April 28, 2000
Conversations with America was a reinventing government
initiative to engage federal workers in two-way conversations with their
customers, the American public, on how to improve customer service. A
"conversation" took place in many settings-town hall meetings, focus
groups, electronic chat rooms, e-mail, customer surveys and comment
cards, call-in radio and television shows, toll-free call centers. The
list goes on.
Federal workers have been focusing on customer service since
President Clinton asked Vice President Gore to lead a reinventing
government initiative in March of 1993. Bolstered by a Presidential
order, federal agencies created more than 4,000 customer service
standards 1997. Now they are working to measure their success in meeting
Vice President Gore announced the Conversations with America
effort when we celebrated the fifth anniversary of reinventing
government in March, 1998. President Clinton issued another directive to
mark the 5-year milestone: "It is time to increase efforts to engage
customers in conversations about further improving Government service,"
The point of Conversations with America was to have government
produce results that Americans care about. That means all federal
workers--from the head of the agency to front line staff--talked with customers about improving service.
Dozens of federal agencies partnered with NPR in this one year concentrated effort. We asked them to plan and publicize Conversations
with America events and to share them with us. Many agencies continue posting their Conversations with America schedules on their