How to Redesign America’s Safety Net
Government agencies must meet Americans where they are
With restaurants, bars, and other businesses closing across the United States to slow the spread of COVID-19, people are applying for unemployment in such large numbers that states’ websites are crashing. America’s safety net has never been more critical, and it’s faltering.
How can government agencies make it easier for people to receive public benefits online and through mobile? The San Francisco nonprofit Code for America has a blueprint called “Human-Centered Safety Net.” It’s a set of five design principles that government agencies can use to improve the usability of a range of programs and application processes. Though a few years old, the project is newly relevant as the fallout for COVID-19 will no doubt thrust scores of Americans onto public assistance.
“A time when people have heightened need is the worst time for people to be experiencing administrative burden,” said Lou Moore, interim co-CEO and chief technology officer. “When we design and deliver products based on our principles of a human-centered safety net, we can reduce that burden and allow people to get through with less friction.”
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