WASHINGTON, January 14, 2010 – The federal government must embrace the type of technological innovation and experimentation that has borne fruit in the private sector, President Obama said Thursday at a White House forum on modernizing government.
Bringing the government into the 21st Century is critical, he said, and the “technology revolution that has transformed society over the last decade has yet to reach government offices.”
Obama acknowledged that there are still many offices in the federal government where “reams of manila files” and envelopes are walked from desk to desk because of lack of technology use to transfer their contents digitally.
Obama singled out the Patent and Trademark Office as one of the worst cases of failing to become modernized. He said while 80 percent of patent applications are filed electronically, the agency manually prints out those applications and then scans them and enters them manually into a case management system.
“When Washington lags a generation behind in how we do business, that has a real and serious impact on people’s lives,” he told the audience of tech executives and others.
He said that it’s evident the tools and technology solutions are out there, adding that if many Americans are able to book a dinner reservation online, why shouldn’t a citizen be able to make an appointment at the local Social Security Administration office or check on citizenship status via a Web site without having to send a paper letter?
“It’s not about the fanciest bells and whistles,” he said, “it’s about how to use tax dollars to make government work better for [Americans].”