E-gov to get PR makeover

A public relations firm will draw up marketing plans for 10 e-government Web sites that Office of Management and Budget officials said are open for business but could use some publicity.

Surveys show that most citizens are unaware of federal e-government sites and often only accidentally stumble on them while surfing the Web.

Government Web sites are no field of dreams, said Karen Evans, administrator for e-government and information technology at OMB.

"Just because we built the service and we're the federal government doesn't mean that they're going to use these services," she said.

In late August, Edelman Public Relations received a four-month contract for $261,000 to create marketing plans for each of the 10 Web sites. At OMB's request, the public relations firm will focus initially on three

e-government initiatives: Recreation One-Stop, e-Authentication and International Trade Process Streamlining.

Asked if lessons generated from marketing those initiatives might apply to the remaining seven Web sites, Marty Machowsky, an Edelman senior vice president, said, "I don't want to prejudge that. There might be lessons. That's a question we'll be able to answer in four months."

The remaining e-government sites are e-Loans, GovBenefits, e-Rulemaking, Disaster Management, Grants.gov, Recruitment One-Stop and Integrated Acquisition.

"They're up and running, but somebody's got to use them," Evans said.

To develop the marketing plans, Edelman officials will conduct market segmentation analyses and create detailed studies of each initiative's objectives, Machowsky said. "We're not going to develop a one-size-fits-all approach."

A recent poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that 77 percent of U.S. Internet users

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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