White House mulls CXO role at agencies

The White House is considering whether to formalize the customer experience officer role, but also thinking about the position's impact on IT.

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The White House is considering whether agencies should have formally designated customer experience officers (CXO), said Matt Lira, Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of American Innovation.

"It's something that's being discussed and has been discussed," he said. A CXO position could be analogous to the agency chief data officer positions created in 2019 by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act.

Improving federal customer experience is one of three "cross-cutting priority goals" in the Presidents Management Agenda. In early October, the White House said it was looking to hire additional customer experience and design professionals to drive more engaging customer-facing services at agencies.

During a panel at ACT-IAC's virtual Executive Leadership Conference on Oct. 29, Lira said that although a CXO could be a valuable addition for agencies, there are some concerns.

"My view is that if we create positions, we need to make sure they're not just vaporware. Every position needs to be truly empowered to execute their mission," he said.

The push to improve customer experience is in early organizational development, he said, with different levels of implementation across federal agencies.

Agency CIOs, he said, at least for now, are in a better position to improve customer experience by insuring the IT infrastructure that underlies federal agency services is sharp, effective and secure.

"I wouldn't want a scenario, in a broader view, where you have a CXO with one staffer and an inability to do things across the board versus having real teams that are empowered," said Lara.

The White House, he said, is considering what that model could look like.

"I'd be wary of dividing the pie into so many slices that no one is responsible for the whole," he said.