During the closing keynote speech at MeriTalk’s Dec. 8 “New & Next: The Government Tech Renaissance,” event in Washington, D.C., a top IT official at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said agencies need to take care of their employees first when it comes to implementing good customer experience (CX).

Last year’s executive order (EO) on Transforming the Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government was a call to action for Federal agencies to meet growing demands from the American public for more effective and equitable interactions with government.

Guy Cavallo, the chief information officer (CIO) for OPM, said that there are two pieces to this puzzle: agencies need to take better care of their employees so their employees can take better care of the citizens.

“The other part of customer experience I feel we shortchange way too much is our Federal employees and our Federal staff,” Cavallo said.

He emphasized that while having efficient digital services like websites or apps is an essential part of CX, much of the Federal workforce is made up of employees who work directly with citizens through call centers or in person.

If agencies don’t give their employees the right tools and technologies to do their job in a seamless fashion, the CIO said, CX will suffer.

“I want employees to be as productive as possible,” Cavallo said, adding, “So, make sure you are taking care of [your employees].”

Cavallo mentioned three recent ways OPM has improved its employees’ work experience.

The first was equipping all staff with the same high-tech laptops, desktops, and whatever else they might need to log into work every day – regardless of if they work from home or in the office.

Cavallo jokingly said he received the most compliments in his career after taking this action to ensure, no matter where OPM staff decide to work from, they can deliver the mission efficiently and securely.

“We’re not ignoring hybrid work,” he said, “we’re embracing it.”

Cavallo said the agency has also been actively working to engage hybrid employees. During online meetings, OPM will keep staff engaged through multiple polls gauging how they feel about a certain topic.

“More staff are attending these meetings, and they also feel like they have a say in what we’re doing,” he said, adding that this action has caused his Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) score to shoot up by 30 percent in the last year.

Finally, Cavallo said OPM is slowly implementing zero trust by doing little things and by simplifying how Federal workers connect, and stay connected, to the network. He implied that this improves their efficiency and overall ability to administer quality CX.

The second piece of the CX puzzle is the customers themselves.

At his agency, Cavallo is working to completely rebuild opm.gov from scratch so customers can find everything they need in “two clicks.”

The website, he said, is the core function of every agency. If a user struggles to find the basic information they need, then agencies need to update their user experience.

With the rapid digital evolution upon the government, Cavallo left the audience with a final piece of advice: “Things have changed. You need to change with it.”

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.