[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar (both D – MN) have formally requested that the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service conduct a full audit of the Minnesota-North Dakota District following persistent reports across Minnesota of delayed and unreliable mail service.
“We believe it is time for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the dysfunction of the MN-ND District,” wrote the Senators. “Minnesotans rely on the Postal Service as an essential public service. Deliveries of medicine, Social Security checks and paychecks, and correspondence with loved ones are critical, especially in rural communities. But too often, the Postal Service is falling short in meeting the reasonable expectations of Minnesotans.”
“Even more concerning is that attempts to elevate the concerns of Minnesotans to the USPS have either been dismissed or met with assurances that everything is fine—that the reports of our constituents are incorrect,” wrote the Senators. “This lack of transparency deepens our concern that the serious issues in the MN-ND district are not receiving adequate attention.”
The Office of the Inspector General is an independent agency within the USPS that conducts essential oversight over Postal Service operations. Audits conducted by the Inspector General provide an informed, unbiased view of postal operations with a focus on preventing misuse of funds, promoting efficiency and integrity, and sharing information with the USPS Board of Governors, Congress, and USPS management.
In their request for a full audit, the senators seek answers to the following issues:
- Data integrity and reporting. Is the Postal Service’s data on deliveries in the MN-ND District accurate? Is this data appropriately available to customers, Congress, and the public? What does the data show about the district’s ability to meet service standards?
- Staffing and recruitment. Is the MN-ND District adequately staffed? Are efforts to improve staffing levels working? Are there additional steps that the Postal Service should take to improve staffing in the district?
- Did the district adequately work to hire seasonal workers for the peak holiday season, especially in communities like Rochester, Duluth, and Bemidji, where there are frequent disruptions around the peak season?
- How many new staff has the district hired in the last year? How many of those individuals are still employed by the USPS?
- Is the district using their full scope of authority to improve recruitment and retention of workers?
- Areas of interest. Where have service disruptions been most prevalent in the district? Has the district adequately tracked this information and taken steps to fix the issues causing disruptions?
- Capacity.At current capacity of workers and infrastructure, can the MN-ND District deliver mail in accordance with service standards with the current workforce? Could they do so at their full workforce capacity?
Smith and Klobuchar have long worked to improve the reliability of postal service in Minnesota. The senators introduced bipartisan legislation addressing transparency at the Postal Service. Both Smith and Klobuchar sent letters to Postmaster DeJoy regarding the disruptions caused by increased Amazon package delivery and decried the USPS’s response. In September, they pressed USPS for answers about a payroll error that led to 53,000 rural letter carriers missing or receiving only a partial paycheck. They pressed for answers again when a similar issue was reported earlier this month, which affected 2,200 rural letter carriers and their families. Smith and Klobuchar have also asked USPS for answers to widespread missing and delayed mail deliveries across Minnesota.
You can access a full copy of their letter here.