State legislative Web sites lack oomph, OMB Watch says

State legislative Web sites lack oomph, OMB Watch says

By Wilson P. Dizard III

GCN Staff

MARCH 26—Most state legislative Web sites don't give their users nearly enough information or tools to understand and influence lawmaking, a recent independent study concluded.

OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization in Washington, assessed all 50 state legislative Web sites as well as sites in federal territories.

'Content and services are difficult for constituents to navigate, inaccessible site design presents a digital divide for a potentially large base of online citizens, and inconsistent levels of free versus for-fee access to legislative resources raise questions about public access to information,' OMB Watch said.

The study, Plugged In, Tuning Up: An Assessment of State Legislative Web Sites, found that only 12 percent of the sites let users contact lawmakers directly. More than half the sites provide no information on legislative calendars, committee schedules or floor schedules, OMB Watch found.

While 51 percent of the sites use cookies to track visitors, only 4 percent include statements about their use. And no state site provided 'clearly identifiable compliance with commonly accepted design principles for accessibility to those with disabilities,' OMB Watch said.

The report is available on the Web at www.ombwatch.org/npadv/2001/stlg/index.html.


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