service design executive order
People may not always think interactions with the Government will be quick and seamless–but customer experience (CX) teams across the Federal Government are working to change that. Building on President Biden’s CX Executive Order and the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), Federal agencies are focused on improving the way they deliver services, including those offered by High Impact Service Providers (HISP) that represent the most common and crucial interactions that the public has with the Federal Government.
The teams have shared previous updates including the six months of progress since the issuance of the CX Executive Order. Today, we’re highlighting five efforts designed to make the Government work better for its people.
Providing Digital Services Through the VA Mobile App
Many Americans use mobile devices to access goods and services. Veterans are no different. Understanding that veterans needed fast and convenient mobile access to their benefits, the Department Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Digital Service released the VA Health and Benefits mobile app. Veterans can use the app to locate VA facilities, view or cancel their appointments, securely message their healthcare providers, view the status of their claims and appeals, view payments, and access Veteran Crisis services. The app allows veterans to sign in using Login.gov or ID.me, based on their preference for a Government or private-sector option, along with their phone’s built-in security features – like print and face recognition.
So far, over 923,000 veterans have used VA’s flagship mobile app. VA has found that veterans tend to log into the app at many different times, and usually use the app for a brief period of time – achieving the VA’s aim of providing veterans with quick, easy access to important services. VA has also addressed accessibility for veterans who do not have access to a smart device by providing a tablet to veterans who need it to use VA’s mobile app.
On both Google Play and the Apple App Store, VA’s mobile app has over a 4.6+ star combined ranking. Customers who liked the app pointed to being able to access their claims and appointment information on the mobile app, finding the app makes it easier to keep track of the status of their healthcare. Moving forward, VA is working to expand its mobile app’s capabilities to include services like refilling medications, scheduling appointments, and managing debt.
Making It Easier For Newlyweds to Change Their Names
When someone gets married and legally changes their last name, the process of getting a new, updated Social Security card can be time-consuming. They would need to either bring or mail the required documentation to a Social Security Administration (SSA) office.
To improve this process, SSA has partnered with the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) to use existing state data for marriage certificates. SSA then updated its online Social Security Card application to allow newlyweds to apply for an updated Social Security card. The online application is short, uses electronic signatures, and can confirm marriage status without needing staff to look at physical documentation, thanks to SSA’s partnership with NAPHSIS.
This portal is currently available in five states: Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota, Georgia, and Wyoming. Customers who have used SSA’s online marriage name change portal have found it easy to navigate, with clear instructions and simple language.
In the future, SSA hopes to expand its online application process for name change due to marriage to additional states, based on available state data and other resources. With about 2 million marriages happening annually in the United States, SSA estimates that 1.3 million people could benefit from this new, online service per year if participation were expanded to all states.
Reducing Airport Passenger Wait Times
Airport travel can be stressful, which is why the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is working to find technologies and solutions that enhance security while making the process of getting through airport security faster, simpler, and more predictable.
TSA is deploying machines that makes identity verification easier while exploring other innovative technologies that can be used. TSA is also piloting facial identification technology, known as TSA PreCheck ® - Touchless Identity Solution, that streamlines the traveler journey from check-in to boarding for DHS Trusted Travelers that choose to utilize this service. TSA PreCheck ® - Touchless Identity Solution uses CBP’s Traveler Verification Service to compare a live image taken to a gallery of pre-staged photos that the passenger previously provided to the Federal Government (e.g., U.S. Passport or Visa) for identification purposes. TSA still requires that passengers have the physical identification on their person to resolve any potential issues with the technology.
TSA has worked to pilot these technologies to improve passengers’ experience, all while enhancing the transportation security baseline, maintaining passenger privacy, and ensuring that alarms are not based on algorithm bias. TSA will continue to expand its innovative identification technology to more airports, in collaboration with airlines and other industry and government partners.
Simplifying the Farm Loan Application Process
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) noticed that farmers were having a hard time filling out applications for USDA Farm Loans. The application was 29 pages long, difficult to understand, and traditionally completed on paper, rather than online.
After speaking with users to understand the challenges with the current process and their specific needs, USDA began working to simplify its Farm Loan application. First, USDA launched a Loan Assistance Tool this past September, which provided an interactive, online guide in plain language that explains each step of the loan application process. USDA is also working to transition the paper application to a simpler, online process, which will launch in Spring 2023 – though users will still have the option to continue using the traditional paper application. USDA plans to introduce the ability to make loan payments online by late 2023.
Online loan payments will have a significant impact on both loan customers – who will no longer need to mail in payment or physically visit a local office – and USDA employees, who will not have to manually process payments made online.
The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) saw that the process for people newly eligible for Medicare to begin receiving benefits was confusing and left people feeling overwhelmed. The Medicare.gov website was visually inconsistent and forced repeat visitors to go through the same, repetitive series of steps each time they searched for plans.
In response, CMS used extensive user interviews and prototyping to better understand users’ needs and inform a new website design. The redesigned Medicare.gov homepage and key landing pages are more visually consistent and feature streamlined navigation and improved mobile optimization. A “Get Started with Medicare” interface guides new users through key tasks, and a streamlined flow in the Medicare Plan Finder eliminates repetitive steps for returning users.
After implementing these changes, customer satisfaction with Medicare.gov increased from 56 percent to 72 percent. CMS also noticed a 15 percent increase in authenticated uses of its website by returning users. Visitors have shared that Medicare.gov is now easier to use and clearly explains the Medicare program and the steps needed to enroll in Medicare. People felt that the updated Medicare.gov website was cleaner and easier to navigate, resulting in less time required to access needed information.
Improving the experience that people have when interacting with the Government is a crucial part of delivering the Government that the people deserve. For more stories about CX check out the CX section of our site and follow Performance.gov on Twitter & LinkedIn.