Agency customer service efforts could come under increased scrutiny

The Government Customer Service Improvement Act would require agency officials to let OMB help them develop specific standards for customer services.

Agencies may have a new Office of Management and Budget special team to examine their future customer services, according to a new bill.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced bipartisan legislation July 30, aiming to improve customer service delivery across agencies.

The Government Customer Service Improvement Act (S. 3455) would require OMB to work with agency officials to develop specific standards for customer services. The bipartisan legislation also would establish what Warner dubbed a "SWAT team." It would be a special unit within OMB to temporarily assist those agencies that consistently fail to meet customer service standards.

Further, each agency would have to designate a “service improvement officer,” who would be responsible for monitoring progress. There would also be annual progress reports by agency.

“As any business school graduate can tell you, ‘what gets measured gets done,’” Warner said. “I believe citizens should expect federal agencies to deliver customer service at least as well as the private sector does and, unfortunately, too often that is not the case.”

The bill also targets the Office of Personnel Management. It would set specific service improvement targets for OPM, an agency which has experienced chronic backlogs for several years in processing retirement benefits for federal employees.

The bill was sent to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for further consideration. Also, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) introduced the bill initially in the House in 2011. The House has yet to vote on it.

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