Sonny Hashmi, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) at the General Services Administration (GSA), said his operation is targeting a sharp uptick in delivery times for products and services procured through FAS.

Speaking at an Oct. 5 event on IT modernization organized by FCW, Hashmi spoke about the FAS delivery goal in the context of efforts by the Biden administration to sharpen the Federal government’s focus on improving customer experience.

Asked how he is bringing his own experiences to the government’s CX improvement drive, Hashmi was enthusiastic in his response.

“There’s a lot of energy and momentum around customer experience. For the first time ever, it’s part of the President’s Management Agenda. It’s a beautiful time to be alive,” he said. “The president of the United States is actually putting a stake in the ground that this is going to be important aspect of how we’re going to deliver service to the American people.”

Within FAS, he characterized the aim to provide faster delivery times as one of the “simple things” that can improve customer experience.

“When somebody buys a product through FAS through GSA Advantage, for example, can we guarantee that they’re going to get a delivery time and that delivery time will actually be met,” he asked. “That’s not always the case.”

“Imagine going to your ecommerce provider of choice and ordering a pair of shoes, and then nothing – nobody knows when they’re going to show up, maybe they’ll show up in six months,” he said. “We have to do better.”

Hashmi said that FAS has already boosted meeting its delivery time objectives to about 80 percent of the time – up from a previous level closer to the 50 percent range.

“This year, we plan to do that in the high 90s,” he pledged. “We’re focusing our efforts on what the customer needs and where it needs it, where they need it. We’re putting energy around those challenges, [and] we can dramatically improve the delivery that we’re doing for our customers.”

“When it comes to FAS overall, our customers are also the supplier community – many of you in this room – and so we want to do better by you as well,” he said. “We want to make sure that when you engage with us, you have a delightful experience.”

Speaking more broadly of the government’s imperative to improve customer experience, he said, “truly, the pandemic has shown that there’s been a very seismic shift in how government provides services to its citizens over the last few years.”

“We’ve seen citizens’ expectations changing when they could not engage with the government person in a building, [and] where everything had to auto immediately go to digital channels,” he said. “We’ve seen an immediacy of need where thousands of businesses were struggling and immediately needed to be supported, and so brand new programs had to be stood up and deliver in a matter of hours and days, not weeks, months or years.”

“When you start thinking about how do you shorten the cycle time, and how do you deliver for the people, CX includes all of those considerations … It’s not just a prettier skin on a website, which I think a lot of people think ‘Oh, I just have a prettier app, I’ve solved CX.’ That’s not the case.”

“CX pulls the thread from the entire end-to-end multifamily experience,” he said.

“What is the outcome that we’re trying to drive that our customers – ultimately the American citizens – care about,” Hashmi asked. “It’s not just about my little fiefdom and my little process, my system, it’s about what is the expectation of the person on the other side of this transaction? What did they expect? What is their expectation, not just from this ticket that was closed, but end to end? What are they trying to do? And did we actually help them do that thing?”

“It pulls together certainly a lot of focus on technology modernization, but also intelligence along the way, using data, a lot of things that we take for granted in government like call center experiences and so forth,” he said. “They’re all part of creating a great citizen experience.”

“We certainly have internally identified many areas of improvement and we are continuing to make progress there, sometimes more successfully than others, but we’re continuing to make progress, improving how we engage with our citizens” and leveraging GSA’s technical expertise through components including its Technology Transformation Services unit, Hashmi said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.