Study raps agencies' Web proficiency

"Assessing E-Government: The Internet, Democracy, and Service Deliveryby State and Federal Governments"

While many federal Web sites are struggling to find a niche, a new study by Brown University found that many of these online 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 Consumer Product Safety Commission site (www.cpsc.gov), the Internal Revenue Service site (www.irs.gov) and the Treasury Department site (www.ustreas.gov). Near the bottom is the White House site (www.whitehouse.gov), which received a 42 percent score and has since been redesigned.

"The White House just fell short — no foreign language translation, no services offered online, a privacy policy but not a security policy," said Brown University 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 that had no direct consumer services.

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