White House sets out framework to improve digital experience of US government services

By on 25/09/2023 | Updated on 25/09/2023
A picture of US federal CIO Clare Martorana on how to drive transformation in government
Clare Martorana, chair of TMF and US chief information officer

The US government has set out plans to improve the quality of public services, with federal chief information officer Clare Martorana saying that departments and agencies “can and must do better” in how services are provided to Americans.

The White House published Delivering a Digital-First Public Experience policy guidance on Friday, which sets out what it calls “the pillars of government-wide digital experience”.

These pillars focus on the agency actions and standards that need to be met to deliver “simple, seamless, and secure websites and digital services to the public”.

Setting out the framework, Martorana said that “every day, Americans use their phone to order food, monitor the weather, check their bank balance, and communicate with family and friends”.

“These interactions are quick, easy, and seamless. Americans want to interact with the federal government in the same way but we don’t consistently make it easy for you,” she added.

Martorana highlighted a number of areas where digitisation of public service provision had not kept pace with private services. Only 2% of government firms are digitised, and around 45% of federal websites are not mobile friendly. In addition, 60% of federal websites have a possible accessibility issue, and 80% do not use U.S. Web Design System code.

Register now: AccelerateGOV, co-hosted by the Government of Canada | 3 October 2023 | Shaw Centre, Ottawa, Canada

To tackle this, the new policy guidance is intended to ensure government is providing information that is easy to use, trustworthy, and accessible.

This digital framework sets the standards to help federal agencies design, develop, and deliver modern websites and improve digital services across seven key elements: analytics, accessibility, brand, content, design, search, and digitisation.

Martorana sets out six key tests for the improvement of the US federal government digital experience. These are:

  • Know when you’re interacting with an official government website. Federal websites and digital services will have a more consistent visual design to help you know when you’re interacting with official government information and services online.
  • Get the best answers to your top questions in language you can understand. Online government information will be published in plain language and become easier to find in search results.
  • Access government online services regardless of ability. Websites and digital services will work with assistive technology so no one is left behind.
  • Use government websites that work on mobile devices. Websites and digital services will be designed so they work on a wide range of screen sizes and devices.
  • Interact with government in a way that works best for you. We will meet you where you are – online in addition to traditional channels including via the phone or mail.

Many US federal government agencies have already begun their digital modernisation journey, Martorana said, although some others are just getting started. By identifying each agency’s progress using the new policy guidance, the government will be able to target the right investments to support digital delivery, consolidate and retire legacy websites and systems, maximise the impact of taxpayer dollars, and deliver a government that is secure by design and works for everyone.

“Our DX guidance is not only a bold mandate for a digital government; it also gives the federal workforce the support they need to build a truly digital government, reduce administrative burden, drive the next decade of digital modernisation and transformation, and deliver on their missions in a modern way,” Martorana said. “This is an exciting time to harness the power of technology across the federal government to deliver a modern, secure digital government worthy of the American people.”

The guidance will also help agencies fully implement the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA). The 21st Century IDEA aims to improve the digital experience for government customers and reinforces existing requirements for federal public websites.

Join Global Government Forum’s LinkedIn group to keep up to date with all the insight public and civil servants need to know.

About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *