Biden signs order to make government more consumer friendly The provision is part of an order Biden signed to make the government more consumer friendly. It also makes it simpler for disaster survivors to apply for help. The order covers 17 federal agencies.

Frustrated that you can't schedule an IRS callback? Biden signed an order to do that

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


President Biden says he wants to improve the customer experience Americans have with their government. He signed an executive order to make it easier to access benefits like Social Security and disaster assistance. The president hopes it will also improve people's trust in government. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Biden says the executive order he signed yesterday will make government work more effectively for Americans.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I believe this will go a long way to restoring faith in government. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but I think it's pretty consequential.

NAYLOR: The order aims to improve 36 customer service experiences across 17 federal agencies - everything from making it easier for passport holders to renew their passports online to allowing low-income families to more easily enroll for federal benefits to enabling taxpayers to schedule callbacks from the IRS instead of waiting on hold for hours. Max Stier of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service calls it a start.

MAX STIER: There is a long ways to go. So it is the starter's pistol in that it sets a priority. It demonstrates, at the very top of the House, a keen focus on delivering services in a way that is centered on the people receiving those services. The harder work is to come, which is every agency moving in that direction in an effective way.

NAYLOR: Tara Dawson McGuinness agrees. She helped the Obama administration implement the Affordable Care Act and is co-author of "Power To The Public," a book about how government can solve problems in the digital age.

TARA DAWSON MCGUINNESS: This type of change can't come from a president alone. It's going to take the hard work of folks who work on the front line, a benefit office, somewhere outside of Washington, D.C. to make this work. But this is a clear direction that says, you know, a focus on getting people their services is a priority. And I think that that will help allow people to have the permission slip to focus in on that.

NAYLOR: In a briefing for reporters yesterday, Neera Tanden, a senior adviser to Biden, said part of the plan is to give people a single way to access government programs.


NEERA TANDEN: They're really just not aware of services that their federal government has available for them, and that is a key component of this executive order, which is that you can go through it one door, and that door will let you know about other services that can help you in the need that you have.

NAYLOR: Like other presidents before him, Biden came into office, pledging, as an experienced Washington hand, to bring competence to the federal government. But polls show voters are not convinced he has, with his job approval ratings in the low 40s. McGuinness says it's not clear whether the new initiative will improve those numbers.

DAWSON MCGUINNESS: I don't know that that translates directly into votes, but I think it can certainly go the other way around, of frustration with not feeling served and not feeling heard as a taxpayer - can have a difference.

NAYLOR: There are many hurdles to the success of the initiative. One is the antiquated IT systems many government agencies still suffer with, and another is the lack of access many Americans have to government services because they lack access to computers and good broadband connections. The White House hopes to implement most of the proposed changes within the next year.

Brian Naylor, NPR News.


Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.