THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 3, 1998
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Conducting "Conversations with America"
to Further Improve Customer Service
This Administration has made significant progress toward
reinventing Government to improve customer service since I issued
Executive Order 12862, "Setting Customer Service Standards," on
September 11, 1993, followed by my memorandum of March 22, 1995,
"Improving Customer Service." For the first time, the Federal
Government's customers have been asked what they want and have been
told that they have a right to expect first-class service. Now they
can see the results achieved against the customer service standards
that have been set in place.
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of
my Administration's reinventing Government initiative, it is time to
increase efforts to engage customers in conversations about further
improving Government service. This initiative -- "Conversations with
America" -- will enable your agency to discover what is most important
to its customers and what the Federal Government can do to meet their
expectations. As your agency learns what Americans care about, use
this information to provide service that will equal the best in
business and serve as a model for others.
To carry out this effort and assure that Government works better
and gets results Americans care about, I am now directing the
additional steps set forth below.
The agencies covered by Executive Order 12862 are directed as follows:
- Agencies shall create activities and programs, continuing
throughout the year, that will engage customers in a discussion about
how to improve Government service by determining the kind and quality
of services they want and their level of satisfaction with existing
- By no later than March 16, 1998, agencies shall designate a person
within the agency to serve as the primary liaison to coordinate
information and programs dealing with the "Conversations with America"
initiative. Agencies shall then provide the National Partnership for
Reinventing Government (NPR) with their agency's primary liaison and a
list of events the agency will conduct to engage Americans in
conversations about improving Government service. This monthly report
should provide the date and a brief description of each event.
- Agencies shall engage the largest number of customers possible in
these conversations. The use of all forms of media is encouraged to
reach the largest possible audience. Particular emphasis should be
placed on conducting these conversations in the areas where agency
customers live and work.
- In 1998, agencies shall put in place a process to address customer
complaints. Agency customers should be provided opportunities for
finding solutions to problems, such as "Problem Solving Days" and other
venues. Agencies shall track and analyze the data they receive and use
it to change processes that do not serve customers well. As your
agency identifies individual problems, work to solve them quickly and
- Agencies shall use the information from "Conversations with
America" and continue to track customer service measurements, then take
necessary actions to change or improve how the agency operates, as
appropriate. Integrate what your agency learns from its customers with
your agency's strategic plans, operating plans, and performance
measures required by the Government Performance and Results Act of
1993, reporting on financial and program performance under the Chief
Financial Officers Act of 1990, and the Government Management Reform
Act of 1994.
- As required by my memorandum on improving customer service of March
22, 1995, each agency shall, on at least an annual basis, report on the
customer service results they have achieved in terms readily understood
by individual customers. Agencies shall continue actions required by
Executive Order 12862 as well, including, but not limited to surveying
employees and conducting benchmarking studies to assure we achieve
customer service for the American people that is equal to the best in
Independent agencies are requested to adhere to this directive.
This directive is for the internal management of the executive branch
and does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural,
enforceable by a party against the United States, its agencies or
instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON