Basic standards for website performance include security, speed, accessibility for users with disabilities and ease of mobile access. Unfortunately, only eight percent of the most viewed federal websites meet the basic standards. Many of the federal websites do not event meet U.S government requirements for the web.

Read the full article published on FCW.com here.

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Producing 930gov is a bit like staging an Inaugural Ball.

You plan for a year, the big day arrives, you have everyone you respect in one place, there’s this action-packed whirlwind of activity, and BAM! it feels like the whole thing is over in minutes. As the dust settles, you’re left with a profound sense of relief, satisfaction—and already, the first 5 or 10 items on your to-do list for the next go around.  

You’re also blessed with indelible memories—a mental montage of great moments from all the sessions, as well as discussions with our speakers, exhibitors, attendees. The ideas were flying; you try to take it all in, but it really was a fun challenge to take it all in.  

Some excerpts from my personal “930gov montage”on twitterView the entire story with highlights from each technical community.

So I was happily exhausted (more mentally than physically) as I was walked to the closing reception. And on the way I was compiling a list—of all the people I needed to thank for another successful 930gov event.

I’d like to thank:

  • The DGI staff, for their above and beyond dedication. They thrive on pressure and make pulling off miracles standard operating procedure. 930gov doesn’t happen without what they do.
  • Each of the technical communities who meet at 930gov: Knowledge Management, Records Management, DevOps, IT and Cyber Security, and Government Customer Experience. 930gov is really their conference.
  • Our speakers who brought the depth, substance, experience, and expertise that makes 930gov the gold standard in government events.
  • The exhibitors and sponsors for making 930gov possible—and for all they do to support government technical communities.
  • And finally, I thanked our attendees, who brought their professionalism, open minds, and eagerness to learn to every session they filled. They made great points, asked great questions, and generally challenged our presenters to be at their best.

 It should be clear from all this that 930gov is no one-man show. It’s definitely a team effort, the result of the efforts of a government IT community fully committed to advancing KM, RM, DevOps, Cyber, and Customer Service in the federal government. I’m grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s event such a success.

We have great things on the drawing/planning table for the 5th anniversary of 930gov in 2017. Join our mailing listfor updates. 

Because tomorrow, we’re going to get up and work on our remaining conferences, trainings, and webinars . 

Enterprise Architecture Post

The flagship session at the 2016 Customer Service & Experience Conference at  930gov  just might be the 15th Annual Government Customer Service Excellence Awards.

Every year, we recognize professionals who take customer service to the next level in some of the most challenging environments in government. But as I’m looking at the list of winners and finalists, a question occurs to me: What is great customer service—or to put it in more modern parlance, what goes into delivering a great customer experience?

Great customer experience is both an art and a science

I think it’s important we define and quantify great customer service. Which means we need to think about who defines it. If you were to ask customers what specifically constitutes great service, they’d probably tell you as the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote in opinion, “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.”

Ask someone responsible for customer service in an agency and they might refer you to something akin to service level agreements—responding to inquiries within a specific amount of time, resolving issues during a single contact, and other performance metrics. They’d also point to customer satisfaction scores.

These two vantage points define two axes of great customer service. On the one hand, service quality is subjective and ineffable; it varies from situation to situation; customers know it when they get it. On the other hand, service quality has to be quantifiable as goals, activity, and results so you can build process around it, measure it, and replicate it.

When you think about it though, both of these perspectives depend on the same thing: an intimate knowledge of who your customers are and what they hope to accomplish as they interact with you.

My definition of great customer service

I’d offer this definition of a great customer experience: It’s what happens when customers encounter an organization or agent that is fully prepared, equipped, and empowered to answer their questions, requests, and needs.

A lot goes into making this happen but it starts with listening. Very careful, very active listening.

Across the years, Excellence Award winners and finalists all have one thing in common. They are diligent—both as organizations and individuals—about listening. They hear what customers actually say. They hear what customers don’t or can’t say. They connect the dots to understand what customers really mean.

Then they take the action customers are actually looking for. In this way, great service can be unexpected and surprising because it addresses what customers really need, not just what they think to ask for.

Organizations have to be great listenecrs, too

It’s one thing to listen to a customer on a call, treat them with grace and respect, and help them resolve their issues. People who can do that day in and day out are heroes. But it’s another thing entirely for an organization to enable that sort of heroism as standard operating procedure.

In order to make great service routine, agencies also must listen to customers—so they can define strategies, design workflows, build infrastructure, manage processes, measure performance, and ultimately, enable their representatives to take action.

When you hear the stories of this years’ winners at  930gov , you’ll meet some organizations that do this well. Every case involves listening to a group of customers, then doing some hard thinking about what great service really meant to those individuals in those situations.

I recommend listening very carefully to what they have to say.

The 2016 winners and finalists—as well as all the agencies who were nominated—are all committed to leadership in a complex and challenging field. I encourage you to set aside the time to attend Digital Government Institute’s 2016 Customer Service & Experience Conference and come “listen” to the 15th annual Government Customer Service Excellence Award winners and finalists on  Wednesday, August 24  – you will be glad you did. 

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Customer Service Post
Philip Droege is an interesting guy—with an even more interesting job.

He’s the Director, Office of Records Management for the Executive Office of the President EOP. Which means two things:

  • He’s in charge of maintaining the paper trail for the president, vice president, and all their deputies, assistants, counsels, and other staff members
  • Every four or eight years, he’s in charge of clearing out all those records as a new administration displaces the old

Philip is scheduled to lead a session with Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), during the Records Management Conference at 930gov on August 24th. They’re speaking on “Presidential Transitions and Exit Procedures for Departing Officials,” covering what happens when the entire senior leadership of the U.S. Government packs up and leaves town.

You probably know that on Inauguration Day, it’s traditional for the president and president-elect to ride together from the White House to the ceremony at the Capitol. As the incumbent walks out through the North Portico, it’s a bittersweet moment—for the simple reason that he or she will not return that day and perhaps not ever.

And as soon as the limos sweep out of site, an army of movers attacks the residence on the third floor. All of the outgoing family’s belongings are packed into vans and are replaced by those of the new first family. When the new first family arrives, their new home will be ready for them.

The White House load-out and load-in is a tiny part of a far larger transition between the old and new administrations. As many as 1800 people work in the Executive Office of the President  (EOP) and the vast majority of those in White House components will be leaving. 

According to Jason, an advocate for information governance, what they have created and will leave for NARA to own  is an enormous mountain of presidential records, including:

  • Hundreds of millions of emails
  • Plane loads of paper
  • Petabytes of other types of data, including photographs

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 designates every item in that vast trove as a presidential record. And under the PRA, the rules are clear: all presidential records of all White House employees must be transferred into the legal custody of NARA.  

For political appointees at federal agencies, the rules are differentOnly some records series in agencies are organized by administrations, Jason says. In other words,  a cut-off date when those records must be sent to a records center may differ from the date one administration ends and another begins.   Other internal records will be subject to an agency’s own policies regarding preservation or disposal, in accordance with the Archivist’s determination of when they will no longer have administrative, historical, informational or evidentiary value.

As a change in administration approaches, Jason recommends that departing officials follow NARA guidance and prepare thoroughly to make an “intelligent hand-off” by:

  • Meeting with their designated records officer or ombudsman
  • Working within the approved guidance framework for their agency
  • Ensuring that all records—including documents, email, and data—are accounted for
  • Removing purely personal information, especially PII
  • Transferring any emails sent via private accounts to a .gov account

We’ve seen in the news that senior officials can generate tens if not hundreds of thousands of records. Waiting until the last minute to sort and prepare all that material will make for a big, ugly job. To avoid the rush, Jason recommends officials adopt these operating principles from the first day they walk into their new offices:

  • Don’t skip the briefing on NARA and agency records management policies
  • Understand what systems are in place to automatically capture records
  • Follow procedures so that records are processed appropriately
  • Use a .gov email account for all official business (and promptly copy or transfer emails relating to government business sent over a commercial account to a .gov account)

Ideally, for most officials, the day-to-day burden of records management will be almost invisible. But taking a few simple steps can save a lot of time and keep you out of trouble—especially with new laws covering emails.

Whether you’re a departing official or a records management practitioner, Philip and Jason will make sure you’re ready for the upcoming transition during their kickoff session for the Records Management Conference at 930gov. It’s on August 24th at 8:15 AM in the Washington Convention Center.

I hope to see you there.

 

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