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Postmaster General Donahoe to end 39-year career that began in Western Pa.

The Associated Press
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Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe started working for the Postal Sevice as a clerk in Pittsburgh and earned a degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

WASHINGTON — America’s new postmaster general will confront the same daunting problems as the man she will succeed: budget losses in the billions and battles with Congress over cost-cutting.

The Postal Service’s Board of Governors on Friday named Megan Brennan, the agency’s chief operating officer, to the top post in early 2015 when Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, a Bethel Park native, steps down.

She will become the first woman to head the agency. Brennan called the promotion “the honor of a lifetime, especially for one who comes from a postal family.”

Donahoe announced his retirement “39 years ago to the day” after he started his career as a 20-year-old postal clerk in Pittsburgh. “So it’s probably time to step aside,” he said.

Donahoe, who earned an economics degree from Pitt and maintains a home in Bethel Park, took over during a financial crisis and oversaw a restructuring of the agency as it sought to deal with sharp declines in the volume of first-class mail.

He found himself frequently at odds with Congress and the nation’s postal unions amid ongoing battles over cost-cutting moves, including ending Saturday delivery.

“Pat was the calm in the financial storm. He ignored the naysayers and went forward with his team and built a comprehensive plan,” said Mickey D. Barnett, chairman of the Board of Postal Governors.

“Working for a brand that touches every citizen of this great country every day has been a tremendous honor,” Donahoe said. “We are much leaner, much more technologically-centric than we were a few short years ago. We still have a long way to go.”

The agency reported a $569 million revenue increase in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, but an overall loss for the year of $5.5 billion. The heavy losses are a result of a congressionally mandated $5.6 billion annual payment for future retiree health benefits.

Postal worker unions welcomed the change of command.

“We hope that the next postmaster general will reverse Donahoe’s policies of lowering standards, reducing hours, outsourcing work and diminishing a great American institution,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.

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