The U.S. Postal Service has replaced its top manager in the Philadelphia area after recent news reports criticized operations and mail delivery.

Frank Neri, district manager of the Philadelphia metropolitan area, was replaced on Friday with Jim Gallagher, a veteran manager in Philadelphia, said Paul Smith, a district spokesman for the Postal Service.

Smith said Neri, a Philadelphia native who has spent more than 30 years with the Postal Service, would be transferred to its headquarters in Washington.

Noting that Neri has a background in engineering, Smith said, "I believe he's going to be working on a national project that caters to his skill set."

The Philadelphia Daily News reported in two articles last week about delayed and missing mail at Philadelphia-area post offices.

The articles alleged that to reduce the hours of letter carriers, overtime and mail-volume records were falsified. The Daily News reported that mail was delayed for days, particularly bulk-rate mail that often includes time-sensitive advertisments.

Smith said he did not think Neri's reassignment was related to the articles.

"Managers can be routinely reassigned. I think it's unfair to say the Daily News articles resulted in his removal," Smith said.

He said mail delivery in the Philadelphia area had "improved dramatically over the years. We know how to move the mail."

Smith said an independent assessment found that 96 percent of all mail in the Philadelphia area was delivered within 24 hours of receipt by the Postal Service.

The Postal Service has been contacting people who complained in the news articles about service and has conducted a recent teleconference with business and industry leaders in the region.

Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.