Senate Reintroduces Federal Agency Customer Experience Act

Sen. Maggie Hassan

Sen. Maggie Hassan Alex Brandon/AP

The bill, which cleared the Senate in 2017 and the House in 2018, again has House sponsors.

Bipartisan legislation that would simplify and expedite the process by which federal agencies gather public feedback regarding customer experience and service delivery has been introduced in the Senate.

The Federal Agency Customer Experience Act of 2019, introduced by Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H, and James Lankford, R-Okla., shares the same name and key tenets of legislation that unanimously passed the Senate in 2017 and the House in 2018. However, differences between the bills weren’t ironed out and thus never made it to President Trump’s desk.

This time around, Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., will introduce companion legislation in the House.

“The bipartisan FACE Act will help identify changes or improvements that federal agencies need to make by allowing agencies to receive feedback directly from American taxpayers,” Sen. Hassan said in a statement. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this measure and help the government better serve the American people.”

The legislation would direct federal agencies to create short, voluntary and anonymized surveys in conjunction with the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget. Standard questions would address overall satisfaction, whether an individual accomplished his or her intended purpose, whether an individual was treated with professionalism and timeliness of service. Today, agencies expend significant time and resources to generate even basic surveys due to existing laws, such as the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires interagency processes and bureaucratic sign-offs before surveys can go out.

“The FACE Act will improve customer service by allowing agencies to collect feedback, measure customer satisfaction, and use the feedback to improve their service,” Connolly said in a statement.

The bill would also require participating agencies to publish customer feedback online with OMB, providing an additional layer of transparency to customers and Congress. For years, the federal government has struggled to provide the same kind of customer experience more commonplace among private sector corporations.

“Customer service should not be reserved for the private sector; the federal government should pay attention to its customers: American taxpayers,” Lankford said in a statement. “My office routinely hears from taxpayers who have identified federal agency customer service concerns, including timeliness of benefits processing, quality of communication, and general responsiveness. Congress cannot fix what it cannot see, and the FACE Act brings sunlight to the quality of federal agencies’ day-to-day interactions with constituents and gives American taxpayers greater ability to have their voices heard regarding their customer service experience with agencies.”

While early in the process, the FACE Act already boasts influential sponsors on both sides of the aisle, and it already has name recognition due to its previous time before the House and Senate. The FACE Act also directly addresses one of President Trump’s cross-agency priority goals.

“The Federal Agency Customer Experience Act ensures that federal agencies collect voluntary feedback from individuals about their interactions with the government. By gathering user comments, agencies will be able to gauge customer service concerns and publicly report the feedback they receive. The result is a win-win,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.