Online pub showcases IT case studies

A new online government publication presents appealing, real-life case studies on how federal agencies are using information technology to help deliver services to the public.

Called Access America Online Magazine, the World Wide Web site is based on Vice President Al Gore's vision of electronic government that is laid out in his 1997 report, "Access America: Re-engineering Government Through Technology." The site highlights progress made by agencies in creating a government that works better and costs less.

The site, at www.accessamerica.gov, is chock-full of information, pictures, links and interesting topics. The online publication is the result of a partnership that includes the Government Information Technology Services Board, the Chief Information Officers Council, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) and the Federal Communicators Network.

While it is filled with good information, the site stays true to its mission: to highlight agency successes. In doing so, it glosses over any problems agencies may have run into on the road to electronic government that could serve as useful lessons to others.

Officials at NPR stressed that the site is still a work in progress, with some links not yet populated. In the meantime, NPR is soliciting any federal, state and local case studies to help fill out the site.

Stories on the site are organized under 18 topics -- the same ones found in Gore's Access America Action Plan. The topics are listed on the left side of the page and range from benefits and criminal justice to business tax filing. New stories are added to the site every Monday.

For example, last week the top story in the Services section was about the National Library of Medicine's new pilot project to link more than 200 public library locations in nine states and Washington, D.C., to create Medlineplus. The site would include Medline -- the world's largest database of peer-reviewed health information -- as well as links to self-help groups, access to the National Institutes of Health's consumer health information, clearinghouses, health-related organizations and clinical trials.

An In This Issue menu on the right side of the main page lists what features can be found in the most recent issue. For example, one story describes how the Native American Herbal Tea Company used a Commerce Department real-time videoconferencing program to ink two contracts to sell herbal teas to hundreds of retail outlets in Europe. Commerce plans to roll out this video technology to its 100-plus domestic offices and more than 150 offices located in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas.

Access America Online Magazine also provides a page of links to stories on other sites that fit under the electronic government theme as well as links to one-stop federal sites. Two of the one-stop sites are the Inspector General Network and Kids Corner - a Web site that provides links to the kids' section of agency sites. There is also a search engine to search across the magazine site as well as consumer sites, kids' sites and other government sites.

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