The Chief Mailman Keeps His Route

THE TRIP TO THE dead-letter bin is off for Postmaster General Marvin Runyon. Last year, as the Postal Service suffered a $914 million deficit and many delivery screwups, there was talk its board of governors would fire Runyon. When the board meets on May 1, however, most of the members will be behind him.

How did Runyon survive? Partly by fixing a lot of delivery snags. First-class and overnight mail, while hardly perfect, are more prompt, a Price Waterhouse study says. Also, January's rate hike will produce an estimated $210 million surplus this year.

Another factor: The board has tightened its grip on Runyon. Some governors felt he didn't consult with them enough before going public. Example: In January, he made a speech calling for changing postal laws. So Chairman Sam Winters told him to clear such speeches with the board. Some also felt Runyon's aides kept bad news from them. In February, the board voted to require its O.K. on senior managers' salaries. Runyon's spokesman calls the procedural changes minor and says Runyon has kept the board fully informed. Presumably, not by mail.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.