Fellowship Openings

Fostering Excellent Customer Service in Local Government (CLOSED)

Project: Fostering Excellent Customer Service in Local Government

Agency: District of Columbia Office of the City Administrator

Location: Washington, DC


Project Context

The District of Columbia government, which handles typical city, county and state functions, is large in relation to its District’s population and comprised of many decentralized agencies. Customer care within District agencies is strong: residents and visitors have outlets to share concerns, and agencies are responsive in addressing them. However, the District has difficulty adequately handling concerns that cross agency bounds (and therefore do not have a clear owner), or that do not have a straightforward solution. Rather than presenting the District government as one unified team of customer service representatives eager to ensure that residents are being served with the highest levels of care, the District often requires residents to contact another agency, make another phone call, or send another email to track down the correct agency owner of the issue at hand.

During the first three years of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s term, the Office of the City Administrator (OCA) has invested significantly in improving the District’s customer care services. The District is taking active steps to coordinate across departments, focusing on improving cross-functional, strategic oversight of customer -service provision. The OCA has been working on a multi-faceted customer care initiative, which includes eight simultaneous efforts: (1) a 311 working group; (2) a customer care working group; (3) redesigning District forms to be more user friendly; (4) standardizing customer-service metrics across District agencies; (5) developing a customer service-related Mayor’s Order; (6) placing kiosks in customer-facing areas to provide resident feedback; (7) intensive customer service training for public-facing District employees; and (8) a consolidated Web-based survey platform for resident feedback.

This initiative will require dedicated resources, big thinking on a District level, and individualized work with agency-level processes and procedures. It reflects the internal government values that the Mayor has espoused, by “committ[ing] ourselves to promoting a culture of service excellence.”  To support this work, the District of Columbia will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year who will focus on synchronizing the customer service experience within the District of Columbia and begin the design of a new digital experience for residents and visitors.

Project Summary & Potential Deliverables

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will spearhead a process of mapping out the implementation of the comprehensive customer care initiative currently underway within OCA. Drawing on an extensive background in customer care, the fellow will assess how each sub-initiative can be successfully completed, how new District-wide customer care standards can best be implemented, and how the work being done by OCA can result in permanent culture change across city government.

The fellow, with private-sector experience in managing and improving customer care, will be able to ensure that the District’s new customer service initiatives transform the way city employees communicate with and provide service to residents on a permanent basis. The fellow will incorporate both training for employees and design of a new digital experience on dc.gov and across District agency applications into the plan for how this work will be implemented. As such, the fellow should have a background in process re-engineering and digital design skills, which will provide the necessary tools to elevate the District’s customer service to the next level.

Success in this project will be evaluated in terms of the fellow’s ability to drive culture change in the numerous District agencies around improved customer experience and set the initiative up for success over the long term. This means getting agency directors to buy into the initiative; establishing standards for multi-agency processes; ensuring that agencies are familiar and comfortable with these standards; taking in, managing, and using good data across agency silos; and providing input into improved digital and data functions for excellent customer care.

  • Roadmap for implementation. Lay out a short-, medium-, and long-term plan for guiding District agencies through the various phases of implementing the eight-part customer care initiatives currently underway and consider additional initiatives or projects that would strengthen the District’s customer care effort. Maintain a focus on figuring out what is possible to accomplish immediately and what groundwork needs to be put in place for future implementation.
  • Full socialization of customer care standards. Promote and implement the District-wide customer care standards in all agencies and establish a framework to ensure that these standards are fully and permanently integrated into agency workflows and cultures.
  • Performance measurement metrics. Establish a method of measuring the initiative’s effectiveness to judge whether customer service changes are improving residents’ experiences in interacting with city agencies.
  • Plan for new digital customer-engagement platform. Create a comprehensive plan for implementing a fresh digital experience on dc.gov and across District agency applications, with a particular focus on how these digital properties will integrate with the city’s new customer care approaches.
  • Making provisions for redress. Work in concert with agencies to establish redress for residents and customers if performance metrics are not met.

Key Stakeholders 

  • Kevin Donahue, Deputy City Administrator / Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, District of Columbia
  • Victoria Wassmer, Director of Agency Operations, District of Columbia Office of the City Administrator
  • Alexandra Caceres, Government Operations Analyst, District of Columbia Office of the City Administrator
  • Joseph Breems, Government Operations Analyst, District of Columbia Office of the City Administrator
  • Lia Katz, Applied Research Analyst, District of Columbia Office of the City Administrator 


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in managing and improving customer experiences, particularly with a strong background in user experience and design, including process re-engineering and digital design skills.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.


 To Apply

Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly.

A FUSE Fellowship is a 12-month engagement requiring fellows be primarily committed to their partnership with the government agency throughout the year to ensure the success of their project. Fellows are retained as independent contractors of FUSE Corps and are paid an annual stipend of $90,000 through monthly installments. This commitment begins on September 24, 2018 and ends September 20th, 2019.

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.