Adobe Applauds Introduction of 21st Century IDEA Legislation
Last week, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation called the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act or 21st Century IDEA. This bill will help accelerate the federal government’s goal of improving digital service delivery and customer experience, while at the same time streamlining agency processes and saving taxpayer dollars.
While the recent passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act) laid the foundation for government’s transformation away from legacy systems and into the cloud, agencies should go a step further by focusing on making their internal and external websites, forms and services more user friendly, responsive, accessible and a delightful customer experience. Khanna and Ratcliffe’s legislation would set clear benchmarks and speed up the timeline for departments to improve their internal and external digital service delivery by focusing on several 21st Century digital government priorities, including:
- Ensuring Website Consolidation and Consistent Look and Feel: As more citizens access government services digitally and via mobile devices, government agencies would need to eliminate or consolidate web pages that are duplicative and update its content platforms to ensure a consistent look and feel.
- Improving Accessibility of Government Websites: Agencies would have to ensure that websites and web-based forms meet the standards in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act so that every taxpayer, regardless of physical abilities, can access the information they need online.
- Leveraging Data Analytics: Agencies are also expected to use data analytics to build better websites that are responsive to user needs. Websites would have to be designed around citizen experiences and data would influence management and development of web properties.
- Content Personalization Option: It requires agencies to provide users an option for a more customized digital experience, allowing them to complete digital transactions in a more efficient and accurate manner.
- Internal Digital Services: While improving publicly facing digital services gets most of the attention, modernizing internal government employee digital experiences will produce a most efficient and productive workforce.
- Digitizing Government Services and Forms: The bill also asks the head of each executive agency to make a web-based, mobile friendly, digital services option available to the public for any in-person government transaction or paper-based process. The President’s Management Agency (PMA) recently noted that there are “more than 23,000 different forms inside the federal government that leads to 11.4 billion hours of paperwork annually, and a poor user experience.” Digitizing services and moving to intuitive and adaptive electronic forms would help departments operate more efficiently, reduce cost and provide a much better user experience inside and outside government.
- Adopting Electronic Signatures: Within 180 days of the bill’s enactment, agencies would have to submit a plan to accelerate the use of electronic and digital signatures. Minimizing procedural time by signing documents digitally would make agencies more productive and efficient while making it easier for citizens to sign documents without having to print, sign and scan a form again.
- Prioritizing Customer Experiences: The 21st Century IDEA also requires agency CIOs to focus on improving customer experiences across digital and in-person interactions. Adobe and WPP recently released a study that benchmarks how governments in seven countries are performing when it comes to providing digital experiences. The study found citizens want digital experiences tailored to them that facilitate a relationship and a dialogue with government, much like the ones they receive from private sector companies.
- Creating a Designee to Ensure Effective Implementation: Without a responsible agency official, the requirements of the above sections won’t get carried out effectively. Therefore, each executive agency will designate its CIO or a senior agency official whose primary responsibility is to ensure the implementation of these requirements. The CIO or designated official would be responsible for coordinating and ensuring alignment of the agency’s customer experience programs, monitoring digital service delivery, recommending changes to the agency head when necessary and providing advice to the agency leaders on digital service delivery and customer experience improvements.
In addition to Reps. Khanna and Ratcliffe, Adobe would also like to thank Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Steve Russell (R-OK), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), John Curtis (R-UT), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Raj Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)for co-sponsoring this bipartisan bill. With strong support from the tech industry and trade associations, including the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), Adobe encourages the House and Senate to take decisive action and pass the 21st Century IDEA this year.
Restoring the United States government’s global leadership position in technology and electronic government requires a new approach — one that narrows the growing gap between the digital demands of citizens and government’s current digital services – and this legislation would be a key step towards accomplishing that by transforming digital government services and improving citizen experiences.