State and federal e-government in the United States, 2001, DM West

Tags: government, federal government, government websites, online services, government sites, states, Federal Government Websites, privacy policy, Kansas Secretary of State, links, Uniform Commercial Code, State, federal government website, Federal Agency, Social Security Administration, federal website, federal agencies, grade level, State Disability Access, W3C standard, national government sites, W3C accessibility, Massachusetts portal, accessible government, 12th grade level, Dept of Treasury, online service, information and services, Circuit Ct Appeal, business services, premium service, premium services, restricted area, restricted areas, Cong Budget Office, Fed Reserve, Library of Congress 68.0 Postal Service, Dept Commerce, Soc Security Admin, White House, Dept Transportation, Office 47.0 Veterans Affairs, Natl Endow Arts, state government, State Privacy
Content: State and Federal E-Government in the United States, 2003 by Darrell M. West Center for Public Policy Brown University Providence, RI 02912 (401) 863-1163 Email: [email protected] Website: www.InsidePolitics.org September, 2003
2 Table of Contents Executive Summary A Note on Methodology Readability Readability by State Disability Access Disability Access by State Online Information Services Provided Services by State Privacy and Security Security by State Privacy by State Foreign Language Access Ads, User Fees, and Premium Fees Restricted Areas Democratic Outreach Email Responsiveness Overall State E-Government Ranking Overall Federal Agency E-Government Ranking State-Federal Differences Differences by Branch of Government Differences by Agency Type Conclusions Appendix
3 Table A-1 Overall State E-Govt Ratings, 2002 and 2003 Table A-2 Overall Federal Agency E-Govt Ratings, 2002 and 2003 Table A-3 Individual State/Fed Profiles for Publications, Databases, and Foreign Language, 2003 Table A-4 Individual State/Fed Profiles for Ads, Premium Fees, Restricted Areas, User Fees, Services, and Readability, 2003 Table A-5 Individual State/Fed Profiles for Disability Access, Privacy, and Security, 2003 Table A-6 Best Practices of Top Federal and State Websites, 2003 Executive Summary This report presents the fourth annual update on the features that are available online through American state and federal government websites. Using a detailed analysis of 1,663 state and federal government sites, we measure what is online, what variations exist across the country as well as between state and national government sites, and how e-government sites respond to citizen requests for information. We examine the differences that exist across the 50 states and between the state and federal governments as well as compare the Summer, 2003 results to 2000, 2001, and 2002. We use three new features in our study this year. First, we rely on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability test to evaluate the readability of government websites. With half of Americans reading at no higher than the 8th grade level, we wanted to determine how accessible government sites are to the citizenry. Second, we test actual disability accessibility using the "Bobby" evaluation software operated by Watchfire. Relying on both Section 508 and W3C Priority One Level guidelines, we examine every state and federal website for accessibility. Third, we look to see whether websites are accessible through any type of handheld device or personal digital assistant. This included mechanisms such as pagers, mobile phones, or other types of PDAs. Among the more important findings of the research are the following: 1) 89 percent of government websites are not easily accessible to the citizenry because the sites read at higher than an eighth grade level of literacy. Fully two-thirds of all sites have language consistent with a 12th grade Reading Level, which is much higher than that of the average American. 2) Only 34 percent of state and federal sites in the United States meet the W3C disability guidelines and only 24 percent satisfy Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Federal sites (47 percent) are more likely to meet the W3C standard than states (33 percent). 3) The presence of online services has improved over the last year. This year, 44 percent of state and federal sites have services that are fully executable online, compared to 23 percent last year. 4) One percent of government sites are accessible through personal digital assistants, pagers, or mobile phones. 5) There continue to be high levels of access to publications (98 percent) and data bases (80 percent). 6) A growing number of sites offer privacy and security policy statements. This year, 54 percent have some form of privacy policy on their site, up from 43 percent in 2002. Thirty-seven percent now have a visible security policy, up from 34 percent last year. 7) 13 percent of sites offered any sort of foreign language translation feature, up from the seven percent we found last year. 8) 17 percent of government websites have restricted areas, less than one percent have premium features requiring payment for access, and one percent feature ads. 9) States vary enormously in their overall ranking based on web presence. The highest ranking sites include Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania,
4 New York, Florida, and Kentucky. The lowest ranking states are Alaska, New Mexico, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii, and Vermont. 10) In terms of federal agencies, top-rated websites include FirstGov (the U.S. portal), Federal Communications Commission, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Library of Congress, Postal Service, Dept. of Treasury, and Securities and Exchange Commission. The lowest-rated sites are the various federal circuit courts of appeals. The new Homeland Security Department scores in the lower third of federal agencies. 11) Government officials are more responsive this year in answering email queries. Whereas 55 percent answered our sample query last year, 68 percent did so this year. This is just below what other studies have found in the private sector. Emails sent to America's 100 largest corporations have a 70 percent response rate, according to a recent study done by the Customer Respect Group. A Note on Methodology This project is based on two sources of data. First, we undertake a comprehensive analysis of 1,663 government websites (1,603 state government websites, the federal portal firstgov.gov, 47 federal government legislative and executive sites, and 13 federal court sites). The list of web addresses for the 50 states can be found at www.InsidePolitics.org/states.html, while the federal government sites are located through the national portal, FirstGov.gov. Among the sites analyzed are portal or gateway sites as well as those developed by court offices, legislatures, elected officials, major departments, and state and federal agencies serving crucial functions of government, such as health, human services, taxation, education, corrections, economic development, administration, natural resources, transportation, elections, and agriculture. Websites for obscure state boards and commissions, local government, and municipal offices are excluded from the study. An average of 32 websites is studied for each individual state so we could get a full picture of what is available to the general public, plus all the major federal government sites. Tabulation for this project was completed at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island by Joanne Chiu and Erica Dreisbach during June and July, 2003. Websites are evaluated for the presence of a number of different features, such as online publications, online databases, audio clips, video clips, foreign language or language translation, advertisements, premium fees, restricted areas, user payments or fees, two measures of actual disability access (W3C and Section 508 guidelines), several measures of privacy policy, multiple indicators of security policy, presence of online services, the number of online services, digital signatures, credit card payments, email addresses, comment forms, automatic email updates, website personalization, PDA accessibility, and readability level. In addition, in order to examine responsiveness to citizen requests, we sent an email to the human services department within each state (or a comparable department if there was no human services division). The message was short, asking the question, "I would like to know what hours your agency is open during the week. Thanks for your help." Email responses are recorded based on whether the office responded and how long it took in days for the agency to respond. The remainder of this report outlines the detailed results that came out of this research. Readability Literacy is the ability to read and understand written information. According to national statistics, about half of the American population reads at the eighth grade level or lower. A number of writers have evaluated text from health warning labels to government documents to see if they are written at a level that can be understood by citizens. The fear, of course, is that too many government documents and information sources are written at too high of a level for citizens to comprehend.
5
To see how government websites fare, we use a test of the grade-level readability of the front page of each state and federal government website that we studied. Our procedure is to employ the Flesch-Kincaid standard to judge each site's readability level. The Flesch-Kincaid test is a standard reading tool evaluator and is the one used by the United States Department of Defense. It is computed by dividing the average sentence length (number of words divided by number of sentences) by the average number of syllables per word (number of syllables divided by the number of words). As shown below, the average grade readability level of American state and federal websites is at the 11th grade, which is well above the comprehension of the typical American. Sixty-seven percent of sites read at the 12th grade level. Only 12 percent fell at the eighth grade level or below, which is the reading level of half the American public.
Third Grade Fourth Grade Fifth Grade Sixth Grade Seventh Grade Eighth Grade Ninth Grade Tenth Grade Eleventh Grade Twelve Grade
Percentage Falling within Each Grade Level 1% 1 1 2 2 5 5 9 7 67
Mean Grade Level
11th grade
There are some differences between state and federal sites. Sixty-eight percent of state sites read at the 12th grade level, while 63 percent of the federal sites do so. It matters a bit what the branch of government is. Sixty-nine percent of executive branch sites are written at the 12th grade level, compared to 65 percent of legislative sites, 60 percent of judicial sites, and 56 percent of portal sites. Agency type matters much more, although not always in a manner consistent with the particular audience served by the website. One might expect that agencies serving more educated clientele would gear their website to a higher level than those serving more poorly educated people. However, as shown below, agencies potentially geared toward the less educated do not have lower grade-level readability levels. For example, corrections departments reports the highest percentage (83 percent) of websites written at the 12th grade level. Other agencies that have a high percentage of sites written at the 12th grade level are budget (81 percent), economic development (79 percent), Elementary education (74 percent), housing (69 percent), health (69 percent), human services (67 percent), and taxation (46 percent).
Read at 12th grade level
Elem Educ 74%
Hum Health Hous Correc Budge Tax Serv 67% 69% 69% 83% 81% 46%
Econ Dev 79%
Readability by State
6
Readability levels vary significantly across individual states and the federal government. The state whose sites are geared to the highest grade level (meaning the least accessible in terms of average readability) is Utah with a mean grade level of 11.7 across its websites. It is followed by Mississippi (11.5), Texas (11.5), Virginia (11.5), Minnesota (11.4), Arkansas (11.4), and Idaho (11.4). The state whose websites are geared to the lowest grade level (meaning the most accessible) is Rhode Island, which has an average readability level of grade 10.1.
Average Readability of State and Federal Government Websites
UT
11.7
MS
11.5
TX
11.5
VA
11.5
MN
11.4
AR
11.4
ID
11.4
AZ
11.3
CO
11.3
VT
11.3
WA
11.3
OR
11.2
CA
11.2
HI
11.2
CT
11.2
LA
11.2
IN
11.2
WV
11.2
ND
11.2
KS
11.1
SC
11.1
IL
11.1
KY
11.1
DE
11.1
MI
11.1
NE
11.1
FL
11.1
MT
11.1
TN
11.1
GA
11.1
PA
11.0
OH
11.0
NC
11.0
MA
10.9
OK
10.9
WY
10.8
IA
10.8
NV
10.8
MD
10.8
NM
10.7
NY
10.7
NJ
10.6
AL
10.6
US
10.6
AK
10.5
WI
10.5
MO
10.4
NH
10.4
ME
10.4
SD
10.3
RI
10.1
Disability Access
This year, we altered our test of disability access by examining the actual accessibility of government websites, not just claims of accessibility. In the past, we looked at whether sites displayed TTY (Text Telephone) or TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf) phone numbers which allows hearing-impaired individuals to contact the agency by phone, provided text labels for graphics, or claimed that they were disability-accessible. This approach has the obvious disadvantage of not providing an actual test of accessibility so this year we use the online "Bobby" service at http://bobby.watchfire.com to test actual accessibility. We rely on two different standards of website accessibility: compliance with the Priority Level One standards recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and compliance with the legal requirements of Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For each test, we enter the URL of the particular agency being evaluated and use this "Bobby" analysis to determine whether the website complies with either the W3C or the Section 508 guidelines. Sites are judged to be either in compliance or not in compliance based on the results of these two tests.
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In this year's study, 33 percent of state and federal sites satisfy the W3C standard of accessibility and 24 percent meet the guidelines for Section 508. Federal sites (47 percent) are more likely than state sites (33 percent) to meet the W3C standard of accessibility. There are few differences between states (24 percent) and federal sites (22 percent) when it comes to meeting Section 508 accessibility standards, as measured by our Bobby analysis.
W3C Accessibility Section 508 Accessibility
Federal Sites 47% 22
State Sites 33% 24
There are some agencies that indicate on their website that they are in compliance with the Bobby standard yet do not pass the test. These agencies include the South Caroline Dept of Education, the North Carolina Division of Aging, the Delaware Dept of Revenue, the Georgia Dept of Education, and the North Dakota's Governor's office. It is possible that these sites were in compliance at one point in time, but that later changes to the site removed them from compliance. As we suggest in our conclusion, it would be useful for agencies to list the date of Bobby compliance so visitors know when the site passed the test.
Disability Access by State
When looking at disability access by individual states, there is tremendous variation in the percentage of each state's sites that are accessible. The states doing the best job on disability access are North Dakota (84 percent of its sites are accessible using the W3C standard), Kansas (74 percent), New Hampshire (68 percent), and Texas (67 percent). The poorest states when it came to W3C accessibility are New Jersey (none of its sites met the Bobby test), Mississippi (3 percent were accessible), and Iowa (10 percent compliance).
Percentage of State and Federal Government Websites with W3C Disability Access
ND
84%
KS
74
NH
68
TX
67
ME
59
MO
55
PA
53
MI
52
NY
48
SD
48
US
47
KY
46
HI
44
RI
43
WY
43
MN
41
CT
39
FL
39
CO
38
NC
38
DE
35
TN
35
AK
33
NV
32
SC
32
WI
31
MA
30
IN
28
VA
27
WV
27
IL
26
CA
25
GA
24
NE
24
AZ
22
ID
22
OH
22
WA
22
AR
39
MD
19
MT
19
NM
19
OR
19
VT
19
8
LA
16
AL
16
OK
16
UT
14
IA
10
MS
3
NJ
0
Online Information
In looking at the availability of basic information at American government websites, we find that access to publications and databases are excellent. Ninety-eight percent of sites provide access to publications (up from 93 percent last year), while 80 percent have databases (up from 57 percent in 2002). Similar to the patterns found in previous years, most websites do not incorporate audio clips or video clips into their sites. Only eight percent provide audio clips, up from six percent last year, and 10 percent have video clips (up from eight percent last year).
Percentage of Websites Offering Publications and Databases 2000 2001 2002 2003
Phone Contact Info. Address Info Links to Other Sites Publications Databases Audio Clips Video Clips
91% 94% 96% --
88 93 95 --
80 69 71 --
74 93 93 98
42 54 57 80
5
6
6
8
4
9
8
10
Services Provided
Fully executable, online service delivery benefits both government and its constituents. In the long run, such services offer the potential for lower cost of service delivery and it makes services more widely accessible to the general public, who no longer have to visit, write, or call an agency in order to execute a specific service. As more and more services are put online, egovernment will revolutionize the relationship between government and citizens. Of the web sites examined this year, 44 percent offer services that are fully executable online. This is nearly double the 25 percent that had online services last year. Of the sites this year, 56 percent have no services, 15 percent offer one service, 8 percent have two services, 5 percent have three services, 3 percent have four services, 2 percent have five services, and 11 percent have six or more services. Clearly, both state and federal governments are making significant progress at placing fully executable services online.
Percentage of Government Sites Offering Online Services
2000 2001 2002
No Services
78% 75% 77%
One Service
16
15
12
Two Services
3
4
4
Three or More Services
2
6
7
2003 56% 15 8 21
Common services that are available online include: ordering a copy of birth or death certificates; filing consumer complaints; filing business and payroll taxes; placing new hire
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reports; updating professional licenses; filing Uniform Commercial Code reports online; reserving a hotel or campsite; purchasing hunting, fishing, or sporting license; renewing motorboat/snowmobile/all-terrain vehicle registrations; renewing driver's licenses; paying speeding tickets; renewing car registration; ordering duplicate driver's license; ordering special plates; purchasing transportation passes; ordering duplicate registration for motor vehicles; registering to vote, and subscribing to national "Do Not Call" registry. Some states offer unique and innovative services online. For example, Maine and Virginia have a "live" help feature in which citizens can get instant help from a real person if they encounter a problem at that website. The Washington portal has six foreign language options, including Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Mandarin Chinese. Florida offers documents in English, Spanish, and Creole. The Alaska DMV waiting room has an online webcam so people can see a real-time measure of how crowded lines are and thereby judge when a good time to go would be. Massachusetts has an "online services" banner for each site. Washington offers online services right off its portal in an easy to find place. The Virginia portal has wireless access on its portal site. One area where government sites are starting to make better progress is in offering the ability to make credit card purchases online. Of the government websites analyzed, 19 percent accept credit cards, nearly double the 10 percent found last year. With the increase in online services, more and more sites have created a means for credit card payments. However, most sites still do not allow digital signatures for financial transactions. We find less than 1 percent (eight sites in all) are set up for digital signatures.
Services by State
Of the 50 states and the federal government analyzed, there is wide variance in the percentage of states' web sites with online services. The following table shows the average number of online services found in various states and in the federal government. Massachusetts is the leader, with an average of 25.4 online services across its websites. This is followed by Kansas (5.4 services), the United States national government (4.8 services), New York (4.7 services), Maine (4.2 services), and Louisiana (3.8 services). The states having the lowest average number of online services are Alaska with an average of 0.2 services, Wyoming (0.3 services), and New Mexico (0.5 services).
Average Number of Online Services at State and Federal Government Websites
MA
25.4
KS
5.4
US
4.8
NY
4.7
ME
4.2
LA
3.8
MN
3.8
CA
3.4
ID
3.3
KY
3.3
FL
3.3
MD
3.2
MI
3.1
IA
3.0
MO
2.8
TX
2.7
IN
2.7
DE
2.5
PA
2.5
VA
2.5
WA
2.3
AR
2.2
NJ
2.1
MS
2.0
CT
2.0
IL
1.8
TN
1.8
SD
1.7
AZ
1.6
GA
1.6
10
OH
1.5
NC
1.5
SC
1.4
WV
1.1
CO
1.1
OR
1.1
HI
1.0
NE
1.0
NH
1.0
ND
1.9
OK
.9
NV
.8
MT
.8
VT
.8
WI
.7
RI
.7
UT
.7
AL
.6
NM
.5
WY
.3
AK
.2
Privacy and Security
A growing number of sites offer privacy and security statements. In 2003, 54 percent have some form of privacy policy on their site, up from 43 percent in 2002. Thirty-seven percent now have a visible security policy, up from 34 percent last year.
Privacy Policies Security Policies
2000 7% 5
2001 28% 18
2002 43% 34
2003 54% 37
In order to assess particular aspects of privacy and security, we evaluate the content of these publicly posted statements. For privacy policies, we look at several features: whether the privacy statement prohibits commercial marketing of visitor information; use of cookies or individual profiles of visitors; disclosure of personal information without the prior consent of the visitor, or disclosure of visitor information with law enforcement agents. There has been a decrease in the degree to which consumer interests are protected compared to previous years. For example, whereas 39 percent of government websites in 2002 prohibit the commercial marketing on visitor information, this year that number dropped to 32 percent. The same is true for policies that prohibit the disclosure of personal information. In 2002, 36 percent of sites have this feature, but that figure declined to 31 percent this year.
Assessment of E-government Privacy and Security Statements
2001
2002
Prohibit Commercial Marketing
12%
39%
Prohibit Cookies
10
6
Prohibit Sharing Personal Information
13
36
Share Information with Law Enforcement
--
35
Use Computer Software to Monitor Traffic
8
37
2003 32% 10 31 35 24
Security by State
Despite the importance of security in the virtual world, there are wide variations across states in the percentage of websites showing a security policy. New Jersey is doing the best job in showing a security policy as 90 percent of its sites have a visible security policy that visitors can read. This is followed by Indiana (88 percent), Utah (83 percent), Michigan (81 percent), Tennessee (81 percent), and South Dakota (77 percent).
Percentage of State and Federal Government Websites Showing Security Policy
11
NJ
90%
IN
88
UT
83
MI
81
TN
81
SD
77
MA
73
CT
71
CA
69
NH
68
NY
64
US
62
IL
60
PA
59
WY
55
WA
50
AZ
47
WI
44
KY
43
GA
39
NC
38
OH
38
AR
34
VA
30
RI
30
DE
29
ND
28
KS
26
MO
26
MT
26
CO
25
TX
24
VT
22
HI
21
SC
19
OK
19
MD
16
OR
16
ID
16
MN
16
LA
10
NV
10
AL
9
FL
6
IA
6
MS
6
NM
6
WV
3
AK
3
ME
0
NE
0
Privacy by State
The state with the highest percentage of its sites showing a visible privacy policy is Illinois with 91 percent of its sites, followed by New Jersey (90 percent), Indiana (88 percent), Texas (85 percent), Michigan (84 percent), and Kentucky (83 percent). Some states have linked individual agencies to official privacy statements on their portal, thereby guaranteeing a common approach to privacy protection. This helps to publicize privacy statements among visitors who are worried about online privacy. It also works to make sure there is consistency across government departments.
Percentage of State and Federal Government Websites with Privacy Features
IL
91%
NJ
90
IN
88
TX
85
MI
84
KY
83
UT
83
SD
81
TN
81
MA
76
AZ
75
CA
75
US
75
VA
73
ME
72
CT
71
MD
71
NH
71
NY
70
WA
69
PA
66
MO
61
12
WY
57
DE
55
FL
55
NV
55
OH
50
NC
47
ND
47
WI
46
GA
45
KS
42
AR
41
HI
41
RI
37
SC
35
CO
34
ID
34
WV
33
IA
32
MT
32
OR
29
MS
26
MN
25
OK
25
VT
25
AL
22
LA
19
AK
12
NM
6
NE
3
We also look at the quality of privacy policy by state. We do this by creating a zero to four point scale for the presence or absence of the following four dimensions: whether the policy prohibits commercial marketing of visitor information (meaning it does not give, sell, or rent visitor information to third parties), whether the site prohibits creation of cookies or individual profiles of visitors, whether the site prohibits sharing personal information without prior user consent, and whether the site says it can share personal information with legal authorities or law enforcement. Each of these items is coded a zero for no and a one for yes. The quality index is an additive scale measuring the presence of zero to four privacy protections. Overall, Massachusetts had the highest quality privacy index (an average of 2.8 on the four-point scale) followed by New Jersey (2.7), Indiana (2.6), Minnesota (2.5), Utah (2.3), Illinois (2.3), Kentucky (2.3), Maine (2.2), Connecticut (2.1), and New Hampshire (2.1). The United States national government sites have an average privacy quality score of 1.9 out of four points.
Foreign Language Access
Government sites are making slow but steady progress in providing foreign language accessibility. In our analysis, 13 percent of sites offer any sort of foreign language translation feature, up slightly from the 7 percent last year. By foreign language feature, we mean any accommodation to the non-English speaker, from a text translation into a different language to translating software available for free on the site to translate pages into a language other than English.
Foreign Language Access
2000 4%
2001 6%
2002 7%
2003 13%
Texas leads the list with 55 percent of its sites having foreign language adaptability; followed by Nevada (42 percent), the U.S. government (40 percent), Rhode Island (33 percent), North Carolina (31 percent), and New York (30 percent).
Percentage of State and Federal Government Websites with Foreign Language Translation
TX
55%
NV
42
US
40
RI
33
NC
31
NY
30
13
OR
29
CA
28
WA
25
AZ
22
DE
19
FL
19
ID
19
VA
18
IN
16
MD
13
NJ
13
SC
13
TN
13
WI
13
CO
13
IL
11
KY
11
NE
10
IA
10
NM
10
SD
10
MN
9
OK
9
UT
9
KS
6
AL
6
OH
6
PA
6
VT
6
GA
6
CT
3
LA
3
MI
3
MS
3
ME
3
ND
3
MA
3
AK
0
AR
0
HI
0
MO
0
MT
0
NH
0
WV
0
WY
0
Ads, User Fees, and Premium Fees
Despite the fiscal problems facing state and national government, there has been no increase this year in the use of ads to finance government websites. One percent of sites have commercial advertisements on their sites, meaning non-governmental corporate and group sponsorships, compared to two percent last year. When defining an advertisement, we eliminate computer software available for free download (such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft Internet Explorer) since they are necessary for viewing or accessing particular products or publications. Links to commercial products or services available for a fee are included as advertisements as are banner, pop-up, and fly-by advertisements. Examples of advertisements on the states' sites are the Arizona tourism site (Hilton and Four Seasons hotel packages), Colorado higher education ("Colorado Mentor" organization with the Xap Corporation and the "College Invest" organization), Colorado tourism ("Copper Mountain Resort," "Now This Is Colorado", "Buffalo Joe Whitewater Rafting", and "GrandCounty.com"), New Mexico agriculture ("The Weather Channel"), and South Dakota economic development ("TravelSD.com").
Percentage of Sites with Ads, User Fees, and Premium Fees
2001
2002
Ads
2%
2%
User Fees
2
2
Premium Fees
--
1
2003 1% 3 0.4
Three percent of state and federal sites require user fees to access information and services, including archived databases of judicial opinions and up-to-the-minute legislative updates. This is about the same as last year (two percent).
14 Examples of state websites with user fees include the Indiana driver's license renewal and motor vehicle registration (a $3 charge in addition to the normal renew charges for processing the renewal through the online service, BMV express), Massachusetts wildlife license registration (a $1.00 and $2.00 shipping and handling fees), Massachusetts Department of conservation (an $8 reservation transaction charge for customers making reservations through "ReserveAmerica"), Arkansas portal ($6 for ordering death or birth certificates), Texas portal ($1 convenience fee for change of address and many other DMV services), and Wisconsin hunting commission (a $3 convenience fee for purchases that include any combination of licenses, permits, or applications). Less than one percent of government websites require premium fees to access portions of the e-government site. By a premium fee, we mean financial charges that are required to access particular areas on the website, such as business services, access to databases, or viewing up-tothe-minute legislation. This is not the same as a user fee for a single service. For example, we do not code as a fee the fact that some government services require payment to complete the transaction (a user fee). Rather, a charge is classified as a premium fee if a payment is required in order to enter a general area of the website or access a set of premium services. Subscription services are considered a premium fee if there is a cost associated with the subscription. Examples of states with premium service areas include the Kansas Secretary of State's website (Uniform Commercial Code filings may be done on-line but require a fee of $15 for the first 10 pages of filing and $1 for each additional page), the Kansas legislature's website (a $1 or $2 subscription fee for online bill viewing and $50 per month for a "Lobbyist-In-A-Box" option to create profiles of bills), Maine's secretary of state (an annual fee of $75 for access to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Special request services, Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, UCC Searches, UCC filing, Bulk Databases and Bureau of Identification), and Arkansas Portal Information Network (an annual fee of $50 is required to access specific services such as database searching, workers compensation claims, and the Board of Nursing registry). Restricted Areas A growing number of government websites have restricted areas requiring a username and password to enter (17 percent this year, up from 6 percent last year). This could be access to government contract information or procurement bidding, or access to a subscription or business services area that is password protected. We do not consider a section a restricted area if there is a registration requirement for a password just for information purposes, i.e., sending free email notifications or free subscriptions to the visitor because these are not restrictions on a general area of the website. In addition, individual services that require a password for execution, such as income tax filing, are not considered a restricted area because the password involves that specific service, not a general area of the website. Examples of states with restricted areas include part of South Dakota's portal page with access to Service Direct (an archive of all the state's forms that requires a log-in name and password), the Kansas Secretary of State's website (which requires a connection to accessKansas Subscriber Services in order to conduct a Uniform Commercial Code search, file a UCC document, and view Kansas administrative regulations), the Texas Attorney General's website (requires a login and password to view subscriptions to weekly columns, senior alerts, consumer alerts, and law enforcement updates), the Utah Administrative Services "InnerWeb" (a center for state employees that allows them to look at and change information on their W-4), and the Washington Courts portal page (which requires attorneys to submit their bar number to have access to the dates of the court appearances in which they are an attorney of record and schedule appearances for the next week).
15
Democratic Outreach
One of the most promising aspects of e-government is its ability to bring citizens closer to their governments. In our examination of state and federal government websites, we look for several key features within each website that would facilitate this connection between government and citizen. The first of these features is email capability. In this instance, we determine whether a visitor to the website could email a person in the particular department other than the Webmaster. In 2003, 91 percent have email addresses, up from 81 percent last year. Other methods that government websites employ to facilitate democratic conversation include areas to post comments (other than through email), the use of message boards, surveys, and chat rooms. Websites using these features allow citizens and department members alike to read and respond to others' comments regarding issues facing the department. This technology is becoming more prevalent. In 2003, 24 percent of websites offer this feature, more than double the 10 percent from the previous year.
Email Search Comments Email Updates Broadcast Personalization PDA Access
2000 68% 48 15 5 2 0 --
2001 84% 52 5 9 7 1 --
2002 81% 43 10 5 4 2 --
2003 91% -24 12 -2 1
Twelve percent of government websites allow citizens to register to receive updates regarding specific issues, up from five percent in 2002. With this feature, web visitors can input their email address, street address, or telephone number to receive information about a particular subject as new information becomes available. The information can be in the form of a monthly e-newsletter highlighting an attorney general's recent opinions to alerts notifying citizens whenever a particular portion of the website is updated. Two percent of sites allow for personalization of the site in order to tailor the website information directly to the individual viewer, the same as last year. Some state portal pages are beginning to apply this technology (California and Michigan, for instance) by allowing users to customize the site to highlight the information that they indicate as the most important and useful.
Email Responsiveness
It is important to have email addresses available on government websites, but they serve no purpose unless someone actually reads and responds to the messages received. To test democratic responsiveness, we sent sample email messages to human services departments in the 50 states asking for information regarding what hours the government agency was open. If there was no human services department, we used a similar department, such as health, instead. We monitored their responses to see whether anyone responded and how long it took in days. Government officials are more responsive this year than last year. Whereas 55 answered our question last year, 68 percent did so this year. Response times are shorter with 62 percent responding within a single day, up from 35 percent in 2002. Two percent take three days or more to respond. Even though email volumes are increasing in many government offices, this increase in responsiveness suggests government officials are reconfiguring their offices to deal with the volume of citizen email.
16
These response times are just below comparable studies on the private sector. A recent Customer Respect Group study of email responsiveness from America's 100 largest companies finds that 70 percent respond and 31 percent do not to email questions. Of those responding, 58 percent do so within one or two days, six percent take three days, and six percent respond within four days.
Response Time None One day Two days Three days Four days Five days Six days or more
2000 9% 73 6 4 4 3 1
2001 20% 53 12 2 2 4 7
2002 45% 35 10 4 2 2 2
2003 32% 62 4 0 0 0 2
Overall State E-Government Ranking
In order to see how the 50 states rank overall, we created a 0 to 100 point e-government index for each website within that state. Four points are awarded each website for the following 20 features: publications, databases, audio clips, video clips, foreign language access, not having ads, not having user fees, not having premium fees, not having restricted areas, W3C disability access, having privacy policies, security policies, allowing digital signatures on transactions, an option to pay via credit cards, email contact information, areas to post comments, option for email updates, allowing for personalization of the website, PDA or handheld device accessibility, and readability levels below grade 10. These features provide a maximum of 80 points for particular websites. Each site then qualifies for up to 20 additional points based on the number of online services executable on that site (zero for no services, one point for one service, two points for two services, three points for three services, four points for four services, and so on up to a maximum of 20 points for 20 services or more). The e-government index therefore runs along a scale from zero (having none of these features and no online services) to 100 (having all 20 features plus at least 20 online services). This total for each website is averaged across all of the state's web sites to produce a zero to 100 overall rating for that state. On average, we assess around 32 government websites in each state across the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Some states see decreases in their e-government rating this year compared to last year because this year's index places a heavier weight on having online services. In addition, we added measures of readability and disability access to the index. Fully 20 percent of the index score is based on number of services, whereas last year, online service delivery comprised only four percent of the overall performance index. This change is in keeping with the general effort of state and federal governments to put more and more services online. Details on last year's ranking for each state and how each state has changed can be viewed in the Appendix. The top state in our ranking is Massachusetts. Looking across all of its websites on the dimensions we analyzed, it scores an average of 46.3. It is followed by Texas (43), Indiana (42.4), Tennessee (41.1), California (41.1), Michigan (40.7), Pennsylvania (40.5), New York (40.5), Florida (40.3), and Kentucky (40.0). The most poorly performing e-government states are Alaska (30.3), New Mexico (30.9), Nebraska (31.3), and Mississippi (31.5).
Overall State E-Government Performance
MA
46.3
TX
43
17
IN
42.4
TN
41.1
CA
41.1
MI
40.7
PA
40.5
NY
40.5
FL
40.3
KY
40.0
IL
39.7
MO
39.7
NJ
39.6
SD
39.5
AZ
39.1
WA
38.6
UT
38.1
MD
38.1
VA
38.1
NC
38.0
KS
38.0
CT
37.9
NH
37.6
DE
37.4
ME
37.4
OH
37.4
MN
36.8
LA
36.6
ND
36.4
ID
35.9
GA
35.8
NV
35.7
RI
35.3
OR
34.9
IA
34.6
WI
34.2
AR
34
OK
33.2
CO
33.1
WY
33.0
WV
32.7
SC
32.7
MT
32.7
VT
32.3
HI
32.1
AL
31.9
MS
31.5
NE
31.3
NM
30.9
AK
30.3
Overall Federal Agency E-Government Ranking
Federal sites are rated by the same criteria as the 50 states. An identical e-government index is devised that rated federal websites on contact information, publications, databases, portals, and number of online services. The unit of analysis is the individual federal agency. Overall, federal government websites do better than the states on our e-government index. The federal government clearly has made substantial progress in e-government than many of the 50 states. However, there is considerable variation among the 60 federal agencies and departments we assess (Homeland Security is added to our study for the first time this year). The best egovernment performers are Firstgov, the United States national government portal, which scores an 84 out of 100. It is followed by the Federal Communications Commission (73), Social Security Administration (69), Internal Revenue Service (68), Library of Congress (68), Postal Service (68), Dept. of Treasury (64), Securities and Exchange Commission (64), Housing and Urban Development (62), and the Consumer Produce Safety Commission (52). At the low end of the ratings are the various circuit court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Eleven of the 12 lowest performers on our e-government index come in the federal judiciary. Their score ranges from a low of 24 (Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals) to 41 (Fifth Circuit). The new Homeland Security Department scores a 38, putting it in the lower third of federal agencies.
Overall Federal Agency E-Government Performance, 2003
Firstgov Portal
84.0 Fed Commun Comm
73.0
Soc Security Admin
69.0 IRS
68.0
18
Library of Congress
68.0 Postal Service
68.0
Dept of Treasury
64.0 Sec/Exchange Comm
64.0
Housing/Urban Dev
62.0 Cons Product Safety
57.0
Dept of Agriculture
56.0 Dept of Defense
56.0
Gen Services Admin
56.0 Natl Science Found
56.0
Small Bus Admin
56.0 Dept of State
54.0
Food Drug Admin
53.0 White House
53.0
Fed Trade Comm
52.0 Health/Human Serv
52.0
Dept of Education
51.0 Dept Transportation
51.0
Dept Commerce
50.0 Env Protect Agency
50.0
Dept of Energy
49.0 Dept of Labor
49.0
Gen Account Office
47.0 Veterans Affairs
47.0
Fed Elect Comm
46.0 Cent Intelligence Ag
45.0
Fed Reserve
45.0 Cong Budget Office
44.0
NASA House of Rep
44.0 Office Man Budget
44.0
42.0 5th Circuit Ct Appeal
41.0
Eq Employ Opp
41.0 Gov't Printing Office
41.0
Dept of Justice
40.0 Fed Deposit
40.0
Natl Endow Human
40.0 Natl Transpt Safety
40.0
Homeland Security
38.0 Natl Labor Relations
38.0
Dept of Interior
36.0 Senate
36.0
Supreme Court 11 Circuit Ct Appeal
36.0 US Trade Rep
36.0
34.0 10th Circuit Ct Appeal
33.0
Fed Circuit Ct Appeal
33.0 3rd Circuit Ct Appeal
32.0
Natl Endow Arts
32.0 1st Circuit Ct Appeal
29.0
9th Circuit Ct Appeal
29.0 7th Circuit Ct Appeal
28.0
2nd Circuit Ct Appeal
25.0 6th Circuit Ct Appeal
25.0
4th Circuit Ct Appeal
24.0 8th Circuit Ct Appeal
24.0
State-Federal Differences
Since we examine both state and federal government websites, we compare the two levels of government to see how each is faring. In general, federal sites are systematically ahead of the states. For example, there are substantial differences in the area of citizen access to online databases. Whereas 95 percent of federal government sites have databases, only 79 percent of state sites do. On electronic services, 68 percent of federal government sites offer some kind of services, compared to 44 percent of state sites (although both levels are up substantially over last year's numbers). The federal government also has made greater progress in the area of privacy (75 percent) compared to state government (53 percent). Sixty-two percent of federal sites have a visible, online security policy, compared to 36 percent of those in the states.
Database Services WC3 Disability Accessibility Section 508 Accessibility Privacy Policy
2001 90% 34 --81
Federal Sites 2002 90% 44 --76
2003 95% 68 47 22 75
2001 53% 24 --26
State Sites 2002 55% 22 --42
2003 79% 44 33 24 53
19
Security Policy Publications Comment Links to Other Sites Link to Portal Foreign Language Email Ads User Fees Premium Fees Restricted Areas Credit Cards Searches Email Updates Website Personalization PDA Access
56
54
62
16
33
36
98
100
100
93
93
98
19
14
52
5
10
23
81
80
--
68
70
--
64
61
--
43
55
--
25
44
40
5
5
12
86
90
93
84
80
90
0
0
2
2
0
1
19
7
0
2
2
3
--
0
0
--
1
0
--
12
30
--
6
17
27
10
32
9
10
19
80
75
--
51
41
--
41
15
32
8
5
11
1
5
5
0
2
2
--
--
0
--
--
1
Differences by Branch of Government
There are some differences in e-government across branches of government. Legislative sites have the greatest percentage of databases, audio clips, and video clips. Executive sites are more likely to have privacy and security policies, disability access, and online services. Legislative and judicial pages generally lag executive pages in providing online services.
Publication Database Audio Clip Video Clip Foreign Lang Ads Premium Fee Restricted Area User Fees Privacy Security WC3 Disability Access SEC508 Access Services Digital Sign. Credit Cards Email Comment Updates Personalization PDA Access
Executiv 98% 78 6 8 14 2 0 17 3 56 39 33 23 47 0 19 91 24 13 1 0
Legislative 98% 87 36 28 4 0 2 9 0 29 22 31 22 12 0 4 90 17 7 2 3
Judicial 96% 82 6 12 10 0 0 16 0 38 18 37 34 25 0 9 82 21 4 0 0
Differences by Agency Type
20
There are interesting differences by agency type in e-government performance. Health departments are the most likely to have databases, while budget departments are the least likely. Economic development sites (which are typically geared toward business interests) are the most likely to offer online services, while budget departments are the least likely. Health and housing agencies are the most likely to offer foreign language translation. Economic development sites are the least likely to be accessible to the disabled.
Educ
Publication
98%
Database
92
Audio Clip
6
Video Clip
14
Foreign Lang
16
Ads
2
Premium Fee
0
Restricted Area
32
User Fees
2
Privacy
54
Security
38
WC3 Disability
30
Access
Section 508 Access 18
Services
42
Digital Sign.
0
Credit Cards
4
Email
96
Comment
24
Updates
14
Personalization
4
PDA Access
0
Hum Serv 100% 86 7 2 19 0 0 21 2 51 30 26 19 37 0 12 84 26 0 0 0
Health 100% 98 6 2 31 0 0 18 4 67 45 33 28 47 2 28 94 24 10 0 0
Hous 100% 78 0 6 31 0 0 22 6 58 32 28 22 39 0 11 97 28 11 0 0
Correc 100% 88 0 2 2 0 0 17 4 52 35 25 21 29 0 10 90 17 6 0 0
Budget 100% 73 3 3 3 0 0 19 0 51 35 46 38 24 3 5 86 16 0 0 0
Tax 100% 88 0 0 4 2 2 25 6 73 52 33 27 39 4 62 92 29 21 0 0
Econ Dev 100% 88 2 12 9 2 0 12 2 58 32 19 9 46 0 5 93 28 28 5 0
Conclusions
Based on this study, there are several things government websites need to consider in order to improve accessibility and navigation. Readability should be improved so that websites are understandable to a wider range of individuals. With half of Americans reading at no better than an eighth grade level, it is crucial that government sites be written at a level that most people can understand. With current readability averaging around the 11th grade, websites are not connecting with the people who seek to access them. There also needs to be greater attention paid to disability access. Visitors who are visually or hearing-impaired need help in being able to access and make use of the tremendous amount of information and the growing number of services that are online. This is particularly the case in state government, which generally is lagging the federal government in facilitating access by the disabled. Claims of W3C compliance and Bobby compliance should be verified on a regular basis. We find several sites that claim to be in compliance with standards for disability access (meaning they have an icon of "Bobby approved") yet do not pass the Bobby test. This could be because the site underwent changes after passing an initial Bobby evaluation that rendered it less
21 accessible to the disabled. Placing a time stamp on the Bobby compliance would give visitors a chance to evaluate when the site passed the Bobby test. Sites should include clear privacy policies and not simply disclaimers or liability statements. These policy statements should be on the portal and easy to find. Online services should be lumped together so they are easy to access rather than scattered around the site. The sites of particular agencies should include a link back to the portal site to facilitate site navigation. PDF forms should not be mixed with on-line forms because they cannot be submitted online and thus do not constitute a viable government service. The homepage should be organized and uncluttered. Translation into other languages should be easy to find and access. Sites should use descriptors such as "en Espanol" rather than "in Spanish" to identify foreign language options. For within-site searches to yield meaningful results, the index for the search engine should be complete and up to date. Comment forms should be setup so that e-mail can be sent without an e-mail reader. "Kids' pages" should be lively and fun, not boring or patronizing. By making these kinds of changes, government planners can do a much better job serving the people who visit their websites.
Appendix
Table A-1 Overall State E-Govt Ratings in 2003 (with previous year's ranking in parentheses)
Rank
State
Rating Out of Rank 100 Pts
State
1.(24) 3.(12) 5.(3) 7.(5) 9.(13) 11.(16) 13.(2) 15.(32) 17.(10) 19.(15) 21.(23) 23.(14) 25.(34) 27.(37) 29.(20) 31.(38) 33.(35) 35.(28) 37.(30) 39.(47)
Massachusetts Indiana California Pennsylvania Florida Illinois New Jersey Arizona Utah Virginia Kansas N. Hampshire Maine Minnesota N. Dakota Georgia Rhode Island Iowa Arkansas Colorado
46.3(45.6) 42.4(51.5) 41.1(54.8) 40.5(52.9) 40.3(51.5) 39.7(49.3) 39.6(55) 39.1(44.2) 38.1(51.7) 38.1(49.6) 38(45.6) 37.6(51.1) 37.4(43.7) 36.8(43.3) 36.4(46.9) 35.8(43.1) 35.3(43.5) 34.6(44.9) 34(44.5) 33.1(40)
2.(6) 4.(1) 6.(19) 8.(11) 10.(44) 12.(22) 14.(9) 16.(7) 18.(27) 20.(17) 22.(4) 24.(41) 26.(21) 28.(43) 30.(39) 32.(8) 34.(18) 36.(46) 38.(29) 40.(50)
Texas Tennessee Michigan New York Kentucky Missouri S. Dakota Washington Maryland N. Carolina Connecticut Delaware Ohio Louisiana Idaho Nevada Oregon Wisconsin Oklahoma Wyoming
Rating Out of 100 Pts 43(52.8) 41.4(56) 40.6(48.2) 40.5(51.6) 40(42) 39.7(46.3) 39.5(51.9) 38.6(52.4) 38.1(44.9) 38(48.6) 37.9(53.3) 37.4(42.4) 37.4(46.4) 36.6(42.3) 35.9(42.8) 35.7(51.9) 34.9(48.5) 34.2(40.4) 33.2(44.9) 33(34.8)
22
41.(36) 43.(25) 45.(45) 47.(48) 49.(33)
West Virginia Montana Hawaii Mississippi New Mexico
32.7(43.5) 32.7(45.5) 32.1(41.9) 31.5(37.4) 30.3(44.1)
42.(26) 44.(42) 46.(49) 48.(40) 50.(33)
S. Carolina Vermont Alabama Nebraska Alaska
32.7(45.4) 32.3(42.4) 31.9(35.8) 31.3(42.6) 30.3(44.1)
Table A-2 Overall Federal Agency E-Govt Ratings in 2003 (with previous year's ranking in parentheses)
Rank 1.(7) 3.(6) 5.(18) 7.(4) 9.(27) 11.(23) 13.(28) 15.(25) 17.(43) 19.(19) 21.(22) 23.(12) 25.(21) 27.(15) 29.(31) 31.(38) 33.(8)
Site
Rating Out of Rank
100 Pts.
FirstGov portal Soc Security Admin Library of Congress Dept of Treasury Housing/Urban Dev Dept pf Agriculture Gen Services Admin Small Bus Admin Food Drug Admin Fed Trade Comm Dept of Education Dept of Commerce Dept of Energy Gen Account Office
84(90) 69(80) 68(68) 64(84) 62(64) 56(68) 56(64) 56(64) 53(52) 52(68) 51(68) 50(76) 49(68) 47(72)
Fed Elect Comm 46(60)
Fed Reserve
45(56)
NASA
44(76)
2.(1) 4.(9) 6.(17) 8.(29) 10.(34) 12.(33) 14.(26) 16.(5) 18.(12) 20.(14) 22.(10) 24.(3) 26.(2) 28.(41) 30.(24) 32.(40) 34.(36)
Site Fed Commun Comm Internal Revenue Serv
Rating Out of 100 Pts. 73(92) 68(76)
Postal Service Sec/Exchange Comm Cons Product Safety Dept of Defense Natl Science Found
68(68) 64(60) 57(60) 56(60) 56(64)
Dept of State 54(84)
White House Health/Human Serv Dept of Transportation Env Protect Agency Dept of Labor Veterans Affairs Cent Intelligence Ag Cong Budget Office Office Man Budget
53(72) 52(72) 51(76) 50(84) 49(88) 47(52) 45(68) 44(56) 44(56)
35.(13) 37.(44) 39.(20) 41.(30) 43. 45.(32) 47.(50) 49.(48) 51.(51) 53.(37) 55.(52) 57.(55) 59.(47)
House of Rep. 42(72)
Eq Employ Opp Dept of Justice Natl Endow Human Homeland Security Dept of Interior Supreme Ct 11th Circuit Ct Appeals Fed Circuit Ct Appeals
41(52) 49(68) 40(60) 38 36(60) 36(40) 34(48) 33(40)
Natl Endow Arts 9th Circuit Ct Appeals 2nd Circuit Ct Appeals 4th Circuit Ct Appeals
32(56) 29(40) 25(40) 24(48)
36.(58) 38.(42) 40.(39) 42.(46) 44.(45) 46.(16) 48.(35) 50.(49) 52.(54) 54.(56) 56.(57) 58.(53) 60.(59)
23
5th Circuit Ct Appeals Govt Printing Office Fed Deposit Natl Transp Safety Natl Labor Relations Senate US Trade Rep 10th Circuit Ct Appeals 3rd Circuit Ct Appeals 1st Circuit Ct Appeals 7th Circuit Ct Appeals 6th Circuit Ct Appeals 8th Circuit Ct Appeals
41(32) 41(52) 40(56) 40(48) 38(48) 36(68) 36(56) 33(48) 32(40) 29(36) 28(32) 25(40) 24(24)
Note: The following table shows the percentage of websites in each state and the U.S. federal government that have each feature, such as phone numbers, addresses, and publications.
Table A-3 Individual State/Fed Profiles for Publications, Databases, and Foreign Language
(%)
Pubs Data Audio Video ForLan PDA
AK
94%
91%
3%
6%
0%
0%
AL
100
81
16
6
6
0
AR
97
69
14
3
0
3
AZ
100
88
3
16
22
0
CA
97
78
9
13
28
6
CO
97
66
9
6
13
3
CT
100
65
0
10
3
0
DE
100
87
3
16
19
0
FL
100
84
16
26
19
0
GA
100
70
9
21
6
0
HI
97
47
0
9
0
0
IA
97
74
13
3
10
0
ID
100
72
3
9
19
0
IL
100
86
20
14
11
0
IN
100
84
6
13
16
0
24
KS
100
65
13
0
6
0
KY
100
83
3
6
11
0
LA
100
81
16
23
3
3
MA
97
85
0
0
3
0
MD
97
94
10
10
13
0
ME
97
75
9
0
3
3
MI
100
94
3
10
3
0
MN
94
84
16
19
9
0
MO
100
94
13
19
0
0
MS
100
84
0
13
3
0
MT
100
81
0
0
0
0
NC
100
84
13
6
31
0
ND
100
59
16
9
3
0
NE
93
86
10
3
10
0
NH
97
55
6
0
0
0
NJ
100
90
10
16
13
0
NM
100
87
6
6
10
0
NV
97
81
0
10
42
0
NY
97
79
3
3
30
0
OH
100
04
3
9
6
0
OK
94
84
6
16
9
0
OR
94
68
13
16
29
0
PA
100
84
0
9
6
0
RI
100
80
0
3
33
0
SC
97
68
3
13
13
3
SD
94
71
10
16
10
0
TN
100
87
10
13
13
0
TX
100
94
24
24
55
3
US
100
95
20
25
40
0
UT
97
74
11
6
9
0
VA
100
85
6
6
18
9
VT
97
72
6
3
6
0
WA
100
84
9
13
25
0
WS
85
90
13
8
13
0
WV
93
83
10
10
0
0
WY
85
68
3
5
0
0
Note: The following table shows the percentage of websites in each state and the U.S. federal government that have each feature, such as ads, premium fees, restricted areas, user fees, and services.
Table A-4 Individual State/Fed Profiles for Ads, Premium Fees, Restricted
Areas, User Fees, Services, and Readability (%)
Ads
Premfee Restrict Userfee Has
Number Credit
Areas
Services of
Services
AK
0%
3%
12%
6%
18%
.24
6%
AL
0
0
3
0
25
.56
9
AR
0
3
21
3
38
2.21
17
Digital Sign. 0% 0 0
25
AZ
3
3
13
0
53
1.59
28
0
CA
0
0
6
0
28
3.41
16
0
CO
6
0
9
3
28
1.09
9
0
CT
0
0
13
0
52
2
19
0
DE
0
0
16
6
45
2.52
16
0
FL
0
0
13
3
52
3.26
19
0
GA
3
0
9
3
36
1.58
15
0
HI
0
0
6
0
21 1
12
0
IA
0
0
6
0
45
2.97
10
0
ID
0
0
13
0
44
3.34
22
0
IL
0
0
11
0
40
1.8
11
0
IN
0
0
6
6
59
2.66
13
0
KS
0
6
19
6
42
5.42
26
0
KY
0
3
9
3
69
3.34
37
0
LA
0
0
23
3
61
3.84
19
3
MA
0
0
15
52
73 25.36
55
0
MD
0
0
13
3
61
3.16
19
3
ME
0
3
9
0
44
4.22
13
3
MI
0
0
58
3
45
3.13
23
0
MN
0
0
6
16
34
3.78
19
0
MO
0
0
19
6
42
2.77
16
0
MS
0
0
6
3
26
2.03
13
0
MT
0
0
13
0
35
.81
13
0
NC
3
0
28
0
41
1.47
19%
0
ND
0
0
16
0
28
.94
16
0
NE
3
0
17
0
41
1
10
0
NH
0
0
16
0
48
.97
16
0
NJ
0
0
13
0
55
2.1
23
0
NM
3
0
13
3
32
.55
13
0
NV
0
0
10
0
35
.84
13
3
NY
3
0
15
0
64
4.67
24
0
OH
0
0
38
0
53
1.53
22
0
OK
0
0
13
0
44
.94
9
0
OR
0
0
0
0
35
1.06
13
3
PA
0
0
44
0
63
2.47
22
3
RI
3
0
20
3
33
.67
13
0
SC
10
0
42
3
55
1.35
19
0
SD
3
0
32
3
48
1.74
13
0
TN
0
0
6
0
39
1.77
26
0
TX
6
0
21
3
61
2.67
21
0
US
2
0
30
0
67
4.83
32
0
UT
6
0
29
0
31
.66
71
0
VA
3
0
36
6
58
2.45
18
3
VT
3
0
13
0
41
.75
28
0
WA
0
0
34
6
50
2.28
13
3
WI
0
0
18
8
44
.74
10
0
WV
0
0
23
0
47
1.13
23
0
WY
0
0
10
0
18
.3
3
0
26
Note: The following table shows the percentage of websites in each state and the U.S. federal government that have each feature, such as disability access, privacy, and security statements.
Table A-5 Individual State/Fed Profiles for Disability Access, Privacy, and Security
Email
Update
W3C 508
Privacy Secur
Comme
Persona Disabil Disabil
nt
lization
AK
94%
0%
3%
3%
33%
21%
12% 3%
AL
91
6
3
0
16
16
22
9
AR
79
31
21
0
21
14
41 34
AZ
97
31
19
0
22
16
75 47
CA
88
44
9
6
25
6
75 69
CO
72
19
13
3
38
19
34 25
CT
87
16
16
0
39
19
71 71
DE
87
26
3
6
35
35
55 29
FL
100
19
42
3
39
19
55
6
GA
88
21
9
3
24
21
45 39
HI
79
21
3
0
44
38
41 21
IA
100
26
0
0
10
10
32
6
ID
91
25
6
3
22
22
34 16
IL
91
29
0
3
26
29
91 60
IN
97
53
6
3
28
41
88 88
KS
97
10
13
0
74
42
42 26
KY
100
20
0
0
46
37
83 43
LA
87
29
23
6
16
13
19 10
MA
88
21
9
3
30
24
76 73
MD
87
39
3
0
19
16
71 16
ME
88
16
3
3
59
44
72
0
MI
84
32
19
10
52
13
84 81
MN
94
38
6
0
41
31
25 16
MO
97
26
13
0
55
39
61 26
MS
90
19
3
0
3
3
26
6
MT
94
23
3
0
19
10
32 26
NC
97
25
22
3
38
16
47 38
ND
100
19
6
0
84
81
47 28
NE
97
21
7
0
24
17
3
0
NH
94
19
13
0
68
65
71 68
NJ
90
10
0
3
0
0
90 90
NM
97
3
0
0
19
16
6
6
NV
94
19
3
0
32
29
55 10
NY
91
12
9
3
48
45
70 64
OH
91
44
28
3
22
19
50 38
OK
97
16
9
3
16
13
25 19
OR
97
23
16
0
19
16
29 16
PA
91
41
38
6
53
22
66 59
RI
90
13
10
3
43
37
37 30
SC
84
16
16
6
32
23
35 19
SD
71
48
19
0
38
35
81 77
27
TN
90
29
10
0
35
23
81 81
TX
91
33
30
0
67
30
85 24
US
93
52
32
5
47
22
75 62
UT
89
11
17
0
14
14
83 83
VA
88
30
33
3
27
21
73 30
VT
88
28
13
0
19
13
25 22
WA
97
22
19
3
22
13
69 50
WI
82
18
3
0
31
21
46 44
WV
90
20
7
0
27
20
33 03
WY
88
5
0
0
43
35
57 55
Table A-6 Best Practices of Top Federal and State Websites, 2003
I. Top Five States
1) Massachusetts http://www.mass.gov/portal/index.jsp
Massachusetts took the top ranking spot this year with a score of 46.3 percent, using an easy, accessible format to provide services for visitors which allowed Massachusetts to stand out among the other states. Most of the sites that linked to the portal (agencies, elected officials, etc.) carried the same banner heading that provided links to the 48 online services offered, a listing of agency sites, a search option, and a link to the portal. With this heading, the user could visit any site under the Massachusetts portal and still have immediate access to all online services. The organization of the site was clear and concise, with different services accessible in an organized fashion.
2) Texas http://www.state.tx.us Texas, the number two ranked state, has an attractive and clutter-free portal page. The website displays its fifty on-line services which include such vital functions as paying taxes and renewing vehicle registrations. The privacy policy is well outlined, comprehensible, and comprehensive including web traffic monitoring by software to protect data security. The drop down menus at the left side of the portal provide dozens of links at the users fingertips to varied and oft-requested topics such as nutrition, public records, consumer protection, and taxes. Each link is included with a brief synopsis of the services that the link offers and approximately how long it will take to process the service. The listing of all state agencies from the portal page included not only a link to the website itself but to the "TRAIL" page--a detailed directory listing--and to related on-line publications. Many of Texas' websites included at least one on-line service.
3) Indiana http://www.state.in.us/ Indiana placed third in this year's research, with a total of 42.4 percent. The portal site was direct and easy to use, with several services gracing the homepage and easy accessibility to further links. Indiana also incorporated a banner heading for each of the sites under its portal, providing links to a listing of agencies, a "text-only" version, link to the portal, contacting the webmaster, and a search option. With this banner, visitors could easily check the privacy policy for each site, search the entire "Access Indiana" site for a particular subject, find a contact-person for questions, etc. Indiana also clearly expressed desire to know preferences and experiences of its visitors with "IN.gov Fan" stories posted on the portal.
4) Tennessee http://www.state.tn.us
28 From the catchy banner at the top of the portal, to the photos of Memphis' swinging nightlife, Tennessee's websites are characterized by attractive pages and easy-to find services. Many of the services, including applications for unemployment benefits and submission for a state job application include on-line demos. The Tennessee.gov portal banner heads most department and officials' websites which provides an easy link back to the portal, to on-line services, and to contact information. Tennessee websites frequently utilized multi-media options, such as offering Public Service Announcements on the Department of Labor's website or video and audio recording of arguments from the Assembly's page. Many of the links to different agencies from the portal include synopses of the services that each link offers. The long list of online services that Tennessee offers is on a well-organized page and includes the option of getting e-mail notification when a new service is offered. A "survey" link at the bottom of each page solicits feedback from users. State agency websites are organized in a similar fashion to the portal, in that most information is categorized in easy-to-use drop down menus rather than scattered around the page. 5) California http://www.state.ca.us/state/portal/myca_homepage.jsp California ranked fifth in this year's e-government research survey, proudly displaying a clear "Online Services" link right on its homepage and offering PDA accessibility. With personalization, an enormous amount of online services available, and clear format for navigation, California's site offered much of what one could hope for from a state site. A heading with a link to the portal site lined the tops of sites within the portal, providing an easy way back to the "MyCalifornia" homepage. II. Top Five Federal Agencies 1) Firstgov.gov Portal http://www.firstgov.gov The number one ranked federal website is firstgov.gov, the federal government's portal page. From the banner at the top of the page it is possible to translate firstgov into one of 25 other languages. The portal also includes a video welcome from President Bush in video format viewable on Realplayer, an archive of press releases from the federal government, and directories for e-mail, phone, and in-person contact with government officials. Firstgov's privacy policy protects the personal information of users by prohibiting cookies, expressly prohibiting marketing and sharing of information, and employing software technology to monitor web traffic and protect security. Firstgov also includes a whopping 62 services and gives users the option to receive e-mail notification from Firstgov when the website is updated. The bottom of the page also includes the option to link to Firstgov.gov or to suggest a page that Firstgov.gov should link to. 2) Federal Communications Commission http://www.fcc.gov/ The FCC ranked 2nd in this year's federal site e-government survey. The front page boasted distinct categories for audio/visual events, commissioners, general information, and consumer information (including links to links to numerous services and language options). The site fulfilled a majority of the measures coded for, including privacy policy, subscription to a daily report, contact information, a link to the portal, search tool, and the like. The FCC site was comprehensive, covering a range of services, and easily accessible to the visitor. 3) Social Security Administration http://www.ssa.gov The Social Security Administration's website ranks third out of the federal websites and includes useful information such as how to protect against identity theft as well as a host of databases and statistics including a "monthly statistic snapshot". From a menu bar at the top the user may select foreign language translation into 15 separate languages. Following accessibility
29 standards, the SSA's website is both WC3 and Section 508 compliant. The website offers 17 separate services which include applying for retirement benefits on-line and requesting a Medicare card on-line. There is also a link soliciting feedback on the website's "new look" and the option to receive the SSA's electronic newsletter. A convenient drop-down menu at the top of the screen provides answers to hundreds of frequently asked questions arranged by topic. The SSA's website also includes fun information like a "kids" page and a list of the most popular baby names for 2002. 4) Internal Revenue Service http://www.irs.gov The Internal Revenue Service's webpage, the fourth ranked federal website, is far more inviting than the IRS's reputation. The website offers eight different services, the most prominent of which is the "e-file" service or the ability to file taxes on-line using a major credit card. The website offers a bevy of statistics, a convenient directory of office phone numbers accessed by clicking on your area of the map of the U.S., and detailed instructions on filling out forms. The website is offered in both Spanish and English and also includes a search engine that yields accurate and up-to-date results. The IRS icon at the top of every page provides an easy link back to the portal. The website also includes a game "The Perfect Match" as a fun quiz for users to test their knowledge of tax benefits. 5) Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/ The Library of Congress placed fifth with a total of 68 percent. With services from interactive sites for children to extensive international databases, this site brought to life the statement "more than a library" on the front page. Visitors could shop at the "LOC" store, use the live help "Ask a Librarian" service, or browse through the exclusive Online library "exhibitions" that one would expect to see at a museum, certainly not on a website! The "Global Gateway" connects visitors to a dearth of world resources, and the site has links geared towards particular visitors (researchers, lawyers, teachers, kids, blind persons, newcomers, persons with disabilities, etc.) In all, a truly impressive site that provides the visitor with much more than one would expect.

DM West

File: state-and-federal-e-government-in-the-united-states-2001.pdf
Title: E-Govt
Author: DM West
Author: Default
Published: Mon Feb 23 08:38:13 2004
Pages: 29
File size: 0.76 Mb


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