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Spotlight: USAID Improves Customer Experience for its Partners

January 11, 2023

By Performance.gov Team

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The Biden-Harris Management Agenda (PMA) Vision lays the foundation for an effective, equitable, and accountable government that delivers results for all through three priority areas. Periodically we share stories and interviews that highlight real-world examples of one of the three PMA priorities.

We sat down with Colleen Allen, the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Management for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to hear how USAID is supporting PMA Priority 2: Delivering Excellent, Equitable, and Secure Federal Services and Customer Experience.

In 2021, USAID launched WorkwithUSAID.org in an effort to improve the customer experience for potential partners. Not only does this website support a PMA priority area, but it is also part of USAID’s work as a high impact service provider (HISP). There are 35 agencies with HISP designations because of the scale and impact of their public-facing services. These agencies are raising the standard of experiences across government. Read on to learn more about USAID and WorkwithUSAID.org.

Photo of Colleen Allen

Colleen Allen, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Management for USAID

  Q: What are USAID’s priorities as a federal agency, and how does customer experience play a role in achieving these objectives?

The challenges we face today — poverty, food insecurity, climate change, migration, health, education, corruption, democratic backsliding, and the lingering effects of the pandemic — are complex. USAID seeks to address these challenges, helping to further America’s interests, while developing partnerships and improving lives in countries around the world.

Our teams have been busy working on how to make engaging with more local partners a reality — we call this effort localization. We know that localization requires that we develop and embrace a whole new set of tools and fresh ways of working, including being much more intentional about enhancing our customers’ experience with our platforms, processes, and policies.

Q: In 2021, President Biden designated USAID as a new HISP. What does that mean to the agency?

We are proud of our HISP designation, a designation that reflects USAID’s efforts to listen and respond to our customer needs and experience, such as easing the path to partnership and alleviating administrative burdens. We see our HISP work as an opportunity to highlight, build on, and continue our work on everything from localization to making USAID a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible workplace. Working with local partners — the basis of our HISP work — is key to making USAID programs responsive, effective, and sustainable.

This is a great opportunity to highlight to the public, through the HISP platform and reporting, why our work is important and how we are working for them.

Q: What actions has USAID taken to advance its HISP work?

Expanding our community of partners starts with a focus on the customer experience by ensuring that we create a front door for new organizations to connect with us. Our customers include organizations in the United States and around the world who partner with USAID or would like to, participants in and leaders of our programs, and, of course, U.S. taxpayers. To improve our engagement with all of these groups, especially partners and potential partners, the agency launched WorkwithUSAID.org in November 2021. We built this website specifically to demystify USAID for organizations around the world tackling the same tough development and humanitarian challenges and who are interested in working with USAID. The site helps them navigate our partnership and procurement process.

This starts with a checklist that is available in eight languages and allows organizations to follow a simple guide on how to partner with USAID. WorkwithUSAID.org also includes a Partner Directory, where organizations can create a profile and connect with others in the development community to more easily forge prime or sub-partnerships. Organizations can also take our Pre-Engagement Assessment to self-evaluate their readiness to compete for USAID funding and receive a customized report with recommended trainings and resources to help build their capacity in low scoring areas

Q: What has been the reaction to these customer experience efforts?

We just celebrated the one year anniversary of WorkwithUSAID! Since the site’s launch in November 2021, we have seen a groundswell of interest, with more than 1.6 million pageviews and more than 3,100 organizations registered in the Partner Directory, of which 60% are local organizations and nearly 80% have not worked with USAID before. More than 2,200 organizations have completed the Pre-Engagement Assessment to determine their readiness to partner with USAID.

We are getting great feedback, including:

  • We just applied for our first opportunity with USAID and used your resources for guidance. We keep visiting your page to learn more.
  • Using the WorkwithUSAID.org Partner Directory and resources, we were able to establish a successful partnership with Fundamelher in El Salvador and craft a concept note for a grand challenge.

And, perhaps even more encouraging, we have heard from an engaged community of users about what they hope the site will do in the future. We believe the current platform is just the beginning of our efforts to put USAID partnership within reach for more organizations.

Q: What do you hope to achieve through the agency’s focus on customer service as a HISP?

My USAID colleagues and I care passionately about making positive impacts to alleviate urgent development and humanitarian crises. As committed development professionals, we are eager to lower barriers to partnering with the agency and build systems that invite and include new voices at the table. We want to work alongside local organizations, leveraging our respective strengths to achieve mutual aims. By making USAID partnership more accessible to more organizations through customer experience efforts like WorkwithUSAID.org, we simultaneously respond to the Biden-Harris Management Agenda and advance Administrator Power’s vision to center development work where it belongs, in local communities.

Visit WorkwithUSAID.org to explore how this free, globally available platform is improving the customer experience and lowering barriers to USAID partnership.

To learn more about customer experience in the federal space visit the Performance.gov CX page.

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Updated quarterly with progress on agency and PMA priorities and strategies.