Administration

Biden to sign order to streamline government services to public

President Biden is signing an executive order on Monday intended to cut back on the bureaucracy around government services for the public such as renewing passports, applying for loans or changing names.

The order, which Biden will sign on Monday afternoon on camera, affects 36 “customer experience improvement commitments” across 17 federal agencies. The order targets various government services dealing with travel, retirement, business, health and updating personal information, according to a White House fact sheet.

For example, the order will call for a streamlined enrollment experience for retirees looking to enroll in Social Security, and it will allow retirees to more easily claim benefits online. 

Taxpayers will be given new online tools to make filing more easy, and filers will have the option to schedule customer service callbacks instead of waiting on hold.

The order will call for Americans to be able to renew their passports online rather than dealing with print forms, and it will aim to streamline the process for travelers with urgent questions for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The order will also aim to ease the bureaucracy around both student loans and business loans.

The order will create a single portal for the millions of individuals with student loan debt, and small-business owners will have a more streamlined process for working with the Small Business Administration on loans, grants and certifications.

Survivors of natural disasters will also no longer be required to complete forms with several agencies when applying for assistance, according to a White House fact sheet, and they will be able to file smartphone photos and use virtual inspections when filing claims.

The latter change could be critical as natural disasters become increasingly devastating, as evidenced by the tornadoes that ravaged Kentucky over the weekend, killing dozens of people and destroying communities.

Biden will sign the executive order in the Oval Office, and he will be joined by several administration officials whose agencies are targeted by the order — including Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, Small Business Administration head Isabel Guzman and TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

Neera Tanden, senior adviser to the president, said officials looked for “the points of greatest friction” for Americans using government service when determining what areas to focus on. The upgrades will be made using existing resources and funding, she said.

“A lot of what happens with the public is that they’re really just not aware of services that their federal government has available for them,” Tanden said on a call with reporters. “And that is a key component of this executive order, is that you can go through one door and that door will let you know about other service that can help you and the need that you have.”

Democratic lawmakers applauded Biden’s plans for the executive order, suggesting it could help restore confidence in the government at a time when Biden and other lawmakers have seen eroding faith in institutions.

“With trust in government at an all-time low, it is crucial that the Administration and Congress work together to improve how the public interacts and receives services from the federal government,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), head of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, said in a statement.

“Government services should be human-centered and minimize complexity and administrative burden and costs,” he added.

Updated at 11:28 a.m.

Tags Business loans Gerry Connolly Isabel Guzman Joe Biden Miguel Cardona Neera Tanden SBA Student loans TSA

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