, USDA lead the e-gov pack

Federal portals and the Agriculture Department received accolades as the most highly rated federal sites in Brown University's eighth annual e-government study released this week. And Delaware and Michigan emerged as the states with the most advanced e-government portals and applications.

A team of researchers from the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University examined 1,548 state and federal sites. The researchers analyzed 1,487 state Web sites (an average of 30 per states), as well as 48 federal government legislative and executive sites and 13 federal court sites. The research team conducted its analysis during June and July.

The team evaluated the Web sites for the presence of a wide variety of electronic features, ranging from online publications and databases to privacy and security policies to digital signatures and credit card payments.

In the course of their investigations, the researchers found that citizens are being asked to bear more of the cost of providing online services. Seventeen percent of the sites charge visitors a fee to use online services, which is up 12 percent from last year.

In terms of online services, 86 percent of state and federal sites have services that are fully executable online, which is up from 77 percent from last year. In addition, a growing number of sites offer privacy and security policy statements. This year 73 percent have some form of privacy policy on their site, up from 71 percent in 2006. Fifty-two percent now have a visible security policy, down from 63 percent last year.

The study ranks the 50 states and various federal agencies on overall e-gov performance. Using measures such as online services, privacy and security measures, disability access and foreign language translation, the team rated the various state sites and compared this year's performance to last year's.

In addition to Delaware and Michigan, other states at the top of the list are Maine, Kentucky, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas, New Jersey and Utah.

William Welsh writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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