CONGRESSMAN CUELLAR’S BILL TO IMPROVE FEDERAL AGENCIES’ CUSTOMER SERVICE PASSES THE HOUSE
H.R. 538 serves the taxpayers and makes Uncle Sam friendlier in customer service
Washington, September 11, 2012
Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) today announced his bill, the “Government Customer Service Improvement Act, passed by unanimous consent in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The bill seeks to serve the taxpayers by improving customer service across federal agencies.
“This good government bill ensures that taxpayers get the quality service they deserve when interacting with federal agencies. When nearly half of American households are relying on government aid and millions of others encounter the federal government on a daily basis, whether through the airport by Transportation Security Administration or at our border port inspections by Customs and Border Protection, this bill puts the taxpayer first,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Too often we hear that Americans’ are frustrated with government service. It is our responsibility to act when we hear that students are having difficulty with federal student loans or when seniors experience a delay in their retirement benefits. Every taxpayer, every day will benefit from this legislation.”
The Government Customer Service Improvement Act:
· Improves customer service standards by requiring the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop performance measures. This will determine whether federal agencies are providing high-quality customer service and improving service delivery to agency customers.
· Raises the bar for enhancing quality and access by establishing standards to increase the quality of customer service and enhance access to federal information and services. This will be accomplished by requiring agencies to collect information from their customers regarding the quality of service and ensures that customer feedback is used when developing standards.
· Puts a face on accountability by creating a customer relations representative within each federal agency who is directed to issue guidelines and standards for customer service. These results will then be made public.
U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced a companion bill related to improving the federal agency customer service. S. 3455 is the Senate version of Rep. Cuellar’s House bill H.R. 538.
“Today’s action on Rep. Cuellar’s commonsense legislation is a positive step forward. Citizens should expect federal agencies to deliver customer services at least as well as the private sector does, but this often is not the case," Senator Warner said. “Many of our veterans still wait too long for critical medical services, and federal retirees often must wait months before they begin to receive full retirement benefits. That simply is not acceptable.”
According to surveys conducted last year by the Federal Customer Experience Study, only 31% of surveyed Americans are very satisfied with customer service by the federal government, while 79% said the government can do a better job.
“Just like the private sector strives to provide excellent customer service to bring in business, the federal government should embed better service to bring efficiency,” Congressman Cuellar noted.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 538 does not have a significant cost. Currently, U.S. law does not require federal agencies’ customer service standards. H.R. 538 passed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in April with bipartisan, unanimous support. The bill now heads to the United States Senate where it awaits consideration.