Minnesota and North Dakota team up to tackle mail delivery problems

It’s rare to find examples of bipartisanship these days given the divisiveness in Washington. But the breakdown in service and reliability of the U.S. Postal Service has gotten to the point where the members of Congress from Minnesota and North Dakota have been led to do the almost unthinkable by reaching across the aisle to jointly confront the USPS.

The development follows an audit of mail operations in the Minnesota-North Dakota District that the Forum notes found numerous problems in both states.

On Thursday, June 27, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) led the entire Minnesota and North Dakota congressional delegations in sending the bipartisan letter to [Postmaster General Louis] DeJoy.

The letter comes several weeks after the results were released from a December audit of the district that found 130,858 missing or delayed pieces of mail at six post offices over the course of two days. Including nearly 79,000 pieces of delayed mail in a three-day period, along with other issues, at the Bemidji Post Office.

The audit included local post offices, as well as mail processing centers in Bismarck, Mandan and Minot, as well as St. Paul, Apple Valley, New Brighton and Eagan. The Office of Inspector General uncovered problems at every facility, according to the elected officials’ letter.

“In total, the investigators observed 130,858 pieces of delayed mail in just two days. They also found that staffing shortages contributed significantly to the poor performance of the district and led post office managers to prioritize package deliveries to keep up, going against Postal Service policy to deliver all First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Express Mail on the day it is received at a facility.

“It has long been clear that postal operations in the district are in trouble, and the investigation confirms this.

The audit found the Minnesota-North Dakota district ranked particularly low on mail and package delivery compared to other districts in the period covered. The OIG report made seven recommendations on how to improve postal service from better training to adequate staffing and reporting of problems.

“To that end, we request that your staff provide monthly briefings to the staff of the Minnesota and North Dakota Congressional delegations on progress in improving service in the district.

“We also request that you provide us with monthly updates on the district’s opportunity rankings, staffing levels for different positions, and progress toward the implementation of recommendations two and three. The Postal Service is a lifeline to so many of our constituents, and there must be progress in improving service to them.

Meantime, members of the Minnesota and North Dakota delegation have introduced bipartisan legislation to require USPS to implement and report on the steps taken to restore mail service and reliability in both states.