The 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, otherwise known as 21st Century IDEA, was signed into law in December 2018. The Act aims to improve the digital experience for government customers and reinforces existing requirements for federal public websites.
Why Is It Important?
The current state of federal websites and digital services is not ideal. Customer expectations are being ratcheted up by the private sector. Government services should be delivered in ways the public now demands and expects—quick, easy, secure, and accessible.
We can, and should, do more.
21st Century IDEA is a significant opportunity to improve the lives of the public by transforming how government uses technology. It is a way to make this change happen, and it provides a clear, practical path forward.
What’s in the Law?
So what is in 21st Century IDEA? The bill’s sponsor, Representative Ro Khanna, summed it up by saying, “Government exists to serve citizens, and this bill ensures government leverages available technology to provide cohesive, user-friendly online service that people around this country expect and deserve.”
Specifically, the Act requires all executive branch agencies to:
- modernize their websites,
- digitize services and forms,
- accelerate use of e-signatures, and
- improve customer experience.
It also encourages agencies to standardize and transition to centralized shared services.
What Does It Mean to Modernize Websites?
All new, public-facing websites and digital services must meet eight specific requirements.
- Accessible - be accessible to individuals with disabilities in accordance with Section 508
- Consistent - have a consistent appearance
- Authoritative - not overlap with or duplicate existing websites
- Searchable - contain a search function
- Secure - be provided through a secure connection
- User-centered - be designed around user needs with data-driven analysis
- Customizable - provide an option for a more customized digital experience
- Mobile-friendly - be functional and usable on mobile devices
How is Progress Reported?
21st Century IDEA requires executive agencies to provide progress reports. Each agency that maintains a public website or digital service must report to
- Congress on those websites and services, including the cost and schedule of modernization, and
- OMB and the public annually (for the next 5 years) on the agency’s progress in implementing the requirements.
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