Federal Web Sites: The Next Wave?

The site is a model for others in the government to follow, not just for what it does but for how it does so.
'Regular' citizens and government IT workers alike might want to take a look at It likely augers the next wave of public-facing federal Web sites, not just for what it does but also for how it does so.

What it does is federate, so to speak, from across the government the latest and most relevant information that has anything to do with disabled people, their families, their employers, and so forth. Content experts from 16 different federal agencies contribute information about transportation, health, housing, taxes, and much else to this site.

The site is designed to be organized according to how disabled people live their lives, with top-line Web classifications that are meaningful to humans instead of being about how the federal government organizes itself. So sure, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is a big contributor to the site's section on transportation, but it's not the only contributor--and you might just find DOT info scattered throughout the site, says DisabilityInfo program director Kevin Connors.

In government parlance, the site was designed to be "citizen-centric."

The 'how' is even more interesting: the Department of Labor (DOL), under whose auspices the site was re-developed because of a Presidential mandate back in 2002, essentially outsourced all technical aspects to a firm that used open-source, agile programming techniques, and component-based software. The DOL also employs a marketing firm to get the word out about the site, which helps disabled people learn about the site and use it, which in turn helps convince the aforementioned content experts to want to make time to contribute to the site.

It's an interesting mixture of approaches traditionally considered both "public" and "private." And just in the nick of time; at least one expert says American e-government initiatives have been losing steam and Asian countries have taken the lead.

In Brown University's

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Terry White, Associate Chief Analyst, Omdia
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer