Privacy

Personalized e-gov portal moves closer to launch

typing hands

A digital one-stop shop for citizen interaction with government is one step closer to going live.

MyUSA.gov, a proposed personalized government information and services portal, is seeking authorization to collect information on users, per a notice in the Aug. 13 Federal Register. The portal is designed to be a password protected personal account that can be used to sign into government websites and connect with information and resources across federal, state and local government.

It is being developed as a project of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, under the auspices of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration.

President Obama touted the project as government's answer to e-commerce in a July 8 speech announcing plans for a technology-driven, evidence-based management agenda. "Today, for example, many online shopping websites help fill in some of your information so you don't have to enter it every time you log in. As a consequence, we're working on a project called MyUSA that will save you time by doing the same thing with government forms. And if you're applying for federal benefits, we think you should be able to track the status of your application in real time, just like you can follow location of a package all the way to your doorstep."

In order to fulfill the vision sketched in Obama's speech, MyUSA needs to clear a few technical and regulatory hurdles. Some of the digital tools have been built. Agencies can now access a MyUSA application programming interface to help them build out web services and a tool for posting government forms. The framework for the MyUSA account is in place, and the service is currently accepting email addresses from prospective users, but it's still too early to create and access accounts.

The next step appears to be authorization to collect and share information from users. The profile information MyUSA proposes to collect is name, phone number, home address, gender, marital status, and information about military service, education, and whether a user owns a small business. This will allow for users to auto-populate government forms with their own personal information, as Obama promised in his speech. The information collection is voluntary, and users will be able to specify whether their profile information can be shared among government agencies.

A GSA staffer said the project has been advancing on the technical side as well as in terms of policy, but there's no publicly disclosed date for launch. Comments on the proposed information collection are being accepted through Oct. 15.

 

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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