Recently, President Obama issued an executive ordering the streamlining of federal websites. Last week, OMB Watch sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget with recommendations for its guidance on implementing the order including the suggestion that “customer service doesn’t always look like filling out a form or receiving a payment. Providing information is a major government service….”
Informing and engaging the public is a critical government service for many agencies, and improving those services should properly be considered within the scope of the order;
Successfully soliciting meaningful customer feedback requires embracing the principles of participation and collaboration embodied in President Obama’s memorandum on transparency and open government; and
Agencies should be mindful that, although they may use customer service considerations to improve their interactions with regulated entities, their true customers are always the American people and not the regulated community.
— Letter, (May 13, 2011) to Jeffrey Zients Office of Management and Budget, Re: Executive Order 13571 Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service, from Sean Moulton Director and Gavin Baker, OMB Watch.
The letter goes on to note that “regulated entities are not the ‘Customer,'” saying: “the order should not be seen as permission to develop an overly familiar relationship with regulated entities or place too much emphasis on the stated needs of their regulated communities. We urge OMB to include guidance that reminds agencies that the public is the primary customer and cautions agencies from overly identifying the regulated entities as customers.”