GovBenefits to let agencies brand own benefits pages

GovBenefits.gov today celebrated its third year by adding more than 600 programs from federal, state and local governments and announcing the ability of other agencies to develop their own benefits portals.

The Labor Department-run Quicksilver project, which received more than 17 million hits in fiscal 2004, will let agencies create their own benefits front pages, and use a search filter to integrate with GovBenefits' back-end database and rules engine.

Jeff Koch, acting GovBenefits project manager, said putting a 'new skin' on the front of Web sites, while using the back-end technology, commonly is done by commercial portal sites.

'While Amazon is selling office supplies or toys, we are basically doing the same thing for the departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and others,' Koch said. 'We are letting the agencies brand their sites.'

With the additional 600 programs, citizens have a wider range of benefits they potentially qualify for.

The GovBenefits governance board and the Office of Management and Budget approved the decision earlier this month after the success of GovLoans.gov, which is part of the GovBenefits initiative.

Koch said the project team used GovLoans, which helps citizens find loans they may be qualified for based on how they answer a set of questions. The GovLoans team designed a front end based on the GovBenefits template and uses GovBenefits' back-end technology, Koch said.

Koch said Labor also launched GovLoans in Spanish as a part of its three-year anniversary improvements.

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