Anyone who’s ever dealt with bureaucracy and government programs compared to private-industry customer service knows that government agencies leaves something to be desired. While companies must deliver high levels of customer service and be responsive to customer needs to build a loyal following and stay in business, the government has no such incentive. For years, dealing with programs such as Social Security, Medicare and SNAP — or even trying to reach out to the Internal Revenue Service to have questions answered — has been an exercise in frustration.
President Joe Biden seeks to fix these issues with a new executive order aimed at “transforming federal customer service experience and service delivery to rebuild trust in government,” according to a White House press release issued on Monday, Dec. 13.
Improving Customer Service for Federal Programs
The executive order will make it possible for Americans to:
- Apply for Social Security and Medicare benefits online
- Renew passports online without mailing in documents
- Enroll for federal benefits such as SNAP and WIC more easily
- Recertify incomes for public assistance programs in fewer steps
- Schedule a call back from the IRS instead of spending time on “hold”
In all, the order seeks to improve 36 customer service experiences across 17 federal agencies. The order emphasizes delivering “services more equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved,” said the White House press release. The press release went on to state that the American public completes more than 69 billion hours of paperwork annually to access services and accommodate requests from executive departments and agencies.
Through the executive order, the federal government is working to “design experiences” that “reduce administrative burdens, simplify both public-facing and internal processes to improve efficiency, and empower the Federal workforce to solve problems,” the release clarified.
Website Redesign To Create “Digital Federal Front Door”
As part of the order, the government will also be redesigning the USA.gov website to become a “digital front door” to access government benefits, services and programs. Rather than navigating outdated websites for various programs, the re-design will put necessary programs at people’s fingertips, accessible within one to three clicks, taps or commands.
Several departments of the federal government, including the U.S. Treasury, Interior department, Agricultural department, Labor department and the Department of Health and Human Services will spearhead efforts to streamline and improve their customer-facing service. The efforts will be led by the respective secretaries of each department.
For instance, the Secretary of Agriculture will look for ways to streamline enrollment and certification for SNAP and WIC programs and consider options for online purchasing using these benefits. Likewise, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will focus on creating and delivering personalized online tools and expanded customer support for Medicare, expand telehealth services in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and support coordination between various benefit programs whenever possible.
Each initiative points to the over-arching goal outlined in the first section of the executive order: “Government must be held accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve.”
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