Use of government sites booms

Sixty-eight million Americans have used government Web sites, according to a survey released yesterday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in Washington. That's up from 40 million users two years ago.

The group, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, estimated that 42 million people used government Web sites to research public policy issues, and 23 million used the Internet to send comments to public officials. Fourteen million used government sites to gather information to help them decide how to vote, and 13 million have participated in online lobbying.

The survey revealed that tourist and recreational information was the most sought-after information on government sites, pulling in almost 80% of users. Seventy percent of federal Web site users conducted research for work or school, and 50% were drawn to health or safety information. About 53 million people use the Web to help plan their vacations, researchers said.

The Pew researchers relied on a phone poll of about 2,300 people conducted in January, and in-depth surveys of 815 people who said they use government Web sites.

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