Connecting people with the federal services they need is the focus of the USAGov program. We get a lot of traffic on USA.gov and USAGov en Español, and a lot of questions at our call center and on social media about government benefits, grants, and loans. People are eager for help with bills, housing, and food assistance.
To make it even easier for everyone to find services and benefits without needing to understand government structure, we’re developing a new digital tool in partnership with 10x, GSA’s incremental technology fund.
The working name of the new tool is BEARS, the Benefits Eligibility Awareness Resource Service. It helps people discover and access the government services that meet their specific needs based on major life events. For example, if someone has recently lost a job and is experiencing financial hardship, they can identify benefits they might be eligible for with a few simple steps. Or if someone has recently lost a loved one, they can identify benefits relevant for that sad milestone.
A simple and straightforward filtering system allows users to view the benefits that are most likely to meet their needs for that life event. Each benefit is presented in a standard format, using simplified language. All the key eligibility criteria are presented in an easy-to-scan format. And the criteria that apply in the user’s situation are checked off.
Nearing Its Final Phase
BEARS is currently an MVP (minimum viable product) and has just been approved for 10x’s Phase 4, the final 10x phase intended to scale what we’ve built. We’ll be adding more benefits, and validating the design along the way with plenty of user testing. In addition, we’ll be working on developing proactive notifications, so the system can notify users when they become eligible for additional benefits. This makes BEARS a truly customer-centric benefits tool. After Phase 4, BEARS will graduate from the 10x program and will be fully owned and managed by USAGov, which along with 10x is part of TTS Solutions.
Help People Find Your Agency’s Services
BEARS will eventually cover all federal benefits from all agencies. And we’re taking on the big challenge of simplifying the user experience and standardizing benefits criteria across agencies without losing the subtleties of eligibility.
The BEARS team, together with USAGov, has been engaging with federal agencies that provide benefits to the public. We want to make sure we're presenting the best information for each benefit program. If you are part of an agency managing and administering federal benefits, please reach out to USAGov at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be grateful to get your help so we can be sure the information listed for your program is correct.
BEARS is an important step forward in providing an integrated, simple solution for federal benefits to improve the customer experience. We’re looking forward to working with you to make it happen. Together we can deliver better services to the people who rely on our programs.