09/30/2014 01:59 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2014

Treating Citizens Like Customers

Providing services to citizens, businesses and other organizations is integral to the missions of most federal agencies, but many are falling short.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which measures customer satisfaction across sectors and industries, the federal government ranks lower than nearly every private-sector industry measured, and that includes the airlines and cable television companies.

Some of this unhappiness is due to the difficulty people have navigating federal Web sites, highlighting the strong impact that digital services can have on overall customer satisfaction.

Just this month, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald decried the large number of often confusing sites the agency currently operates, noting that there are "14 different Web sites that require a different username and a different password for veterans to access the VA."

"That's just flat wrong," McDonald said.

In a new report by my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, and Accenture, it was pointed out that federal services are often arranged and delivered based on the structure of government and its bureaucratic silos rather than around the needs of customers.

This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.