Review of HR 538: Government Customer Service Act

Post Highlights

  • House of Representatives Passes HR 538 on September 11, 2012
  • Requires customer service standardization for the federal government
  • GovLoop resources on how to measure customer service effectiveness

This week we are celebrating Customer Service week. Recently the House of Representatives passed HR 538: Government Customer Service Improvement Act on September 11, 2012. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Henry Cuellar [D – Tx28] and cosponsored by John Duncan [R-TN2], Michael McCaul [R-TX10] and Robert Goodlatte [R-VA6]. The legislation now moves to the Senate for further discussion.

The key goal of the legislation is “to require the establishment of customer service standards for Federal agencies.”

You can look at the entire bill by following this link. Ultimately, I believe this is a step in the right direction to help keep moving forward with customer service in government. Some of the elements that I really like are:

“The head of each Federal agency shall collect information from its customers regarding the quality of customer services provided by the agency. Each Federal agency shall include this information in its performance report submitted under section 1116 of title 31, United States Code.”

“Customer Relations Representative- The head of each Federal agency shall designate an employee to be the customer relations representative of the agency. Such representative shall be responsible for implementing the customer service standards developed under section 2 and the agency requirements under subsection”

I’d be interested to get your take on the legislation, what you found useful, what not so useful and what some proper next steps are. I like the idea of having a customer relations representative, and sounds similar to some of the requirements from President Obama’s Executive Order 13571.

Although this piece of legislation is a step in the right direction, my issue with the legislation is that it does not seem to go quite far enough. What I like about the Executive Order 13571 is that it gives tangible and targeted dates to reach and milestones for agencies. The legislation, to me, seemed a little too vague and needs more formal guidance. Although, it is great to see an effort being put forth to standardize customer service metrics.

My colleague Andy Krzmarzick had a great post recently asking how we get to the core of customer satisfaction for government agencies, there is some great conversation on his post, so be sure to check it out.

What is your take on the legislation? Is this a good step in the right direction? What should next steps be? Is there anything missing that you would have added?

The Federal Consulting Group (FCG) is a franchise within the U.S. Department of the Interior. As the successor to the Federal Quality Institute, FCG has been advising and assisting federal agencies for more than 20 years with many of their senior consultants achieving results in large, high-profile government programs and projects. Check out their “Citizen Engagement & Customer Service” group on GovLoop as well as the Communications & Citizen Engagement Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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