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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 6, 2023

New system to help improve customer service

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG staff writer

Standing in line at the amusement park, you pass a sign that reads: “30 minutes from this point.” Now aware of the expectation, you know that in 30 minutes your stomach will be in your throat. You are an informed customer. The amusement park measured, set and communicated to you that expectation. 

So, as a customer of Coast Guard services, what are your expectations? Are they realistic? How do you know? The Coast Guard does not have established standards for customer service timelines — that is, until now. Introducing Service Level Standards (SLS). 

DOL recently released the first-ever quarterly SLS report. This report included performance and average staffing levels at all bases and showed the correlation between workload and staffing resources. As this young project moves forward, DOL will use the collected data to adjust SLS, improve the data tracking processes and enhance reporting capabilities. 

What are SLS? 

The Director of Operational Logistics (DOL) is spearheading the initiative to create service level standards (SLS), which set completion timelines for a specific service. The best way to describe SLS is by providing a couple of examples: 

  • Your Personnel Services Division Servicing Personnel Office (PSD-SPO) enters your award within two business days. 
  • Your servicing Regional Support Team (RST) or Base Procurement and Contracting Department will process all priority 3 requests within ten business days.  

Why SLS? 

The Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, Vice Adm. Paul Thomas explains, “SLS have the potential to be a game-changer. They foster informed communications, focus priorities and provide context for resource discussions, making Mission Support more integrated and responsive.” 

The overarching goal of establishing SLS is to improve customer service and the customer experience by accurately setting customer expectations for base services. The DOL tracks performance and builds dashboards to show the success rate in meeting each SLS. With this information in hand, DCMS can correlate staffing and resource levels to service delivery and performance levels to better inform resource decision-making.  


There are four essential elements, known as SPAR, to achieve the full benefits of SLS. 

  1. Staffing: Billets allocated compared to actual assigned personnel (Do we have enough of the right personnel/resources?). 
  2. Performance: Output (Are we meeting SLS?). 
  3. Assessments: Customer and service-provider experience (Has the SLS improved communications and interactions between customer and service provider?). 
  4. Requirements: Units of work (How many tasks were completed, backlogged, anticipated?). 

Current status of SLS 

The development of SLS is ongoing. Captain Chad Brick, the SLS program manager, explains, “We are in the crawl phase. Let’s work together to improve our understanding, communications, and the process.”   

There are 115 SLS approved by the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support (DCMS) Executive Leadership Council. The Director of Operational Logistics (DOL) has identified another 52 SLS for potential implementation. 

Of note: SLS are not absolutes — they are the starting point for expectation management. SLS are general standards of performance assuming fully resourced staffing and steady-state operations. For example, if one of your clinic’s medical providers were mobilized to support a contingency operation, the ability to meet the access to healthcare SLS would be impacted. In this case, your base commanding officer could establish a data-informed modified SLS for the duration of impact.  

You can discuss any recommended SLS with your local Base command. Bases will add all recommendations to the shared SLS tracker, which DOL and respective programs will discuss and consider at the next review in approximately 6 months.   

You can find data and reports on the Service Level Standards SharePoint site


Welcome to Service Level Standards (