Potter to Retire as U.S. Postmaster General, Succeeded by Deputy

U.S. Postmaster General John Potter, who rose from mail clerk in the Bronx, New York, to lead the Postal Service, said he will retire in December after 32 years at the agency.

Potter, 55, who is seeking to raise mail rates and eliminate Saturday delivery to return the agency to profitability, announced his retirement yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Patrick R. Donahoe, the deputy postmaster general and chief operating officer, will succeed Potter, the Washington- based agency said in the statement.

The Postal Service had a $6 billion loss in the year that ended Sept. 30 and projected a deficit of $238 billion through 2020 as fewer items are mailed. Potter has fought to retain as much mail volume as possible after the recession led more people to pay bills, order products and communicate with businesses using the Internet.

Potter, who took over the agency in 2001 four months before anthrax-laced letters sent through the mail killed two postal workers, praised his employees.

“I fully appreciate their support in maintaining the tradition of trust that dates back to Benjamin Franklin and the founding of our nation,” Potter said in the statement. “It is our people that define our organization and it is their dedication and sense of purpose that drives our business.”

The Postal Service last week appealed to a federal court a decision by the Postal Regulatory Commission denying a rate increase that exceeds inflation.

During Potter’s tenure, Postal Service employment fell 26 percent to about 584,000, chiefly through attrition.

Donahoe, who started in 1975 as a clerk in Pittsburgh, has been Potter’s deputy since 2005. As chief operations officer, he is responsible for the agency’s 33,000 facilities and 219,000 vehicles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

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