The Biden administration is calling on agencies to step up their efforts to improve customer experience across government by bringing in additional experts and making better use of customer feedback data.
The administration’s fiscal 2024 budget request proposes $500 million in additional funding to modernize services, reduce administrative burdens and generally improve agency capacity to delivery public services.
“The federal government must deliver a simple, seamless, and secure customer experience, on par with, or more effective than leading consumer experiences,” the White House wrote in its budget proposal.
The 2024 budget proposal calls for agencies to hire 120 additional customer experience experts across the federal government. It specifies these new hires will have the skills necessary to “conduct human-centered design and digital service delivery.”
These CX hires would serve across several agencies designated as High-Impact Service Providers — including the Departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration, the Social Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Census Bureau
“This will enhance capabilities to learn directly from the public and identify pain points, analyze customer feedback, and use that information to improve service delivery. These new hires will support cross-agency life experience projects, customer research, and service improvement activities at agencies considered High Impact Service Providers (HISPs).”
The 2024 spending plan also calls on nine agencies either create or greatly expand their customer experience offices. Those agencies include the USDA, the Commerce Department, DHS, Interior, Labor, Treasury, VA, SBA and SSA.
The budget request includes $119 million for the General Services Administration to continue developing digital customer experience tools that have a governmentwide impact.
“These programs provide the foundational tools for Federal agencies to shape customer experience, especially where government websites are not user-friendly and must better comply with the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act— making them more accessible to all Americans,” the White House wrote.
The Biden administration is also calling on the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) to detail teams to work on high-priority digital service projects at six agencies.
The administration specifies that TTS will help the six agencies with the highest volume of web traffic to their public-facing online services.
The TTS teams will work to ensure that the information and instructions on these websites are clear, and that tools such as text messages and virtual chat agents are more widely available.
“The highly specialized customer experience and digital delivery talents at TTS provide flexible surge capacity for federal agencies in their customer experience transformation,” the White House wrote.
The Biden administration also directs seven agencies to create “Voice of the Customer” programs that would collect customer feedback data from “a broad representation of Americans.”
The White House expects this feedback would improve service delivery and target outreach to underserved communities.
The Biden administration proposes a $200 million increase in the Technology Modernization Fund to support IT modernization projects that have the potential to improve customer experience across government.
“TMF is particularly well-positioned to make a large impact in the federal government’s ability to deliver excellent, equitable and secure services and customer experience by identifying opportunities to leverage technology across agencies and investing in IT modernization, cybersecurity and user-facing services,” the White House wrote.
The TMF has awarded nearly $700 million to 38 projects across 22 agencies. The TMF board has reviewed more than 220 proposals that would have cost $3.5 billion in total to fund.
“TMF has proven to be a catalyst to show what is possible across government — and to scale lessons learned,” the White House wrote.
The Biden administration is also calling for continued focus on improvements to specific customer experience projects.
The budget proposal would give the Office of Personnel Management $6.6 million to modernize federal employee retirement services. The proposed funding would help reduce processing time, upgrade some of the IT systems supporting this work and expand a pilot for federal employees to submit their retirement applications online.
The White House is proposing $2.7 million for the Transportation Security Administration to pilot a Customer Experience Manager model at four airports, focused on streamlining passenger screening, easy-to-understand signage and better collection of customer feedback.
The Biden administration’s budget proposal would also give the IRS an additional $642 million to improve taxpayer experience and expand customer service outreach “to underserved communities and the entire taxpaying public.”
The administration’s budget plan would give the State Department $163 million to continue with its efforts to make online passport renewal accessible to the public.
The State Department expanded its online renewal pilot to the general public in August 2022, and expects to fully launch its online passport renewal capability later this year.
Matt Pierce, the State Department’s acting managing director for passport support, said in a recent interview that since that time, over 500,000 customers have successfully submitted an application using the pilot online passport renewal.
“We have now gotten sufficient volume in through our system to kind of stress-test it and to learn through customer feedback what we want to do with the future releases of the system,” Pierce said.
The department, however, temporarily closed the online renewal service to new customers on Feb. 7.
“This pause allows us to process existing applications submitted through the online passport renewal system and to continue to make improvements to the customer experience,” Pierce said.
The White House also directs agencies to work together on improving several cross-cutting life experiences and “tackle pain points from the lens of how people experience government programs at critical moments in their lives.”
“By better coordinating service delivery based on actual life experiences instead of bureaucratic silos, the federal government can better serve the American public,” the White House wrote.
The budget proposal would give $11 million to the Department of Health and Human Services and partner agencies including SSA, USDA, Housing and Urban Development and the General Services Administration (GSA) to streamline access to data needed to verify eligibility for federal programs.
“Applicants and state staff often manually verify income to gain access to these programs, which can be burdensome and time-consuming. By improving eligibility verification services and the quality of data coverage, the government can streamline the customer experience while maintaining complete verification requirements,” the White House wrote.
The administration would also give $9 million to SSA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to work together on a pilot to improve the experience of individuals applying for Medicare benefits.
It’s also calling on CMS and the Administration for Children and Families to work with cross-agency partners to improve data sources and verification services infrastructure.
The White House would give the Health Resources and Services Administration $40 million to help low-income families access federal benefits — including Medicaid, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The Biden administration is also looking at projects that have the potential to improve online services across government, such as common standards for web content and improved search engine capabilities on agency websites.
The budget plan, for example, proposes building out Search.gov to better structure and connect information across agency websites.
The Biden administration is also looking internally to improve the hiring process for applicants looking to join the federal workforce.
The budget request supports the Office of Personnel Management’s recent launch of its Hiring Experience Office, as it looks to streamline the federal hiring process.
OPM’s Hiring Experience Office is looking to streamline federal hiring in part through pooled hiring actions when several agencies are looking to hire the same types of specialists, such as cybersecurity experts or data scientists.