E-gov services go unused

The federal government has a long way to go to sell e-government services to the public, according to a survey for the E-Gov Institute's Government Solutions Forum released today.

In a study measuring the public awareness and effectiveness of three of the president's e-government initiatives, the nationwide poll found that most Americans do not turn to the government for information — not even for their hobbies. But when they do, they find the online services useful and are surprised at the depth of the information offered on the sites.

The E-Gov Institute is a subsidiary of FCW Media Group, publisher of Federal Computer Week and FCW.com.

This summer marks the third year in the Bush administration's effort to rely on electronic government to improve services to citizens and make government work more efficiently.

The survey found that most Americans had not yet visited some of the more popular government Web sites, including whitehouse.gov, NASA.gov, recreation.gov or IRS.gov.

The public is even less familiar with the newer government Web sites created as part of President Bush's e-government initiative. Only one in eight said they have visited recreation.gov, despite the fact that more than half of the survey respondents said that they had visited a national or state park, or have been involved in an outdoor activity in the past year — activities about which recreation.gov offers information.

In terms of sheer numbers, these government Web sites are not huge successes, according to Evans Witt, chief executive officer of Princeton Survey Research Associates, which conducted the survey for the institute.

"There is a huge potential for these e-gov sites to be heavily used by Americans," he said. "But the government is going to have to find a way to tell Americans to come on over to these sites."

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