OMB Reform and Reorganization Plan: Digitization and Customer Service

Published: June 25, 2018

Digital GovernmentGovernment PerformanceInformation TechnologyPolicy and Legislation

A renewed push for a digital government and leading customer service ratings is outlined in OMB’s new government reorganization plan.

In an effort to “make the Federal Government more responsive and accountable to the American people,” the administration released Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century. The document outlines a plethora of recommendations to reform and reorganize the federal government and comes on the heels of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), released in March. While the PMA seems to provide context for what needs to change in government, the reform plan indicates how those changes will take place. The two documents have reoccurring themes throughout. Two of those repeated themes, which typically go hand-in-hand, include the digitization of government and improving customer service.

The PMA states as one of its CAP Goals that the transformation of customer experience will come with the improvement of government’s most critical digital services and must be measurable using practices proven by the private sector. To do this, technology will play a role in connecting federal agencies to its customers by breaking down communication barriers.

The reorganization plan calls for the establishment of a government-wide customer experience improvement tool that will create new approaches to improve public interactions with the government. Specifically, the “new function would identify key Federal customers (e.g., veterans, students, farmers, retirees), map their journeys as they interact with Federal agencies, and work to streamline those interactions across delivery channels and organizational silos.”

To accomplish this, agencies will undergo research to identify the areas for most customer-improved change and as needed, partner with USDS and GSA’s Technology Transformation Service to boost their digital services. The creation of the Digital Front Doors initiative is introduced in the plan, which seeks to rebuild government websites to focus more on user experience rather than government structure.

On the digital front, the reorganization plan requires that agency business processes and recordkeeping must be fully electronic by December 31, 2022. After that, NARA will no longer accept paper records and “will force agencies to direct attention and resources to this issue in a way that has not occurred previously.”

Both the PMA and reorganization plan list several examples of successful digitization and customer service programs that have taken place already, including:

  • Expansion of a suite of automated and online options at SSA to conduct multiple business process with the public.
  • Centralization of the USCIS National Records Center into a single facility. USCIS also offers electronic filing capabilities for green card and naturalization applications. Moreover, the agency plans to implement complete digital processing for all immigration benefits it adjudicates by the end of 2020.
  • Implementation of a tool at VA to enable veterans to apply for healthcare eligibility and submit applications for health care online.

The bottom line between digitization and customer service is this: the more agencies provide electronic processes, the easier it is for the public to connect and trust in federal government services.

Contractor Implications

To ensure the 2022 deadline from NARA is met, the reorganization plan calls for the agency to coordinate with federal agencies to develop and provide the assistance and services they need to implement digital transition proposals. GSA will act in a supporting capacity to connect agencies with commercial digitization services that are already available in the private sector to expedite the electronic records process.

The PMA states that programs where the most improved customer services is needed include Federal Student Aid, Airport Security Screening, National Parks, Veterans Health Care, Passport Services, Emergency and Disaster Relief, and Medicare.

A Government CX Insights report, described by a NextGov article, recently conducted a survey among 4,000 people who recently used agency websites to rank 17 federal government agencies. Commerce, Interior and Energy rated as providing the best customer experience with scores of 75 or above (out of 100). However, several agencies came in with low scores including SSA, Labor and Justice with scores ranging from 60-62.