Report: Government Web sites need uniformity

Report on government Web sites

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Government Web sites need consistency, according to an annual report on state and federal e-government portals.

Darrell West, professor of political science at Brown University and author of “Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance,” said government Web sites should have consistent designs and appearances throughout their pages.

Some sites clutter their pages by trying to put too many links on the portal or agency home page, he said.

“Simplified, streamlined home page designs are best,” West said in Brown’s seventh annual report on “State and Federal E-Government in the United States.” “Sites that lead users to services by clicking on simple, intuitive menus are better than sites that list every link on the home page.”

The report ranks the General Services Administration’s FirstGov.gov as the top-rated federal Web site. It gave the portal 84 points on a 100-point scale, an increase of 12 points from 2005, according to the report.

The report, published annually since 2000 by Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy, analyzed 1,503 state and 51 federal sites, ranking them on features such as online publications, databases, audio and video clips, foreign languages or translation, disability access, privacy and security policies, digital signatures, PDA accessibility, readability, and the number of online services.

Circuit courts of appeals Web sites were at the bottom of the rankings.

The Senate’s Web site jumped 20 points from last year’s score. The report ranks it 28th out of 61 sites. It was 53rd last year.

The departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development each earned 80 points. That is a one-point slip from last year by the USDA, and a seven-point jump for HUD, the report found.

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