President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden return to the White House in in Washington, D.C., on Sunday after spending the weekend in Wilmington, Del. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 13 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order directing a streamlining of public services across 17 federal agencies to make them more user friendly.
The executive order is meant to build accountability and transparency in the agencies to spur more efficiency in actions like applying for small business loans, filing taxes and getting a passport.
"We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and can deliver for our people," Biden said in a statement.
The order states that in recent years "the annual paperwork burden imposed by executive departments and agencies on the public has been in excess of 9 billion hours. That number is too high."
Its aim is to "effectively reduce administrative burdens, simplify both public-facing and internal processes to improve efficiency, and empower the Federal workforce to solve problems."
The order states it's the government's responsibility to "design and deliver services in a manner that people of all abilities can navigate," eliminating what is essentially a "time tax" on disaster survivors, single parents, immigrants, small business owners, veterans and others who now must wait months for the government "to process benefits to which they are entitled."
Some updates focus on technology. For example, Medicare recipients will receive personalized online tools so they can save money on drugs, manage their healthcare, access expanded customer support options and streamline enrollment with the Social Security Administration.
Biden's order aims to streamline processes across various agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
The order allows Americans to renew passports online and introduce new technologies at airports to speed up cumbersome security at airports.
"Whether searching for vaccine safety information, claiming retirement benefits, receiving health insurance, passing through a security checkpoint, or checking the status of a farm loan application, Americans expect government services to be responsive to their needs," the White House said in a statement.
"Too often, people have to navigate a tangled web of government websites, offices and phone numbers to access the services they depend on. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to ensuring an effective, equitable and accountable government that meets the needs of its people."
The order also allows those connected with the food stamp program to shop for groceries online and open rules to increase telehealth in rural areas, which increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.