New postmaster general wants lines to move faster

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Postal clerks will stop holding up the line with all those questions when you mail something.

Some questions will still be needed for security reasons, but clerks no longer have to run through a litany of whether each customer wants a return receipt or insurance or other special services.

It was like “Do you want fries that that?” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said Friday, and it wasted time and slowed lines.

“Lines at post offices are a major issue for me,” Donahoe said at a briefing before being sworn in as the nation’s 73rd postmaster general.

While Friday marked the formal ceremony, he has actually been in charge since last month.

Donahoe said another step to easing the lines is encouraging people to do more postal business away from post offices, such as buying stamps online or at retailers.

Already, he said, about 35 percent of retail postal business is conducted outside of the agency’s official offices.

Donahoe took command of an agency struggling to cope with the double whammy of the recession and business lost to the Internet. It was $8 billion in the red last year despite cutting its workforce by 100,000 over the last three years.

Reductions will continue, said Donahoe, who is currently planning to cut 7,500 administrators and supervisors, or about 20 percent of the administrative staff.

The briefing came a day after the post office announced that it will increase most rates on April 17, though the 44-cent price of a first-class stamp will not change.

On other topics, Donahoe:

— Reported that the post office has overpaid $6.9 billion into the Federal Employees Retirement System and hopes that some of that can be used to offset a $5.5 billion contribution to retiree health benefits that is due at the end of the year.

— Announced that the post office has signed an agreement to expand its deliveries for eBay, the online sales center. It will mean a doubling of the post office’s current $700 million in business with the company, he said.

— Said top postal managers will be launching a campaign to visit the top 100 advertisers that don’t currently use the mail.

— Confirmed that all future commemorative stamps will be forever stamps, meaning they remain valid for first-class postage regardless of future rate increases. People shouldn’t have to come in and stand in line for 2-cent stamps to cover price increases, he said: “The aggravation is just not worth it.”





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