Fellowships | FUSE CORPS
Modernizing Customer Service Systems in our Nation’s Capital
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Washington DC

“Modernizing Customer Service Systems in our Nation’s Capital” 
Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs 
Washington, DC


Washington DC is currently experiencing the largest construction expansion since the early 1990s, driven by a growing population, an expanding workforce, and an increasing demand for urban living. Building permit data confirms this trend with the number of building permits issued for new building and addition projects reaching a five-year high at 3,364 in 2016. Pressure from economic growth has catalyzed the market for major real estate development as well as increased the demand for business services. 

In the District of Columbia, all real estate development and new business growth necessarily requires interaction with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). DCRA protects the health, safety, economic interests and quality of life of residents, businesses and visitors in the District of Columbia by ensuring code compliance and regulating construction and business activity. The agency operates a consolidated permit intake center and reviews construction documents to ensure compliance with building codes and zoning regulations as well as issues business licenses, professional licenses, registers corporations, and issues special events permits. 

For many District residents and developers, DCRA represents the entirety of their personal interaction with the government. Unfortunately given increasingly high demand, outdated paper-based filing systems and antiquated processes, the user experience is frustrating for many. In an age when high quality retail customer service and online user experiences are the norm, local government can often find itself playing catch up in implementing customer service best practices modeled in the private sector. Having a negative interaction at the permit counter or fighting a frustrating bureaucratic process can significantly impact the public’s perception of government efficiency, waste endless hours of residents’ time, and stagnate millions of dollars in economic activity. 

Mayor Bowser has stated she wants to make Washington, DC work better for all residents and businesses and has tasked DCRA with reforming its processes to ensure more predictability and shorter wait times. The department has established two cross-departmental action teams to tackle this issue. As a pilot, the teams are starting with improving customer service in the small business division focused on business licensing and housing inspection. 

With this mayoral mandate, DCRA will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year to help implement process and technology improvements to its operations in order to provide a customer service experience that is more in line with the modern retail sector. This fellow will identify high-impact customer service areas for improvements and develop and implement a plan to streamline operations. These efforts have the potential to dramatically change the overall DCRA customer experience and demonstrate to the District’s constituents, fellow departments and similar agencies nationwide the benefits of strategic improvements to customer-facing departments. 


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 month of the project, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency. 

Starting in October 2017, it is proposed that the fellow will conduct a review of how customer service is currently supported by examining the IT structure and operations for each of the agency’s divisions and reviewing the agency’s performance plans. The fellow will also conduct national best practice research of similar efforts that have occurred in comparable cities as well as in the private retail sector more generally. 

The fellow will then convene various stakeholders from DCRA divisions to develop an approach for obtaining and integrating feedback from customers such as property development and construction firms. After evaluating opportunities for strengthening customer service systems, the fellow will facilitate discussions with District staff from various departments, including the Department of Building Inspection, to design more efficient workflow processes between the divisions that directly improve the customer experience. The reformed processes should incorporate ideal service standards and identify and address root causes of suboptimal operations. 

In order to develop the capacity for solutions-setting, the fellow will be asked to work with partner agencies to develop and deploy a strategy for elevating and containing the most pressing issues faced by the agency. He or she will simultaneously develop a more comprehensive and data-driven process improvement strategy that would be implemented in partnership with other agencies. 

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape of the DCRA – Review the DCRA’s implementation approach, organizational chart, division of duties, workload, resource allocation and needs, and performance metrics compiled by the TIGER Team to gain a thorough understanding of DCRA’s current customer service operations. Identify challenges and barriers to successful administration of licenses and permits given the current organizational structures and processes. Research the procedures and practices of other major cities with similar customer facing agencies as well as customer service best practices in the private sector to identify performance benchmarks. 
  • Engage internal and external stakeholders and analyze feedback – Meet with a broad range of District staff members to better understand their perspectives, priorities, and concerns with regard to current process challenges and need for improvement. Establish relationships with business associations and other key customer groups to understand current impact of permitting and licensing functions on DCRA’s customers. 
  • Prepare a plan for process improvements with strategies and timelines for implementation - Create a sustainable multi-year approach for implementing a process improvement roadmap that includes carefully sequenced phases designed to build momentum and ensure smooth transitions for all key stakeholders. Include prioritized initiatives, deliverables, timelines, budgets, staff trainings and change management approaches. This may include supporting the District with developing cost estimates and resourcing plans for implementing customer service improvements. 
  • Begin implementation of “low hanging fruit” to ensure project sustainability - Identify and implement the priority action items that can be accomplished within the year to improve operations and set a path toward sustained improvement. This may include staff development to empower staff to make more informed decisions about operational strategies. Support the development and institutionalization of structures that reinforce collaboration between agencies and adoption of department-wide approaches to customer service. 

  • Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
  • Tim White, Deputy Chief of Staff , Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development 
  • Melinda Bolling, Director, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs 
  • Lori Parris, Deputy Director, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs 
  • Jenny Reed, Chief Performance Officer, Office of the City Administrator 

  • At least 15 years of professional experience with customer service operations in the private sector, including the ability to effectively measure customer satisfaction. Familiarity with consumer insights experience preferred, which examines human behaviors in order to increase effectiveness of a product or service for the consumer, as well as increase sales for mutual benefit.
  • Familiarity with cutting edge customer service technology platforms will be an asset. 
  • Ability to train and support staff and/or prior experience managing direct reports. 
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills. Ability to get up to speed quickly about the integration and application of multiple technologies to improve the lives of residents across diverse populations.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise summaries and recommendations.
  • Ability to identify best practices, understand data and evidence and use it to support a business case, and make a persuasive argument to support recommendations.
  • Strong record of success engaging a variety of cross-sector stakeholders and managing cross- functional teams. 
  • Ability to relate to a variety of diverse audiences and varying interests with strong emotional intelligence and empathy. Able to connect and collaborate across a variety of disciplines.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations. 
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who is an independent worker, resourceful in creating novel solutions to complex problems, persistent in obtaining information, and able to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity, and sensitivity to cultural differences. 
  • Support and understanding of the strength of diversity, and the need for solutions to support all regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity. 


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. 

This role offers the opportunity to work full time for 12 months as an independent contractor of FUSE Corps with an annual stipend of $90,000 paid through monthly installments. 

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.


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