Study raps agencies' Web proficiency

"Assessing E-Government: The Internet, Democracy, and Service Delivery byState and Federal Governments"

While many federal Web sites are struggling to find a niche, a new study

by Brown University has found that many of those sites are not fully taking

advantage of the benefits of the Internet.

The study ranked government Web sites on features including security

policy, information and design. In citing weaknesses, it said many government

sites did not build in interactive components such as tailored responses

or audio and video clips. "E-government officials need to work to improve

citizen access to online information and services," according to the study.

Ranked at the top of the list are the {http://www.cpsc.gov} Consumer

Product Safety Commission, {http://www.irs.gov} the Internal Revenue Service

and the {http://www.ustreas.gov} Treasury Department.

Near the bottom is the {http://www.whitehouse.gov} White House site,

which received a 42 percent score and has since been redesigned. The study

said the old design did not provide the kind of information to the public

that the study hoped to see.

"The White House just fell short — no foreign language translation,

no services offered online, a privacy policy but not a security policy,"

said Brown political scientist Darrell West, who conducted the study, which

was released Sept. 15 at www.InsidePolitics.org.

The survey evaluated 38 federal government sites but did not rank sites

with no direct consumer services, such as NASA and the National Science

Foundation.

"All the things we are talking about are readily available on good private-sector

Web sites," West said.

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