Agency Web sites struggle

Only 12.8 percent of federal Web sites include e-commerce applications, and only 8.8 percent offer direct links to e-government services, according to a survey of 148 federal Web sites conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government, Arlington, Va.

Less than 15 percent of the sites passed a test that determines if a Web site is accessible to people with disabilities, according to the survey report released Aug. 21 by the endowment, which conducts research and forums on improving the effectiveness of government.

The study, conducted from January to April, evaluated Web sites maintained by Cabinet-level and independent agencies, as well as major federal legislative and judicial sites. Each site was judged for its online services, user help and navigation aids, accessibility and features such as calendars, maps, links to other sites and "top topic" listings.

Most of the surveyed sites provided services such as employment information, search functions and lists of agency publications, the report said.

To accelerate the use of e-government, federal Web designers should be encouraged to create sites that are easier to use and accessible to citizens of all levels of computer literacy and physical ability, the report said.

The report, "The State of Federal Web Sites: The Pursuit of Excellence," can be found at http://www.endowment.pwcglobal.com/pdfs/
StowersReport0802.pdf
.

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