring the foods of Fisherman's Wharf and China Town.
"They need to be concerned about the optics of this. They need to be concerned about ratcheting back some of what could be perceived as luxurious activities," said Leslie Paige with Citizens Against Government Waste.
The post office is already under fire in Washington for plans to scrap some Saturday mail service and for continuing to hemorrhage money.
But, the agency says the conference in San Francisco will make money, create future business and bring new sales leads.
The other attendees at the conference include giants in the shipping world.
The Postal Service says its execs would have to pay their own fees for the golfing and will shoulder other costs.
But Citizens Against Government Waste says the agency shouldn't spend cash to fly its execs into town for the golf or the treats.
One postal worker tweeted to MacFarlane, calling the trip a "grotesque waste of money." Others suggest videoconferencing to save on travel expenses.
But the Postal Service, nearing insolvency, says in this instance they'll actually make more than they spend.
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