OMB Sets Digital Experience Deadlines for Agencies
Electronic signatures became a “lifeline” for some agencies that used them to maintain continuity of operations during the pandemic, despite the 21st Century IDEA not mandating they be the primary means of signing documents, Santiago says.
OMB’s guidance requires agencies to use and accept electronic signatures “when practicable,” avoid unnecessary signature requirements, provide digital equivalents for submitting information and transacting with government “to the greatest extent practicable,” and use identity verification when greater assurance is needed.
Agencies were given 180 days from the memo’s release, until March 20, 2024, to address its requirements — including those for electronic signatures.
Other areas of guidance include prioritizing the design of adaptable digital forms and digitization of paper forms that keep data collected digitally, end to end, as well as website consolidation. The latter ensures a consistent website look and feel, robust search capabilities, websites that are user-centered and secure by design, and customized personal experiences, Santiago says.
To help with implementation, the memo gave agencies one month to appoint a digital experience delivery lead; three months to identify their public-facing websites; and six months to assess top websites, duplicative content and tasks that are candidates for self-service while creating an inventory of public-facing services.
Breaking down the guidance further, the memo sets these additional deadlines:
- The General Services Administration had until Nov. 21 to expand resources on gov
- The federal CIO Council has until Dec. 21 to establish a Digital Experience Council
- GSA has until March 20 to update federal website standards
- The Plain Language Action and Information Network has until March 20 to update the Federal Plain Language Guidelines
- GSA has until March 20 to host a 21st Century IDEA industry day, make it easier for agencies to buy digital services, identify opportunities for shared digital offerings and develop a Federal Services Index