By Charles S. Clark
President Obama's April executive order on streamlining federal customer service reminded agencies of the Clinton-era instruction to "put people first."
This week, federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients fleshed out the rhetoric with a memo directing managers to take action in four areas: improve customer service delivery; advance customer service through technology; solicit timely customer feedback; and improve online services.
It advises agencies to establish a customer service task force and to create a "signature initiative" to use technology to improve service. Perhaps most concretely, the memo formalizes the plan announced this week by Vice President Biden and Recovery Board Chairman Earl Devaney to begin pruning the "thousands of websites, sub-sites, and micro sites" that form "an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility. This duplication," the memo read, "not only can cause confusion, but also wastes taxpayer dollars."