US citizens will be able to renew their passports online instead of having to print forms or pay with checks or money orders. New security machines and computers with advanced screening features will streamline the process of going through security lines for the nearly two million people who fly daily.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday December 13th to save citizens time and frustration when accessing various federal services, such as renewing passports, applying for Social Security benefits and obtaining disaster relief.
Technology is a way to do that in many ways — to make it easier, simpler, more accessible for people — whether they’re seniors who are trying to get their Social Security benefits or people just applying to renew their passportJen Psaki, White House Press Secretary
The order aims to reduce current bureaucratic red tape that entails cumbersome office visits, enduring long phone calls or dealing with mail delays and fax communications. Currently, most people renew their passport by mail. Individuals must fill out a form, which they can find online, along with a new photo, a check, and their old passport.
The White House hopes that improving the public’s experience with federal agencies will help renew faith in government and democracy at a time when deep political polarization has eroded trust in institutions.
The US has recently experienced a strong economic boom from money sent directly to citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic. But popular support for the president has plummeted as the country faces the highest inflation in four decades while the pandemic persists.
The goal is to implement many of these changes at 17 federal agencies over the next year. Officials say current funding should be sufficient for agencies to pay for the changes to improve service, and increasing efficiency will save the government money.
The government has identified 35 service providers in federal agencies that can reduce administrative burdens and develop “new tools and technologies that can provide a simple, seamless and secure user experience,” according to a fact sheet obtained by The Associated Press.
For retirees and the nearly four million people who turn 65 each year, the order calls for making it easier for them to claim Social Security benefits online. Similarly, Medicare benefits will be able to access personalized online tools to save money on medications and manage their health care.
Taxpayers will be able to schedule calls with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) instead of waiting during calls or handling issues through faxes or letters. The 45 million people with student debt will be able to manage their federal loans through a single portal instead of multiple websites with different passwords. Paperwork will also be reduced for people applying for loan forgiveness.