HOW TO FILE FOR A CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY

If a person has a dispute involving a federal agency, he/she may consider asking their federal congressman or congresswoman from their local congressional district (Senator or Representative) to make an inquiry with the federal agency into the status of the matter in dispute.  John Zodrow worked extensively for and against federal agencies during his former career as an employment lawyer and has compiled this information to be helpful.  Mr. Zodrow authored a book on public sector labor relations as well.

Here are some tips:

1.  These types of inquiries work best when the matter is simple stalled in the bureaucracy.  For example, when a federal employer will not process a worker’s compensation claim, the claimant may seeks to have his/her Senator or representative inquire into the matter.  This process of seeking a Congressional update on the status of the matter likely will result in the paperwork being processed.  Sometimes, this is exactly the “push” a federal agency needs to move things along.  It’s oftentimes easier for the agency to process the paperwork rather than to explain to a member of Congress why the paperwork has not been processed.

2.  Be realistic.  If there is a lot of controversy regarding a matter or claim, the Confessional Inquiry probably won’t resolve it.  The simpler the matter is – and the more you can show that the agency is not acting within its rights – the more likely this process will be effective for you.

3.  This process can be used for any dispute between a person (and especially a federal employee) and a federal government department.  For example, a Confessional Inquiry might help if your bankruptcy claim is lost, if your social security or disability application is not being processed, if your property is not being returned by the government, etc.

4.  If you are a government employee, ask your union for help in writing your Confessional Inquiry request.  If you are in the military and have a dispute with the Veteran’s Administration, consider contacting the Disabled American Veterans for assistance.  Remember that this is not part of their ordinary duties and it is not covered by your dues.  Offer to buy lunch or do a favor in return for any person who helps you out.

5.  A great advantage of requesting a Confessional Inquiry is that the government agency has a specific time-frame where they must reply back.  It is just a matter of days.

6.  You can email or fax to your congressman with all of the background information, but remember to include details like “who, what, when, where, why and how” and to attach all essential documents and regulations.

7.  Confirm your congressperson’s name/address/district to be sure that you live within their district and that you are sending your request to the correct address.

8.  Online you can go to Congressional Offices and input your state and zip code, and the page will forward you to the correct congress-member for your district.  Some have a form to fill out either online or by traditional mail, and some can be contacted via email.  Most of the district websites will have a link for “constituent services” or “casework” which you can click on for specific contact information. 

9.  It’s better if you can visit the office in person, present your letter requesting a Congressional Inquiry and discuss the issue.  That way, any missing information can be identified immediately.  Also, you have at least caught the attention of one person, even if it is only a low-level aide or staff member.

10.  Keep in mind that some politicians work faster than others and you may need to follow-up in a very polite and courteous way. Follow-up in about two weeks, or more depending on the type of inquiry being made, if you haven’t heard anything. Again, try to go in person.

11.  If the Confessional Inquiry was helpful, send a Thank You note to your member of Congress who intervened.  Tell your neighbors and co-workers of their role, and get out the vote next election. You never know when you need help on another issue.

12.  Here’s the most underestimated point in the process.  Remember to always VOTE in every election.  As soon as your Inquiry request arrives at the office of a Congress-person, a Congressional Aide will check a computer to see how often you vote.  Of course, these databases cannot reveal who you voted for, but they show your history of voting or not.  If you don’t have a history of voting, why should your Congressman or Congresswoman be concerned about your Inquiry request?

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Comments

I need help writing a congressional complaint regarding a wrogful foreclouser
How to Write a Powerful Letter to Congress:
Many citizens do not take the time to write to their representatives in Congress because they don’t know how or don’t believe that their letters will make a difference. Here is substantive guidance on how to write an effective letter, including a sample letter calling for withdrawal from the United Nations.
by Jake Morphonios
(libertarian)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
To increase the impact of your letters to Congressmen, write legibly or use a computer or typewriter, and include your name and address so your congressman can respond. Limit your letter to one page and address a single topic.
In general, letters should be three short paragraphs. The first paragraph should state that you support or oppose a position or piece of legislation. The second paragraph should explain, briefly, the reasons for your support or opposition. The third paragraph should ask the Congressman to write back explaining his position on the legislation. Avoid exaggeration and, when appropriate, document your position with an accompanying article or editorial.
State your view firmly, but avoid name-calling or making threats. Try to be reasonable, factual, and friendly. Even if you disagree with your? your Representatives on most issues, be sure to commend them if they have done something right. It will establish that you are fair and will encourage them to pay closer attention to subsequent complaints about their performance.
Whenever possible, refer to bills and resolutions by number. It will help your Congressman to determine exactly which measure you are interested in and will demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Finally, time your letters to arrive at mid-week, rather than on Monday, when deliveries are heaviest, or on Friday, when the weekend rush hits.
It is a good idea to follow-up your Congressman’s response, or lack thereof, with another brief letter – regardless of the position he takes. If the Congressman agrees with you, send a one or two sentence letter of thanks for his stand in favor of limited, Constitutional government. If the Congressman disagrees with your position, reply with a brief letter quoting the section of his letter with which you take issue and restate your position.
Elected officials listen most intently to letters from voters in their own districts, and hardly listen at all to voices from outside of their districts. In most cases, it is not worth the trouble to write to officials who do not represent your state and district. The majority of Congressional offices automatically forward non-constituent letters to the Congressional office representing the letter-writer.
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This post was most informative to what I am about to file. I know our Congress men and women are supposed to help constituents in their district but never knew how. Thanks a million and I will always continue to vote to put great honest leaders in office. That’s really the key!

Are there certain paperwork required or is it a matter of a written compliant? This is regarding the status of my disability claim, a hearing took place May 9th of 2012 and there is still no written response to social security from the administration office. It is now October 2012.

This post was so informative and I thank you for that.

I found this post to be informative yes; what do you do however if the congressman is the one you have a complaint about? My situation has to do with a conflict of interest with the congressman himself. He worked with a school district that discriminated against my disabled child. In an effort to gain his office’s assistance he deflected my request, in favor of his daughter,and former employer,the school district in issue. His daughtet sits on the school board that discriminated and violated our civil rights.

Osha has dropped the ball on me and hubdreds of others when it comes to their whistleblower program.

I feel I have a legitimate complaint, I’m a U.S Service Member. I’m not sure if anyone out there can help me or point me in the right direction.

I’ve received a bad evaluation from my “Rater” before I deployed to Afghanistan, which was given to me by my “Senior Rater”. I told my Senior Rater that the bullet points were incorrect and inaccurate, and even not factual. I was advised I was signing for “Admin purposes only”

Before I deployed I spoke with JAG I was told to read the applicable regulations.

After 8 months, when I came back from deployment, I found that my “Rater” was admitted to a mental facility during the writing of the NCOER, and was still there seeking psychiatric help.

After review the Regulations, again I found out the COC knew the “Raters” condition. I’m due to ETS soon. What options do I have to get this NCOER off my records, and ensure that the command does not damage any other Soldiers careers?

Should I start by filing for a congressional inquiry?

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