US government launches central customer services department

The US General Services Administration (GSA) has launched the "first comprehensive customer service department for citizens" in...

The US General Services Administration (GSA) has launched the "first comprehensive customer service department for citizens" in the US government, with a goal of responding to questions by web, e-mail or phone within two days.

USA Services will allow federal agencies to redirect questions sent to the wrong federal agency to USA Services staff, who will then answer the questions.

USA Services will also function as a customer service centre for federal agencies, with the programme responding to frequently asked questions for each participating agency, instead of agency staff taking time away from other duties to answer questions.

Government officials touted USA Services as a one-stop shop for people to get their questions about the federal government answered.

Although the US government already has a website, FirstGov.gov, and a toll-free number, the USA Services programme will centre on the response services at one place, allowing for faster and more consistent answers.

USA Services will allow for a significant improvement in customer service, said Mark Forman, administrator of the Office of E-Government and Information Technology at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

With help from a contractor, the six-member USA Services team will attempt to generate an immediate response to all e-mail, with responses within two days.

During a pilot programme, USA Services was able to answer about 95% of the questions asked, with the rest sent on to the agency for future research.

Grant Gross writes for IDG News Service

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