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Meet CX at DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has over one billion interactions with the public every year. Every person in this country (and beyond) interacts with services and systems DHS manages. That’s a lot of public touchpoints. That’s also a lot of opportunity to build trust and deliver value one interaction at a time. DHS interacts with millions of people each day. We provide vital services to vulnerable populations (asylum seekers, immigrants, disaster survivors, victims of human trafficking) during critical moments in their lives. When customers try to access services that are slow, confusing, and outdated, it delays the aid, support or benefit they need.

  • DHS leads the federal government in several Customer Experience priorities, including burden reduction, forming a CX Directorate at headquarters and forming similar functions within the DHS Component Agencies, like FEMA, TSA, USCIS, CISA and more. DHS has also committed to delivering priorities in IT modernization, data interoperability and cybersecurity using human-centered methodologies in development. The time has never been better to join the federal government as a human-centered practitioner.

The Customer Experience Directorate (CXD) at DHS continues a very long tradition of building on the work of committed civil servants. Millions of people each year land on our doorstep with insufficient guidance or confusing forms. Many don’t know where to turn. Others resort to paths that are burdensome and time taxing making them miss work, rely on caregivers, pay legal fees, or simply give up without getting access to services and benefits they deserve and need. We work diligently to avoid these outcomes.

“CX change requires a lot of people stepping in the same direction”
– DHS CX Strategist.

We work in and across all DHS (a cabinet-level Department that formed in response to 9/11 and includes 15 Component Agencies) and alongside other government agencies to introduce or further drive human-centered practices that elevate customer experiences. This requires understanding and actively improving policies, public facing programs, internal and external plain language communications, forms/data collection design and development, and procurements and acquisitions that ensure human-centered and accessible practices.

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Customer Experience Directorate: The New Experience for Customer Experience at DHS

Every aspect of our mission revolves around helping people

Lead by one of the nation’s leading experts on human-centered design, Dana Chisnell, DHS’ Customer Experience Directorate formalized in 2023 to support delivering Presidential and DHS-wide priorities. In less than a year, CXD grew from a handful of passionate employees to 50-people strong after combining forces with the Office of Accessible Systems and Technology (OAST), and a massive hiring effort to bring on Human-Centered Designers and Product Managers.

While DHS officially formalized CXD in 2023, the Department made significant human-centered and CX strides in the past two years.

  • We reduced processing times for immigration benefits.
  • We reduced public burden associated with form filling exceeding 21 million hours in the aggregate.
  • We simplified burden of proof for disaster survivors yielding many more benefit distributions to people who need it.
  • We streamlined access by accepting mobile licenses in select and ever-growing airports.

CXD is at the forefront of helping the Department and its Component Agencies reach CX maturity. Large bureaucratic organizations are not always fans of change, but the long-term benefits outweigh the daily challenges. At the end of the day, we all bring our diverse perspectives and experiences to work together towards our shared mission.

Our mission is straight forward: A people-focused DHS that delivers trustworthy, fair, secure, and easy-to-access services. Situated within the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) at the headquarters (HQ) level of DHS, CXD is in close contact with and has direct access to the Department’s leadership.  This helps us provide on-the-ground resources and support for CX capacity and delivery across all DHS Agency Components. This unique position as trusted CX advisors has true impact on federal CX and most importantly, on helping people.

Delivering Our Mission by Putting People at the Center of Decisions and Priorities

The U.S. government is one of the biggest service providers in the world. Recognizing that the public deserves and expects services that are easy to use, intuitive, and meet their needs, in December 2021 President Biden signed the Executive Order (EO) on Transforming Federal Customer Experience (CX) and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. It directs federal agencies to put people at the center of everything the government does, with simple, seamless, and secure services.

Sometimes the work is hard, sometimes mundane, but then you remember what’s important when you step in to help such as in the following example recalled by a CXD member: “It was the summer of 2021, late August, and the President announced we’d be evacuating 85,000 Afghan refugees and we’d have FIVE days to do it!”. Multi-agency cooperation, design research, and service design efforts, among other things, helped steer a logistical nightmare to be more refugee-centered.

Although a mass evacuation is out of the ordinary tasks most CXD roles require, this points to the variable nature of what we might be tasked with at CXD: Extraordinary opportunities to find purpose, and a reminder that many times, the customers DHS serves may be at their most vulnerable and greatest need moments.

Our goals are vast and many. We help the people that help the people that help people. Kind of like this:

HQ->CIO->CXD->Components’ CX->Components’ Services and Programs->Users

Yes, we work on lofty priorities. Our north star is customer experiences that center people. The stakes are high. The impact is real. Whether it’s fixing minor inconveniences or frustrating web forms or rebuilding cumbersome and convoluted services and systems, we serve people and use our skills in modern, human-centered approaches to make one billion interactions a year…better. Let’s face it, this isn’t going to be easy. But now is the time. We are seeing more natural disasters, more human crises, more exploitation. There’s more to tackle with each passing day.

Join Us and Help Make Every Touchpoint a "Trustpoint"

By applying to improve federal CX across DHS you are taking the first step to help people on an exponential level. You can impact the experiences of millions of people each and every day, often through services people depend on. The opportunity for such impact at scale is rare, and is tied to human-centered metrics, not profits.

There are several types of positions at CXD. We seek experience and expertise in modern human-centered practices, a passion to serve with meaning, and skills to navigate a complex work environment.

Specialized skills you might bring to the CXD community include: Product management, human-centered design, CX strategy, accessibility and 508 compliance, content strategy and plain language, design process, systems thinking, user research, agile or iterative development, interaction design, service design, design operations, product delivery, design training, public policy and government expertise, data analysis, change management, relationship building, stakeholder engagement, collaboration.

The next step is simple and straightforward. Sign up to receive job notifications. After you sign up to be notified of opportunities, you should familiarize yourself with USAjobs, the government’s job portal. Official vacancy announcements will always be listed there.

Federal compensation and benefits offered are comprehensive and include health, dental, vision, paid time off, sick leave, paid holidays, Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursable Arrangements (HRA), Life Insurance, Retirement, Transit Subsidy, Work-life Programs, Employee Assistance Program, Dependent Care Assistance, Promotions, Professional development, and more. Salary up to $183,500 is beholden to the General Schedule and is based on duty location. To learn more visit: Employee Resources | Homeland Security

Excited? Confused? Want to learn more? Send us a note at CX@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 06/10/2024
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