Friday, November 28, 2014

Customer there such a thing in government?

As we have progressed through this course there has been constant discussion on the importance of “open” government and what efforts have been implemented by the federal government to comply with Pres. Obama’s “open government” directive. The sad truth however, is significant and troubling. While steps have been taken to implement some channels for open government such as websites, social media connections and challenge exercises such as those on, the question remains, has the government really embraced the concept of inviting its citizens into the thought process and practices of government? This issue is addressed in the article published in the Washington Post,, “According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index the government ranks lower than nearly every private-sector industry measured.”
Prior year
% change
Energy Utilities
Health Care & Social Assistance
Accommodation & Food Services
Manufacturing/Durable Goods
Manufacturing/Nondurable Goods
Finance & Insurance
Retail Trade
Public Administration/Government

The current design of government websites can be seen as an initial stride toward a more accessible and interactive administration. However it must only be considered an initial phase. The current system is complex and cumbersome and deters citizen’s interaction with government. Robert McDonald, the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, provided sound cause to support this charge. He states, “The agency currently operates 14 different websites that require a different username and a different password for veterans to access the VA…that’s just flat wrong!”  
Another troubling example of this is benefits and services provided to those low income families who need it most. The Partnership for Public Service contends that, “government delivers a wide array of benefits and services to low-income families, but these services are organized in a complex web. They are structured according to the funding appropriated to specific programs and located in different agencies scattered across the government, making it hard for the citizen to navigate the complex maze.”  Here you have a strata of the citizenry that depends upon government assistance who must now jump hurdles and navigate a digital labyrinth in an attempt to get the goods and services they need. If government truly wants citizen engagement and the embrace of a philosophy of exceptional customer service, it must minimize the complexity and reduce the bureaucracy so the average person can become accurately informed and significantly engaged with government. A method or pathway must be developed to identify services that are often associated. The effect of this form of streamlining will help people navigate the system easier, get the goods and services they need, and develop a more positive and satisfactory relationship with the administration and their procedures. The articles refer to two government websites that have reduced the complexity and simplified the process. is a collaboration of among 12 agencies, and shares customer data across federal agencies. The deliberate acts of these agencies to eliminate the “silo effect” of information transfer and develop a more customer oriented or consumer friendly approach should be applauded and utilized as a blueprint for other agencies to follow.

Often times people employed in government forget they are there to serve the people. They also forget that if people could understand how government operates they would have a better knowledge base and therefore, appreciate the efforts made for them. True engagement requires understanding, access and motivation by all parties. Right now, government controls the information flow and the access points; if they relinquish some of that power, the people would respond with the motivation.

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