For 20 years, Benefits.gov has been the official benefits website of the United States federal government. It has helped millions of people find federal and state benefits, assess their eligibility and learn how to apply for those resources. Benefits.gov was the first of its kind, providing resources directly to the public through a technology-based platform.
This year, the Department of Labor and the Office of the Chief Information Officer celebrate the 20th anniversary of Benefits.gov. The site has evolved over the course of two decades, becoming a leading example of enhancing the public’s access to government information and resources. This success is due, in part, to the enhanced technology used within the website and provided by the agency. As the managing partner of the website, OCIO provides strategic planning and innovative, technology-based solutions that streamline citizen interactions with benefits information.
Considered innovative from its start, Benefits.gov was created to solve a problem. By the early 2000s, the internet had quickly become the main method for searching for information. However, website users looking to access benefits would have to navigate a patchwork of disjointed or outdated webpages. The solution was Benefits.gov, a partnership between 16 federal agencies that brings benefits information into a central, easy-to-use website.
A robust database of information, Benefits.gov offers resources for 1,100 benefits programs in 16 diverse categories. Benefit options range from employment and housing to health care and financial assistance. There are many ways to find the benefits programs that best fit your needs. A contribution from the agency, the platform offers easy-to-use and state-of-the-art search tools to assist visitors. Visitors can search for benefits by category, view the most searched benefits by state, or use the simple Benefit Finder Questionnaire to quickly identify which resources best apply to them. The Benefit Finder Questionnaire also calls out benefits to visitors they may be unfamiliar with or think might not apply to them.
The agency utilizes emerging technologies, and Benefits.gov employs-artificial intelligence with the recent addition of a chatbot to the Benefits.gov Help Center. The chatbot answers common questions quickly and efficiently, so that website visitors can get their answers in minutes. Implementing the chatbot has saved on average seven hours per person, compared to email inquiries. The site offers other features on the Benefits.gov Help Center for those with more in-depth questions, like video guides and frequently asked questions.
This website is a defining example of technology improving how citizens interact with the government. It offers clear, easy-to-use tools and technologies to provide the American public crucial access to government resources in a centralized location. This is the agency’s goal as the department’s information technology solutions source, to power the department’s mission and support the public through technology. Benefits.gov offers peace of mind that helps, and resources are available when people need them most, and that makes this anniversary one to celebrate.
Rick Kryger is the deputy chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.