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Agencies Embrace CX Initiatives in Support of Presidential Directives

Customer experience leaders at CISA, GSA and OMB explain how they’re shifting strategies to support President Biden’s recent executive order.
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Agencies Embrace CX Initiatives in Support of Presidential Directives
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Customer experience leads at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and General Services Administration (GSA) explain how they are aligning their strategies in support of President Biden’s customer experience executive order.

The order calls for federal agencies to integrate human-centered design and digital service concepts to improve government’s customer experience. The directive outlines 36 customer experience improvement commitments across 17 federal agencies, as well as 35 “high-impact service providers” that are charged with improving their digital services.

“Having the executive order — then, potentially down the line, legislation — layers and solidifies these activities as an important part of government … and can really drive transformative change,” Federal Customer Experience Lead Amira Boland at OMB said during an ACT-IAC webinar this year.

At OMB, Boland said that over the next two years, the agency will focus on building out language to better define and understand services, digital products and customers.

“We’re shifting this mindset of a bureaucratic line … to reorienting around the service that is being provided, the channels that we then deliver … that’s the near-term success we’re trying to get to,” Boland said.

The office has supported other federal agencies to improve digital services. Biden’s executive order emphasizes the importance of improving veteran-facing services. Boland detailed OMB’s pilot with the Department of Veterans Affairs on transitioning from active-duty service to civilian employment.

“Through that, we were looking at different offices within the Defense Department that we thought were a high-impact service provider and then, of course, there’s also a whole program on supporting military families as they move from city to city. That’s obviously a huge service that is important,” Boland said. “The focus this year was really on looking at some of those key programs that really delivered on the Biden-Harris agenda.”

Edward Walters, chief customer officer at GSA, said Biden’s EO ties into the President’s Management Agenda, which called out improved customer service as a major priority. This section of the PMA will focus on developing or identifying federal shared products, services and standards. Rather than asking the public to navigate government silos to access services, the administration wants the government to meet people where they are.

“The PMA is so critical to our work at GSA,” Walters said. “Our strategic plan has customer experience all over it. [GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan] has emphasized that we need to be serious about improving the digital services at our front doors and the CX executive order puts more emphasis on putting people first.”

GSA will focus on two main priorities: its role in providing centralized platforms and tools for use across the government and implementing a customer-centric mindset within the agency to better support the public.

“We’re definitely trying to improve the digital customer experiences for other agency partners in addition to improve it for the end citizens,” Walters said.

CISA Customer Experience Branch Chief Jonathan Kraden said his agency has been working to help people better understand the “why and how” of CISA’s customer engagement, focusing on a value-add mindset.

“At CISA, we’re very excited about the EO because it gets more people paying attention to the work that we’re doing and thinking about, ‘What is this thing called CX?’” Kraden said. “We’ve always been looking for opportunities to show people what CX looks like at CISA. The best way to change hearts and minds is through the doing of CX.”

Looking ahead, as agencies work to improve customer experiences, leaders are leveraging data to inform decisions and identify gaps in service. Walters said that GSA is using survey data and collaborating with the agency’s chief data officer to enable data-driven decisions. GSA recently built a survey management dashboard to better collect, store and analyze data.

“We are really looking at qualitative, quantitative and contextual data and trying to exercise the organization to actually make decisions on that data,” Walters said. “We feel like we have sufficient data for our needs — can we always improve that? Yes, but we have to focus on what we have.”

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