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Feds need to revamp Dot-Gov

As the federal government attempts to consolidate its web presence and reduce the number of dot-gov web sites, it faces a huge task. When the British government did something similar, it reduced the government’s 2,000 websites by more than 75 percent and shifted its online organizing structure from being based on the interests of agencies creating content to focusing on the interests of the citizens consuming that content. That effort took five years. The U.S. Government has 16,000 or more web sites. Currently it is hard for citizens to find the information they need because the sites are so badly done that typical web-wide searches often list government data well below less authoritative, outdated or recycled sources and the agencies themselves have clunky internal search engines.

An article in NextGov about the current state of dot-gov web sites has a number of interesting tidbits of information worth thinking about.

  • Feds aim to serve citizens better by revamping Dot-Gov, by Joseph Marks, NextGov (Jan. 3, 2012).
    • While the government is publishing more information than ever through about 18,000 websites, it’s become increasingly difficult for agency information to reach the public.
    • Much of the dot-gov reform effort has so far focused on eliminating excess government sites that sprouted up during the Web-crazed 1990s and now do little but diminish the dot-gov domain’s gravitas.
    • The federal Web presence is also pockmarked with stand-alone sites such as MLKday.gov, which are officially top-level domains but don’t have much content and aren’t regularly updated.
    • an informal survey in October with a custom-built Web crawling tool showed at least 200 … had likely been unofficially retired.

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