A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory board has urged the agency to leverage technology to improve customer experience (CX) – from updating security checkpoint tech at airports to publicly posting wait times for immigration applications.

On Dec. 6, DHS’ Customer Experience and Service Delivery Subcommittee delivered a final report to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas highlighting four recommendations for the agency to improve its overall customer experience.

The report focused on the agency’s high impact service providers (HISP): U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The 22-page report recommends that DHS “better utilize technology to enable its workforce to flexibly adapt to shifts in the volume and location of customer needs,” and “identify redundant processes that overly burden its front-line personnel and have opportunities to significantly improve the customer experience.”

The advisory board said DHS could use tech to adapt to surges in customer demands – like CBP conducting virtual interviews with passengers to reduce staffing pressures at certain ports of entry.

Additionally, the board recommended that DHS leverage technology to eliminate redundancies and consolidate trusted traveler programs – PreCheck and Global Entry – into the One Stop Security initiative.

Finally, the advisory panel’s CX subcommittee encouraged the agency to prioritize investments in digitization. It recommended solutions like going paperless, expanding digital driver’s licenses, and continuing innovation facial recognition.

The subcommittee made three other recommendations to help DHS improve overall CX:

  • Create accountability for CX: DHS should establish a centralized CX office as well as a CX office specific to the HISPs;
  • Create a more flexible model to support staffing and hiring needs: DHS needs to validate and streamline the staffing models across the agency on top of offering flexible pay; and
  • Improve customer communication, education, transparency, and accountability: the report said DHS needs to be better measure their performance, identify solutions, and increase transparency within the data as well as improving customer wait times.

“DHS has a critical mission, a large diverse customer base, and a dedicated workforce. Improving the customer experience is possible with accountability, transparency, and resources,” the report says.

“DHS has made significant progress, but it still can further modernize and streamline its customer-facing processes while continuing to build trust and accountability with the public,” the board said.

Read More About
More Topics
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.