[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[March 3, 1998]
[Pages 319-320]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Memorandum on Conducting ``Conversations With America'' To Further 
Improve Customer Service
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.
    Actions. The agencies covered by Executive Order 12862 are directed 
as follows:
    1. 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 
    2. 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

[[Page 320]]

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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 
    5. 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.
    6. 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 business.
    Independent Agencies. Independent agencies are requested to adhere 
to this directive.
    Judicial Review. 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