Federal CIO to industry: Build opportunity roadmaps off of executive orders

Gettyimages.com/ Carlo-Pelliccioni

Clare Martorana believes companies should look to White House initiatives like the digital services memorandum as a guide for future business.

Clare Martorana had a very clear message to industry at this year's Imagine Nation conference – use White House executive orders and memoranda as roadmaps for business opportunities.

During her session on Monday, the federal chief information officer focused on the Delivering a Digital First Public Experience memorandum that came out in September.

The fact sheet that was released with the memo goes into more detail the challenges and the opportunities ahead for industry.

“We will be buying what is in that document,” she said at the conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Let’s look at challenges first:

  • Only 2% of federal forms have been digitized and are offered a dynamic online form, not just a fillable PDF document.
  • $140 billion in potential government benefits go unclaimed each year because processes are outdated or overly complicated.
  • 60% of federal websites have accessibility issues
  • 45% of federal websites are not mobile friendly.

Some of the broad areas the government wants improvement in include analytics, accessibility, content, design and search.

One thing the government does not want is highly-customized solutions.

“We are not going to be buying artisanally crafted websites anymore,” Martorana said.

Search is another important area where government websites need to improve.

“No one comes to a government website to hangout,” she said. “They come to complete a task and it just gets too complicated.”

Website development needs to focus on these three S’s that Martorana cited: simplicity, seamlessness and security.

Simplicity and security are relatively self-explanatory. But with seamless, Martorana said users need to be able to move one government website to the next more easily as they complete their task.

The General Services Administration has launched the U.S. Web Design System, which essentially is an open-source repository of web-design elements and components that agencies should use in building their websites.

“The private sector can add components and make it better,” she said.

With any guidance the White House issues, industry should read it and ask questions.

“Challenge us if we aren’t going in the right direction,” Martorana said. “We can’t do it without you.”