New Bill Hopes to Force Government Toward Improved Digital Services

A new bill, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience (IDEA) Act, introduced last week by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and John Ratcliffe (R-TX), aims to tackle a broad push to modernize the federal government’s digital offerings, including updating “federal agency websites, supporting the increased use of mobile devices, transitioning away from paper-based forms and in-person transactions, and modernizing to a 21st Century digital government experience.”

Included in the bill’s reasoning is 2014 data from the IRS which indicated that “live assistance cost between $43 and $53 per inbound correspondence. Digital transactions in the same period, in contrast, cost the IRS just $0.22.”

According to Rep. Ratcliffe, “Our bill takes advantage of new and emerging technologies that can drastically improve the way our federal agencies provide critical services to folks across the country, including people with disabilities or those who live in rural areas with limited access to traditional, in-person assistance services.”

The bill would “give agencies just one year from enactment to make sure that any paper-based government form has a ‘digital (intuitive and adaptive)’ counterpart, and 180 days to submit a plan for increasing the use of digital signatures. It would also help ‘coordinate and ensure executive agency compliance’ with the Connected Government Act,” a new law signed by the President earlier this year, which requires federal agencies to maintain mobile-friendly websites.

The 21st Century IDEA Act has 14 co-sponsors and has received the public support of a number of tech companies and organizations, including Adobe, Oracle, BSA, and the Software & Information Industry Association.

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