Federal Consulting Group
A Franchise in the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Our Performance for Fiscal Year 2005
Customer Base Satisfying Our Customers
Services Our Customers Needed in 2005
Case Studies—Consulting and Coaching
Other Coaching Activities
Performance Measurement and Customer Satisfaction
Case Studies—American Customer Satisfaction Index
Communities of Practice
ACSI Web Survey Users Group
The Interagency Customer Service Forum
FCG Coaches Community of Learning
Baldrige Award COP
Council for Excellence in Government
Government Accountability Office
The Road Ahead
Federal agency customers of the Federal Consulting Group’s three business lines—Consulting, Executive Coaching, and Measuring Performance and Customer Satisfaction—found our services and products to be innovative, flexible, and easy-to-access solutions to their managerial, human capital, and performance measure requirements in FY 2005.
FCG served 155 customers in FY 2005, including 16 agencies or programs in the Department of the Treasury. Our Treasury customers include the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Mint, Office of the Comptroller of Currency, Bureau of the Public Debt, Office of the Central Information Officer, Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the Departmental Office.
Our largest customer is the National Institutes of Health, which in FY 2004 contracted with FCG to provide the E-Government American Customer Satisfaction Index methodology and services to 63 NIH websites starting in FY 2005. Other customers/stakeholders are the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (including FEMA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Weather Service, Bureau of Economic Affairs in the Department of Commerce, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Security Agency, NASA, , and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, which administers the (Baldrige National Quality Award Program.
FCG received extremely high scores on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey conducted in August and September—a score of 90 each on services and price and scores almost as high in proposals, primary contact, and reporting. The overall customer satisfaction score was 85. These scores are far above the average 71-72 scores in the private sector and government.
Another survey of our customers on their understanding of our work revealed that a majority believed that FCG is on the cutting edge, knowledgeable about government, and easy to work with. A majority agreed that knowing that FCG is affiliated with the government and a franchise of the Department of the Treasury would make them more likely to work with us again.
The Federal Consulting Group kept step with the needs of federal customers in (1) building an electronic government and (2) implementing succession planning. Agencies required:
- » Additional online customer satisfaction surveys and web analytical tools as they moved more and more transactions and information to the Web, and
- » Career development and leadership training for senior executives and high-performing GS 14s and 15s to be prepared for the possible exodus of up to half its workforce in the next 5 years.
Consulting: Strategic Planning to Keep U.S. Diplomats Safe Worldwide
In this Fiscal Year, an FCG consultant led senior leaders at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security in developing a comprehensive Strategic Plan for 2005-2010. This Bureau is globally recognized as the pre-eminent law enforcement, security, and service organization. Its mission is to provide a safe and secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.
Following FCG-led meetings, assessments, analyses, and organizational and process reviews, the FCG helped the Bureau come up with a plan that not only met its strategic goals, but also the requirements of the Department, the President, Congress and the American people. The goals focused on effective and efficient conduct of the mission; security and satisfaction; reduction/elimination of threats to U.S. interests; diverse, well-led and trained workforce; and enhanced processes, systems and tools. The Bureau praised the FCG consultant’s rapid understanding of complex internal and external issues, high-level facilitation skills, effective visioning methodology, and state-of-the-art assessment technology—all of which led to a consulting job well done and on time. Ongoing Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting at Education
On a larger scale, the U.S. Department of Education’s Training and Development Group (TDG), contracted with FCG in 2002 to provide ongoing career counseling, training, and organizational consulting for approximately 4,500 employees at headquarters and in 11 regional offices. “TDG’s main objective was to identify a contracting source that would allow us to obtain expert contractor support at the most effective rate, with minimal administrative burden,” the program manager said. “FCG has been able to fully meet our requirements.”
Having FCG manage the administrative functions of the contract has allowed the TDG to focus its time and resources on the technical aspects of the contract. According to the project manager, FCG’s executive coaches are providing timely, effective, and efficient training to the Department’s employees. Further, managers have ready access to organizational development and strategic planning support and employees have access to expert onsite career planning and transition counseling. Education’s internal communications have improved, as regional employees have a catalyst for keeping in touch with headquarters staff. “Implementing this contract with FCG has proven to be the most cost effective way for TDG to provide this level of expert employee and organizational support,” the program manager said.
In addition, our coaches have worked for the past 2 years with SESers and high potential GS-14s and 15s in the Environmental Protection Agency on the development of leadership and emotional intelligence competencies using Creative Leadership Groups. Participants in these highly diverse CLGs have demonstrated improvements in self-awareness, interpersonal communication skills, collaboration, and the ability to bring out the best in others through enhanced coaching and relationship-building skills. We have provided feedback coaches to the U.S. Department of the Army, and the Corporation for National Service in support of leadership development programs using the OPM Leadership 360™ survey.
FCG’s Executive Coach co-edited the May 2005 issue of the Journal of Appreciative Inquiry with its theme “Positive Transformation of Government.”
The Federal Consulting Group is the gateway to the American Customer Satisfaction Index in the federal government. The ACSI, developed at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 1994, is the leading national indicator of customer satisfaction with U.S. products and services. It has been a standard metric in government since 1999.
The proprietary ACSI employs a patented, proven methodology to measure customer satisfaction. The cause and effect nature of the methodology is a predictor of future customer behavior. It provides actionable data for federal managers or decision-makers, to make informed decisions, leverage scarce resources, and develop solid action plans based on trusted, statistically-valid metrics. Measuring program performance helps agencies focus management’s attention on outcomes. In addition, they have important data to help satisfy the reporting requirements of the President’s Management Agenda, PART, and the Government Performance and Results Act.
We work with our partners, the University of Michigan and the CFI Group, to make the ACSI methodology available to measure employee and citizen satisfaction with federal programs. Agency scores are announced every December.
We work with our partner, ForeSee Results, to make the ACSI methodology available to E-Government programs. The company has developed an innovative E-Government ACSI technology that blends science, statistics, and economics to quickly and precisely measure the success of a website or an online program. E-Government scores are available to the agency 24/7, and ForeSee Results announces the government-wide scores quarterly.
Offline and Online Survey Results Are Used to Improve Satisfaction
The Veterans Health Administration regularly uses questionnaires to determine how effective it is in providing health care to our nation’s veterans. When problems are found, VHA promptly resolves them, according to Dr. Jonathan Perlin, the VA’s acting undersecretary of health, in the February 2005 issue of FedTech Magazine. Years ago, VHA patients complained via surveys that some doctors didn’t address all their concerns. Now health-care staff routinely ask veterans and family members such questions as “Is there anything else we can do?”
“We survey veterans to make sure our care is as satisfying and effective as possible,” Dr. Perlin continued, “and we use the information to make improvements.” VA staff initially didn’t like being held accountable for performance improvements, but it was necessary, Perlin said. For the last several years, VHA has had higher scores than private sector health care providers in the ACSI surveys. The agency mails surveys nationally to 50,000 veterans every month, but regional health networks also prepare their own monthly surveys on comment cards, by phone, and other methods. “We want to make it easier for veterans to complain,” Dr. Perlin told FedTech Magazine.
Within the Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Mint’s ACSI scores on phone and web-based surveys are among the highest in the federal government. And just to be sure, they throw in focus groups and forums. The Mint uses all customer feedback to make changes, such as eliminating its midnight to 8 a.m. call center and repositioning the staff to accommodate heavier call volumes during the day. Survey results also prompted the agency to introduce its annual coin sets earlier in the year for customers who wanted to purchase coins with the current year on them as gifts to commemorate special occasions. Because of online survey results, the Mint also revamped its website and promptly got more business, according to Gloria Eskridge, the Mint’s associate director of sales and marketing, in the FedTech article. “If you gather numbers, they are just numbers,” Eskridge points out. “You need to make sure you have a plan of action.”
FCG added a new product to complement the American Customer Satisfaction Index and to further electronic government—a software to help agencies get control of their websites—architectural mapping and web analytics from Maxamine, the premier website quality and compliance product in the market. With more than 80 scanning possibilities, it inventories and reports website strengths and weaknesses. Although new to government, the software is extensively used in the private sector. FCG successfully tested the Maxamine software on FirstGov.gov. “It’s a very powerful tool to measure the overall effectiveness of a site,” said Beverly Godwin, GSA FirstGov.gov director, in the May 2005 of FEDTECH magazine. Godwin used the software report to prioritize how the FirstGov team responds to and fixes problems. One change made “an incredible difference,” she said. Pleased with the product, she is continuing to use it.
Near the end of the fiscal year, FCG offered a complimentary Maxamine scan to those agencies that renewed or started an ACSI subscription. We also offered more extensive mapping services at a reasonable price.
FCG also added an ACSI survey tool adapted to the needs of the rapidly growing community of government call and contact centers. CallSat provides specific, actionable findings about how a call center can serve its customers from their part of view. The results are available 24/7 on an online reporting portal so the organization can have the results whenever they need it. CalSat is currently being tested in a large pilot by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
The Federal Consulting Group is more than the sum of its business lines. FCG is a leader in organizing and maintaining interagency communities of practice (COPs) and communities of learning (COLs) that support its business lines and offer learning and benchmarking opportunities for our customers and other federal employees who may be interested. A COP helps participants build relationships and share good practices.
FCG sponsors quarterly meetings for two COPs and one forum, usually in the Office of Thrift Supervision’s spacious amphitheater. The meetings are free and often feature high-caliber speakers and panelists. We often have 50 to 75 attendees, but some speakers or topics draw up to 100 attendees from all over government.
The latest ACSI E-Gov Benchmark report, which always draws media attention, is the topic of interest at each quarterly meeting. The President of ForeSee Results, the company that developed the innovative E-Government ACSI technology, discusses the scores and answers questions. The last meeting of this fiscal year is on September 26. The 2005 Third Quarterly E-Gov ACSI report" (278kb) published on September 15 indicated that customer satisfaction increased for two consecutive quarters. (Historical)
FCG also brings in speakers on a variety of Internet topics, based on the interests of the Group’s members. For example, Kevin Dames, Executive Editor of SNTReport.com, an Online Journal of Digital Collaboration, spoke on “What are the strengths and weaknesses of Google and what are the alternatives?” at one of the quarterly meetings.
This COP, which also meets quarterly, shares ideas and best practices in customer service delivery. For example, one forum delved into best practices for federal contact centers. Featured speakers included Wendy H. Smith, Director of the Trade Information Center at the Department of Commerce. This center was the winner of the 2003 Government Customer Support Conference’s Teamwork Excellence Award. Ms. Smith spoke on “Creating a High-Performing Teamwork Environment in a Contact Center.”
Another featured speaker was Joseph McCann, Assistant Director for Insurance, VA Regional Office and Insurance Center, Philadelphia, PA. The Center was winner of the 2004 Government Customer Support Conference’s Overall Customer Support Excellence Award.
James Vaughn from the General Services Administration’s USAServices spoke briefly on “What Does GAO’s Concern over Government-wide Standards for Contact Centers Mean for Your Agency?
This COL is a networking venue for senior executive coaches who serve clients in the federal government. This COL extends its knowledge through presentations by coaches and thought-leaders on seminal work on the frontiers of coaching. Here are examples:
- » Renowned organization development practitioners Edith Whitfield Seashore and Dr. Michael Broom presented a program on effective organizational intervention, which they developed as a model for use by Johns Hopkins Fellows in the Management of Change Program. Both Edith Whitfield Seashore and Dr. Michael Broom are psychologists and seasoned change management professionals, both have been on the faculties of Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and American Universities, and both have written extensively in their fields.
- » This group also heard from Steve Katz, author of “Lion Taming: Working Successfully with Leaders, Bosses, and Other Tough Customers.” Katz was so popular that FCG partnered with the Federal Communicators Network to bring him back for a second workshop with an even larger audience—which was just as successful.
Early in the Fiscal Year, the President signed into law a provision making federal agencies and non-profits eligible to apply for the Baldrige National Quality Award. FCG’s CEO is a 2005 Baldrige Award Examiner and several FCG consultants are current or previous Examiners or experts. In the spring, for a small fee, FCG offered two well-attended half-day workshops on “Breaking into Baldrige: Using the Baldrige Award Criteria for Performance Excellence” for federal executives, supervisors, and project leaders. Because of the interest in this subject and our own expertise, we are in the early stages of developing a Baldrige COP.
The Federal Consulting Group is also affiliated with the Government Contact Center Support Group and the Government Web Content Managers Group.
In order to broaden its customer base and increase awareness, FCG has expanded its outreach activities in government. We developed a new head-turning exhibit booth as well as a well-designed portfolio, brochure, and letterhead. We expect to have a new design for our website early in the next fiscal year.
Our outreach in FY 2005 included participating in numerous government conferences, workshops, and seminars related to our mission and work. Our organization co-sponsored, hosted or exhibited at several key events, and staff members served as speakers, panelists, moderators, board members, and planning committee members. As examples, we had roles in the Training Officers Conference, Government Performance Summit, Government Support Conference, FedWeb, Web-enabled Government, Excellence in Government Conference, and the Digital Government Institute’s training seminars. Further FCG staff members are regular participants in several ACT/IAC shared interest groups and we often host the meetings in conference room or the amphitheater.
FCG also started an online subscription service and an e-Newsletter that features news from FCG and the agencies we serve, as well as reports, book reviews, innovations, good practices, and training events. We have more than 350 subscribers from the FCG online subscription page. We also send the newsletter to other lists reaching more than 2,000 federal employees across government. We released six issues through August 2005.
FCG entered into new partnerships this year, all with the idea of making new opportunities and good practices available to our customers and other government leaders.
We initiated discussions with the Council for Excellence in Government, leading to a plan to co-sponsor four seminars in FY 2006 featuring high level officials speaking on key issues in government. At the 2005 Excellence in Government Conference, the Council CEO announced this partnership in a general session with more than 1,000 government officials present.
Likewise, FCG initiated dialogues with strategic thinkers at the Government Accountability Office as a sounding board for ideas, trends, and good management practices that will assist federal agencies as they work toward fulfilling the President’s Management Agenda, PART, E-Government and other initiatives. These GAO officials are supportive of our work, and these informal discussions will continue in FY 2006.
Further, FCG executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the General Services Administration to partner with USAServices to enhance the ability of USA Services to offer program and process assessment, performance measurement, and customer satisfaction measurement to its customers. These services will create a full-service package of USAServices and will give federal agencies more choices as they work to reach the President’s Management Agenda and to implement an Electronic Government (E-Gov).
The Federal Consulting Group will continue to position itself as a “unique boutique” in the year ahead, keeping abreast of business trends and innovations and honing our services and products to meet the needs of an ever-changing, citizen-centric government.