As e-gov projects grow, feds seek performance metrics
If the White House’s e-government initiatives are going to reach their stated goals, the government must establish new ways of promoting and touting the success of their initiatives, according to a panel of government officials.
Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and IT for the Office of Management and Budget, said that as public use of federal services online grows, the government needs to throw out “traditional” measures of Web site success and focus on how these services are helping citizens.
Traditional measures include page visits and hit counts, Evans said Friday at a panel discussion at the Labor Department, but these standards do not necessarily denote whether users are actually finding what they need.
For e-government to take hold, “you really have to convey the benefit this service is offering,” she said.
Evans made her comments at the fourth anniversary of Govbenefits.gov, one of the original e-government initiatives. Labor is the managing partner of the Web site, a single point of entry to over 400 federal benefits programs.
The Govbenefits.gov portal has grown significantly since its April 2002 inception, said Steven Law, Labor deputy secretary and chairman of the President’s Management Council subcommittee on e-government.
The site averages more than 350,000 visits a month and has attracted more than 21 million visitors, Law said.
Govbenefits.gov has referred about 4 million visitors to the portal’s partner agency programs, according to Law. Access to government programs “ultimately is what we want to achieve,” he said.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Web site grew in significance as President Bush encouraged those affected by the storm to visit the portal and see what government programs—including state and local—may be available. Law said that to date the site contains 73 links to state-funded programs, “and the numbers will keep growing.”
But links and page visits do not measure whether the public is using the portal or any e-government program or finding what they need, the panel said.
Charlie Grymes, program manager for Recreation One Stop, an online repository of federal recreation information, said agencies that operate e-government projects must be authoritative and work across government and with the private sector to promote their products.
“The way to leverage our partners is to be authoritative with the data we provide,” he said.
“Being the authoritative source of information, that’s what the public expects from us,” Evans added.
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