Redesigned FirstGov site debuts with e-gov strategy report

Vice President Cheney unveils the redesigned FirstGov.gov Web site, the first stop for government information and services.

Vice President Cheney and other Bush administration officials unveiled a redesigned FirstGov.gov Web site at a White House press conference Feb. 27. The redesign is one of the administration's first high-profile accomplishments in its efforts to expand Web-based government services.

The relaunch of FirstGov starts the deployment of the federal e-government strategy, said Mark Forman, associate director of information technology and e-government in the Office of Management and Budget. OMB also released a report outlining that strategy.

FirstGov is an important new tool for the federal government, Cheney said.

"This is an attempt to remedy one of government's oldest problems, the slow, confusing and often ineffective ways in which it responds to the public," Cheney said. "The private sector has made great improvements to customer service, in part because of technological innovation. Government has sometimes lagged behind. The redesign of this Web site will make a great stride forward in meeting a higher standard of service."

Previously, a query on the site's search engine typically resulted in 1,000 links, which the user had to wade through, Forman said. Now the site is organized into three categories ? services for citizens, businesses and government ? and it takes the user to needed information within three clicks or less.

The next step will be to reduce the burden on citizens by moving paper-based transactions online, Forman said.

The e-government strategy report, based on the recommendations of an 81-member federal task force, details federal performance problems that could be addressed by e-government, barriers to the success of e-government and the 24 initiatives the group identified that could boost government performance and improve citizen services.

It also outlines a series of milestones for each e-government initiative, with deadlines for completion of each task. The report can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/egovstrategy.pdf.

The redesign of FirstGov is part of the USA Services project, one of the 24 e-government initiatives. Other initiatives include an effort to create a cross-government electronic payroll system, online access to the federal rule-making process and a Web portal for public- and private-sector information on disaster preparedness, recovery and mitigation.

In the months ahead, more elements of the e-government strategy will be deployed through FirstGov, Forman said.

"Together, the e-government strategy and FirstGov reflect the commitment and devotion of many people who have risen above bureaucratic pressures of day-to-day operation. They are committed to our country and our citizens," he said.

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