Federal CIO says Digital Services Playbook and user research key to CX push

Clare Martorana explains how OMB, GSA and USDS have worked to improve the provision of digital services centered on five core life experiences.
Clare Martorana gives a keynote at the 2017 Global Wellness Summit. (Global Wellness Summit photo)

Hershey, Penn. — Government spent “quite a bit of time” this summer applying the federal Digital Services Playbook and user research to improving benefits and service delivery around five key life experiences, according to the federal chief information officer.

Speaking at ACT-IAC’s Imagine Nation ELC on Monday, Clare Martorana said the Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration and U.S. Digital Service are working to break down barriers between agencies to better assist with retirement, disaster recovery, reentering civilian life, birth and early childhood for low-income mothers and kids, and financial shocks.

The last omnibus spending bill provided agencies with funding they can use to begin implementing December’s Customer Experience (CX) Executive Order. In response to the omnibus, OMB released an IT Operating Plan prioritizing the use of insights from Technology Modernization Fund and Federal Citizen Services Fund projects to improve shared services and programs.

Martorana used the example of disaster recovery, where a person’s first contact with government would be the Federal Emergency Management Agency, before dealing with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Small Business Administration.


“We are trying to figure out the best way to share information appropriately, privately — but also making sure that it is seamless and simple for someone who has potentially lost everything including their identification — to be able to access these government services,” Martorana said.

More information on these improved life experiences is coming “shortly,” she added.

OMB and GSA now share information much like an “early warning system” to determine if an existing solution or shared service exists to address challenges that arise, Martorana said.

USDS now supports every agency on projects ranging from system modernizations to user research to identify technical and policy fixes, said Chief Delivery Officer Ankit Mathur.

Mather wants to raise the CX bar from simply ensuring websites don’t crash or digitize forms to involving the public in rolling out new digital services.


“I would love to come to a conference and have an opportunity not to reflect back on,” Martorana said.

Part of the problem historically has been that government hasn’t always provided its workforce with the training, sprint team opportunities and private sector tools they need to be efficient, she added.

Companies can make procuring those tools easier for agencies by familiarizing themselves with the Digital Services Playbook when competing for a contract and, not just using the terminology in their bids but, offering the deliverables, Martorana said.

“I think that would be a really significant catalyst in the change we’re trying to make,” she said.

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