Fort Worth Post Office is scrutinized in Postal Service inquiry

The Fort Worth postmaster is on paid administrative leave while the watchdog arm of the U.S. Postal Service investigates the office, several sources said.

The inspector general is investigating possible problems with the recording of mail volume, which can be a key driver of budgeting and efficiency measures, officials said.

Fort Worth Postmaster Leslie C. "Les" Phipps, who was placed on leave Sept. 24, said the matter should easily be resolved. At issue, he said, is the transposition of two dates from August regarding an "event" that happened about eight weeks ago.

"On any kind of official document, those dates became serious," he said. "But nobody knew they had transposed the dates until I saw this data a week ago Monday."

Carolyn Weisiger, Fort Worth postmaster from 2007 to 2008, said a misstatement of mail volume could result in a budget that might "shortchange somebody else.

"Basically, it all boils down to how many hours are allocated for a special operation. If the mail volume is not counted correctly, then the district cannot establish a budget, and they cannot verify whether that operation is being efficient."

Kenny Smith, a special agent for the Postal Service's inspector general, confirmed an ongoing investigation but would not say whether it involved mail volume.

Phipps said he continues to work on post office projects while on leave and hopes to have the matter cleared up as soon as he meets with the district manager.

"At the time that they put me on administrative leave, nobody knew those dates were transposed," he said.

He said he is waiting for the opportunity to talk with the district manager and clear up the matter.

"When I show him a mistake that was made ... they might say I should have caught that. I'm going to say, 'Hey, that wasn't my responsibility; you had all kinds of other manager levels [look at the data] before it ever gets to me.'"

The Fort Worth Post Office generates more than $94 million annually in total operating revenue, said Sam Bolen, a spokesman for the Postal Service. He declined to comment on any investigation.

Phipps leads roughly 1,100 employees and more than two dozen post offices and branches. He is Fort Worth's 36th postmaster, a position he took in December. He began his career in Fort Worth as a letter sorting machine clerk in 1974.

The Postal Service appointed Yulonda J. Francis-Love, the Mesquite postmaster, as officer in charge of the Fort Worth office on Sept. 25.

Darren Barbee,