Clinton Technology Plan Promises 'Smarter' Government

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Galvanize, a work space for technology companies, in Denver. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Galvanize, a work space for technology companies, in Denver. Andrew Harnik/AP

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign’s newly released Technology and Innovation Agenda, while addressing broad consumer issues such as broadband access, tech job growth and STEM education, contains a sizable set of proposals on making government “smarter.”

It also comes out in favor of full implementation of the 2014 Data Accountability and Transparency Act.

“The federal government too often operates with websites designed from another era,” a fact sheet stated. “They are too complicated, too hard to use, and rarely designed for mobile phones or tablets.”

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Under a new Clinton administration, the government would build on the success of the U.S. Digital Service by making digital services “a permanent priority for federal agencies,” the plan said. “There should be a constant flow of technology and design experts working to make it easier for Americans to get affordable health insurance, apply for student loans, or get the veterans benefits they deserve.” The expansion to all agencies would also tap the General Services Administration’s 18F unit, Presidential Innovation Fellows and agency Innovation Labs.

The top 25 citizen-facing government services would be transformed under guidance from U.S. Digital Services, publishing detailed performance and customer service metrics such as “Yelp for government” user ratings.

In acquisition, Clinton would  “streamline procurement processes and get rid of unnecessary internal red tape that prevents government from developing the intuitive and personalized digital experience that they have come to expect from great consumer Internet companies,” the plan said. Eliminating “internal barriers” to modernization would accelerate the purchasing and technology expert hiring processes.

The government’s annual expenditure of $90 billion does not always produce the best and most cost effective systems, the plan noted. A Clinton administration would allow more open-source software and break large federal IT projects into smaller pieces that would enable small and medium-sized contractors to support agency efforts.

A Clinton team would seek to improve cybersecurity by encouraging tools such as “bug bounty” programs modeled on the Defense Department’s “Hack the Pentagon” initiative and by increasing the capacity of elite, cleared “red teams” to help agencies find cyber-vulnerabilities before real hackers do.

She would offer more “incentive prizes” to Idea Labs and agency or citizen problem-solvers to come forward with tech innovations. And she would continue the Obama administration’s embrace of data analytics and the website Performance.gov to promote accountability by publicizing and tracking agency actions in pursuit of mission goals.

Finally, Clinton would fully implement the DATA ACT “to make government spending more transparent and accountable to the American people, improving USASpending.gov so that Americans can more accurately see how and where their taxpayer dollars are spent.”

That move was welcomed by the nonprofit Data Coalition, which spent years pushing the DATA Act legislation into law. “President Obama’s White House has not always supported the DATA Act, so we are excited to see Secretary Clinton’s explicit commitment to get the job done if she succeeds him,” said Hudson Hollister, the coalition’s executive director, in a statement. “Under the law’s deadlines, the next president will be responsible to make sure that every agency begins reporting spending as structured data - and that Treasury and [the Office of Management and Budget] publish that data set in full.”

No such commitments on the DATA Act have been heard from other candidates -- Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein -- the coalition noted.

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