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Washington briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001

Suit: FedEx mail deal would raise costs

WASHINGTON -- A $6.3-billion no-bid contract awarded to FedEx Corp. by the U.S. Postal Service will increase the cost of transporting mail by $443-million to $1.17-billion over the life of the agreement, according to documents filed in a lawsuit by a FedEx competitor. That would translate into higher prices for Postal Service customers and poorer service, the suit alleges.

When it announced the deal in January, the Postal Service justified the absence of competitive bidding by saying the arrangement would save $1-billion and improve efficiency in the air delivery of priority, express and first-class mail.

The deal will be challenged by Emery Worldwide in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Tuesday. Emery, which transports the bulk of Postal Service priority and express mail and would be cut out by FedEx, contends that the no-bid award violates the 1970 law that established the agency.

Speaker sees investigations of pardons drawing to a close

House Speaker Dennis Hastert says the congressional investigation into former President Clinton's last-minute pardons is "winding down," a further signal of waning enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for more probes.

"I think, probably from my point of view, about all that information (that) is going to come out, has come out," Hastert, R-Ill., said in an interview broadcast Saturday on CNN.

"And there are other agencies and prosecutorial groups that could take over if they wish, from that point on. But I think this is kind of winding down on its own," he said.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said, "I'd be inclined to move on," repeating what President Bush has said he wants done.

Currency official placed on leave over missing money

A high-ranking Treasury Department official is on administrative leave pending an investigation into the disappearance of newly printed cash, a department spokesman said Saturday.

The money, reportedly about $30,000, was recovered.

The official involved is Thomas M. Janney, chief of the Office of Currency Production in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, bureau spokesman Larry Felix said. Felix would not say what led the agency to place Janney on leave.

Officials were alerted to a cash discrepancy about five weeks ago, Felix said, and immediately began a search.

"We discovered the money within the halls of the bureau," Felix said.

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