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7/29/2010
03:16 PM
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GAO Launches Mobile Website

Responding to the growing trend of accessing content on mobile devices, the Government Accountability Office reports are now accessible to BlackBerry, iPhone, Android and other mobile device users.

In a move that supports the growing number of people accessing the web via mobile devices, the Government Accountability Office has launched a mobile version of its website.

The federal watchdog organization's site now is available via BlackBerry, iPhone, Android and other mobile devices. A combination of in-house IT staff and a third-party contractor already engaged in website support created the mobile site, said GAO spokesman Charles Young.

Depending on the capability of their device, people can view full GAO reports in PDF format on mobile devices, he said. If a device doesn't support PDF, the links to the reports direct people immediately to a summary of them, or the links to the reports can be emailed.

Alternatively, people have the option of viewing a text version of reports with no graphics or charts, Young said. The GAO originally developed this version for people using screen readers, but the interface also works well on mobile devices, he said.

The agency cited a Pew Research Center report as a reason for bringing its website to mobile phones. The report found that the use of Internet, email and instant messaging on mobile devices among adults increased 8 percent between 2009 and 2010, from 32 percent to 40 percent.

People can access the mobile GAO site the same way they do on a desktop -- by launching the URL on their mobile browser. However, the site differs significantly in appearance than it would on a desktop browser, Young said.

The GAO has optimized the display of the site for use on the small screen, simplifying it to a single-column menu of "high-interest options," with hardly any graphics, he said.

The site as rendered on a mobile device has three main tabs. The first enables someone to browse the latest GAO reports and testimonies, while the second displays legal decisions and opinions by the agency. A third tab, called "In the Spotlight," highlights some of the latest GAO work. The site's search functionality also is available on mobile devices.

Young said the GAO tested the site repeatedly on multiple mobile devices throughout the development process and, while there are small variations from device to device in appearance, functionality remains largely the same across them.

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