On Thursday, President Trump signed the 21st Century IDEA Act into law, requiring all Federal agencies to make sure their websites are user-friendly and support digital forms.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Cal., and Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, in the House and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in the Senate, passed the House in November and the Senate this month.

Specifically, the bill will;

  • Require new and redesigned websites to be accessible to those with disabilities, avoid overlap, use an industry-standard secure connection, and have a consistent appearance within 180 days of the bill’s passage;
  • Require all agencies to review existing websites and submit a report on the cost to modernize priority websites;
  • Require all paper-based forms to be available in a digital format within two years;
  • Require agencies to submit a plan to accelerate the use of electronic signatures; and
  • Require CIOs to coordinate with other executives to ensure adequate funding for, and execution of, the bill.

“This common-sense solution will help improve how every American interacts with their government online while saving time and taxpayer money by modernizing and streamlining federal forms and the government process,” said Khanna.

“I want to thank President Trump for signing the bill into law, Sen. Portman and Rep. Ratcliffe for their partnership, as well as Matt Lira from the White House’s Office of American Innovation, and Geo Saba of my staff for their efforts to pass this bill for the American public,” he added.

Industry leaders also offered praise for the bill’s passage.

“We applaud the signing the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) into law and to Senator Portman, Representative Khanna, Representative Ratcliffe and the White House Office of American Innovation for their bipartisan commitment to help our federal government modernize, transform, and make their services cost-effective and accessible to every citizen,” said Dana Rao, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Adobe.

“BSA | The Software Alliance is pleased to see the signing of the 21st Century IDEA Act,” the organization said in a statement. “These changes will help Americans better access government benefits and improve their lives.”

Mike Hettinger, head of the Hettinger Strategy Group, said he expects the Office of Management and Budget to issue guidance to agencies in the upcoming months. During a speech in October, Khanna said he expected the bill’s provisions to kick in for FY 2020.

“I’m hopeful that the White House will continue to keep the pressure on for agencies,” said Hettinger.

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