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Zients: Federal agencies need to do 'more with less'

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Federal agencies, not for the first time, are being told by the White House to do "more with less," to be more like the private sector and, while trimming costs, to increase productivity.  

The latest political appointee to exhort movement toward this old but seemingly unattainable goal held by senior managers everywhere is Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jeffery Zients, who took to a presidential office podium April 27 before an audience of government, industry and media representatives.

The immediate reason for his appeal was an executive order also issued April 27 requiring agencies submit within 180 days a customer service plan including a "signature initiative" that uses technology to improve the "customer experience," i.e., interactions with members of the public.

The plan should also include a way of establishing mechanisms to solicit public feedback and methods for using that feedback to improve service delivery.

Although not explicitly mentioned as a requirement of the executive order, Zients said agencies should take the opportunity to streamline and consolidate the 20,000 odd websites they collectively operate.

President Barack Obama, Zients said, has been "clear that agencies cannot fall into the trap of viewing decreased funding levels as an excuse for the status quo or for accepting diminished service levels."

For more:
- listen to Zients and other federal officials speak at the April 27 presentation
- go to the executive order on "Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service"

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