House passes 21st Century IDEA for better government digital services

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Government agencies would have to create better digital services for citizens under legislation passed Thursday in the House by voice vote.

The bipartisan 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) broadly aims to update the government’s digital footprint by requiring that public-facing agency websites have a “consistent look” and are compliant with the web standards developed by the Technology Transformation Services of the General Services Administration. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., introduced the legislation in May.

It would also require that, no more than two years after enactment, agencies have and maintain an online and mobile-friendly version of “any in-person Government transaction or paper-based process.” In addition, agencies would have 180 days to submit a plan for increasing the use of digital signatures.

One central stated goal is cost savings, given that delivering citizen services online is cheaper. But it’s also about giving citizens the kind of modern web-based experience they have come to expect.

“The 21st Century IDEA will modernize government agencies,” Khanna said in a statement. “It’s time our government agencies adopt the innovative technologies of the 21st Century. Government exists to serve citizens, and this bill ensures government leverages available technology to provide the cohesive, user-friendly online service that people around this country expect and deserve.”

Companion legislation in the Senate was introduced in June by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The senator’s office says the Senate could pass some version of the legislation as early as next week. In addition to its many cosponsors, the legislation is supported by a litany of government software providers and trade groups.

“This act will greatly improve how the US Government interacts and provides services to citizens across the entire country, enabling higher quality and more responsive government programs, while modernizing government and increasing efficiency,” Jason Mahler, vice president of government affairs at Oracle, said in a statement. “This is a great step for good government.”

“It’s a great time to give Americans a boost of confidence in government services,” Craig Albright, vice president of legislative strategy at BSA, said. “The IDEA Act will make federal agencies more efficient and create a better user experience for the millions of Americans who rely on these resources.”

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21st Century IDEA, Congress, digital services, House of Representatives, Ro Khanna, Senate
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