Heitkamp Receives National Award for Protecting Rural Mail Service
Nearly 400 North Dakotans Have Already Responded to Heitkamp’s Fix My Mail Survey She Launched Last Month
Click Here to Take Heitkamp’s Fix My Mail Survey
3/5/16 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a member of the Senate committee overseeing the U.S. Postal Service, was named Champion of 2016 by the National Association of Postmasters of the United States for her steadfast work to improve rural mail service and protect post offices across the country. This is the first time in four years NAPUS has honored a member of Congress with the award.
Just last month, Heitkamp launched her new Fix My Mail survey to gather feedback from North Dakotans about challenges with their mail delivery and service. Already, Heitkamp has received nearly 400 responses from across the state. Although most North Dakotans rely on the U.S. Postal Service every day, more than 40 percent of those who responded to the survey said they feel their mail is rarely on time – with more than 60 percent reporting they cannot rely on consistent mail service. Those responses demonstrate the importance of continuing to improve postal service in North Dakota.
“In rural areas across North Dakota, the same challenge is echoed – communities are not very confident in the U.S. Postal Service, even as they continue to rely on it,” said Heitkamp. “That’s unacceptable. And it’s why I launched my Fix My Mail initiative over two years ago to hear directly from North Dakotans about their mail issues. It’s their stories that have been the catalyst for real change in North Dakota, and helped inform my bill to help fix rural mail. It’s an honor to be recognized for this national award for fighting for rural America. To keep the progress going, I hope more North Dakotans will complete my new Fix My Mail survey so we can show the U.S. Postal Service the importance of continued improvements for rural mail delivery and service.”
Heitkamp’s survey builds on the success of her Fix My Mail initiative – launched in January 2014 – when she collected more than 200 stories from North Dakotans about delayed mail delivery and poor service. Their feedback to Heitkamp prompted action from the Postal Service in North Dakota, and at Heitkamp’s request, the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General issued a report confirming many of the challenges North Dakotans explained in their stories. The stories from North Dakotans also helped inform Heitkamp’s bill to improve mail delivery and service in rural communities.
Rural communities rely heavily on the U.S. Postal Service, and have been disproportionately impacted by poor service and delivery – a point echoed in a separate U.S. Postal Service Inspector General report on mail volume. Over the past few years, communities in rural America have faced increased delivery times, reduced service standards, and a distressed U.S. Postal Service workforce.
Heitkamp’s Fix My Mail survey seeks to maintain and grow momentum for the work she has already done with North Dakotans in rural communities and across the state to improve their mail service issues, including:
- Resolving chronic mail issues in South Fargo. In January, Heitkamp pressed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan on the severe mail delivery issues in South Fargo – the very next day, U.S. Postal Service terminated the contract with the mail carrier and hired an interim mail carrier with 30 years of experience.
- Shedding light on longstanding mail delivery and service issues across North Dakota. As part of her Fix My Mail initiative launched in 2014, Heitkamp requested a formal review of North Dakota’s mail delivery service challenges, which prompted a U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General formal report on North Dakota’s longstanding severe mail service problems.
- Addressing mail delivery concerns in rural communities across North Dakota. Based on feedback from her Fix My Mail initiative, Heitkamp introduced her Rural Postal Act in July which included reforms specifically aimed at addressing mail delivery concerns and challenges in rural communities which she heard about from North Dakotans.
- Delivering legislative fixes to alleviate mail delivery service challenges. In September, key pieces and themes from Heitkamp’s bill were included in new, comprehensive postal reform legislation introduced by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), including provisions to protect rural post offices and processing facilities, make sure the U.S. Postal Service reaches performance improvement goals, and improve postal employee morale.
- Bringing the impact of faltering rural mail service standards to the forefront. In May, Heitkamp brought together the first bipartisan meeting of solely rural-state Senators to meet with U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan about the impacts of mail processing facility closures and service standard reductions, and secured a commitment from the U.S. Postal Service to work to better to meet the needs of rural America. And at a January Senate hearing, Heitkamp secured a commitment from Brennan to specifically consider the geographical needs of rural America.