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1/26/2009
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Feds' Internet Site Goes Web 2.0

USA.gov's new features are designed to improve access and transparency.

The federal government has added several features to improve access to information through its Web site.

USA.gov added a news feed, a gadget gallery of online applications, and a feature that shows the most popular government content online. The General Service Administration's Office of Citizen Services, which runs the site, announced the tools Friday.

"Using these Web 2.0 tools is a huge opportunity for government to be transparent and save valuable tax dollars," Beverly Godwin, director of USA.gov's Web best practices division, said in a statement. "Tools such as RSS feeds and gadgets allow the public to directly access content from the original source, no matter which Web site they're on. It reduces duplication across government because an agency creates content once and makes it available for reuse by others."

The news aggregator allows visitors to sign up for breaking news updates and articles on agriculture, business, consumer news, defense, foreign affairs, education, jobs, environment, energy, family, home and community, health and nutrition, public safety and law, science, and technology. USA.gov has partnered with NewsGator to provide the RSS feed. Visitors can also bookmark a breaking government news page.

The gadget gallery has widgets, organized by topic, so users can embed them in personalized home pages, blogs, and other sites. One gadget gives an environmental tip of the day. Another lists the FBI's predators and missing people. A drug finder gadget, hosted by the Food and Drug Administration, allows users to search medications for information.

A new "word cloud" provides a visual representation of the top 75 most popular search terms on the site. The tool is a result of an idea presented on Change.gov, U.S. President Barack Obama's transition team's site.

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