December 8, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Getting Results for Nebraskans

December 8, 2023

There are a lot of ongoing policy debates in Washington, D.C. We need to secure our border and rein in bloated federal spending that’s causing inflation. We need to pass a re-authorization for the National Defense Authorization Act and a comprehensive farm bill. We need to end Biden’s appeasement-first foreign policy and restore American leadership in the world. I’m fighting tirelessly to represent Nebraskans in these debates. However, when I first came to the Senate, I also promised I would fight to ensure government is working for taxpayers. Looking back at this first year, I’m proud of the work my team has done to fulfill and build on that promise.

When I was Governor, we made strides improving the level of customer service Nebraskans received from state agencies. As Senator, I’m continuing that work. My team and I are committed to ensuring every Nebraskan who reaches out receives the service and transparency they deserve.

Nebraskans deal with a range of federal issues, from accessing military records to Social Security and passport applications. We’re here to help every Nebraskan struggling to navigate the federal bureaucracy. 

Jen from Cass County is one example. Expanded daycare services are a huge need in the area. She was desperately trying to get a federal grant to open a daycare. Jen was stuck in a sea of red tape from the General Services Administration (GSA). She had provided all the documents but couldn’t get help fixing the simple address issue that was holding up her application. My team contacted the GSA and helped Jen get the problem solved. As a result, the daycare recently opened and families around the area are benefitting.

Oversight from our team can also bring clarity to confusing situations. Doug and Christine in Lancaster County contacted my Lincoln office seeking help with a tax return. Due to an error, they had overpaid $60,000 in taxes. Despite much effort to obtain a refund from the IRS, they couldn’t get an answer. They felt they were being stonewalled. My team contacted the IRS and quickly discovered the problem. Doug and Christine’s account had been flagged, yet the IRS failed to tell them. Working with my team, Doug and Christine were finally able to get the money they were owed.

Nebraskans with similar issues can visit or reach out to our offices in Scottsbluff, Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha, and Washington. Knowing not everyone can make it to our offices, we’re also sending team members to you. As of this week, our team has hosted mobile office hours in all 93 of Nebraska’s counties since March. They’ve also participated in 351 outreach events across the state this year. These events provide Nebraskans an opportunity to connect in-person with our specially trained team members. They can assist with concerns, complaints, or questions about federal benefits and services.

We’re pleased to have helped in nearly 500 cases this year. While my office cannot ask agencies to change their rules, we can get an extra set of eyes on an issue. My team will always do everything in our power to help Nebraskans in need. We can inquire about the status of a situation. We can provide oversight to ensure a case is being handled properly.

Government should provide high-quality customer service to all its citizens. When it doesn’t, it’s extremely rewarding to play a part in demanding and getting results for Nebraskans. If you are having issues navigating the federal bureaucracy, you can find necessary privacy release forms and more information on the “Services” tab of my website, www.ricketts.senate.gov. There is also a “Frequently Asked Questions” page with more specific instructions.

I also welcome your policy ideas for ways to improve to lives of every Nebraskan. Contact us anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact.