Begin with the Customer in Mind: An Agency of the Future Event Recap

Yesterday, GovLoop hosted an in-person event examining the qualities and characteristics of the Agency of the Future. Lightning speakers at the event included Angela Glymph, a statistician with the National Center for Education Statistics at the Department of Education, and Matthew Lyttle, an exercise program specialist at FEMA.

Both Glymph and Lyttle shared examples of how their agencies are making changes to better serve citizens. They emphasized that these policy changes began with an analysis of what resources citizens and groups needed most from government and ended with innovative responses to those needs. If you missed the event, here are some of the highlights from their discussions.

The Department of Education, and more specifically the National Center for Education Statistics, is striving to make their information meaningful, relevant, and accessible.

To be meaningful and relevant, statistical data is being presented in a way that citizens can use and understand. More specifically, data is being used to tell a story that the reader can relate to in their daily life. For instance, instead of simply talking about child literacy, Glymph and her colleagues attempt to demonstrate the impact that say reading for fun has on a child’s overall academic achievement. Glymph encourages other agencies to adopt a similar communication style because story telling with data will help stakeholders to know the value of the information provided by the government.

To be accessible, the National Center for Education Statistics has created a mobile app for accessing their information and has an online presence on social media sites. Glymph advocates for similar steps being taken by other agencies, stating that the Agency of the Future will strive to find out where its audience is and meet them there.

FEMA is working to improve disaster recovery efforts by empowering community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and local area food banks. The decision to collaborate with these non-profit groups came after an examination of donation efforts in local communities:

First, FEMA employees mapped non-profit networks and discovered that given their local knowledge, manpower, and resources, they were the best equipped for handling the distribution of donations. Second, FEMA employees reached out to local non-profit groups, engaging them in a discussion about what they needed from FEMA to better respond during a disaster situation.

Both of these actions led FEMA officials to the decision that empowering local non-profit networks would be the best way for improving overall disaster recovery efforts. To that end, the organization continues to support groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and local area food banks by directing citizens to their services and maintaining an open dialogue with these groups on how FEMA can assist them in the future.

Lyttle emphasizes that through an evaluation of community needs and talks with local organization leaders, government agencies both now and in the future will be better able to respond to the needs of citizens.

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