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Stephen Colbert: Agencies Should Stop Thinking of Americans As 'Customers'

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The news that President Donald Trump named his son-in-law Jared Kushner to head the new Office of American Innovation gave the Late Show's Stephen Colbert plenty of material to work with during a segment Monday night. Kushner already has a full plate in the White House managing the Middle East peace process, he noted, taking a swipe at the administration:

The government desperately needs an overhaul. I mean, somebody keeps putting totally unqualified people in charge of really important stuff and that's gotta stop.

Kushner's inherited family's business success suggests the new office should more accurately be called "The Bureau of Obvious Nepotism," Colbert joked:

You know he's got great business ideas. Like being born into a wealthy real estate family or marrying into a wealthy real estate family. Why hasn't the government tried that?

But it was another aspect of the predictably anti-Trump monologue that might give government workers pause. Colbert took issue with Kushner's statement that the office would “achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.” While government agencies themselves (under the Obama administration no less) have long been thinking of citizens as customers (see countless examples in the GovExec archives from events and magazine issues), Colbert objected to that view: "We're not customers, we're citizens. Which means we own the store. You work for us, buddy."

Watch the video above or on the CBS site.

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

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