The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is forging ahead with executing President Biden’s Federal customer experience improvement executive order issued last December by framing the planned service improvements around five distinct major life events where citizens may rely more heavily on the government for help.

OMB’s plan – outlined on the agency’s social media account – follows in line with the executive order’s instruction to create a “digital Federal front door” for the public to access all government benefits, services, and programs  “in just 1 to 3 clicks, taps, or commands from the homepage, without navigating duplicate and outdated Federal websites.”

“That home page will feature a new user experience based on the key life events, moments that matter most, and top tasks that Americans experience throughout their lives when interacting with Government,” the White House pledged in the December 2021 order.

OMB said this week it was moving to streamline “the federal customer experience around 5 major life events” in recognition that “interactions with the federal government often come at critical points in life when there’s a lot going on.”

The five life events listed by the agency are: “approaching retirement; recovering from a disaster; navigating from active duty to civilian life; birth and early childhood for low-income mothers and children; and facing a financial shock and becoming newly eligible for critical support programs.”

OMB said it will start the process by “interviewing people who have recently gone through these experiences to identify priority changes needed to save time and worry.”

“Ultimately, our efforts are centered on the idea that the government is here to make peoples’ lives easier,” the agency said.

Upping the CX Ante

The executive order’s focus on citizen service improvements falls squarely in line with major policy objectives outlined in numerous speeches since last year by Federal CIO Clare Martorana.

Drew Myklegard, who was recently named Acting Deputy Federal CIO at OMB, talked about those and other Federal IT themes today at a virtual event organized by FCW.

“We’re creating some really great momentum here at the Federal level,” he said of the Federal CIO’s aims to improve government agency citizen services.

At the same time, however, Myklegard said the government also needs to acknowledge the “hard truth” that private-sector consumer brands – whose customer service the government wants to at least match in effectiveness and ease of use – have also improved their service delivery over the past two years.

“Personally I’m enjoying the improved experience, but their customers are our customers as well, and those expectations for us have increased too,” he said. “There is no going back to the way things were.”

Myklegard said he joined OMB earlier this year “in part because I’m fully aligned with where our Federal CIO Claire Martorana wants to take this community.”

“She believes we’re in a moment that requires bold thinking, and I do too,” he said. “We’re in a moment that requires us not only to think differently but to work differently together by aligning to a Federal IT strategy.”

“Technology powers the Federal government’s ability to deliver a simple, seamless, and secure customer experience,” Myklegard continued. “If the government’s technology doesn’t work, then policy to deliver a better government to the public will not work either.”

“There are three actions we’re taking at the OMB level to create momentum on behalf of our customers,” he said. “First, we’re operating as one team for one America. At the Office of the Federal CIO, we’re viewing the federal government through an enterprise lens because across government, many of us are working hard to solve the same problems.”

To work on those similar problems, he said OMB is focused on four strategic initiatives – bolstering cybersecurity, modernizing and transforming IT, putting customers at the center of efforts to improve public-facing digital services, and “unlocking the data we have across government to assess risk and make data-driven decisions.”

On that last point, Myklegard said that OMB was in the process of working on a draft policy on “data sharing that is very specific based on the use cases that we want to accomplish,” referring to improving customer service around the five life events that OMB designated this week. “There is going to be a memo coming behind that,” he said.

Pandemic Progress

As evidence that the government can make big leaps forward on technology deployments during critical times, Myklegard also pointed to the progress made throughout the government during the coronavirus pandemic to enable remote work across agencies and quickly adopt the underlying technologies to make that possible.

“Whether you’re a Federal employee or a contractor, or a member of the greater government community, the past few years have been very testing,” he said. “But they have shown us what’s possible, virtually overnight, when we work together to move to a fully remote environment within our agencies and across government.”

The bottom line, he said, is “we worked hard to bureaucracy-bust, and deliver a decade of digital transformation in just a short 24 months.”

“It’s also important to recognize where we’ve been, celebrate what we’ve accomplished,” and then look ahead, he said. “Our ability to continue and lean into new ways of working and delivering was brought to us by the power of modern technology.”


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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.