Today, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) published a Constituent Service Guidebook, which breaks down the process of fulfilling the important task of constituent services in a U.S. Senate office. Ahead of tonight's debate between the candidates running to be the next U.S. Senator from Louisiana, Vitter sent copies of the guidebook to several of the major candidates.
"Individuals often come to their federal representatives as a last resort, short on patience and frustrated with the slow pace of bureaucracy, which is why the single most important part of a U.S. Senator's role in representative government is to maintain a completely open dialogue with constituents," said Vitter. "At the end of the day, a U.S. Senate office is a resource for the people it represents and can help constituents resolve issues between them and specific government agencies. I prepared this Constituent Service Guidebook to help ensure that customer service is seamless for the next U.S. Senator from Louisiana."
Click here to see Senator Vitter's Constituent Service Guidebook.
Below is Vitter's introduction to the Constituent Service Guidebook, as well as the Table of Contents.
INTRODUCTION FROM DAVID
Helping constituents navigate federal agencies and solve individual problems may not be the most glamorous aspect of being a U.S. Senator. But for many of those constituents, it's the most important by far.
Take Kevin Wise, an heroic veteran of the Army Special Forces who was seriously injured on duty. He was in danger of losing his leg or his life. This was all because the VA system wouldn't recognize his dire health situation and act immediately. Thank God we changed that and saved both his leg and his life.
Or Deborah Cazalot. She urgently needed a liver transplant, but had some issues with the Social Security Administration that prevented her from being able to get on the transplant list. She contacted my office, and we were able to work with her and Social Security to resolve the issues. Within three months of contacting my office, she was able to get on the liver transplant list and soon after had the live-saving operation.
I said this work isn't glamorous. But it's amazingly fulfilling. Very few other parts of the job can have this sort of immediate, concrete, and sometimes life-changing impact for those I'm privileged to serve.
This was perhaps most true helping constituents recover from the many disasters we've faced together, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (among others), the BP oil spill, and this year's devastating flooding in north Louisiana, greater Baton Rouge, and parts of Acadiana.
With all of this in mind, my staff and I have put together this Constituent Service Guidebook that you have before you. We're sending it to all of the major candidates for U.S. Senate this year, one of whom will become my successor.
We don't pretend to run a perfect U.S. Senate office. We certainly haven't "cracked the code" of every federal agency to ensure immediate and positive results. But we have figured out a lot in twelve years and earned a strong reputation for responsiveness, hard work, and results.
This is almost entirely due to my super talented and dedicated staff, particularly those in our seven Louisiana offices. They are among the best folks I've ever had the honor of working with. They always take our constituents' challenges very personally, going the extra mile and oftentimes many more.
This guidebook is dedicated to them, with boundless love, respect, and appreciation from Wendy and me.
INTRODUCTION FROM DAVID
CHAPTER ONE: OPENNESS AND ACCESSIBILITY
I. Washington, D.C. Office
C. Constituent Coffee
D. Tour Requests
E. Flag Requests
II. Louisiana Offices
A. Locations and Hours
B. Satellite Office Hours
III. Town Hall Meetings
C. Constituent Notice
D. Notice to the Press
IV. Telephone Town Halls
CHAPTER TWO: COMMUNICATIONS WITH CONSTITUENTS
I. Phone Calls
II. Direct Response Letters and Emails
III. Mass Emails
IV. Mass Mailings
VI. Social Media
CHAPTER THREE: CONSTITUENT CASEWORK
I. Best Practices
A. Office Organization
B. Case Management
C. Setting Expectations
D. Timely Response
II. Important Types of Casework
A. Department of Agriculture (USDA
B. Army Corps of Engineers
C. Department of Education (ED
D. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
E. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
F. Health Care
I. Department of Labor (DOL)
K. Small Business Administration (SBA)
L. Social Security Administration (SSA)
M. State Department
N. Taxes and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
P. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
III. Disaster Preparedness
B. Voice Messaging
C. Weekend Schedule
D. Emergency and Evacuation Plan
CHAPTER FOUR: FEDERAL GRANTS
I. Types of Federal Grants
A. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
B. U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
C. Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
D. U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
E. Delta Regional Authority (DRA)
F. U.S. Department of Education (ED)
G. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
H. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
I. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
J. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
K. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
L. U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
M. U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
N. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
O. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
P. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
Q. National Science Foundation (NSF)
R. Small Business Administration (SBA)
S. Social Security Administration (SSA)
T. U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
U. U.S. Department of the Treasury
V. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
II. Application Process
A. Who Can Apply
B. Staff Help
C. Tracking Requests
A. Notice to the Recipient
B. Notice to the Press
CHAPTER FIVE: ACADEMY NOMINATIONS
I. Blue Ribbon Panel
II. Application Process
III. Service Academy Days
IV. Mandatory Interviews and Nominations
CHAPTER SIX: INTERNSHIPS AND PAGE OPPORTUNITIES
I. Senate Office Internship
II. Senate Page Program
Exhibit A: Town Hall Meeting Materials
Exhibit B: State Office Comprehensive Emergency Plan
Exhibit C: Emergency/Disaster Recovery Constituent Forms
Exhibit D: Federal Grant Award Announcement
Exhibit E: Service Academy Day Invitations
Exhibit F: Military Service Academy Announcement