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Thomas C.
Democrat DE

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  • Tribute to the Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe

    by Senator Thomas R. Carper

    Posted on 2015-01-13

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    CARPER. Mr. President, I rise today to honor the 73rd Postmaster General of the United States, Patrick ``Pat'' R. Donahoe, upon his retirement, for his leadership, vision and commitment to the U.S. Postal Service, and for his service to our Nation. During his 39-year career, Pat ascended the ranks of the Postal Service and went on to help lead the 239-year-old agency during one of its most challenging periods.

    Pat's career with the agency began in 1975, when he started as trainee on a mail-sorting machine in his native Pittsburgh. In 1976 he was hired as a clerk at the same location, and from there he moved up the ranks and went on to hold several leadership positions. Over the years, he has served as Vice President of Allegheny Operations, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Senior Vice President of Operations, Chief Operating Officer, and Deputy Postmaster General.

    In his role as Chief Operating Officer, he helped the Postal Service navigate back-to-back tragedies and challenges to mail operations following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the use of the mail to transmit anthrax. He also played a key role in the recovery efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

    Before he worked his way up the Postal Service's ranks, Pat graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor of science in economics. During his time with the Postal Service, he earned his master of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management as a Sloan fellow.

    In October 2010, Pat was appointed by his colleagues on the Postal Service Board of Governors to be the Nation's 73rd Postmaster General, PMG. At the time, the outlook for the Postal Service was bleak and its future uncertain. It was hemorrhaging billions of dollars and saw its workforce numbers slashed as it grappled with the rapid transition to electronic communication and the fallout from the great recession in 2009. It was teetering on the edge of collapse, and no one knew how long the Postal Service could hold on. But Pat Donahoe accepted the challenge.

    During his 4-year tenure as Postmaster General, Pat proved himself to be a dedicated public servant, a strong leader, and an innovative chief executive with the willingness to make tough calls and hard decisions. He did what was necessary to help the Postal Service keep its lights on and compete in the age of the Internet. He did a remarkable job using limited resources to keep the Postal Service alive during the second worst financial crisis in its history. With the help of a strong team at Postal Service headquarters and in postal facilities across the country, he sought to keep prices competitive, reduced costs, rightsized the enterprise, and explored a number of innovative and successful business endeavors. His efforts have helped guide the centuries-old agency through a remarkable transition that has better prepared it to compete and remain a linchpin of our economy in the digital age. In fact, his work and his vision have put the Postal Service in a position where, with the right tools and authorities from Congress, it can remain competitive and viable for generations to come.

    Pat Donahoe had a vision for what the Postal Service could become and never stopped working to build on its potential. During his tenure, the Postmaster General helped bring the Postal Service to a place where it could better meet the demands of the 21st-century customers it serves. He reimaged tried-and-true services to make them more user-friendly and more valuable, like flat-rate shipping and priority mail. He created more opportunities to innovate and grow using the Postal Service's unique distribution network by adding services like Sunday package delivery and by exploring innovative partnerships with companies such as Amazon, FedEx, and UPS.

    As someone who has watched the Postal Service both soar and struggle, Pat provided guidance and leadership during tremendously challenging times. Despite the significant financial and legislative restraints that face the Postal Service today, the Postmaster General kept the Postal Service on a course that would enable it to deliver on the high expectations set by the American public.

    The PMG has also been a strong voice for the agency and an important partner to Congress during our efforts to pass comprehensive postal reform in the 112th and 113th Congress. He has [[Page S199]] worked tirelessly on behalf of the Postal Service's customers, employees, stakeholders, and the 7 to 8 million people whose jobs depend on a healthy and robust Postal Service.

    As I worked with my former partner on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Dr. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, in developing comprehensive postal reform legislation, Pat and his staff were indispensable. We could always rely on the PMG and his team to come with little notice to a meeting in the Capitol or to join a late- night or weekend conference call.

    As he would probably admit, Pat also took plenty of abuse from some of my colleagues here in Congress, from the press, and from the public. He knew that some of the initiatives he put into place during his tenure as Postmaster General would be unpopular but stuck to his guns because he thought it was the right thing to do. Even in recent days, he has continued to press for what he knows is right and what he knows will sustain the Postal Service in the years to come.

    Pat Donahoe has graciously shared decades of his life with the Postal Service and has served the American people well. I sincerely thank him for his dedication, and I deeply appreciate his tireless efforts to help the Postal Service and our country. While Pat is retiring from the Postal Service, his legacy will carry on, and the changes he made will continue to serve the Postal Service and its customers. I wish Pat, his wife Janet, their two sons, and their granddaughters Charlotte and Lucy all the best in the years to come. As we say in the Navy when people complete an especially difficult assignment and sail off into the sunrise, ``Fair winds and a following sea.'' ____________________

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