Obama orders agencies to improve customer service

President Barack Obama has ordered federal agencies to improve services by using innovative technologies to improve efficiency, lower costs and track performance.

Federal agencies need to adopt best practices in the private sector including low-cost, self-service options accessed by the Internet and by mobile phone, Obama wrote in the April 27 executive order.

“With advances in technology and service delivery systems in other sectors, the public's expectations of the Government have continued to rise,” the order states. “The government must keep pace with and even exceed those expectations.”


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“Government managers must learn from what is working in the private sector and apply these best practices to deliver services better, faster, and at lower cost,” Obama wrote.

Obama asked agencies to draft customer service plans to describe how they intend to streamline service delivery and improve the experience of customers. The plans are to be published on the agencies’ open government websites.

“President Obama is challenging agencies to serve their customers better,” Jeffrey Zients, chief performance officer, said on April 27 during a White House forum on transformation federal IT management.

The requirements for agencies’ customer service plans include:

  • Establishing one major initiative to use technology to improve the customer experience.
  • Establish mechanisms to solicit customer feedback.
  • Set clear customer service standards.
  • Adopt proven best practices.
  • Streamline agency processes by reducing costs and streamlining delivery.

The Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are expected to help develop the metrics and best practices guidance.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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