Industry outscores government for Web site quality

Corporate Web sites have more features and services than government sites

Federal government Web sites typically have fewer useful features and offer fewer services than those of state governments and companies, according to a new Brookings Institution study.

Federal sites, on average, scored lower than those of state governments and industry on a 100-point scale researchers used to judge the Web sites. The study, released June 11, compared information about the features and usability of the Web sites of 68 U.S. corporations collected this year with similar data gathered on 1,476 state government and 61 federal government sites last year.

To rate the sites, Darrell West, the study’s leader and vice president and director of governance studies at Brookings, used a formula to assign points from 1 to 100 based on sites’ content, accessibility, privacy policies and number of services that can be performed online.

Overall, the corporate sites scored the highest, with an average of 65 out of 100, while states' sites averaged 54 points and federal agencies' sites scored 51 points. Among federal Web sites, the USA.gov portal scored highest with a 92, as Federal Computer Week reported last year.

The researchers said that although many government sites lacked key features that allow users to tailor information to their needs, federal sites were more effective than corporate sites at providing information in ways that are accessible to people with disabilities. The study also found that public-sector sites offered stronger consumer protection than commercial sites did.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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