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President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that will be the start of modernization efforts at more than a dozen different federal agencies, with the end goal of creating a more seamless “customer experience” for the average American.
The idea behind modernization is quite simple. In general, we all know that dealing with government sucks. Going to the DMV sucks, doing your taxes sucks, and corresponding with just about any kind of government office sucks. The government is now aware of this and, so goes the idea, modernization should make the navigation bureaucracy a little less suck. In practice, this means that services that would normally have to be handled by post or a trip to the local government office are being digitized.
In fact, the ideal often held up is that of a Amazon verification of government services, where people can quickly click through websites for services instead of being forced to drive into a cramped, dingy building and stand in an endless line to do X, Y, and Z.
In this case, the Biden administration has identified a number of areas that will be modernized, including retirement services, student loans, tax filing and management, disaster relief, travel, and more. The aim of the decision is, among other things, to make it possible to renew your passport and apply for pension benefits online, and to simplify the management of student loans through a single web portal.
“As part of this framework, the administration will work to identify and define critical services that meet customer needs and expectations, assess performance delivery and report it publicly, incorporate customer feedback during every interaction, and ultimately ensure that services provide a better experience to the public,” the executive order proclaims.
The order has also been identified a list of 35 “High Impact Service Providers,” federal agencies and sub-agencies, who “must be committed to putting their customers at the center of everything they do.” The list includes the Social Security Administration, the General Services Administration and the Department of Education, among others, which will be asked to “test new online tools and technologies that provide a simple, seamless and secure customer experience.”
Protocol reports that this initiative will rely largely on pre-existing “technical resources within agencies and within the White House”, such as the US digital service-a modernization unit launched under the Obama administration.
For a full list of the services being upgraded, please visit the White House announcement.
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