Document Name: App B: Text of Cus. Svc. Stnds: Beneficiaries (14 of 23)
Owner: National Performance Review
Title: App B: Text of Cus. Svc. Stnds: Beneficiaries (14 of 23)
Author: Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review
Date: September, 1994
Appendix B: Text of Customer Service Standards
Department of Agriculture
Food and Nutrition Service
Manages the food stamp program.
--- We promise to let you know if you're eligible for food stamps as
soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after you file your
application. You'll need to fill out your application as soon as
possible, but you can start counting the days as soon as you contact
the food stamp office and give us your name, address, and signature.
--- If you qualify for immediate assistance, we promise to give you
your food stamp benefits within five days.
--- We promise to let you know at least one month before your food
stamp benefits are due to stop. If you apply to continue your food by
the 15th of your last month -- and you still qualify -- we'll make
sure your benefits are not interrupted.
--- If we say you don't qualify and you don't agree with our
decision, just ask and we promise to give you a fair hearing. We also
promise to let you know the results of your appeal within 60 days.
--- We promise to treat you fairly and equally regardless of your
age, race, color, sex, handicap, religion, national origin, or
Department of Defense
Defense Logistics Agency
Defense Personnel Support Center Homeless Support Initiative
Provides clothing and bedding to organizations housing the homeless.
--- The standard we have set is that we respond to the need
indicated. Normal delivery time is two weeks; however, overnight
delivery is accomplished if necessary.
Department of Health and Human Services
Health Care Financing Administration
Manages the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
--- We will answer your written inquiries within 30 days of receipt.
If getting you an accurate answer will take longer, we will keep you
--- We will respond to your telephone inquiries in a pleasant and
helpful manner. We will provide an immediate answer whenever
possible. If we cannot provide an immediate answer, we will give you
a firm commitment as to when an answer can be provided.
--- Nobody likes to be put on hold. Our standard is that callers will
be "on hold" for no more than two minutes.
--- Calls made in off hours will be returned the next business day.
--- We are asking our customers to help us improve all of our
publications and notices so they can be understood by our customers.
We will begin using new publications and notices beginning early next
Claims processing (Medicare):
--- We are currently working hard to simplify our claims processing
system to provide you with more consistent determinations.
--- We will process your claims for service accurately and within the
times provided for in the law.
--- If you are not satisfied with the action we take on your claim,
you can appeal and we will process your appeal fairly, accurately,
and within established timeframes. We are working to reduce the
paperwork burden associated with appeals.
--- We will measure your satisfaction with Medicare and Medicaid
through the use of customer surveys, focus groups, public comments,
and meetings with customer representatives.
--- We are setting up groups of customers who volunteer to give us
assistance in setting standards and evaluating our performance.
--- We will identify customers who have special needs related to
vision, hearing, mobility, health status, literacy, language, and
other factors. We will make a special effort to help these customers
with access to services and information.
Health care choices:
--- We will provide clear, understandable information about the
options our customers have in choosing a managed health care plan,
including information about individual plans, to assist them in
making health care decisions.
Medicaid special standard:
--- We will encourage all states to establish customer service
standards for Medicaid, and we will work with them to assure a goal
of continuous improvement in customer service and program
Health care quality:
--- We will provide doctors and hospitals with information they can
use to give better care to our beneficiaries, and we will monitor the
effect of those activities.
--- We will expedite our investigative and case review process as
much as the law will permit when a complaint involves quality issues.
--- We will respond to verbal or written complaints from
beneficiaries or their representatives by mailing a complaint form to
them within two working days of the telephone contact or responding
in writing to written beneficiary complaints within 10 working days.
--- We will fully investigate all leads about potential program fraud
and abuse in order to protect against unnecessary expenditures.
--- We will work with our partners, our agents, states, other
interested parties, and our customers to identify and implement
creative and effective approaches to improving our programs and our
Public Health Service
Indian Health Service
Provides health care services to American Indians and Alaskan
--- Your right: You deserve to know who is treating you and what
services are available to help maintain your health.
Our standard: Our staff will verbally identify themselves to you
upon contact, will wear name tags, and will provide information on
the types of services available to you.
--- Your right: You deserve respectful care and consideration for
your emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual values and comfort.
Our standard: Our staff will be oriented through in-service
training to be sensitive to your emotional, social, cultural and
spiritual values and comfort.
--- Your right: You deserve to have all the information you need to
help you and your family make treatment decisions in partnership with
your health care providers.
Our standard: Our staff will inform you and answer your
questions about your treatment. The information provided to you will
be documented in your medical record.
--- Your right: You have a choice to accept or refuse medical care to
the extent permitted by law, and to be informed of the medical
consequences of such refusal.
Our standard: Our staff will discuss with you our recommended
treatment and document your decision in your medical record.
--- Your right: You deserve to be assured of your personal privacy
and the confidentiality of your medical records.
Our standard: We will take full responsibility for protecting
your personal privacy and the confidentiality of your medical
records. Except as authorized by law, any use of your record outside
of your personal health care will be undertaken only with your
--- Your right: You have the right to expect that within our capacity
we will be responsive to your requests for services.
Our standard: Our staff will respond to your requests for
services as quickly as possible. For services not available locally,
you and your family will be informed how and where you can obtain
these services and whether transportation will be provided.
Social Security Administration
Manages the Social Security programs.
We will administer our programs effectively and efficiently to
protect and maintain the Social Security trust funds and to ensure
public confidence in the value of Social Security. We are committed
to fair and equitable service to our customers. We promise to respect
your privacy and safeguard the information in your Social Security
We are equally committed to providing you with world-class public
service. When you conduct business with us, you can expect:
--- We will provide service through knowledgeable employees who will
treat you with courtesy, dignity, and respect every time you do
business with us.
--- We will provide you with our best estimate of the time needed to
complete your request and fully explain any delays.
--- We will clearly explain our decisions so you can understand why
and how we made them and what to do if you disagree.
--- We will make sure our offices are safe and pleasant and our
services are accessible.
--- When you make an appointment we will serve you within 10 minutes
of the scheduled time.
--- If you request a new or replacement Social Security card from one
of our offices, we will mail it to you within five working days of
our receiving all the information we need. If you have an urgent need
for the Social Security number, we will tell you the number within
one working day.
We know that you expect world-class service in all of your dealings
with us. Today, we are unable to meet your expectations in some
areas, but we are working to change that. We are revising all our
critical work processes to make them simpler, quicker, and more
customer friendly. When we redesign our processes, you can expect:
--- When you call our 800 number, you will get through to it within
five minutes of your first try. (Today we often are not able to meet
this pledge. During our busiest days you will get a busy signal much
of the time.)
--- When you apply for disability benefits, you will get a decision
within 60 days. (Today we often are not able to meet your
expectations, but we are getting better. In 1994, we made disability
decisions two weeks faster then we did in 1992. We will give you our
best estimate of how long it should take to get your disability
decision at the time you apply.)
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Housing/Federal Housing Authority
Stimulates housing through direct financing, loan guarantees,
interest rate subsidies, mortgage insurance, etc.
You can expect our employees to meet the following standards:
--- Every customer is entitled to courteous treatment.
--- Every employee represents the Office of Housing.
--- Display name plates or wear name tags as appropriate.
--- Identify yourself and your organization every time you have a
--- Don't drop the ball -- direct correspondence and telephone calls
to the correct party.
--- When transferring a customer, take time to reassure the customer
that assistance can be obtained by speaking with another party in the
office and that they are not being shuffled around.
--- After assisting a customer, offer to provide additional
assistance at a later time should the need arise.
--- Provide a "real person" alternative to all voice-mail messages.
--- Strive to provide foreign-language alternatives and alternatives
for the deaf and blind, when necessary.
--- Provide all available information to a customer on the first call
or letter; ensure that all questions are answered.
--- Write in plain English, not technical or government jargon.
--- Follow-up regularly to ensure that quality products are provided.
--- Advise customers/partners in writing when new policies or changes
are being considered; involve them in the development phase.
--- Consider the needs of customers/partners when developing products
--- Apprise customers/partners of operational problems, e.g., don't
wait for the customer to call only to be told the system they need is
--- Reach out to customers -- go to their place of business when
possible; conduct regular conference calls.
--- Include a contact name, organization, telephone number, and
effective date on every document, e.g., handbook, Mortgagee Letter,
congressional and general correspondence.
--- Ensure adequate telephone coverage throughout the business day;
answer all phone calls by the third ring.
--- Respond to all telephone inquiries within 24 hours.
--- Respond to written correspondence within 10 working days.
--- Provide an interim response when a complete response requires
extra time for research or there is a heavy workload.
--- Provide "1-800" customer service numbers when possible and
--- Establish quantitative customer service goals and incorporate
them into performance standards and Housing's Plan where possible.
--- Establish quantitative processing standards for each program or
--- Solicit feedback and react to customer comments.
--- Train all employees regularly on customer service initiatives.
--- Institute random supervisory quality control checks to ensure
that appropriate and adequate customer service is provided.
--- Encourage teamwork so all staff are thoroughly informed.
--- Provide basic program training to clerical staff, particularly
those who deal with the public.
--- Include in the headquarters telephone directory and each field
office telephone directory a contact name and telephone number for
each program area, e.g., Single Family Mortgage Servicing, John Doe,
--- Always conduct oneself as a representative of the organization.
Mortgage Assignment Program
Provides an alternative to mortgagors (customers) who are on the
verge of losing their home to foreclosure.
The following customer service standard is used by field office staff
in handling customers who are seeking relief:
--- Customer receives written notice from the mortgagee that their
mortgage is in default. The letter outlines the eligibility
requirements for the Mortgage Assignment Program and gives the
Customer 15 calendar days to contact the HUD field office.
--- Customer contacts field office staff and requests acceptance into
the Mortgage Assignment Program.
--- Staff identifies documents needed to make eligibility
determination and schedules a conference with the customer.
--- Staff completes analyses of documents prior to conference.
--- Decision on acceptance into the Mortgage Assignment Program is
made within 90 calendar days from the date of the customer's initial
telephone call to the date of final decision.
Mortgage Approval Process
--- Processing time from the date of receipt of the application
package to date of final approval/rejection is 45 calendar days.
Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance, Section 203(k)
Provides mortgage insurance for the purchase or refinance and
rehabilitation of single-family properties.
Mortgagees (partners) make Section 203(k) loans available because HUD
insures the mortgage before rehabilitation work is completed. If you
are the mortgagee, you can expect us to meet this standard:
--- Processing is competed and a mortgage insurance certificate is
issued to the mortgagee within 10 days of HUD's receipt of the closed
Department of Labor
Pension Welfare Benefits Administration
Administers and enforces standards to protect assets in private
pension and benefit plans worth $2 trillion.
What you can expect -- if you telephone:
--- A friendly courteous voice.
--- A representative who will listen to your questions and be
sensitive to your request.
--- A return call no later than the end of the next business day.
What you can expect -- if you write:
--- A reply within 30 days of our receiving your letter.
--- A clear, easy-to-read response.
What you can expect -- anytime:
--- Straightforward information on how the law applies to your
--- Information on options that may be available.
--- Respect for your privacy.
--- The name of the employee assisting you.
Department of the Treasury
Financial Management Service
Handles claims for lost or missing checks.
--- We are reinventing our process so that it will take less time to
process claims by reducing our average processing time by 40 days!
--- We are also reinventing our process to reduce the Federal Program
Agency Check Claims cycle time by five days.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Protects the benefits of participants in private sector pension plans
and provides timely payment of benefits for those pension plans that
have been terminated.
We pledge that:
--- In all communications with you, we will acknowledge your inquiry
within one week. If we cannot give you an immediate answer, we will
tell you when to expect it and we will give you a specific point of
--- If it will take us longer than expected to answer your question,
we will give you a status report and tell you a new date when to
expect an answer.
--- If you are receiving a pension check, changes you request (such
as address change, direct deposit, tax change) will be made within 30
days, if the request is received by the first of the month. It will
take another month if the request is received after the first of the
Railroad Retirement Board
An independent agency administering retirement, disability, and
unemployment/sickness for railroad employees.
--- We will be courteous and treat you with respect every time you
--- The information you provide us is protected under the provisions
of the Privacy Act.
--- We will reply within 10 working days of receiving your letter. If
for any reason we cannot, we will acknowledge your letter and tell
you how long it will be before we can answer your questions fully.
--- If you filed for your railroad retirement employee or spouse
annuity in advance, you will receive your first payment, or a
decision, within 45 days of your date of retirement.
--- If you filed for a railroad retirement survivor annuity or lump
sum benefit, you will receive your first payment, or a decision,
within 75 days from the date you filed your application, or became
entitled to benefits, if later.
--- If you filed an application for unemployment or sickness
insurance benefits, you will receive a claim form, or a decision,
within 15 days of the date we receive your application.
--- If you filed a claim for unemployment or sickness insurance
benefits, you will receive your payments, or a decision, within 15
days of the date we receive your claim form.
--- If you filed for a railroad retirement disability annuity, you
will receive your first payment, or a decision, within 120 days from
the date you filed your application.
--- If you think we made the wrong decision about your benefits, you
have the right to ask for review and to appeal. We will tell you
about these rights each time we make an unfavorable decision about
--- Claims for some benefits may take longer to handle than others if
they are more complex, or if we have to get information from other
people or organizations. If this happens, we will give you an
explanation and an estimate of the time required to make a decision.
--- We will display in each office how well we are meeting the
--- When you visit our offices, the staff will identify themselves by
--- When you telephone us, we will identify ourselves by name.
--- Our letters will be easy to understand, and, unless the letter is
a computer notice, the person writing to you will give you his/her
--- When you telephone us, you should be able to reach us on the
--- When visiting us, you will be helped within five minutes of your
--- You will not have to wait more than 30 minutes if you do not have
--- If you cannot come to our office, we may be able to visit you at
home or at one of our regularly scheduled service locations.
--- If things go wrong, at the very least you are entitled to a good
explanation and an apology.
--- A Customer Assessment Survey form is available in every office
for you to tell us how we did and how we can improve our services.
--- If you are not satisfied with our service, you may contact the
manger of the office with which you have been dealing, or the
Regional Director who is responsible for that office. Their names and
addresses are available in each office.