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Postal Service names new chief information officer

The new postmaster general has replaced the agency's chief information officer, Ross Philo, with Ellis Burgoyne, a former mail delivery manager, as part of an effort to boost profits and expedite shipments.

The switch is one of several managerial changes that Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced on Wednesday, including the appointment of a new chief operating officer.

Philo had been responsible for overseeing one of the world's largest intranets, which links processing and distribution centers, bulk mail centers, priority mail processing centers, airmail facilities and post offices across the country with area offices and the Washington headquarters. He hailed from the private sector, having once served as CIO of energy company Halliburton and as a director at Cisco Systems Inc.

Questions have been raised about Burgoyne's ability to operate one of the largest technology networks worldwide, given his lack of IT experience. In addition to the mammoth intranet, the agency's IT assets include applications that control payroll for one of the nation's largest workforces and millions of payments to suppliers.

Previously Burgoyne served as vice president of operations for the Southwest Area, where he was in charge of mail processing and distribution, as well as customer service and administrative operations. He began his postal career in 1978 as a letter carrier in California.

According to Wednesday's announcement, Burgoyne will supervise all systems and data management to rapidly offer new products and meet customers' changing needs. USPS spokeswoman Joanne Veto on Friday said the CIO in the new organization will be responsible for making sure that the information available through systems and databases across the organization is available, accessible, relevant, useful and used.

"This position is purposefully designed to work across all business units and departments to record and share information for strategic, revenue and organizational purposes," she added. "To that end, Mr. Burgoyne has a superior track record of cross-functional success; possesses the requisite leadership skills; knows how to effectively communicate goals, programs and services.

Philo will accept another assignment within the agency that will allow the Postal Service to tap his expertise and knowledge of systems and technology, according to Veto. The position has not been announced yet.

In late October, the agency's regulator criticized USPS for delays in embracing innovations used by competitors, such as the intelligent mail barcode, a FedEx-like tracking system that can identify each parcel as it moves through the processing pipeline and measure the amount of time it takes to pass through.

The Postal Service's annual 10-K report noted that IT is a risk factor that could influence future financial results. "We have a number of systems that are nearing the end of their useful lives," the report stated. "Any significant systems failure could cause delays in the processing and delivering of mail or result in the inability to process operational and financial data. This could damage our reputation, result in loss of business and increase costs."

Union representatives declined to comment.

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