Federal Citizen Information Center


Federal Citizen Information Center

The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), originally the Federal Consumer Information Center, is a department in the United States government's General Services Administration. FCIC, founded in 1970, began as the Federal government's distribution outlet for free and low cost Federal consumer publications sent out from the Government Printing Office (GPO) facility in Pueblo, Colorado. Since 1970, FCIC’s mission has broadened significantly to include helping consumers interact with the Federal government via toll-free telephone numbers, print publications, and a family of web sites and other electronic resources.

FCIC still distributes publications from Pueblo that cover subjects ranging from credit and investing to avoiding ID theft, getting a mortgage, applying for Federal benefits, and much more. Information from all of the publications (English and Spanish) is online at [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ www.pueblo.gsa.gov] , along with consumer news items, recalls, and consumer scam alerts. The most popular publication is the free [http://www.consumeraction.gov/ "Consumer Action Handbook"] , an annual guide to making the best deals and protecting oneself in the marketplace. It also includes an extensive consumer assistance directory of government, private sector, and national organization contacts. The online version of the "Handbook" is available at [http://www.consumeraction.gov/ ConsumerAction.gov] or [http://www.consumidor.gov/ Consumidor.gov] (Spanish). By visiting [http://www.usa.gov USA.gov] , consumers can get information and services from the government 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, FCIC's toll-free National Contact Center provides Federal information to consumers who call 1 (800) FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

The FCIC distribution facility in Pueblo receives so much mail that the United States Postal Service assigned it its own ZIP code, 81009. Because of FCIC public service announcements, it is likely the second-most well-known ZIP code in the country, behind 90210 in Beverly Hills. View an [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/multimed.htm archive] of FCIC TV, radio, and print public service announcements. A 2006 FCIC audience survey showed that more than 26% of the respondents recognized Pueblo as a source of helpful Federal information.

ervices for Consumers

FCIC helps consumers interact with the Federal government via toll-free telephone numbers, print publications, and its family of websites and other electronic resources.

Toll-free Telephone Numbers

:*1 (800) FED-INFO::FCIC manages a toll-free National Contact Center (NCC) with specially trained staff to answer questions in English and Spanish about all aspects of the Federal government. The NCC answers more than 1.5 million calls and e-mails a year - that's more than 4,100 questions a day! The public can get help from an agent by calling toll-free 1 (800) FED-INFO (that's 1-800-333-4636), Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET. Recorded information on the most popular topics and frequently asked questions is available around the clock. Consumers can also search the online database at [http://www.info.gov/ info.gov] .

:*1 (888) 8 PUEBLO::Through the publication ordering hotline at the National Contact Center, 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO (that's 1-888-878-3256), consumers can request copies of the "Consumer Action Handbook" or "Consumer Information Catalog" and any of the other publications FCIC distributes. Consumers who call can speak to an agent Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET to place their order.

Print Publications

FCIC publishes two print resources, the [http://www.consumeraction.gov/pdfs/2006revisedCAH.pdf "Consumer Action Handbook"] and the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/catalog.pdf "Consumer Information Catalog"] . FCIC also distributes hundreds of additional consumer publications, provided by Federal agencies and private sector partners, through the Pueblo, CO facility.

:* [http://www.consumeraction.gov/ "Consumer Action Handbook"] ::Published continuously since 1979, the "Consumer Action Handbook" is one of the most popular consumer resources from the Federal government. The "Handbook", produced by FCIC in cooperation with eight Federal and 28 corporate partners, is designed to help consumers make better purchasing decisions, avoid problems in the marketplace, and resolve difficulties that may arise. It includes information on buying cars, shopping from home, understanding credit, protecting privacy, avoiding identity theft, choosing cell phone and internet service providers, and much more. Organized into separate sections for pre-purchase information and resolving problems after a purchase, the "Handbook" also lists thousands of consumer contacts at companies, trade associations, Federal agencies, state and local consumer offices, and national consumer organizations and includes a sample complaint letter to help consumers successfully express problems to companies via regular mail, fax, or e-mail.

::The "Handbook" is online in English at [http://www.consumeraction.gov/ ConsumerAction.gov] and in Spanish at [http://www.consumidor.gov/ Consumidor.gov] . The [http://consumidor.gov/ordene_la_guia.shtml/ "Guía del Consumidor,"] the first-ever Spanish-language companion publication to the "Handbook," was printed in June 2007. Consumers can obtain a free copy of the "Consumer Action Handbook" by: ::#Sending their name and address to: Handbook, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.::#Submitting an online order through the [http://www.consumeraction.gov/caw_orderhandbook.shtml web order form] , or by::#Calling toll-free, 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO (that's 1-888-878- 3256), weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, and asking for the Handbook.

:* [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ "Consumer Information Catalog"] ::Each quarter FCIC revises and publishes the free "Consumer Information Catalog" and distributes more than 10 million copies annually. Each issue has descriptive listings of more than 200 free and low cost Federal publications, covering everything from staying healthy and buying Federal surplus property to building careers and obtaining credit. The "Catalog" is made available through schools, libraries, consumer groups, Federal and Congressional offices, and in response to individual requests. Orders for publications in the "Catalog" are received and filled by the GPO facility in Pueblo, CO. Consumers can obtain a free copy of the "Consumer Information Catalog" by submitting an online order through the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/newcat.htm web order form] . Consumers can also sign-up to receive the "Catalog" each quarter.

Electronic Resources

:*Websites::*USA.gov, the U.S. government’s official web portal in English and GobiernoUSA.gov in Spanish, connects consumers to more than 40 million Federal, state, and local government web pages, including tribal and territorial government websites. Here, consumers can get information and services from the government 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, they can also use an e-mail form to send questions and comments in English and Spanish for a response within two business days. Whether consumers need to get a passport, file a change of address, renew a drivers license, or apply for Federal benefits, they can do it all from the comfort of home at USA.gov.

::*At [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ Pueblo.gsa.gov] , consumers can order, read, print out, or save the current "Consumer Information Catalog" and the full text of all the publications listed in it. Consumers can access additional information about cars, computers, education, employment, family, Federal programs, food, health, housing, money, small businesses, travel, and more. Hundreds of publications, the latest product recalls and scams, updates of consumer news from various Federal agencies, and a calendar of consumer-related events are also available. The public can also sign up for the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/maillist.htm FED-INFO e-newsletter] . The e-newsletter delivers updates on consumer issues and free special offers from FCIC straight to consumers’ e-mail.

::* [http://www.consumeraction.gov/ ConsumerAction.gov] , the online version of the "Consumer Action Handbook", features general advice and information on how to solve consumer problems, as well as addresses, telephone numbers, and websites where consumers can file consumer complaints. The "Consumer Topics" section offers tips on specific consumer issues, like buying a car or home or preventing identity theft. Use the Resource Directory to contact a specific company or a local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau. The Specific Audiences section offers information tailored to teachers, members of the military and media, and persons with disabilities.

::* [http://kids.gov/ Kids.gov] is the official interagency children’s portal to the U.S. government. The site features more than 500 kid-friendly links in one easy-to-find place. Links are organized by topic area and by whether they are a government agency, school, private, or commercial organization. The links are safe and age-appropriate. Kids can learn about everything from fighting crime and exploring the world to music and space. And the “Homework” section links them directly to the best reference and homework help sites on the Internet.

::* [http://www.blog.usa.gov/roller Gov Gab] , FCIC’s new blog, will give consumers a fresh and interactive perspective on how they can use government resources to make their every day lives better, easier, and more fun. The five bloggers are FCIC employees with diverse interests and points of view who post daily entries on a wide variety of topics. From saving money and visiting National Parks to finding out about the latest government auction, if there’s a government resource or service that the bloggers use in their daily lives, consumers will find it in a Gov Gab entry.

:*Other Electronic Resources

::* [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/maillist.htm Subscribe] to the FCIC RSS Feeds and receive the latest information about scams and frauds, product recalls, consumer news and featured publications.

::*FCIC regularly writes two [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/maillist.htm e-newsletters] . The [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/consnew2.htm "New For Consumers" e-newsletter] is sent out about 3 times a month and gives tips from the publications listed in the "Consumer Information Catalog", 1 (800) FED-INFO and our family of websites. The [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/fedinfonews/fedinfoarchives.htm FED-INFO e-newsletter] is sent out 6-8 times a year with updates on consumer issues, tips to help you get the most for your money, and free special offers.

::*By signing up for FCIC's [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov email update] service, consumers can receive notification when any of the FCIC web pages have been updated.

Information in Languages Other Than English

:* [http://www.gobiernousa.gov GobiernoUSA.gov] is the Spanish version of USA.gov and provides consumers with access to FCIC's online Spanish Federal information resources.

:* [http://www.consumidor.gov Consumidor.gov] is the Spanish version of the "Consumer Action Handbook" and provides consumers with links to federal websites; state, local and county consumer agencies; consumer organizations; and corporations and trade associations with ongoing consumer programs.

:*FCIC's [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/spanish/ Spanish resources page] offers news, tips, and Spanish language publications you can order.

:*The [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/multilanguage/multilang.htm Multi-language Gateway] has links to Federal resources in many other languages.

ervices for Federal Agencies

FCIC's multi-channel approach lets consumers get information through whatever means they desire, and enables agencies to reach their target audience through an array of channels. FCIC can provide a wide range of information services to Federal agencies.

Publications and Websites

:*FCIC will post or link to agencies' information on the FCIC family of websites in multiple formats, including [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov pueblo.gsa.gov] , [http://www.consumeraction.gov ConsumerAction.gov] , [http://www.usa.gov USA.gov] , and [http://www.kids.gov Kids.gov] ;:*List agencies' consumer publications in the "Consumer Information Catalog" and send them out through the GPO facility in Pueblo, CO;:*Identify government/industry [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/svccoop.htm cooperative publishing] opportunities;:*Promote agencies' information through the print, broadcast, and electronic media;:*Provide publication order fulfillment and warehousing services;:*Offer specialized or targeted publication mailing services in English, Spanish, and other languages;:*Publicize agencies' programs in the "Consumer Action Handbook" and on [http://www.consumeraction.gov ConsumerAction.gov] .

USA Services

One of President Bush's 24 [http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/ E-Government Initiatives] , the [http://www.usaservices.gov USA Services] program was founded on July 30, 2003 to help consumers easily access government information and services and at the same time assists other E-Gov Initiatives and Federal agencies in responding to consumer inquiries. USA Services utilizes the existing FCIC infrastructure to develop customer service solutions that improve the ease with which consumers interact with the government. USA Services also serves as a customer service solution provider for other federal agencies and E-Government initiatives and by establishing partnership agreements with other Federal agencies and E-Gov Initiatives the USA Services program provides a variety of services to help agencies respond to public inquiries.

:* [http://usaservices.gov/firstcontact.htm FirstContact] is the General Services Administration's innovative contract vehicle for multi-channel contact center services. FirstContact offers indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ), firm fixed price, performance based measures, management by the General Services Administration, and five experienced, pre-qualified solution partners.:*USA Services will handle [http://usaservices.gov/misdirect.htm misdirected] telephone and e-mail inquiries as a free service to other agencies. Using 1 (800) FED-INFO or an agency-specific e-mail box, USA Services answers or redirects telephone and e-mail inquires that are not related to an agencies' mission.:* [http://www.usaservices.gov/cslic.htm The Citizen Service Levels Interagency Committee] (CSLIC), with more than 35 member agencies, works to develop government-wide guidelines for how agencies should serve citizens. The group recently issued an initial report containing standards, guidelines, and recommendations that represent best practices all agencies should use as they serve citizens at their contact centers and field offices. CSLIC is currently focusing on implementing the best practice recommendations, drafting additional best practices, developing the USAServices.gov web page as a resource for the Federal community, and studying different ways of measuring customer satisfaction.

ervices for Partner Organizations

Cooperative publishing

Although the majority of publications listed in the "Consumer Information Catalog" are developed by federal agencies, some are produced jointly with private industry, including foundations, trade associations and individual companies. To date, more than 200 publications have been produced cooperatively for nationwide distribution by FCIC. Current partners include AARP, American Council on Education, American Express, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, National Crime Prevention Council and Visa.

FCIC’s criteria for cooperative publications require the publication:
*Receive the endorsement of the appropriate Federal agency;
*Clearly indicate it is a joint government/industry effort;
*Be an unbiased, objective presentation with clear labeling of industry and government positions whenever present;
*Be free of advertising or promotional messages; and
*Give permission for reprinting by educational and nonprofit groups.

"Consumer Action Handbook" Partnerships

FCIC welcomes partnerships with Federal agencies and private sector organizations for the "Consumer Action Handbook". Other organizations help fund the printing and distribution of the "Handbook" to ensure that as many consumers as possible have access to this information. For information on how your company or organization can become a sponsor of the "Handbook", contact FCIC at (202) 501-1794.

ervices for the Media

FCIC is available to help the media get information on the newest developments in areas that affect people's lives--health, children, homes, diets, finances, and more. Someone is available at FCIC's media hotline Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET at (202) 501-1794. If our staff can't answer media questions immediately, someone will research them and call back promptly with answers. FCIC staff will do everything possible to meet the media's needs. FCIC also offers the following free services to members of the media:

:#Access to all of the latest consumer news through FCIC's website and [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/pressroom.htm online press room] ;:# [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/sublist.htm Sign-up] to receive the latest edition of the quarterly "Consumer Information Catalog";:#Members of the media can order complimentary review copies of any FCIC publication by calling the Media Hotline at (202) 501-1794;:#A listing of the most popular publications in the "Catalog";:#FCIC regularly sends out "New for Consumers" news releases to print, web and broadcast outlets. The releases give tips from publications listed on our website and in the quarterly "Consumer Information Catalog". A "New for Consumers" release can be used to offer a publication to your audience, or the substantive information in the release can be incorporated into a column or feature story. Many Action Line columnists use these releases to answer readers' questions. For selected major articles in large circulation newspapers or magazines, FCIC can give your promotion a unique address and count the number of orders your story generates. Like all of our publications, an archive of past and current releases is available at [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/press www.pueblo.gsa.gov/press] .:#Public service advertisements promoting FCIC's various websites or selected free information are available for print, television, and radio. The TV and radio spots are professionally produced to be entertaining and informative. The print ads come in multiple sizes and are in black and white and color. Print ads are available on CDs in PDF format and the PSAs can be viewed and downloaded from the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/pressroom.htm online press room] .

Awards

Over the past 35 years, FCIC has received hundreds of awards for providing consumers with high quality information they can use to improve their lives. Here are some of the most recent honors. In 2006, the [http://www.nacaa.net National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators] (NACAA) honored the "Consumer Action Handbook" and website with an "Achievement in Consumer Education (ACE) Award" and Forbes named www.pueblo.gsa.gov one of the "Best of the Web" sites. In 2005, Communications Concepts, Inc. presented the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/press/psa-pdfs/unclesam-bw-pg3.pdf "You Want Me"] print ad with an [http://www.apexawards.com/ "APEX Award for Publication Excellence"] and NACAA awarded ConsumerAction.gov with the [http://www.nacaa.net/2005_ace_awards.htm "Best Website" award] . In 2004, MerrCom, Inc. bestowed the "Mercury Silver Award" for the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/00spot.htm "Uncle Sams"] PSA and the "Questar Silver Award" for the [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/00spot.htm "In the Pink"] PSA.

External links

* [http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov Federal Citizen Information Center Official Site]
* [http://www.usa.gov USA.gov Official Site]
* [http://www.gobiernousa.gov GobiernoUSA.gov]
* [http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/channelView.do?pageTypeId=8199&channelId=-13326 Office of Citizen Services and Communications]
* [http://www.consumeraction.gov/ Consumer Action Handbook Official Site]
* [http://www.consumidor.gov/consumeraction/enes/?24;http://www.consumeraction.gov Consumidor.gov]
* [http://kids.gov/ Kids.gov]
* [http://www.usaservices.gov USAServices.gov]


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