USA.gov ranked as best federal site

The USA.gov Web portal administered by the General Services Administration is the most effective federal Web site at using interactive features to engage the public and provide services, according to a survey released today by the Brookings Institution.

The organization ranked 61 federal sites. The top five, in order, are USA.gov and agency sites operated by the Agriculture Department, GSA, the U.S. Postal Service and the Internal Revenue Service. Meanwhile, the Web sites of various federal courts occupied the bottom 11 slots, preceded by the Office of Management and Budget at No. 49 and the Federal Election Commission at No. 48.

Brookings researchers used a formula to assign points from 1 to 100 based on sites’ content, accessibility, privacy policies and the number of transactions that can be performed online.

USA.gov received 92 points — the same score it achieved in the 2007 survey when it also claimed the top slot.

The sites were evaluated for features that included online publications, online databases, audio and video clips, foreign language material or translations, advertisements, premium fees, user payments or fees, disability access, and privacy and security policies.

Brookings also reviewed 1,476 state government Web sites and ranked each of the 50 states. Researchers said the five states that made the best use of e-government services were Delaware, Georgia, Florida, California and Massachusetts. Mississippi was ranked last, and New Mexico came in 49th.

Researchers suggested a number of ways agencies could improve their Web sites, such as:
• Including strong privacy and security policies.
• Having similar page layouts so visitors can recognize content as belonging to government sites.
• Incorporating search engines.
• Providing foreign-language content.
• Ensuring that the site is updated frequently and new additions are displayed prominently.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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