Federal Manager's Daily Report

A bill to loosen restrictions on information agencies may collect from the public will help them offer better customer service, on which the federal government received the lowest scores since 1999 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, says a report on a bill now ready for a full Senate vote.

S-1275 “aims to facilitate the gathering of useful and timely customer satisfaction information to encourage continuous improvement of agency customer service,” says the report from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which recently approved the bill.

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It said the Paperwork Reduction Act currently limits such information gathering by requiring agencies to justify, quantify the impact of, and submit any proposed information collection for review by OMB—which in turn is required to minimize the federal information collection burden.

The bill would allow agencies to ask a specific set of questions, with participation to be voluntary and anonymous, and conducted at the point of service. Individuals who decline to respond are not to be treated differently by agencies for the purposes of providing services or information, and the results of data would be made public in aggregated form through regular agency reports and a central website.