Gardner measure requiring mobile-friendly federal websites becomes law

A bipartisan measure from U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) ensuring federal government websites are mobile-friendly and correctly display on Americans’ hand-held devices has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The Connected Government Act, S. 1769, introduced by Sens. Gardner and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) on Sept. 7, 2017, was the Senate version of H.R. 2331, which was introduced on May 3, 2017 by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL). The House approved its bill, 423-0, last November. The Senate approved the proposal on Dec. 21, 2017 and the president signed the bill into law on Jan. 10, according to the congressional record.

“I am thrilled the president has signed this common sense bipartisan legislation into law,” said Gardner in a Jan. 12 statement. “As more and more Americans rely on their mobile devices to access information and websites, it’s important the federal government has websites designed for mobile platforms.”

In fact, 75 percent of U.S. households in 2015 had a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and 77 percent paid for a broadband Internet subscription, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. And in 2016, StatCounter GlobalStats reported that for the first time worldwide, people used mobile devices more often than desktop computers to access the internet.

The Connected Government Act will help push the U.S. government into the 21st century and further its transparency, Sen. Gardner said, while also improving website accessibility to various federal agencies and resources on handheld devices used by specific segments of the American population.

For instance, the new law will support the 80 percent of Americans with disabilities who utilize wireless technology on a daily basis, and the even higher rates of low-income people across the United States who depend on mobile broadband, according to a statement from the senator’s office.

Sen. Hassan, who said in a statement she’s pleased that the bipartisan bill became law, noted that citizens from her home state and all Americans, including those who may have disabilities or who have lower incomes, who use mobile devices to access the web now will be able to do so and navigate a wealth of online federal government services, resources and information.

“I will continue working to bring the federal government up to speed with the latest technology so that our people, our businesses, and our economy can thrive,” Hassan said.

The new law requires that six months after enactment, a federal agency creating new websites or redesigning existing sites must “ensure to the greatest extent practicable that the website is mobile friendly,” according to the bill’s text.

Additionally, the law directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Administrator of General Services to report to Congress within a year and a half of enactment on the progress of federal agencies to comply with the law’s provisions.