Dear Public Manager: Pay Attention to Collaboration and Customer Service

Friday, May 13, 2016

When I peruse the May issue of The Public Manager, two topics jump out: collaboration and customer service.  

In our Insider’s View interview, Russell C. Deyo, the undersecretary of management for the Department of Homeland Security, talked about his vision of collaboration in the agency. “Collaboration is absolutely imperative for DHS to fulfill its mission,” he says. “I’m talking about collaboration in every aspect, across the department, as well as with the public, private industry, and foreign, state, local, and tribal governments—virtually everyone. We interact with the public more than any other agency. Collaboration must be built into the fabric of how we do things. It has to be embedded in our culture, because we can’t succeed without it.” 

The Perspectives column, with articles by Peter Bonner and Kitty Wooley, looks at the benefits and challenges of collaborating in agencies and across agencies. An agency that has a strong collaboration strategy in place will see greater efficiency and performance. While Wooley admits that collaboration is neither simple nor easy, she writes that failure to collaborate is not an option for agencies. 

High-quality customer service in government has become a national imperative. In the On the Horizon column, Eric Keller writes, “Failing to create a good customer experience for the people who seek services from the federal government can have serious consequences. A less-than-satisfactory experience doesn’t just lead to an unhappy customer. It also can undermine agencies’ ability to accomplish their missions, and it can damage trust in government overall.”


His solution to improving the way agencies can deliver services to the public? “Focus on its most important asset—its employees.” 

These two topics are not going away anytime soon. Leaders in the federal government need to find solutions to creating a better collaboration strategy and conquering the customer service challenge. Maybe Keller is onto something when he says customer service begins with employees. Helping employees serve customers well is one of the surest ways to create a good customer experience. 

Enjoy this month’s issue, and let me know if you have topics that should be highlighted in a future issue. 

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About the Author
Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.
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