WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) called on U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Megan Brennan to take immediate action to remedy a significant lack of training requirements that led to inaccurate Postal Service reporting of an estimated two billion pieces of delayed mail over the course of one year, according to a recent USPS Inspector General audit report.
According to the OIG report, the unreported delays cost customers and businesses valuable time, and as a result, the Postal Service put an estimated $85.1 million in revenue at risk. Heitkamp and McCaskill have both long been working on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which oversees issues related to the Postal Service, on ways to improve and make the agency more reliable and profitable. Together, Heitkamp and McCaskill urged Brennan to quickly develop and implement formal training requirements for managers at Processing and Distribution Centers, where issues with mail delays and reporting of such delays often originate.
“The Postal Service is integral to rural communities and our way of doing business – but when an estimated two billion pieces of mail were delayed over the course of a year, that lack of accountability is hurting the ability of Americans who depend on the Postal Service over the long term. We need to change that – and we need immediate results,” said Heitkamp. “For years, I’ve been working to address mail service challenges in North Dakota by hearing from hundreds of North Dakotans firsthand through my Fix My Mail initiative. And it’s why I’ll keep working to address those challenges to restore exemplary service and accountability at the Postal Service, just as we’re pushing for, so rural America can count on the Postal Service for generations to come.”
Click here to read Heitkamp and McCaskill’s letter to Postmaster General Brennan.
Both senators noted how severe delays have impacted Postal Service customers in their home states of North Dakota and Missouri, citing numerous photographic examples of mail sitting in bins waiting to be delivered in Missouri, as well as mail reliability challenges Heitkamp has heard about in hundreds of first-hand accounts from North Dakota community members and businesses that responded to her Fix My Mail initiative. In addition to raising reporting challenges to Postal Service, both Heitkamp and McCaskill are working toward comprehensive solutions to improve and strengthen the Postal Service’s delivery and service across the country, particularly in rural areas.
Since launching her Fix My Mail initiative in 2014 which gathered hundreds of stories from North Dakotans about problems with mail delivery and service, Heitkamp has been working to hold the Postal Service accountable for improving mail delivery and service for rural communities. She also created Fix My Mail survey in 2016 to gather more feedback from North Dakotans, which received 630 responses about delivery and service challenges. In May, Heitkamp followed up with Postmaster General Megan Brennan about what the Postal Service is doing to improve mail delivery throughout the country, especially in rural communities in North Dakota.
Long an advocate for improved mail delivery in North Dakota, Heitkamp’s efforts began shortly after taking office in 2013 when she heard from North Dakotans about ongoing problems with mail service.
Heitkamp’s work to improve mail delivery and service issues includes:
- Resolving chronic mail issues in South Fargo and in Halliday. In January 2016, Heitkamp pressed Brennan on severe mail issues in South Fargo. After reviewing the performance, the Postal Service brought in a carrier with 30 years of experience. At Heitkamp’s urging, the Postal Service announced in January it would reopen the Halliday post office. Since the day the Halliday post office’s was closed and on a near-daily basis thereafter, Heitkamp and her office pressed Postmaster General Brennan and the Postal Service to take urgent and concrete steps to protect mail service to the community.
- Bringing Postmaster General to North Dakota. After sharing her Fix My Mail survey results with Brennan, Heitkamp invited the Postmaster General to visit North Dakota so she could see for herself the mail challenges that exist at processing facilities and to hear directly from community members and businesses about the solutions needed to improve their mail delivery and service over the long term. Brennan accepted Heitkamp’s invitation and in August 2016 visited a Bismarck mail processing facility and a Mandan post office with Heitkamp, and spoke directly with North Dakotans in Bismarck about the chronic challenges they face in accessing reliable mail service.
- Shedding light on longstanding mail issues across North Dakota. As part of her Fix My Mail initiative, Heitkamp requested a review of the state’s mail delivery service challenges, which prompted a Postal Service Office of Inspector General formal report on North Dakota’s severe mail service problems.
- Gathering feedback from North Dakotans to hold the Postal Service accountable and achieve results. Since Heitkamp launched her Fix My Mail survey in February 2016, she has received nearly 630 responses from North Dakotans about specific mail delivery challenges – the vast majority of which contained personal stories about the issues they had experienced. Heitkamp relayed these challenges to Brennan and requested a prompt response to improve mail service.
- Inspiring change at the U.S. Postal Service. Inspired by Heitkamp’s Fix My Mail initiative and survey, the Postal Service launched a new customer service program aimed at improving mail delivery and service. The ‘Your Mail Matters’ program is encouraging North Dakotans to share their mail service challenges with the Postal Service via email, YourMailMatters@usps.gov, and a service line, 605-333-2648, which is managed and operated by the Postal Service District Office in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Source: United States Senator Heidi Heitkamp