Here Are Where Congress' Customer Experience Efforts Sit

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The next step for one bill is President Trump’s desk.

Lawmakers advanced two pieces of legislation that could bolster the delivery of citizen services and improve the way Congress engages citizens before they adjourned for summer recess.

On July 31, the Senate unanimously passed the Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents Act, or CASES. The bill, which was introduced by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would revise the Privacy Act of 1974 to give constituents the option to electronically authorize congressional offices to engage federal agencies. The bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., and Garret Graves, R-La., and passed in February.

The bill could dramatically reduce the time it takes for lawmakers to intervene on behalf of their constituents, eliminating the current requirement that lawmakers obtain written authorization from constituents before they act.

President Trump must sign the bill before it becomes law.

“When the American taxpayers we represent need assistance with Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Affairs or any other federal agency, they should be able to get the help and information they need quickly and easily,” Carper said in a statement. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill will help to ensure that elected officials like myself can be even more effective at one of our most important responsibilities—advocating for our constituents.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Agency Customer Experience, or FACE Act, cleared the Senate on July 25. The bill was introduced in May by Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H, and James Lankford, R-Okla., and shared key tenets of previous legislation that passed the Senate in 2017 and House in 2018. However, lawmakers were never able to iron out differences in the bills and thus never made it to Trump’s desk for signature.

The revised bill would simplify and expedite how federal agencies gather public feedback regarding customer experience and service delivery. The bill directs 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 bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va. The bill currently awaits action in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.