National Archives:

A More Systematic Customer Focus Needed

GGD-94-3: Published: Oct 14, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 1993.

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J. William Gadsby
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) meets its customers' needs, focusing on how NARA identifies and responds to its customers' needs.

GAO found that: (1) NARA does not systematically identify its customers' needs; (2) although NARA has attempted to increase its understanding of customer needs, it has only surveyed a limited number of its customers and implemented minimal improvements; (3) NARA customers believe that NARA needs to conduct more comprehensive surveys to better understand their needs; (4) although NARA relies on workshop evaluations, surveys, and informal feedback for its customer information, it is not required to provide agencywide information on customers' needs and satisfaction; (5) NARA could improve customer satisfaction by regularly contacting customer representatives, adopting the National Archives of Canada's customer satisfaction approach, and using other data collection methods, including customer interviews, customer follow-up surveys, and complaint tracking systems; (6) NARA has responded to most of its customers' suggested improvements; and (7) NARA should implement a more systematic and agencywide approach to collecting information from its customers before it implements its strategic planning initiative.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency reported that it has: (1) issued a new strategic plan, whcih incorporates customer focus; (2) conducted focus groups and customer satisfaction surveys of NARA visitors; and (3) included customer focus as part of employee training.

    Recommendation: The Acting Archivist of the United States should consider a systematic, agencywide approach to identify NARA customers' needs, compare those needs with services offered, and examine how to meet shortfalls. Any needed corrective action could be incorporated into NARA strategic plans.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration: National Archives and Records Administration: Office of the Acting Archivist


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