Following Up on The President’s Executive Order on Customer Experience

This executive order created a vision for improved government service delivery – yet it continues to be a difficult promise to fulfill.

By David Hernandez

Jun 21, 2023

5 min
Following Up on The President’s Executive Order on Customer Experience

"The Government exists to serve the public, period."

This was the beginning of our blog post last year on President Biden's Executive Order 14058.

The order's stated goal was simple: "To promote fiscal stewardship by improving the Government's service delivery to its customers, the American people." In other words, it aims to enhance citizen experience across federal agencies and emphasize the importance of citizen-centric services.

It's a vision that is appreciated by anyone who's ever stood in line at a Social Security office, applied for a small business loan, gone through the United State's naturalization and citizenship process, or otherwise interacted with the U.S. government.

But even though this executive order created a vision for improved government service delivery, it was and continues to be a difficult promise to fulfill. Why? To understand why, we need to review the many variables that impact how the federal government operates.

Funding Limitations Hold Back Digital Transformation

One of Executive Order 14058's major challenges was the lack of availability of sufficient funding. Implementing customer-centric initiatives requires substantial financial investments in technology infrastructure, digital transformation, staff training, and process improvements.

However, limited budgets and competing priorities often make it difficult for the federal government to allocate adequate financial resources. (It's hard to enhance taxpayer experience while also trying to process 85,000,000 tax returns in less than half the year.)

To address this challenge, it is crucial for government agencies to advocate for increased funding and make a compelling case for the long-term benefits of improved customer experience – such as increased efficiency, citizen satisfaction, and cost savings thanks to streamlined processes. In Biden's 2024 budget request, $500 Million was assigned to "modernize and improve numerous federal services and deliver customer experiences that are more simple, seamless and secure." If approved (a separate variable), this should be a powerful step in the right direction.

Government Bureaucracy Is A Decision-making Bottleneck

Tying into the funding issue, government bureaucracy is another obstacle. Customer-centric initiatives will need to overcome excessively administrative processes to achieve the ideal customer experience.

Many agencies have adopted a CXO office, but few of those offices have allocated funds to drive CX transformation. Complex organizational structures, layers of approval processes, and stringent regulations can slow down decision-making, hinder innovation, and create bottlenecks in delivering enhanced services.

Overcoming bureaucratic challenges requires a cultural shift towards agility and adaptability. Agencies should promote cross-functional collaboration, empowered by their CXO. Clear lines of authority can alleviate the administrative burden. And giving employees the autonomy to make data-driven decisions encourages the implementation of customer-centric solutions.

In short, streamlining processes and reducing unnecessary red tape can help eliminate bureaucratic hurdles, effectively expediting the implementation of customer-focused strategies.

Political Considerations Create Constant Change

Political dynamics and partisan interests have also introduced challenges to the execution of customer experience initiatives. The average president has about 1,200 key political appointments – all of which need to be approved by the Senate. Changes in leadership, shifting priorities, and political agendas may impact the continuity and momentum of customer-centric programs.

A case in point is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, where political opposition and legal challenges impacted the rollout of customer-centric health insurance exchanges.

With every debt ceiling conversation, disagreements between political parties on budget priorities and deficit concerns have the potential to result in funding limitations for agencies, constraining their ability to invest in customer-centric improvements. While Congress recently resolved the most recent debt ceiling debate without major impact to most civilian agencies, the likelihood of Biden's entire 2024 budget request to be approved, including the previously mentioned $500M CX investments, is still up in the air and open to contention.

Technical Debt and Legacy Systems Hinder Digital Transformation

The government's ever-growing technical debt presents a significant challenge to digital transformation. Outdated legacy systems, fragmented data infrastructure, and disparate IT landscapes hinder the delivery of citizen-centric services.

For example, many organizations like the Department of Transportation, Social Security, OPM, and IRS have critical applications that run off of back-end legacy mainframes. The problem is that these legacy systems are typically between 25-50 years old.

It's hard to try to streamline equitable access to disability benefits if 90% of resources are going to complex system maintenance. Remember that these systems also rely on outdated coding languages which require special IT resource hires and it's easy to see that government agencies are too busy making sure that payments are sent on time to make any significant headway in innovation and digital transformation.

A strategic roadmap for technology modernization – coupled with agile implementation and collaboration with industry partners – can gradually reduce technical debt. Ultimately, this can pave the way for a more agile and citizen-centric government.


To improve the customer experience, the government has many obstacles to overcome. It's not impossible, and with Executive Order 14058, there's clearly incentive. But to achieve this goal, agencies will need to advocate for increased funding, foster agility within agencies, build bipartisan support, and strategically modernize technical infrastructure.

In truth, despite many of these challenges, much of the federal government has actually made large strides in finding multiple, unique ways to help enhance their services. Automation has helped to reduce paper intensive processes, and many agencies have invested in modernizing their site experience, or even creating new digital experiences altogether.

Government agencies have been creative in delivering citizen-centric service. It's clear that the aim is to enhance efficiency and foster public trust in the government's ability to meet the evolving needs of its constituents.

We'll be looking to dive further into some of these unique examples in future posts, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. For those interested in exploring the government's progress on Executive Order 14058 further, review the agency performance measure dashboards on Partnership for Public Service or OMB's CX projects on

While the road ahead may be challenging, the potential benefits of successful execution of Biden's Executive Order 14058 are substantial. By embracing innovation, collaboration, and a customer-first mindset, the government can forge a path towards improved citizen satisfaction, streamlined processes, and a more effective and responsive public sector.

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