DHS organizing new directorate to lead CX efforts

DHS has brought on a U.S. Digital Service veteran to lead a new customer experience directorate.

The Department of Homeland Security is moving out on a department-wide customer experience initiative across multiple fronts, with DHS bringing in a former U.S. Digital Service official to lead a new CX office.

DHS is establishing a permanent “CX Directorate” at headquarters this year. During a March 16 meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, DHS Chief Information Officer Eric Hysen said the permanent office is already attracting “key talent” to the department’s CX work.

“We will be doing the same in each of our agencies and offices, knowing that this work will look different in different parts of the department, but that it’s critical that every one of our agencies has this commitment,” Hysen said.

DHS has brought onboard Dana Chisnell to lead the CX office. Chisnell is listed on her LinkedIn as having served as “acting executive director for customer experience” at the DHS CIO’s office since last August.

Chisnell is a veteran of the U.S. Digital Service, and Hysen called her “one of the nation’s leading experts on design of civic systems.”

DHS has also made some progress on an initiative announced last September aimed at hiring as many as 100 CX experts.

Hysen said DHS has already brought on more than 20 people under that effort. “We’ll be moving to significantly increase those numbers under Dana’s leadership throughout the year,” he added.

DHS is requesting $10 million in its fiscal 2024 budget to establish the new directorate, according to budget justification documents released this week. The directorate will lead DHS’ CX activities across five areas: design and experience operations; policy, guidance, and data; community engagement and partnerships; plain language and language access; and service delivery.

“With this investment, DHS will identify and address customer pain points through human-centered research, design, usability testing, and customer feedback,” budget documents state. “These curated solutions will be component-resourced and will implement modern technologies with a goal of reducing data burdens on external customers, and improve the overall customer experience for internal and external individuals and organizations interacting with DHS.”

The establishment of a CX cadre is expected to bolster DHS’ efforts under executive order 14058, “Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government.” The Biden administration has also CX a key investment area across government in its fiscal 2024 budget request.

Four DHS subcomponents are designated as “high-impact service providers” by the Office of Management and Budget due to the amount of individuals they interact with on a daily basis. They include Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The idea to establish the CX Directorate stems from recommendations approved by the Homeland Security Advisory Council in December. Hysen said DHS is adopting those recommendations to “improve key services today and institutionalize a practice and culture of customer experience in the department for many years to come.”

Hysen also said DHS is acting on a recommendation to publish an annual report on key department-wide customer experience metrics. He said DHS is taking that step further by looking to publish “real-time dashboards to better inform the public and oversight on the key elements of experience in our services.”

And DHS is also moving forward with another recommendation from the council to implement flexible hiring and staffing models, Hysen said.

“Our Office of the Chief Financial Officer is actively working to validate the remaining staffing models for our key front line services to ensure that we are appropriately staffed,” he said. “Where we have gaps, we are requesting those resources from Congress and doing everything we can to ensure that we have appropriate staffing available to meet customer needs.”

He added that Congress’s inclusion of pay equity for transportation security officers in the fiscal 2023 spending bill is a “key accomplishment” for DHS’ staffing plans.

“We believe that will make a real difference towards improving TSA’s ability to appropriately staff our airports,” Hysen said.

DHS is also moving to streamline its TSA PreCheck and CBP Global Entry program, again based on a recommendation from the council. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has directed DHS officials to “establish a shared vision across the department for what we’re calling ‘Trusted Traveler 2.0,’” Hysen said.

“That acknowledges that these programs have changed significantly since they were created, and we’ll be looking to share more about that over the months to come,” he added.



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