United States to digitalize slew of government services and place them in 'digital front door'

US citizens will soon be able to do various functions, such as renewing passports and filing taxes, online.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The US government will look to transition core government services to being available online after President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this week to make them more accessible for citizens.

"Bureaucracies assume that people understand how they function but it's really a very complicated web for the vast majority of people, whether they have PhDs or high school education," Biden said.

"And so today I'm signing an executive order to ensure that the federal government puts you, the American people, at the front of the line."

The executive order includes 36 customer experience improvement commitments across 17 federal agencies, all of which are aimed at improving the delivery of government services to citizens, according to a fact sheet about the executive order.

"Too often, people have to navigate a tangled web of government websites, offices, and phone numbers to access the services they depend on," the fact sheet said.

These commitments will see people be able to access more government services online, such as renewing passports, changing names, accessing social safety net benefits, and accessing retiree benefits. 

The order will also look to make existing digital services more accessible, which will see the creation of a single online repayment portal for paying back student loans, shorter wait times when applying for small business loans, streamlining applications for natural disaster assistance, making it easier to access telehealth and health record services, and new online tools for filing taxes and managing Medicare benefits.

At a news briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the timeline for delivering these commitments would range from six to 12 months.

"It's a priority for agencies, so it will depend -- it's going to be -- the implementation component there will be a little different -- right? -- depending. And agencies will have a more direct and specific assessment about how long it will take, but some of this is getting programs or online systems up and running so that they can be implemented," Psaki said.

The US government will also make USA.gov a centralized "digital federal front door", akin to Australia's myGov online service portal, that it hopes can allow the public to access the aforementioned government benefits, services, and programs in "just one to three clicks, taps, or commands".

The US is not alone in wanting to shift more government services online, as other governments like Australia are working towards all its services digitally available by 2025. 

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