WEB STRATEGIES

Agencies establish stimulus-focused sites

New stimulus-related sites and services from HUD, Business.gov and Virginia

While the Obama administration and Congress have started dealing with economic issues, agency Web teams have been setting up sites that help carry out the goals of the economic stimulus work.

The administration got a quick though still unfinished start with its Recovery.gov site, which offers insight into how the government is spending stimulus-earmarked money. More recently, the Treasury Department and the Housing and Urban Development Depoartment (HUD), as well as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Virginia's state government  have erected sites or added new features to existing sites that offer additional insight and services on economic matters.

Treasury and HUD have launched a Web site that will help home owners understand the Obama Administration's Making Home Affordable loan modification and refinancing program MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

Many home-owners have mortgages that are for a greater amount than the home is actually worth. This site offers a calculator that will let them know if they are eligible to participate in the HUD's program for mortgage payment reductions. The site also includes a check list of materials that applicants will need before starting the adjustment process.

HUD and Treasury have also worked with a large number of large banks and smaller lenders to have them participate in this program, as well as to get the word out to their customers about the program.

"Education and outreach is central to the success of our Making Home Affordable program," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said. "Putting resources and tools directly in the hands of homeowners will expedite the process of delivering relief to responsible borrowers, and stabilizing the housing market is central to our overall economic recovery."

In response to White House officials' call to create a more transparent and connected government, the SBA's Business Gateway Program has added a community discussion forum to its business.gov portal for small business information. This forum has a discussion board where participants can post and answer questions about running a small business. It uses Google's Feedburner newsfeed service. More features will be unveiled in the upcoming months.

“Through the application of Web 2.0 technologies, we hope to unite small business owners, industry experts and government, and take the program to a new level of collaborative knowledge-sharing and insight,” said Nancy Sternberg, program manager of Business Gateway.

Virginia has set up a site that allows people to investigate how it is using its share of the federal stimulus money. The site uses the business intelligence software from LogiXML to render the numbers into chart form. Charts display the money by the type of project funded, how much each county gets. By drilling down, users can find more detail about individual projects.

About the Author

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

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