The Most Convenient Contact Method and Why

Following the 9/11 disaster, and subsequent anthrax, mail bombs, and other terrorist threats, coupled with a proliferation of online viruses and spam, the Congressional systems of postal and electronic (e-mail) have all but ceased in providing a responsive system of communication.  These methods should be used only when presentation is critical and timeliness is not.  The most convenient manner available to the public is in the form of sending a fax.

Letter and Cover Sheet

There are two key components in effectively corresponding in this manner, the letter and the cover sheet.  Information important to the composition, format, style and other key features of a letter are detailed in “Section IV. Writing Persuasive Letters”. After you have carefully drafted your letter, correct preparation of the Cover Sheet will ensure your fax is quickly delivered to the appropriate person.  There is no standard layout format for a cover sheet, but for greater success the following information should be detailed:

  • Date (include day, month and year you sent the fax)
  • Recipient Name (who do you want to receive the fax)
  • Telephone Number (usually a dedicated number for fax use only)
  • Organization (the name of a group/company, if you are representing one)
  • Sender (generally the name of the person who composed the letter)
  • Total Pages (the number of pages in the fax, including the cover, to track if all pages were received)
  • Special Instructions (an area reserved for unique delivery requirements or other information not obvious to the receiver)
  • Transmission Notice (the telephone number of the person sending the fax if there was a problem in receiving it)
  • Document Trail (an optional indicator to let the receiving party know if this will be the only communication or if the original document will follow by postal mail or special courier.
  • Confidentiality Notice (generally reserved as a disclaimer for business. It is used to indicate the contents are confidential and privileged information and how to dispose of incorrectly received documents)
  • Identifiers (while identifiers may be customized for personal use, they usually used to indicate the company name, logo, contact details, and other information important to a business)

If you do not already know it, you may call the U.S. Capital Switchboard to learn the direct fax number of a member of Congress.  The Switchboard is available 24 hours a day, but direct fax access is usually limited to normal business hours.  To save on the cost of a long distance telephone call to Washington D.C., you may also contact the state or local district office for the appropriate numbers.  To reach the U.S. Capital Switchboard, call:

(202) 224-3121 – (Voice)

(202) 225-3121 – (Voice)

(202) 224-3091 – (TTY)

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