Document Name: The U.S. Gov. & Fed. Employees (11 of 23)
Date: 09/01/94
Owner: National Performance Review
Title: Standards for Our Customers: The U.S. Gov. & Fed. Employees (11 of 23)

Author: Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review

Date: September, 1994


CUSTOMER GROUP: The U.S. Government and Federal Employees


When Vice President Gore visited federal employees in a series of

town hall meetings, he asked them, "Where is the red tape? Where are

the processes the slowest?" They gave him a list: personnel,

procurement, office space, and travel. The internal management

functions of the federal government are known to be bureaucratic,

cumbersome, and slow. Not only does this frustrate everyone, it costs

money. Federal employees are finding out for themselves that they can

build systems that work better, cost less, and better serve the

customer -- even if the customer is themselves.

Agencies that serve federal employees and organizations include the

Office of Personnel Management, which oversees regulations for

employees and employee benefits, and the General Services Administra-

tion, which oversees regulations for buying goods and services. Each

federal agency also has administrative functions and is pursuing its

own internal customer service focus.

Filling a Job, Getting a Job


Hiring federal employees has always been a slow, painful process. You

have to prepare position descriptions, evaluation criteria, crediting

plans, and vacancy announce-ments. Then you review them all. Then you

screen applications (sometimes as long as 50 pages) for basic

qualifications. Then a panel of experts evaluates applications and

ranks them according to qualifications. Then you conduct interviews.

Depending on the number of applicants, the process can take six

months or more.

This is a bad deal if you're trying to hire. It's even worse if

you're trying to get hired.

Now, there is a better way. It was developed by the Office of

Personnel Management, which has taken great strides in the past year

in using cutting-edge technology to keep job seekers informed and to

screen applicants. Having a high-tech approach to the federal job

search not only speeds up the process, it improves the quantity and

quality of the applicant pool by projecting a more dynamic, modern

image for the government. Job seekers also win because looking for a

federal job doesn't mean doing a platform dive into a pool of red


Now anyone with a touch-tone phone or a personal computer and a modem

can find out about nearly any job available in the entire government

and learn how to apply for it -- seven days a week, around the clock.

A job seeker can even apply for some of these jobs by phone. It's

simple to find and apply for any nursing job in the federal

government, for example; just dial 1-800-800-USRN. It's one of the

most intelligently designed, customer-friendly automated phone

systems to be found anywhere, public or private.

Applications for other jobs are done electronically with a simple

multiple-choice form. These applications are then screened by

computer, eliminating the need for specialists to spend hours and

hours plowing through piles of SF-171 job application forms, looking

for basic qualifications.

The Interior Department's Mineral Management Service recently took

advantage of the new system. "Not only is the system faster, but we

also receive more candidates from sources that we had not previously

considered," says Robert E. Brown, associate director for

administration and budget. He estimates that the system will save $9

million a year in staffing and processing costs when used



Highlights from Customer Service Standards:

OPM's Federal Employment Information System


OPM has established the following service standards for job seekers

using the Federal Employment Information System:

--- We will provide you with courteous and timely service.

--- We will update our nationwide job listings every business day.

--- We will have Employment Information Specialists available to

answer your questions.

--- We will provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week access to

nationwide job information and application request services through a

variety of electronic media.

--- We will respond to your requests for applications and/or routine

information within one business day.

--- We will use your suggestions and complaints to improve our

service continually. We will always remember we work for you, the

American public.

General Services Administration's FTS2000 program


GSA manages the federal government's FTS2000 program for long-

distance voice, data, and video telecommunications services. There

are 1.7 million federal telecommunications customers in the United

States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Some of the

program's customer service standards are as follows:

--- Overhead rates will not exceed 8 percent.

--- Prices paid by customers will remain below the average of the

lowest commercial rates.

--- Agency requests for exceptions to FTS2000 will be responded to

within 15 days.

--- Monthly statements of accounts will be issued to customers by the

16th of the month.

--- Customer satisfaction with overall handling of trouble reports by

the FTS service providers will be maintained at a 95 percent level.

--- Ninety-five percent of the issues raised during our annual Users

Forums will be resolved as scheduled.


The travel system in the Department of Defense was also filled with

useless rules. Department of Defense employees fill out 11.7 million

travel vouchers a year; that's 45,000 a day. The traditional process

includes 17 steps and takes about three weeks. "It seems sometimes

they do more traveling getting their orders done than they do when

they actually get on a plane," says Air Force Captain Rod Berk, who

was tasked with reducing the red tape for the Defense travel system.

Berk's new process requires only four steps and cuts processing time

from three weeks to one day. The new electronic system even sends

checks out in one day. "It makes life easier for us," says Joan

Diamond, chief of the travel division says. "Everything is automated,

so we don't have to shuffle papers around."

Best of all are the savings to the taxpayer. The project is currently

in a pilot stage; the Defense Department estimates that once the

system is up and running departmentwide, it will save about $1

billion in processing costs over a five-year period.

When you buy something for your home or family, you want to spend as

little money as possible, but you also need to think about value. If

you work for the federal government, on the other hand, and you want

to make a small purchase, you don't have time to look for bargains.

You have to fill out a stack of forms and go through lots of time-

consuming drivel. Processing costs for small purchases are about $50

each. Few individuals would consider paying a $50 service charge for

every purchase they made.

Now, to make small purchases easier, GSA has introduced purchase

cards for most government purchases under $2,500. Not only are the

purchase cards more convenient, they're cost-effective: GSA has

signed a contract with Visa that gives rebates on many purchases, and

federal agencies can save billions of dollars in paperwork,

processing time, and administrative costs. Also, federal employees

will finally be able to buy the basic goods and services that are

essential to day-to-day operations.

GSA is also working hard to improve the services it provides

governmentwide, like office space, rental cars, and long-distance

phone service. In the past, GSA rates have not always worked out to

be cheaper. Now, in many instances, GSA has adopted a stance of

competing against private sector firms to provide the best deal. So

GSA must be competitive, or it loses the business.


Your Standards

These agencies and offices are publishing customer service standards

for federal employees and other federal agencies. The standards

appear in the "U.S. Government and Federal Employees" section of

Appendix B.

Department of Commerce

Bureau of the Census

Governments Division Reimbursable Surveys

Department of Defense

Defense Commissary Agency

Legislative Affairs

Personnel and Readiness

Department of State

Office of Foreign Missions

Department of the Treasury

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

U.S. Mint

U.S. Secret Service

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Executive Office of the President

Admittance to White House Complex

EOP Libraries

White House Conference Rooms

General Services Administration

Fleet Management System

Fleet Management Services, Region 2

Office of FTS2000

Office of Personnel Management

Federal Employment Information System

Office of Insurance Programs

Retirement and Insurance Group

U.S. International Trade Commission

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