May 15 2017
Since the Launch of her Fix My Mail Initiative in 2014, Heitkamp Has Been Pressing the U.S. Postal Service for Robust Action to Address ND Mail Challenges
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Directly responding to chronic mail service challenges she has heard about from North Dakotans, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp called for answers on what the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is doing to improve mail delivery throughout the country, especially in rural communities in North Dakota, and make sure that mail delivery data accurately reflects customers’ experiences.
Heitkamp has heard from nearly 630 North Dakotans over the past year through her Fix My Mail survey as well as in-person meetings about significant mail delivery and service issues that still exist in many communities. Heitkamp and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate how USPS holds its employees accountable for accurately scanning the mail at appropriate points in the delivery system and if there are data practices resulting in inaccuracies. Their letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro points to examples of recent complaints against USPS such as marking mail as delivered even when it remains undelivered or delaying postmark dates so that it seems that mail is being delivered in a shorter timeframe.
“One of the top concerns I hear about across North Dakota is delayed and unreliable mail delivery from the U.S. Postal Service. Particularly in rural communities, North Dakotans depend on the Postal Service to connect with their loved ones, get medication delivered, and keep their businesses running,” said Heitkamp. “North Dakotans deserve a consistent level of delivery from the mail service they rely on every day, which is why we’re looking to identify weak spots in the mail system to help strengthen service over the long run. My Fix My Mail initiative has brought many of these chronic mail service problems to light by empowering North Dakotans to tell me about the mail service challenges they face. It has led to some improvements, but clearly, more still needs to be done.”
Click here to read the letter.
Since launching her Fix My Mail initiative in 2014 to gather stories from North Dakotans about problems with mail delivery and service, Heitkamp has been working to hold the U.S. Postal Service accountable for improving mail delivery and service for rural communities.
Last August, Heitkamp brought U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to North Dakota to visit a mail processing facility, hear firsthand from community and business leaders about how North Dakotans have been impacted by slow service and delivery delays, and discuss lasting solutions to improve their mail delivery and service.
Brennan agreed to Heitkamp’s request to visit North Dakota in April after Heitkamp shared her Fix My Mail survey results with the Postmaster General. To date, nearly 630 North Dakotans have filled out the Fix My Mail survey since its February 2016 launch. The results revealed major challenges for residents throughout the state – from medications and tax information lost or delayed in the mail, to batches of checks taking 10-20 days to travel 180 miles across the state.
North Dakotans in rural communities rely heavily on the Postal Service to support their businesses and to connect them with family, and are disproportionately impacted by poor service and delivery – a point echoed in a Postal Service Inspector General report on mail volume. Over the past few years, rural America has faced increased delivery times, reduced service standards, and a distressed Postal Service workforce.
Long an advocate for improved mail delivery in North Dakota, Heitkamp’s efforts began shortly after taking office in 2013 when she heard from constituents about ongoing problems with mail service.
Heitkamp’s work to tackle mail 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 U.S. 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 restore mail service to the community.
- Bringing U.S. Postmaster General to North Dakota. After sharing her Fix My Mail survey results with Brennan, Heitkamp invited the U.S. 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 has 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.