November 17, 2003

Nominations Open for Digital Government Awards

For the fifth consecutive year, the Accenture and MIT Digital Government Awards are showcasing technology breakthroughs that deliver public sector value in government and higher education. The 2004 Accenture and MIT Digital Government Awards celebrate existing programs and services that:

  • Address a significant problem faced by the organization and user community
  • Show success achieved through increased effectiveness and demonstrable outcomes, and employ specific performance measurements of success
  • Are delivered in a manner that reflects best practices in the areas of project management, systems development methodology, and customer service
  • Demonstrate creative thinking and innovative use of technology to create or increase the performance of programs/services as representative of a high-performance organization

Nominations are due January 10, 2004. To date, Utah has not yet won an award in the state government, local government, higher education, or government prototype categories.

The Digital Government Awards will be presented during the annual FOSE Trade Show, to be held March 23 � 25, 2004, in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Ray Matthews on November 17, 2003 at 02:23 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

September 25, 2003

Brown University E-Government Ratings

The newly released Urban E-Government, 2003 report from Brown University's Center for Public Policy ranks Salt Lake City 7th in the nation in their analysis of 1,933 city government websites. Salt Lake City ranked 37th in 2002.

Salt Lake City sites received high marks for their low reading level grade (1st place), the high percentage of services executable online, availability of publications and data on all sites, support of secure credit card transactions for most services, and links to security and privacy policies from nearly all pages.

Brown University's State and Federal E-Government study of 1,603 state government websites reports that the State of Utah, as a whole, fell to 17th after placing 10th last year.

Utah ranked highly in providing links to its security and privacy policies. The reviewers found that 97% of agency sites provided publications and 74% provided information in databases. The State ranked poorly, however, in reading level (grade 11.7 or 50th place), accessibility compliance (47th with only 14% of state sites in compliance), and online services (0.7 per website or 46th). The ranking difference between Utah and front-running Massachusetts is primarily because the Commonwealth provides links to their 48 online services in their state header. This is an easy fix that might take Utah Interactive all of about five minutes to put in place (hint, hint).

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.

The evaluation paid more attention this year to online services, the handling of privacy and security, and offering disability access.

After reviewing the Center for Public Policy's evaluations, here are some simple suggestions that webmasters can follow to get our state and cities ranked higher next year:

  1. Use the Flesch-Kincaid tests that come with Word and WordPerfect to keep documents to an 8-9th grade reading level
  2. Test your pages periodically with Bobby for W3C and Section 508 accessibility compliance
  3. Provide robust Privacy AND security policies (including policy on sharing personal information), and prominently link them from every page
  4. Continually evaluate and improve performances
  5. Identify your online services, list them (quantity does matter), categorize them, and make them easy to navigate to from the banner headers; for bonus points, include a few novel services
  6. Identify all the forms you have and make sure that all or most can be submitted online
  7. Support SSL and allow citizens to do financial transactions with credit cards (currently 71% for state agencies), and digital signatures (now 0%)
  8. Identify and provide easy access to publications and databases
  9. Provide foreign language features such as "En Espanol" links for all your key services and publications
  10. Lower the gross number and percentages of services that restrict access such as requiring user fees and passwords (Utah is currently in 42nd place with 29% of sites having restrictions)
  11. Go beyond email links (we rank high with 89%) with easy to use comment boxes and alert services to facilitate contact access and public feedback from every page; currently 11% of state sites over comment facilities, 17% offer updating; and 0% offer personalization
  12. Eliminate commercial advertising if you have any
  13. By all means, be sure you have standardized headers, site map, and a site search

    In the "if you can't be 'em, learn from 'em" department, take a look at FirstGov and these five top-ranked cities:

    • Denver recognized for its clear layout and organization with easy navigation to all citizen services;
    • Charlotte with a plethora of fully executable services, a database that allows a user to access property information and demographic information for any address, a noteworthy security policy, and a comments box on every page that sends form data direct to the page author;
    • Boston noted for its uncluttered and aesthetic appearance, information organized into sections for residents, businesses and visitors, and site personalization and email updates;
    • Louisville cited for its easy navigation and compliance to Section 508 and W3C accessibility standards, Secure Sockets Layer protocol to safeguard personal information, and easy to use dropdown menu to city services; and
    • Nashville recognized for its content rich abundance of publications and databases.

    See also: State E-government press release | Urban E-government press release | PDF version of the full State E-Government report | PDF version of the full Urban E-Government report | state report | city report | Brown Policy Reports archives, 2001-03 | Government Computer News (GCN)

    Posted by Ray_Matthews on September 25, 2003 at 12:02 PM | | Comments (2) | Send this story to a friend! Ranked #1 in Best of the Web

The Center for Digital Government has given the portal first place in the "state government portal category." The Center's 2003 Best of the Web contest based this award on its innovation, Web-based delivering of government services, efficiency, economy, and functionality for improved citizen access.

Cathilea Robinett, executive director of the Center for Digital Government and a Best of the Web judge for all of its eight years, said "Utah has a beautiful Web site that is easy to navigate and offers a variety of online services. It has a live 24/7 customer-service help function, the most advanced common look-and-feel features in the nation, dynamic content, and a large amount of online services. Utah has historically been a leader in digital government." She added "Capturing first-place in the Best of the Web contest reflects its true commitment to the citizens and businesses of the state."

Congratulations to Utah Interactive and all of those of you involved in producing content and products for the portal.

Press release:

View the video of the presentation to Governor Leavitt (RealVideo)

Read more in: Capitol Connections | Governor Mike Leavitt's Press Release | Phil Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog | Dave Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog | Deseret Morning News | Dave Fletcher's Utah Headlines | Ted Ritzer's GovIT | Government Technology International

Posted by Ray_Matthews on September 25, 2003 at 08:41 AM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

May 29, 2003 Search Queries Are Revealing

Mike Brown, the Utah State Library's programming whiz, has created a tool that reveals the 5,000 daily queries that visitors to are asking. Mike's Query Snoop allows you to view the lists by date and by month.

Though we haven't yet created a ranking sort, it's clear that the search for "sex offenders" continues to top the list. While tax related queries have expectedly dropped off since April, we're still finding from queries like "contact utah state tax commission" that their services are still in high demaind. Poorly constructed queries such as "complain filed to utah devision of real estate" show why some people don't find what they're seeking. Queries such as "Not getting paid for work done" may suggest to an agency a topic for a needed FAQ.

Posted by Ray_Matthews on May 29, 2003 at 08:27 AM | | Comments (1) | Send this story to a friend!

May 16, 2003

UII a Credit to eGovernment

Just like the owner who rewards a successful coach with a contract extension, Government Technology reports that the State of Utah has extended its e-government portal services contract with Utah Interactive, Inc. for another four years. UII, led first by Ric Brown and now by Amy Sawyer, has a stellar record of accomplishments since its launch in 1999.

The Center for Digital Government and The Progress & Freedom Foundation ranked Utah fifth, overall, in its 2000 Digital State Survey up from its overall 12th ranking in 1998, and 25th ranking in 1997.

The Center has ranked Utah seventh in the nation in its eGovernment Services in the last two years, and seventh among all states for sustained eGovernment leadership over the last five years.

Utah Interactive is a wholly owned subsidiary firm of the National Information Consortium (NIC).

Posted by Ray_Matthews on May 16, 2003 at 04:33 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

February 21, 2003

New State of Utah Search Engine

The State of Utah portal and all state pages switched the search today to the State Library's UtahGov Search engine. Coincidentally, we were able to resolve the long time issue that has prevented the search engine from displaying gilsUtah metadata fields in the search results.

Posted by Ray_Matthews on February 21, 2003 at 10:02 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!