President Biden has moved to trim the governmental red tape that makes dealing with federal agencies and applying for benefits an often complex and frustrating experience.
On Monday, he signed an executive order that streamlines the process for applying for Social Security and Medicare benefits online, gives taxpayers the ability to schedule callbacks from the IRS and makes it simpler for survivors of disasters to apply for federal assistance.
“We’re going to make the government work more effectively for American citizens, so it’s not as confusing and it’s straightforward,” Biden said as he signed the order. Most of the changes will be in effect over the next few months.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the idea is to make it “easier and simpler for people to access government services and benefits.”
The order includes a commitment to improve 36 “customer service experiences” across 17 federal agencies.
Other intended benefits include allowing passport holders to renew their passports online without having to mail in documents and allowing low-income families to more easily enroll for federal benefits and giving them the ability to recertify their incomes more easily across programs instead of managing multiple processes.
The White House said it also intends to redesign the USA.gov website to make it “the digital federal front door” to access government benefits, services and programs “in just one to three clicks, taps or commands,” instead of navigating to duplicate or outdated federal websites.
Max Stier, head of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, lauded the order. “By putting the public — the customers of the federal government — at the center of every interaction, we have the opportunity to rebuild trust and strengthen our democracy,” Stier said in a statement.
Biden’s order is not the first time an administration has endeavored to streamline government processes. The Clinton administration put Vice President Al Gore in charge of a program to “reinvent government,” and other administrations have made their own attempts at making government services more accessible, with varying amounts of success.