Senior House Democrats are pressing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for action on implementing existing law that requires the Federal government to improve digital experience for citizens including modernizing the government’s public-facing websites.

That request is coming from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and House Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who sent a May 6 letter to OMB Acting Director Shalanda Young requesting guidance on implementing the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA).

“The intent of the 21st Century IDEA was to accelerate digital modernization at agencies to improve how individuals access Federal services, and to increase trust in government while driving down the cost of government operations,” the members of Congress wrote. “The law had several implementation deadlines – ranging from 180 days to two years from enactment – all of which have passed with limited and unequal agency compliance.

The two House leaders pointed out that the IDEA legislation was passed in 2018, but that the previous administration failed to issue required guidance to enact its provisions.

“The burgeoning telework environment demands that agencies provide the public the ability to efficiently interact with their government on a digital medium,” Reps. Maloney and Connolly said. They pointed to the fundamental changes in how individuals interact with government has changed, and said  “these changes underscore an even stronger need to implement the 21st Century IDA and allow Federal agencies to deliver an excellent customer experience from anywhere, to anyone, on any device.”

The House members are requesting that OMB expedite implementation guidance and include:

  • Developing plans to accelerate the use of electronic signatures within 180 days, and requiring agencies to develop and submit plans to accelerate electronic signature use within 60 days;
  • Reinforcing Congress’ intent to use guided principles in the development and modernization of new and existing websites and digital services; and
  • Seeing that each executive agency digitizes any paper-based form that is related to serving the public, and ensure that agencies offer forms that can be filled out electronically on all digital devices.

“The requirements of this law are intended to give agencies the tools needed to deliver a world-class digital experience to the public and Federal employees,” the Congressmembers wrote. “While we believe the law effectively clarifies and defines what is expected of agencies in complying with the 21st Century IDEA, guidance from OMB is needed to harmonize the various requirements of the law with other administration initiatives.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.