Federal CIO leads the way in streamlining government services

HERSHEY, PA — One of the federal government’s top tech officials said Monday that the federal government could deliver transformational digital tools to deliver public services to citizens, but legacy data policies stand in the way.

Clare Martorana, Federal Director of Information, speaking at the ACT-IAC Imagine Nation conference, said a flurry of activity to come around the implementation of the Biden administration’s executive order on the Customer Experience will examine some of the rules and regulations that prevent government from offering the kinds of personalized services that are commonplace in the private sector.

“As a federal government customer, you provide your information to the government in so many ways,” Martorana said. “And frankly, the government knows a lot about you, doesn’t it? We could do a lot of things in an automated way to make it simple and transparent for people to interact with the government, but we’re still struggling a bit with the secure part of that.”

Martorana said his team has been busy over the summer conducting user research on the “life experiences” element of the 2021 customer experience-focused executive order — the effort is designed to streamline multi-agency interactions for individuals and families facing retirement, experiencing disaster or financial shock, leaving the military, or having children.

“Just as you can on your [insurance provider] app… take a photo of your car accident, we should make it at least as easy for someone who has been through such a devastating and catastrophic event” – even if the government interaction spans multiple agencies, said Martorana.

“So if you’re recovering from a disaster, for example, you’re going to start with FEMA, having to go to [the Department of Housing and Urban Development]potentially having to go to [the Small Business Administration]”, she said. “We are trying to find the best way to share information appropriately, privately, but also to ensure that it is transparent and simple for someone who has potentially lost everything, including their identification, to be able to access these government services. .”

Rob King, chief data officer for the Social Security Administration, told FCW on the sidelines of the conference that data sharing continues to be a major challenge. Her agency is involved in the multi-agency effort around retirement life experiences and financial shocks.

“We need greater clarity, and that’s something I’m pushing [the Office of Management and Budget] right now,” citing restrictions in privacy law and social security law. “How do we get the right policies, regulations, interpretations of it to create this experience, when there are so many legal obstacles? That’s the dialogue we have.”

Rolling out a high-profile government website shows the promise of easy-to-use government services. The White House has touted the rollout of its student loan forgiveness app as easy and simple to use – experts say the use of administrative data was a key factor in making the app relatively short.

Martorana said there is no roadmap or plan that should be released to handle this siled agency data issue.

Removing restrictions on data sharing ‘would take real evolution [and] I hope we’re on the right track to start,” Martorana said. “It’s something that I think we think about every day, because when you design services for customers and you have that hand tied behind the back and this one tied here, it’s really, really hard for you to design an elegant system that we’re capable of designing.”

Ashley C. Reynolds