Shared Services Amendments to Executive Order on Customer Experience

Published December 13, 2023

On the second anniversary of President Biden’s executive order on transforming federal customer experience and service delivery, our very own Brian Stauffer proposes an amendment to recognize federal workers as customers in business process optimization efforts.

Section 1. Purpose

Our Government must recommit to being “of the people, by the people, [and] for the people” in order to solve the complex 21st century challenges our Nation faces. Government must be held accountable for evaluating current business processes affecting the “Customer Experiences” (CX) of both citizens and the federal workforce. Government must also work to deliver services more equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved. Strengthening the democratic process requires providing direct lines of feedback and mechanisms for engaging the Federal workforce in the design and improvement of Federal Government programs, business processes, and the adoption of shared services in alignment with OMB-19-16 and the utilization of Quality Service Management Offices (QSMO) Marketplaces.

As the United States faces critical challenges, including recovering from a global pandemic, promoting prosperity and economic growth, advancing equity, and tackling the climate crisis, the needs of the government employees and contractors, informed by, in particular, an understanding of how they experience business processes, should drive priorities for service delivery improvements. In recent years, the pace of progress to reduce annual paperwork and manual data entry burdens imposed by executive departments and agencies has remained stubbornly slow. Agencies must work with the Congress; the private sector and nonprofit organizations; State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; and other partners to design workforce experiences with the Federal Government that effectively reduce administrative burdens, simplify both public-facing and internal processes to improve efficiency, and empower the Federal workforce to solve problems.

The Federal Government must design and deliver services in a manner that people of all abilities can navigate. We must use technology to modernize Government and implement services that are simple to use, accessible, equitable, protective, transparent, and responsive for all people of the United States. Improving Government services should also make our Government more efficient and effective overall.

Every interaction between federal co-workers and the public should be seen as an opportunity for the Government to save an individual’s time (and thus reduce “time taxes”) and to deliver the level of service that modern workers and the public expects and deserves. By demonstrating that its processes are effective and efficient, in addition to being fair, protective of privacy interests, and transparent, the Federal Government can build public trust. Further, the Federal Government’s management of its conjoined workforce/citizen customer experience and service delivery should be driven fundamentally by the voice of the customer (VOC) through human-centered design methodologies; empirical process mapping, customer research; an understanding of behavioral science and user testing, especially for digital services; and other mechanisms of engagement.

We seek amendments to the following EOs, redefining the term “Customer” to be inclusive of our federal workforce:

Executive Order 12862 of September 11, 1993 (Setting Customer Service Standards), required agencies that provide significant services directly to the public to identify and gather feedback from customers; establish service standards and measure performance against those standards; and benchmark customer service performance against the best customer experience provided in the private sector. Executive Order 13571 of April 27, 2011 (Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service), further required agencies to develop a “Customer Service Plan . . . to address how the agency will provide services in a manner that seeks to streamline service delivery and improve the experience of its customers.” Executive Order 13707 of September 15, 2015 (Using Behavioral Science Insights To Better Serve the American People), called for the use of empirical findings in behavioral science fields to deliver better results for the American people, including by identifying “opportunities to help qualifying individuals, families, communities, and businesses access public programs and benefits.” And Executive Order 13985 of January 20, 2021 (Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government), established the policy of the Federal Government to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” Consistent with these aims, agencies have begun assessing whether, and to what extent, their programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups. These previous actions have laid an important foundation for the policies and procedures set forth in this order. However, more is required to establish the sustained system for Federal Government accountability and performance necessary to drive an ongoing focus on improved delivery and results for the people of the United States.

Section 2. Policy

It is the policy of the United States that, in a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, improving service delivery and customer experience should be fundamental priorities. The Government’s performance must be measured empirically and by on-the-ground results for the people of the United States and the workforce charged to serve them. The means of Government — such as its budget, policy, financial management, procurement, and human resources practices — must work to achieve those ends. Agencies should continually improve their understanding of their customers, reduce administrative hurdles and paperwork burdens to minimize “time taxes,” enhance transparency, create greater efficiencies across Government, and redesign compliance-oriented processes to improve customer experience and more directly meet the needs of the people of the United States. Consistent with the purpose described in section 1 of this order, agencies’ efforts to improve customer experience should include systematically identifying and resolving the root causes of workforce inefficiencies, customer experience challenges, regardless of whether the source of such challenges is statutory, regulatory, budgetary, technological, or process-based. Furthermore, to engender public trust, agencies must ensure that their efforts appropriately maintain or enhance protections afforded under law and policy, including those related to civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, confidentiality, and information security.

Section 3. Definitions

For purposes of this order:

(a) The term “customer” means any individual whether citizen or citizen servent, business, or organization (such as a grantee or State, local, or Tribal entity) that interacts with an agency or program, either directly or through a federally-funded program administered by a contractor, nonprofit, or other Federal entity.

(b) The term “customer experience” means the civil servant, armed-forces and the public’s perceptions of and overall satisfaction with interactions with an agency, product, or service.

(c) The term “customer life experience” means each important point in a person’s life at which that person interacts with one or more entities of Government.

(d) The term “equity” means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

(e) The term “High Impact Service Provider” (HISP) means a Federal entity, as designated by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that provides or funds customer-facing solutions or provides shared services, including Federal services administered at the State or local level, that have a high impact on customer experiences, whether because of a large customer base or a critical effect on those served.

(f) The term “human-centered design” means an interdisciplinary methodology of putting people, including those who will use or be impacted by what one creates, at the center of any process to solve challenging problems.

(g) The term “service delivery” means actions of, and by, the Federal Government related to providing a business process, benefit or service to an internal customer or public customer of a Federal Government entity. Such actions pertain to all points of the Government-to-customer delivery process.