Aug 1 2013
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner applauded the House of Representatives’ passage today of his bipartisan Government Customer Service Improvement Act, which was sponsored by U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Michael McCaul (R-TX). The Senate legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and works to improve customer service delivery across federal agencies. 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 has 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,” Sen. Warner said. “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.”
“Senator Warner and I introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate to improve responsiveness of federal agencies to American tax-payers. I am pleased that the House has moved quickly to pass this important piece of legislation,” Sen. Johnson said. “Companies that have to succeed in the free market have an incentive to constantly improve customer service. Government agencies simply don’t have to respond to competition the way private companies do. This legislation ensures that federal agencies are responsive to the taxpayers who fund them by requiring the development of customer service standards and performance measures at each agency. By embedding the concept of customer service into government operations, agencies will ultimately become more efficient and effective. This is just common sense.”
Sen. Warner is Chairman and Sen. Ron Johnson is a member of the Senate Budget Committee’s Task Force on Government Performance. The bipartisan Task Force works to increase the performance and accountability of federal agencies and programs.
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