Biden wants to reduce bureaucratic red tape for government services

WASHINGTON (AP), President Joe Biden will sign Monday's executive order to save Americans time and frustration in seeking a wide range of federal services like renewing passports and applying for Social Security benefits.

Biden wants to reduce bureaucratic red tape for government services

On Monday, the White House provided details about the order ahead of Biden's scheduled afternoon signing. Advocate groups who have called on the government to improve service to the public received parts of the order in advance.

This order is intended to reduce the current bureaucratic chaos, which often sees people having to visit offices or endure long phone calls.

Two top White House officials stated that they hope the initiative will help restore faith in democracy and government at a time of deep political polarization, which has undermined trust in U.S. institutions.

This is a daunting task considering the fact that the federal government has remained rigid in its ways, despite numerous attempts to make it more agile over the years. In 1993, President Bill Clinton made the famous pledge to "reinvent" government with an interagency taskforce.

Coronavirus relief programs have helped the United States to see a strong economic recovery. However, support for the president is declining as inflation in the United States hovers at nearly four decades high and the coronavirus epidemic lingers.

According to Bill Sweeney (senior vice president of government affairs at AARP), the new executive order will bring government services into digital age, said Sweney. AARP is an association for older Americans.

"We do our banking online," Sweeney said. "We do our work online. Order food online. Order groceries online from your phone. People are used to it now, and they demand that the government follow suit."

The aim is to have most of the changes made by the order implemented within the next year across 17 federal agencies. Officials stated that agencies should have sufficient funds to cover improvements, and that efficiency and better service would ultimately help the government save money. Biden will sign the order Monday afternoon.

According to a factsheet obtained by The Associated Press, the government identified 35 service providers within federal agencies that could reduce administrative burdens and create "new online tools, technologies that can provide a simple and seamless customer experience."

The order applies to retirees as well as the 4 million Americans who reach 65 every year. It requires them to be able claim Social Security benefits online easier. Medicare beneficiaries will be able access online tools that allow them to save money on drugs and manage their health care. Instead of being put on hold or managing issues via letters and faxes, taxpayers can schedule calls with the IRS.

Americans will now be able renew their passport online, rather than having to print out forms and pay by money order or check. For the approximately 2 million people who fly every day, new security machines and computers equipped with advanced screening capabilities will make it easier to go through security lines.

45 million students with student debt will now be able manage their federal loans from one portal. Instead of multiple websites with different passwords, they can do it through one portal. People seeking loan forgiveness will also see a reduction in paperwork.

Each year, approximately 25 million households and small businesses in the United States are affected by natural disasters. Federal aid recipients should not have to fill out multiple forms at different agencies. They can use smart phone photos and virtual inspections to help support their claims.

Veterans of the military will be able access their benefits through one login. It should be easier for poorer families to verify their income and enroll in social safety net programs. Small business loans and farmer loan programs will be more responsive. Families on food assistance should be able buy groceries online. It should be easier to change your name or update your mailing address with the government.

Anne Zimmerman, an accountant from the Cincinnati area said that the changes to the order were necessary because many companies navigate the federal bureaucracy on their own. The White House briefed Anne Zimmerman about the order prior to the announcement as co-chair of Small Business for America's Future.

Zimmerman stated that "it's necessary because things have really got worse." "It's impossible to find your way through the maze of government bureaucracy when trying to deal with it."

Officials at the White House hope the changes will improve people's relations with the government. Online forms can reduce fraud risks and the administration takes steps for personal data security.

Why haven't we seen this all before?

Officials claimed that the pandemic led to increased calls to the IRS, and other agencies. This also demonstrated how the government can adapt and innovate in spite of closed offices and remote workers.

Even if the government services improve, it is not clear if this will pay off politically in the case of Biden. His efforts to guide the economy to the strongest growth rate since 1984 have been overshadowed and distorted by inflation.

According to a survey by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 33% of Americans consider the economy "good" now, compared with 47% in June. According to the poll, 48% approve of Biden and 51% disagree.

Updated Date: 13 December 2021, 11:30

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