Wednesday, June 02, 2004


You might think citizens would use immediately Internet sources of information that affect their lives -- i.e., government Web sites. But a new survey from Federal Computer Week reveals that "the federal government has a long way to go to sell e-government services to the public." The study looked at the usage of "three of the president's e-government initiatives." The poll found that "most Americans do not turn to the government for information - not even for their hobbies.... 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."

This is a strange outcome. Either Americans don't give a hoot about government or government is doing a bad job of marketing web sites or Americans do not realize how much information government can provide. It also tells me something about a need for better publicity for government Web sites.

I wonder where public affairs officers are. My guess is most agencies have put up sites but not bothered to publicize them much because "people will find them on their own." If that is the attitude, it isn't working, and it seems to me there is an opportunity for public relations to shine in popularizing government sites.

Thinking about it, there are some major government Web sites I haven't visited yet, but on the other hand, some I do look at are in need of usability consulting. For example, I was checking the House and Senate Web sites recently and found both leave much to be desired. I was trying to find information on upcoming hearings. The Senate does a better job with its calendar, but it's not that much better.


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