State, OMB unveil new Web site designs

The State Department has given its home page a makeover to give the site more of a news feel.

'We wanted to get main foreign policy news out in a way that grabbed people's attention,' said Colleen Hope, director of the Office of Electronic Information. The office's Bureau of Public Affairs manages the site.

The site redesign started last October, according to Hope. The agency worked with its Web site contractor, NaviSite Inc. of Andover, Mass., to make the changes.

The relaunched site has reduced the number of content categories displayed on the page from nine to these four: 'Issues and Press,' 'Travel and Business,' 'Youth and Education' and 'About the State Department.' The Web site also has an enhanced search engine, allowing users to search by individual sections of the site. Convera Corp. of Vienna, Va., supplied the search software.

Hope said the office plans to expand the site offerings to include audio and video features, as well as more breaking news stories. In the short term, the office plans to offer a service where citizens can submit questions to senior State advisers whose answers will be posted on the site. The site already hosts podcasts, really simple syndication feeds and mailing list subscription forms.

The site gets about 11 million hits a month, according to the press announcement. The agency deploys the mirroring services of Akamai Technologies of Cambridge, Mass., and uses the Apache Web server software.

ExpectMore from OMB

The Office of Management and Budget has also launched a new Web site called ExpectMore.gov.

OMB developed the site to show citizens the effectiveness of each government program, according to an announcement accompanying the debut. The site includes assessments for around 800 programs, which account for about 80 percent of the federal budget.

Users get a list of the program names, the host agency and an indicator if the program is effective or ineffective. Users can then drill down to find out why the program doesn't meet the standards, or why it is succeeding.

To measure program performance, OMB officials worked with each program manager to complete the Program Assessment Rating Tool, a set of 25 questions concerning a program's performance, design and management.

Of the programs currently rated, 72 percent are deemed either effective, moderately effective or adequate. About 4 percent were declared ineffective, while 24 percent could not demonstrate results.

The results will be updated once a year, in February, and modified as needed, according to the Web site.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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