Departing postmaster general slams banking duties proposal

AP News
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Posted: Jan 06, 2015 3:42 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Retiring Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe scoffed Tuesday at suggestions that the Postal Service could ease some of its chronic financial woes by branching out and offering basic banking services to its customers.

"Our role is delivery," not making financial services available, he told reporters.

The banking proposal came from the office of inspector general within the Postal Service itself, and has gained considerable attention, including the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a member of the Senate Banking Committee. Supporters say such services could include prepaid debit cards, check cashing or savings accounts.

Donahoe will retire Feb. 1 after almost 40 years with the service. Megan J. Brennan, now the chief operating officer of the Postal Service, will take over, becoming the first female postmaster general.

Donahoe made a parting plea to Congress to give the Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars, "the additional flexibility it needs to deal with some of our bigger structural issues."

He briefly discussed last November's cyberattack that compromised the data of more than 800,000 Postal Service workers.

Donahoe said the Postal Service is now using "a lot of cyber protection" not yet on the market.

"Basically, they want us to build a wall and a moat, but sometimes hackers get in anyway," he said.

"I can't say much more without breaking the law," he added.

While in the top job, Donahoe has frequently clashed with postal unions.

"He's closing plants, he's slowing down services. And he's engaged in new schemes to push work into the private sector, turning living-wage jobs into low-wage jobs and so on. So, we are glad to see that he's going," said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). "We hope that his successor, Megan Brennan, will reverse his destructive policies of attacking the service and attacking the workers."

In his defense, Donahoe told reporters, he had tried "developing a strong, long-term strategy, ignoring the naysayers and following through."

"If we hadn't pressed so hard and moved as quickly as we did, especially on the cost side of the equation, I have no doubt we would have run off the cliff by now. Had we done nothing, Congress would likely be bailing us out to the tune of billions of dollars annually," he said.

He said 2014 "was our best of the past six years," one in which instead of losing money, the Postal Service earned a profit of $1.4 billion. "We've also accumulated $6 billion in cash, which gives us some flexibility to make long-overdue investments."

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