A new executive order is calling on agencies to integrate human-centered design and digital service concepts to improve government’s customer experience in areas impacting various stages of the public’s lives.
“Americans expect government services to be responsive to their needs,” reads the Dec. 13 order on ‘Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government.’ “The executive order directs federal agencies to put people at the center of everything the government does.”
The order comes on the heels of the President’s Management Agenda, which outlines improvements to the customer experience as one of three major objectives, and signifies how much the president is prioritizing technology investments for improving government services.
The directive outlines 36 customer experience improvement commitments across 17 federal agencies, as well as 35 “high-impact service providers” that are charged with improving their digital services.
It calls on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), for example, to modernize its veteran-facing digital services to streamline access to health information and reduce redundancies. This includes incorporating login.gov, a cross-agency solution pioneered by the General Services Administration, to remove duplicative sign-on options for access to VA.gov. Additionally, VA is to build out a single, integrated and fully inclusive digital platform on VA.gov and a flagship VA mobile application to provide additional access opportunities that meet users where they are.
This will be just the latest in a string of efforts the agency — and government overall — has undertaken in recent years for largescale tech modernization.
Since launching the new VA.gov website in 2018, the VA has made strides in placing technology at the center of its mission. VA has leveraged human-centered design concepts across numerous efforts around the veteran experience.
“We wanted to continue to apply the human-centered design methodology and mindset as part of the strategy to redesign the website,” Barbara Morton, VA’s deputy chief veterans experience officer, said during GovernmentCIO Media & Research’s October Digital Services Series: Customer Experience virtual event. "When you see it today, you will see a much more user-friendly website ... and you are designing and iterating all the way to the users.”
GSA earlier this year announced priority investment areas via its 10x crowdsourcing program, which included things like better ways for government to use technology to engage with the public.
Biden's order also urges for improved tools and resources for recipients of Medicare and Medicaid. It calls for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services to roll out personalized online tools for Medicare recipients that will help them save money on medication, manage their health care, access extra customer support and streamline Social Security enrollment.
This is part of what the order calls out as areas to improve technology throughout moments that matter most in people’s lives, like retirement or applying for a small business loan.
Other health focused-agencies have been prioritizing changes to technology that improves the patient experience. This has resonated most in areas like electronic health records modernization, particularly in data storage and access like the efforts underway at VA.
One call out from the order for continued support is in telehealth capabilities, which falls in line with the numerous investments some agencies have made over the course of the pandemic.
“Patients will have increased ability to use telehealth with their doctors, connecting rural Americans, individuals with disabilities, or individuals seeking the convenience of remote options with the health care they need,” the order said.