Aiming to improve customer service delivery across federal agencies, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s bipartisan Government Customer Service Improvement Act, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Michael McCaul (R-TX), has been passed by the House of Representatives.
In a statement, Warner said that millions of Americans depend on federal agencies for vital services, and delays in processing those requests often result in inconvenience, frustration and financial hardship. Passage of this legislation will make the federal agency customer service process both more transparent and more efficient and will focus limited resources on improving front-line customer service functions.
The legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to set government-wide customer service standards to improve response times for citizen requests and government services. It holds the chief performance officer at each agency responsible for improving customer service and would also establish a specialized team to assist those agencies which consistently fail to meet customer service standards.
In addition, the Government Customer Service Improvement Act of 2013 sets specific service improvement targets for the Office of Personnel Management, an agency which has experienced chronic backlogs in processing retirement benefits for federal employees. As of June 2013, OPM had a backlog of more than 25,500 unprocessed claims. Customers who call OPM also consistently experience busy signals and significant wait times.
“Today’s House vote is a step toward better service for the millions of people who rely on the federal government,” Warner said in a statement. “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. For example, Virginia is home to more than 130,000 federal retirees, and I’ve heard from folks waiting over 400 days for their full retirement benefits from the federal government. That simply is not acceptable.”