Federal CIO Clare Martorana said today she expects the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance this summer to Federal agencies on how to further implement the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA Act) approved by Congress in late 2018.

The legislation created a set of minimum functionality and security standards that all public-facing Federal agency websites and digital services must meet, and gave agencies one year to make sure that websites and digital services came in line with the new standards. Critics have complained since then that Federal agency adoption of the new requirements has been slow and uneven.

Among other requirements, the law mandates that Federal websites and digital services be accessible to people with disabilities, have a consistent appearance, be mobile-friendly, and be “designed around user needs with data-driven analysis influencing management and development decisions, using qualitative and quantitative data to determine user goals, needs, and behaviors.”

During a citizen service-themed address at today’s Federal Tech Day event organized by the Department of Labor and other agencies, Martorana talked about the additional IDEA Act guidance in the pipeline.

“This summer … we will be releasing guidance for agencies to continue to execute on the requirements of the 21st Century IDEA Act,” the Federal CIO said.

The underlying law, she said, is “four pages of incredible guidance for the journey that most of us have been on in many organizations across government.”

“Agencies will be required to modernize their websites and digital products, digitize forms and services, accelerate the use of e-signatures, [and] standardize and transition to central shared services and standards,” Martorana said.

“Our guidance is only the first step in spurring on this ongoing innovation,” she said. “It is my statutory responsibility in the Office of the Federal CIO to put out this guidance, to make sure that agencies understand that we’ve convened people around the table to influence the guidance so that we’re connecting policy to implementation, so that it helps people on the ground, and so it is not ‘thou shalt go move the mountain.’”

“It is actually helping provide steps so that our implementation is informed and excellent,” the Federal CIO emphasized.

“And to do it,” she continued, “we need that to think differently and work differently. Collaboration is the key to us being successful. We have to continue to partner with our budget colleagues at OMB – that is really, really critical. We did this for the FY2024 budget cycle on cybersecurity, and drove really significant outcomes.”

“We will continue to work with our budget colleagues to bring them on this 21st century digital modernization and transformation journey,” she pledged.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Martorana shouted out Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., for his leadership on Federal technology legislation, including the 21st Century IDEA Act, and said she is excited to continue to work with Rep. Connolly and with Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., who chairs the House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation, “to drive progress for those we are here to serve.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.