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Public Statements

Government Customer Service Improvement Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CUELLAR. Again, the gentleman from Missouri, I thank you so much for the leadership. And I certainly want to thank also Mr. Walsh from Illinois, who actually called me before this, which it is rare to have somebody from the other side call and say, How can I help you on this bill? So I find that refreshing and I want to say thank you for working with us and folks on this side of the aisle.

This bill, the Customer Service Improvement Act, is a bipartisan bill that has folks like McCaul, Duncan, Goodlatte, and other folks supporting this particular bill. I certainly want to thank Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings for their work, as well as the members of the committee, and for passing it from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously in April.

The primary goal of the Federal Government is to serve the taxpayers. This commonsense, bipartisan bill seeks to establish, monitor, and improve customer service across Federal agencies. It ensures that taxpayers get the quality of service that they deserve when interacting with Federal agencies. Too often we hear that veterans are waiting for months to get critical medical services or that seniors are waiting for months to get their retirement benefits. These are just two examples where millions of Americans that rely on Federal agencies have to wait on vital services, which is why we must usher in a new chapter to accelerate response time and overall performance for a better customer experience. With a sweeping 79 percent of Americans dissatisfied with Federal Government service, according to the 2011 Federal Customer Service Experience Study, we must all work together to make sure that Uncle Sam and Americans work together.

This bill is simple and necessary. First, H.R. 538 improves customer service standards across the board. It does this by requiring the Office of Management and Budget to develop performance standards to determine whether Federal agencies are providing high-quality customer service and improving service delivery to agency customers. According to a 2010 GAO report, Federal agency customer service standards were often not made easily available for customers to find and access or were not made available to the public at all. In other words, we provide customer service; and if somebody wants to know how that agency is providing the service and the standards, it must be made available.

Second, the bill raises the bar for enhancing quality and access to customer service. This is accomplished by requiring agencies to collect information from the customers regarding the quality of the service. Again, this must be a way that we raise that standard.

Third, it puts a face on accountability. The bill requires that each agency designate an employee to be its customer relations representative. So when somebody is dealing with a Federal agency, we must know who they can complain to, who they must talk to in order to provide that customer service. Just like in the private sector that strives to provide excellent customer service that they bring in order to get more business, the Federal Government must do the same thing.

As the gentleman from Illinois said, there's no cost on this according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And, again, I would ask that we all work together to provide better service.

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