To order raw e-government data, visit http://www.InsidePolitics.org/egovtdata.html

 

State and Federal E-Government in the United States, 2004

 

by

 

Darrell M. West

Center for Public Policy

Brown University

Providence, RI  02912

(401) 863-1163

Email:  Darrell_West@brown.edu

Website:  www.InsidePolitics.org

 

September, 2004


Table of Contents

 

Executive Summary  

A Note on Methodology  

Online Information  

Electronic Services 

Privacy and Security

Broken Links and Anchors  

Search Problems  

Design Problems  

Readability  

Disability Access   

Foreign Language Access  

Ads, User Fees, and Premium Fees  

Public Outreach  

State E-Government Ranking  

Federal Agency E-Government Ranking  

State-Federal Differences  

Differences by Branch of Government  

Conclusions  

Appendix  

Table A-1  Overall State E-Govt Ratings, 2003 and 2004

Table A-2  Overall Federal Agency E-Govt Ratings, 2003 and 2004

Table A-3  Number of State Website Quality Problems, 2004

Table A-4  Individual State/Fed Profiles for Publications, Databases, Foreign Language, and Services, 2004

Table A-5  Individual State/Fed Profiles for Disability Access, Privacy, and Security, 2004

Table A-6  Best Practices of Top Federal and State Websites, 2004


Executive Summary

 

            This report presents the fifth annual update on the features that are available online through American state and federal government websites. Using a detailed analysis of 1,629 state and federal government sites, we measure what is online, what variations exist across the country, and what differences appear between state and national government. We compare the 2004 results to 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 (also see my forthcoming book, Digital Government:  Technology and Public Sector Performance, Princeton University Press, 2005).

            Among the more important findings of the research are the following:

1) 42 percent of federal sites and 37 percent of state sites meet the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) disability guidelines.

2) The presence of online services has improved over the last year.  This year, 56 percent of state and federal sites have services that are fully executable online, compared to 44 percent last year. 

3) One percent of government sites are accessible through personal digital assistants, pagers, or mobile phones, the same as last year.

4) A growing number of sites offer privacy and security policy statements.  This year, 63 percent have some form of privacy policy on their site, up from 54 percent in 2003. Forty-six percent now have a visible security policy, up from 37 percent last year.

5) government websites have a number of quality control issues, such as broken links, missing titles, missing keywords, and warnings and redirects to new pages. 

6) 21  percent of sites offered some type  of foreign language translation, up from 13 percent last year.

7) 62 percent of government websites are written at the 12th grade reading level, which is much higher than that of the average American.

8) The highest ranking states include Tennessee, Maine, Utah, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Indiana, Texas, Delaware, and New Jersey.  The most poorly performing e-government states are West Virginia, Mississippi, Wyoming, and Nebraska. 

9) Top-rated federal websites include FirstGov (the U.S. portal), Social Security Administration, Department of Education, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Agriculture, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Reserve, General Services Administration, Postal Service, and the House of Representatives.  At the low end of the ratings are the various circuit courts of appeals.

 

A Note on Methodology

 

This project is based on a comprehensive analysis of 1,629 government websites (1,569 state government websites, 47 federal government legislative and executive sites, and 13 federal court sites).  The list of web addresses for the 50 states can be found at www.InsidePolitics.org/states.html, while the federal government sites are located through the national portal, FirstGov.gov.  Among the sites analyzed are portal or gateway sites as well as those developed by court offices, legislatures, elected officials, major departments, and state and federal agencies serving crucial functions of government, such as health, human services, taxation, education, corrections, economic development, administration, natural resources, transportation, elections, and agriculture. An average of 31.4 websites is studied for each individual state so we could get a full picture of what is available to the general public, plus all the major federal government sites. Tabulation for this project was completed at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island by Jonathan Ellis, Brian Wood, Kelly Donnelly, Adelaida Vasquez, and Ruth Brown during June, July, and August, 2004.

Websites are evaluated for the presence of a number of different features, such as online publications, online databases, audio clips, video clips, foreign language or language translation, advertisements, premium fees, user payments or fees, disability access, several measures of privacy policy, multiple indicators of security policy, presence of online services, the number of online services, digital signatures, credit card payments, email addresses, comment forms, automatic email updates, website personalization, PDA accessibility, and readability level.

 

Online Information

 

In looking at the availability of basic information at American government websites, we find that access to publications and databases are excellent.  Ninety-eight percent of sites provide access to publications (the same as last year), while 87 percent have databases (up from 80 percent in 2003). 

Similar to the patterns found in previous years, most websites do not incorporate audio clips or video clips into their sites.  Seventeen percent provide audio clips, up from eight percent last year, and 21 percent have video clips (up from 10 percent last year). 

 

Percentage of Websites Offering Publications and Databases

 

2000

2001

2002

 

2003

2004

Phone Contact Info.

91%

94%

96%

--

--

Address Info

88

93

95

--

--

Links to Other Sites

80

69

71

--

--

Publications

74

93

93

98

98

Databases

42

54

57

80

87

Audio Clips

5

6

6

8

17

Video Clips

4

9

8

10

21

 

Electronic Services

 

Fully executable, online service delivery benefits both government and its constituents.  In the long run, such services offer the potential for lower cost of service delivery and it makes services more widely accessible to the general public, who no longer have to visit, write, or call an agency in order to execute a specific service.    

            Of the web sites examined this year, 56 percent offer services that are fully executable online, up from 44 percent last year.  Of the sites this year, 44 percent have no services, 18 percent offer one service, 11percent have two services, and 27 percent have three or more services.   Clearly, both state and federal governments are making significant progress at placing fully executable services online.

 

Percentage of Government Sites Offering Online Services

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

No Services

78%

75%

77%

56%

44

One Service

16

15

12

15

18

Two Services

3

4

4

8

11

Three or More Services

2

6

7

21

27

 

Among the most common online services provided by states were: renewal of motor vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses, job applications, filing taxes for both individuals and businesses, filing consumer complaints, renewal of professional licenses,  registration with the national “Do Not Call” listing, purchasing or renewing hunting and fishing licenses, applying for unemployment benefits, and submitting annual reports and Uniform Commercial Code filings for businesses.

 

            Several states offered novel services. Many states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Utah, and Virginia, incorporate live online help into their portal pages. The service commonly uses a chat-room style interface to connect users to a technician for person-to-person support. While most states offered hunting licenses online, both Alabama and Florida had pages which offered online hunting education courses. California offered an online ethics course that fulfills a requirement for employment as a state official. Delaware and Iowa offered an online boating safety course as well as a sample test that can be taken prior to certification. Both New Jersey and Iowa’s judicial websites allowed for the payment of traffic and misdemeanor fines online.  South Dakota has a “Lifespan Timeline” which allows citizens to access services and activities by age group (birth, child, youth, early adult, adult, and senior citizen). 

One area where government sites are making progress is in offering the ability to make credit card purchases online.  Of the government websites analyzed, 25 percent accept credit cards, nearly double the 19 percent found last year.  With the increase in online services, more and more sites have created a means for credit card payments.  In addition, more sites are allowing digital signatures for financial transactions.  We find that 11 percent are set up for digital signatures, up from less than one percent last year.   A number of the places where digital signatures were authorized were services allowing citizens to access birth or death certificates.

            Of the 50 states and the federal government analyzed, there is wide variance in the percentage of states’ web sites with online services.  We computed the average number of online services found in various states and in the federal government.  Massachusetts is the leader, with an average of 25.0 online services across its websites.  This is followed by Utah (20.3 services), Tennessee (19.5 services), Maine (18.2 services), and New York (14.7 services).   

 

Privacy and Security

 

A growing number of sites offer privacy and security statements.  In 2004, 63 percent have some form of privacy policy on their site, up from 54 percent in 2003.  Forty-six percent now have a visible security policy, up from 37 percent last year. 

 

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Privacy Policies

7%

28%

43%

54%

63

Security Policies

5

18

34

37

46

 

            The state with the highest percentage of its sites showing a visible privacy policy is Illinois with 97 percent of its sites, followed by New Jersey (97 percent), Texas (91 percent), Indiana (90 percent), and South Dakota (90 percent).  

New Jersey is doing the best job in showing a security policy as 93 percent of its sites have a visible security policy that visitors can read.  This is followed by Indiana (90 percent), Michigan (87 percent), South Dakota (87 percent, and New Hampshire (84 percent). 

In order to assess particular aspects of privacy and security, we evaluate the content of these publicly posted statements.  For privacy policies, we look at several features:  whether the privacy statement prohibits commercial marketing of visitor information; use of cookies or individual profiles of visitors; disclosure of personal information without the prior consent of the visitor, or disclosure of visitor information with law enforcement agents. 

In this analysis, we found that 40 percent of government websites prohibited the commercial marketing of visitor information.  Sixteen percent prohibited the use of cookies or individual profiles.  Thirty-six percent say they do not share personal information, and 39 percent indicate they can disclose visitor information to law enforcement agents.  Twenty-eight percent indicate they use computer software to monitor website traffic.

 

Assessment of E-government Privacy and Security Statements

 

2001

2002

2003

 

2004

Prohibit Commercial Marketing

12%

39%

32%

40%

Prohibit Cookies

10

6

10

16

Prohibit Sharing Personal Information

13

36

31

36

Share Information with Law Enforcement

--

35

35

39

Use Computer Software to Monitor Traffic

8

37

24

28

 

Broken Links and Anchors  

 

With government websites regularly being changed and updated, it is no surprise that most pages have quality control issues.  Links to other parts of the site get broken when the site is redesigned and navigation problems can emerge when different sections of a portal are upgraded.  However, these problems make it difficult for visitors to effectively navigate a site.  When there are broken links, broken anchors, or other navigational difficulties, people get frustrated at their inability to move around a site easily and effectively and will often abandon the site. In addition, the perception of an organization is often impacted by the experience it delivers online. For a website to serve as an effective channel, the user experience and the online content must be continuously monitored, measured and improved.

            To measure these problems, we used the quality module of WebXM, Watchfire's enterprise platform to analyze each of the 50 state government portals. The WebXM platform scans enterprise websites regardless of size or complexity, and identifies compliance, quality and risk issues.  For this project the WebXM technology was used to scan and identify quality issues that can impact the user experience, such as broken links and anchors, broken links, missing titles, missing keywords, missing descriptions, warnings and redirects and poor search functionality. Among other online issues, WebXM identifies the number of broken links and broken anchors on each site.  Broken links refer to URL’s that are literally broken and do not connect properly, thereby preventing the visitor from being able to see the page that is listed.  Anchors benefit site visitors by providing simple navigation through hypertext links between documents or parts of the same document. Broken anchors are a special type of broken link and present difficulties going back and forth across pages. 

            The analysis drew a random sample of 5,000 pages accessible through each of the 50 state government portals.  From August 10 to 19, 2004, WebXM was used to analyze the number of broken links and anchors in each state employing this random sample.  Based on this analysis, the state with the largest number of broken links was Michigan (2,757 broken links), followed by Rhode Island (2,340), Massachusetts (2,245), Maine (2,188), and Hawaii (2,174).  The state with the largest number of broken anchors was Illinois with 4,218.  This was followed by Montana (with 2,087 broken anchors), Oklahoma (1,305), Kentucky (1,046), and South Dakota (979).  The Appendix lists the number of broken links and anchors for each of the 50 states.

 

Search Problems

           

Visitor expectations are high, and they're quick to reject websites that don't measure up. Websites need good search engines to help  visitors quickly and easily find the information they want.  As government portals have grown more extensive and more complex, it has become even more important to be able to search a website efficiently and effectively.  WebXM provides an analysis of critical search and navigation problems which can make it difficult to search websites:  the number of missing titles, missing keywords, missing descriptions, and missing Alt Text descriptions.

            Using the random sample of 5,000 pages from each state government, the jurisdiction with the largest number of missing titles was Florida (1,070), followed by Colorado (794), Virginia (554), Utah (413), and New Jersey (382).  The state with the largest number of missing keywords was Mississippi (5,001), followed by Alabama (4998), New Mexico (4,979), Arkansas (4,970), and Rhode Island (4,952).  The area with the largest number of missing descriptions was Georgia (4,999), followed by Alabama (4,992), Mississippi (4,977), Arkansas (4,976), and Rhode Island (4,958).  The state with the largest number of Missing Alt Texts was Louisiana (4,906), followed by New Mexico (4,886), Ohio (4,108), Illinois (3,626), and Montana (3,229).  The Appendix lists the number of search problems for each state.

 

Design Problems  

 

Design problems plague some government websites.  Among other issues, WebXM identifies the number of page warnings and redirections on a website that redirect visitors to sites that have changed or no longer exist in addition to providing information about any links on the website that point to files on a local server. There may be absolute URLs that point to files on your local server that users outside your network cannot access. These will appear as broken links to users.  Redirects can slow down the performance of a website since the web server must do more work to process these requests from the browser. Using the random sample of 5,000 pages from each state government, the state having the highest number of warnings and redirections was Pennsylvania (24,164), followed by Florida (9,226), Massachusetts (5,373), Missouri (5,212), and Minnesota (4,953).  The state with the largest number of links to local files was New Jersey (133), followed by Missouri (106), Arizona (98), Delaware (97), and New Hampshire (80).  The Appendix lists the number of these kinds of design problems for each state.

 

Readability

 

Literacy is the ability to read and understand written information.  According to national statistics, about half of the American population reads at the eighth grade level or lower.  A number of writers have evaluated text from health warning labels to government documents to see if they are written at a level that can be understood by citizens.  The fear, of course, is that too many government documents and information sources are written at too high of a level for citizens to comprehend. 

To see how government websites fare, we use a test of the grade-level readability of the front page of each state and federal government website that we studied.  Our procedure is to employ the Flesch-Kincaid standard to judge each site's readability level.  The Flesch-Kincaid test is a standard reading tool evaluator and is the one used by the United States Department of Defense.  It is computed by dividing the average sentence length (number of words divided by number of sentences) by the average number of syllables per word (number of syllables divided by the number of words).

As shown below, the average grade readability level of American state and federal websites is at the 10.8th grade, which is well above the comprehension of the typical American.  Sixty-two percent of sites read at the 12th grade level.  Only 12 percent fell at the eighth grade level or below, which is the reading level of half the American public.

 

 

Percentage Falling within Each Grade Level

Fourth Grade or Less

2%

Fifth Grade

1

Sixth Grade

2

Seventh Grade

3

Eighth Grade

4

Ninth Grade

7

Tenth Grade

9

Eleventh Grade

10

Twelve Grade

62

 

 

Mean Grade Level

10.8

 

Disability Access

 

This year, we tested disability access using automated “Bobby” software provided by the firm, Watchfire, Inc. (see http://bobby.watchfire.com). This software judges whether sites are in compliance with the Priority Level One standards recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).  Sites are judged to be either in compliance or not in compliance based on the results of this test.  In this year's study, 37 percent of state and federal (up from 33 percent) sites satisfy the W3C standard of accessibility.  Forty-two percent of federal sites meet the W3C standard, down from 47 percent last year. 

 

Percentage of State and Federal Sites Meeting W3C Disability Accessibility

 

2003

2004

Federal

47%

42

State

33

37

 

When looking at disability access by individual states, there is tremendous variation in the percentage of each state's sites that are accessible. The states doing the best job on disability access are North Dakota (91 percent of its sites are accessible using the W3C standard), Kansas (74 percent), Texas (64 percent), and New Hampshire (61 percent).  The poorest states when it came to W3C accessibility are West Virginia (7 percent), New Jersey (13 percent), and Iowa (13 percent compliance).

 

Foreign Language Access

 

Government sites are making steady progress in providing foreign language accessibility.  In our analysis, 21 percent of sites offer any sort of foreign language translation feature, up slightly from the 13 percent last year.  By foreign language feature, we mean any accommodation to the non-English speaker, from a text translation into a different language to translating software available for free on the site to translate pages into a language other than English. 

 

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Foreign Language Access

4%

6%

7%

13%

21

 

Texas leads the list with 64 percent of its sites having foreign language adaptability; followed by California (59 percent), Delaware (58 percent), Indiana (58 percent), and Arizona (47 percent). 

 

Ads, User Fees, and Premium Fees

 

The fiscal problems facing state and national government appears to be increasing the use of ads to finance government websites.  Nine percent of sites have commercial advertisements on their sites, meaning non-governmental corporate and group sponsorships, compared to one percent last year.  When defining an advertisement, we eliminate computer software available for free download (such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft Internet Explorer) since they are necessary for viewing or accessing particular products or publications. Links to commercial products or services available for a fee are included as advertisements as are banner, pop-up, and fly-by advertisements. 

The websites that most often featured advertisements were tourism sites, where links to hotels, means of transportation and state tourist features were plentiful. Alabama went so far as to advertise US Airways as its “official airline” on its tourism page. Some sites had banners and other advertisements for unrelated entities. Hawaii’s portal page offered a link to AtoZKidsStuff.com, a site that offered resources for children as well as a host of its own advertisements. Idaho’s portal site contained a link to the Boise Online Mall, while the Illinois’ education website offered a link to alfy.com, a site oriented towards children containing games and an online store.

 

Percentage of Sites with Ads, User Fees, and Premium Fees

 

2001

2002

2003

2004

Ads

2%

2%

1%

9%

User Fees

2

2

3

19

Premium Fees

--

1

0.4

4

 

            Nineteen percent of state and federal sites require user fees to access information and services, including archived databases of judicial opinions and up-to-the-minute legislative updates.  This is much higher than the three percent we found last year.       

            Some states had services involving a convenience fee or other surcharge for the use of the services.  Most states’ health department pages used VitalChek, a private vital records resource, which charged a fee that varied by location and item.   Convenience fees were common for most forms of online credit card transactions. While most fees were flat rate, some involved a percentage surcharge for online transactions. Iowa, Idaho and Kentucky all used this practice with online hunting license purchases, for example. California charged a 2.5 percent fee on the payment of taxes online with a credit card, while Florida levied a 3.2 percent fee on online child support payments.

Four percent of government websites require premium fees to access portions of the e-government site.  By a premium fee, we mean financial charges that are required to access particular areas on the website, such as business services, access to databases, or viewing up-to-the-minute legislation.  This is not the same as a user fee for a single service.  For example, we do not code as a fee the fact that some government services require payment to complete the transaction (a user fee).  Rather, a charge is classified as a premium fee if a payment is required in order to enter a general area of the website or access a set of premium services.  Subscription services are considered a premium fee if there is a cost associated with the subscription. 

 

Public Outreach

 

One of the most promising aspects of e-government is its ability to bring citizens closer to their governments.  In our examination of state and federal government websites, we determine whether a visitor to the website can email a person in the particular department other than the Webmaster.  In 2004, we found that 93 percent have email addresses, up from 91 percent last year.  Other methods that government websites employ to facilitate democratic conversation include areas to post comments (other than through email), the use of message boards, surveys, and chat rooms.  This year, we found that 29 percent of websites offer this feature, up from 24 percent in 2003.

 

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

 

2004

Email

68%

84%

81%

91%

93%

Search

48

52

43

--

--

Comments

15

5

10

24

29

Email Updates

5

9

5

12

24

Broadcast

2

7

4

--

--

Personalization

0

1

2

2

3

PDA Access

--

--

--

1

1

 

Twenty-four percent of government websites allow citizens to register to receive updates regarding specific issues, double the 2003 percentage.  With this feature, web visitors can input their email address, street address, or telephone number to receive information about a particular subject as new information becomes available.  The information can be in the form of a monthly e-newsletter highlighting an attorney general’s recent opinions to alerts notifying citizens whenever a particular portion of the website is updated.  Three percent of sites allow for personalization of the site in order to tailor the website information directly to the individual viewer.  Some state portal pages are beginning to apply this technology to allow users to customize the site to highlight the information that they indicate is important and useful to them.  

 

State E-Government Ranking

 

In order to see how the 50 states rank overall, we created a 0 to 100 point e-government index for each website within that state.  Four points are awarded each website for the following features:  publications, databases, audio clips, video clips, foreign language access, not having ads, not having user fees, not having premium fees, W3C disability access, having privacy policies, security policies, allowing digital signatures on transactions, an option to pay via credit cards, email contact information, areas to post comments, option for email updates, allowing for personalization of the website, and PDA or handheld device accessibility.  These features provide a maximum of 72 points for particular websites. 

Each site then qualifies for up to 28 additional points based on the number of online services executable on that site (zero for no services, one point for one service, two points for two services, three points for three services, four points for four services, and so on up to a maximum of 28 points for 28 services or more).  The e-government index therefore runs along a scale from zero (having none of these features and no online services) to 100 (having all 18 features plus at least 28 online services).  This total for each website is averaged across all of the state's web sites to produce a zero to 100 overall rating for that state.  On average, we assess around 31.4 government websites in each state across the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

The top state in our ranking is Tennessee.  Looking across all of its websites on the dimensions we analyzed, it scores an average of 56.5 percent.  It is followed by Maine (55.2 percent), Utah (54.6 percent), New York (53.6 percent), Illinois (51 percent), Massachusetts (51 percent), Indiana (46 percent), Texas (44.5 percent), Delaware (44.2 percent), and New Jersey (41.3 percent).  The most poorly performing e-government states are West Virginia (26 percent), Mississippi (26.8 percent), Wyoming (28.4 percent), and Nebraska (28.5 percent). 

 

Overall State E-Government Performance, 2004

TN

56.5

ME

55.2

UT

54.6

NY

53.6

IL

51.0

MA

51.0

IN

46.0

TX

44.5

DE

44.2

NJ

41.3

CA

41.2

CT

40.3

FL

39.9

KS

39.9

PA

39.3

AR

39.2

KY

39.0

AZ

38.8

OR

38.6

OH

38.5

LA

38.2

MI

38.0

WA

37.8

VA

37.7

GA

36.9

NH

36.0

CO

35.5

SD

35.5

RI

35.4

ND

35.3

NC

34.8

MD

34.4

MT

34.1

MN

34.0

NV

33.7

ID

33.7

IA

33.3

MO

33.0

AK

32.8

HI

32.3

VT

31.3

SC

30.6

WI

30.0

AL

29.9

OK

29.8

NM

28.8

NE

28.5

WY

28.4

MS

26.8

WV

26.0

 

Federal Agency E-Government Ranking

 

Federal sites are rated by the same criteria as the 50 states.  An identical e-government index is devised that rated federal websites on contact information, publications, databases, portals, and number of online services.  The unit of analysis is the individual federal agency.

The top e-government performers are Firstgov, the United States national government portal, which scores an 88 out of 100.  It is followed by the Social Security Administration (65 percent), Dept. of Education (61 percent), Federal Communications Commission (60 percent), Department of Agriculture (56 percent), Internal Revenue Service (56), Federal Reserve (54 percent), General Services Administration (54 percent), Postal Service (54 percent), and the House of Representatives (53 percent).  

At the low end of the ratings are the various circuit court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ten of the 11 lowest performers on our e-government index come in the federal judiciary.  Their score ranges from a low of 17 percent (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals) to 30 percent (Ninth Circuit). 

 

Overall Federal Agency E-Government Performance, 2004

Firstgov Portal

88.0

Soc Security Admin

65.0

Dept of Education

61.0

Fed Comm Com

60.0

Dept of Agriculture

56.0

Internal Revenue Ser

56.0

Fed Reserve

54.0

Gen Services Admin

54.0

Postal Service

53.0

House of Rep.

53.0

Dept. of Defense

52.0

Housing/Urban Dev

52.0

NASA

52.0

Dept Transportation

51.0

Dept of Treasury

50.0

Dept. of Interior

50.0

Dept of Energy

49.0

Gov’t Printing Offic

49.0

Library of Congress

49.0

Gen Account Office

48.0

Natl Endow Arts

46.0

Sec/Exchange Comm

46.0

Veterans Affairs

46.0

Cent Intelligence Ag

45.0

Cons Product Safety

45.0

Dept of State

45.0

Health/Human Serv

45.0

Natl Science Found

45.0

Small Bus Admin

45.0

White House

45.0

Food Drug Admin

42.0

Homeland Security

42.0

Env Protect Agency

41.0

Fed Trade Comm

41.0

Cong Budget Office

40.0

Natl Transpt Safety

40.0

Dept Commerce

39.0

Fed Deposit

39.0

Dept of Justice

37.0

Eq Employ Opp

37.0

4th Circuit Ct App

36.0

Office Man Budget

36.0

Senate

36.0

Natl Labor Relations

35.0

5th Circuit Ct of App

33.0

Dept of Labor

33.0

Fed Elect Comm

33.0

Supreme Court

33.0

US Trade Rep

32.0

9th Circuit Ct of App

30.0

Natl Endow Human

30.0

Fed Circuit Ct App

26.0

11th Circuit Ct App

25.0

3rd Circuit Ct of App

24.0

1st Circuit Ct of App

21.0

2nd Circuit Ct of App

20.0

7th Circuit Ct of App

20.0

8th Circuit Ct of App

20.0

10th Circuit Ct App

18.0

6th Circuit Ct of App

17.0

 

State-Federal Differences

 

Since we examine both state and federal government websites, we compare the two levels of government to see how each is faring. In general, federal sites are systematically ahead of the states.  For example, there are substantial differences in the area of citizen access to online databases.  Whereas 95 percent of federal government sites have databases, 87 percent of state sites do.  On electronic services, 77 percent of federal government sites offer some kind of services, compared to 55 percent of state sites.  The federal government also has made greater progress in the area of privacy (82 percent) compared to state government (62 percent).  Sixty-seven percent of federal sites have a visible, online security policy, compared to 46 percent of those in the states.

 

 

Federal Sites

State Sites

 

2002

2003

2004

2002

2003

2004

Database

90%

95%

95%

55%

79%

87%

Services

44

68

77

22

44

55

WC3 Disability Accessibility

--

47

42

--

33

37

Privacy Policy

76

75

82

42

53

62

Security Policy

54

62

67

33

36

46

Publications

100

100

100

93

98

98

Comment

14

52

33

10

23

29

Foreign Language

44

40

40

5

12

20

Email

90

93

93

80

90

93

Ads

0

2

0

0

1

9

User Fees

7

0

8

2

3

19

Premium Fees

0

0

10

1

0

4

Credit Cards

10

32

22

10

19

25

Email Updates

15

32

48

5

11

23

Website Personalization

5

5

7

2

2

3

PDA Access

--

0

2

--

1

1

 

Differences by Branch of Government

 

There are differences in e-government across branches of government.  Legislative sites have the greatest percentage of audio clips and video clips.  Executive sites are more likely to have privacy and security policies, and online services.    

 

 

Executiv

Legislative

Judicial

Publication

98%

97%

98%

Database

87

82

94

Audio Clip

13

46

16

Video Clip

19

34

16

Foreign Lang

22

6

18

Ads

8

4

5

Premium Fee

2

4

13

User Fees

19

1

14

Privacy

66

40

46

Security

49

24

27

WC3 Disability Access

36

34

40

Services

61

12

39

Digital Sign.

12

0

3

Credit Cards

25

3

16

Email

94

88

84

Comment

30

20

18

Updates

22

28

18

Personalization

2

6

0

PDA Access

1

5

0

 

Conclusions

 

To summarize, considerable progress has been made in placing services and information online.  But several areas exist in which states need to improve the quality and ease of use with their websites. One area is the way in which departments field online questions and receive feedback.  Sometimes, help features and email addresses are hidden in small font at the bottom of pages. This makes it more difficult to get help at the very time when websites are incorporating more complex applications on their sites.  

Some sites include feedback and question forms instead of an email address. This is certainly an improvement, as it is usually easier to find and allows users with no email capabilities to send feedback to a technician. However, these people still cannot receive responses without an address of their own, and as a result webpage forms are only more useful than address links for sending unidirectional feedback to the site.

One solution to this problem is to incorporate a help forum into the site, which would allow questions and responses to be publicly posted rather than sent to a mailbox. Not only would this allow people with no email capabilities to be included in the help process, but it allows questions and responses to be viewed by all people, such that frequent user problems need not be constantly attended to. Agencies would benefit from following the example of those who have incorporated a live help feature to their portal website. Chat room-style live dialogue with a technician is the most user-friendly way to address the questions and concerns of users.

            Another area that can be improved by many states is ease of navigation. Most people will come to state portal sites in search of specific services. It can be assumed that many of these individuals are not aware of which department or agency is responsible for the service they are looking for. Portal sites should be organized by services and needs, not according to bureaucratic hierarchy. Most portal sites now have a consolidated list of online services offered by all departments. This is an important first step in the restructuring of state websites. Several states, including several of the top ranked, now include a link to this list in a toolbar that exists on nearly all of the departmental pages. This single feature increases citizen usability by making it easy to access services from any point on the site. 

Agency sites should be organized in such a way that key constituent groups can access relevant features with ease. For example, a department of labor typically serves several groups: workers, employers, and job seekers. Tennessee’s Department of Labor website includes a page for each of these groups that incorporates information and links to services relevant to those specific groups. Following these guidelines improves navigation abilities and makes it easy to find relevant information targeted on particular visitors. 

 

Appendix

 

Table A-1  Overall State E-Govt Ratings, 2003 and 2004 (2003 ranking in parentheses)

Rank

State

Rating Out of 100 Pts

Rank

State

Rating Out of 100 Pts

1.(4)

Tennessee

56.5(41.4)

2.(25)

Maine

55.2(37.4)

3.(17)

Utah

54.6(38.1)

4.(8)

New York

53.6(40.5)

5.(11)

Illinois

51.0(39.7)

6.(1)

Massachusetts

51.0(46.3)

7.(3)

Indiana

46.0(42.4)

8.(4)

Texas

44.5(43)

9.(24)

Delaware

44.2(37.4)

10.(13)

New Jersey

41.3(39.6)

11.(5)

California

41.2(41.1)

12.(22)

Connecticut

40.3(37.9)

13.(9)

Florida

39.9(40.3)

14.(21)

Kansas

39.9(38)

15.(7)

Pennsylvania

39.3(40.5)

16.(37)

Arkansas

39.2(34)

17.(10)

Kentucky

39.0(40)

18.(15)

Arizona

38.8(39.1)

19.(34)

Oregon

38.6(34.9)

20.(26)

Ohio

38.5(37.4)

21.(28)

Louisiana

38.2(36.6)

22.(6)

Michigan

38.0(40.6)

23.(16)

Washington

37.8(38.6)

24.(19)

Virginia

37.7(38.1)

25.(31)

Georgia

36.9(35.8)

26.(23)

N. Hampshire

36.0(37.6)

27.(39)

Colorado

35.5(33.1)

28.(14)

S. Dakota

35.5(39.5)

29.(33)

Rhode Island

35.4(35.3)

30.(29)

N. Dakota

35.3(36.4)

31.(20)

N. Carolina

34.8(38)

32.(18)

Maryland

34.4(38.1)

33.(43)

Montana

34.1(32.7)

34.(27)

Minnesota

34.0(36.8)

35.(32)

Nevada

33.7(35.7)

36.(30)

Idaho

33.7(35.9)

37.(35)

Iowa

33.3(34.6)

38.(12)

Missouri

33.0(39.7)

39.(50)

Alaska

32.8(30.3)

40.(45)

Hawaii

32.3(32.1)

41.(44)

Vermont

31.3(32.3)

42.(42)

S. Carolina

30.6(32.7)

43.(36)

Wisconsin

30.0(34.2)

44.(46)

Alabama

29.9(31.9)

45.(38)

Oklahoma

29.8(33.2)

46.(49)

New Mexico

28.8(30.3)

47.(48)

Nebraska

28.5(31.3)

48.(40)

Wyoming

28.4(33)

49.(47)

Mississippi

26.8(31.5)

50.(41)

West Virginia

26.0(32.7)

 

 

 

 

 

Table A-2  Overall Federal Agency E-Govt Ratings, 2003 and 2004 (2003 ranking in parentheses)

 

Rank

Site

Rating Out of 100 Pts.

Rank

Site

Rating Out of 100 Pts.

1.(1)

FirstGov portal

88(84)

2.(3)

Soc Security Admin

65(69)

3.(21)

Dept of Education

61(51)

4.(2)

Fed Comm Com

60.0(73)

5.(11)

Dept of Agriculture

56(56)

6.(4)

Internal Revenue Serv

56(68)

7.(31)

Fed Reserve

54(45)

8.(13)

Gen Services Admin

54(56)

9.(6)

Postal Service

54(68)

10.(35)

House of Rep.

53(42)

11.(12)

Dept of Defense

52(56)

12.(9)

Housing/Urban Dev

52(62)

13.(33)

NASA

52(44)

14.(22)

Dept of Transportation

51(51)

15.(7)

Dept of Treasury

50(64)

16.(45)

Dept of Interior

50(36)

17.(25)

Dept of Energy

49(49)

18.(38)

Govt Printing

49(41)

19.(5)

Library of Congress

49(68)

20.(27)

Gen Account Office

48(47)

21.(53)

Natl Endow Arts

46(32)

22.(8)

Sec/Exchange Comm

46(64)

23.(28)

Veterans Affairs

46(47)

24.(30)

Cent Intelligence Ag

45(45)

25.(10)

Cons Product Safety

45(57)

26.(16)

Dept of State

45(54)

27.(20)

Health/Human Serv

45(52)

28.(14)

Natl Science Found

45(56)

29.(15)

Small Bus Admin

45(56)

30.(18)

White House

45(53)

31.(17)

Food Drug Admin

42(53)

32.(43)

Homeland Security

42(38)

33.(24)

Env Protect Agency

41(50)

34.(19)

Fed Trade Comm

41(52)

35.(32)

Cong Budget Office

40(44)

36.(42)

Natl Transp Safety

40(40)

37.(23)

Dept of Commerce

39(50)

38.(40)

Fed Deposit

39(40)

39.(39)

Dept of Justice

37(49)

40.(37)

Eq Employ Opp

37(41)

41.(59)

4th Circuit Ct Appeals

36(24)

42.(34)

Office Man Budget

36(44)

43.(46)

Senate

36(36)

44.(44)

Natl Labor Relations

35(38)

45.(36)

5th Circuit Ct Appeals

33(41)

46.(26)

Dept of Labor

33(49)

47.(29)

Fed Elect Comm

33(46)

48.(47)

Supreme Ct

33(36)

49.(48)

US Trade Rep

32(36)

50.(55)

9th Circuit Ct Appeals

30(29)

51.(41)

Natl Endow Human

30(40)

52.(51)

Fed Circuit Ct Appeals

26(33)

53.(49)

11th Circuit Ct Appeals

25(34)

54.(52)

3rd Circuit Ct Appeals

24(32)

55.(54)

1st Circuit Ct Appeals

21(29)

56.(57)

2nd Circuit Ct Appeals

20(25)

57.(56)

7th Circuit Ct Appeals

20(28)

58.(60)

8th Circuit Ct Appeals

20(24)

59.(50)

10th Circuit Ct Appeals

18(33)

60.(58)

6th Circuit Ct Appeals

17(25)

 

 

 

Table A-3  Number of State Website Quality Problems (based on random sample of 5,000 pages through state portal)

 

Broken Links

Broken Anchors

Missing Titles

Missing Keywords

Missing Descript

Warning Redirects

Missing Alt Text

Local File Links

AL

711

12

45

4,998

4,992

167

2,785

10

AK

1,534

116

202

3,000

3,040

1,172

2,572

16

AZ

949

261

234

3,686

3,623

2,968

2,721

98

AR

747

18

132

4,970

4,976

3,995

492

8

CA

149

43

353

1,557

1,351

2,651

1,525

0

CO

1,903

166

794

4,141

4,601

925

1,900

23

CT

409

111

195

3,740

3,606

2,385

1,371

3

DE

1,356

148

93

3,186

2,479

2,209

1,423

97

FL

1,172

204

1,070

2,535

2,300

9,226

1,355

3

GA

169

42

46

76

4,999

907

1,659

0

HI

2,174

121

92

4,508

4,587

1,567

2,905

68

ID

1,855

131

211

4,338

4,251

1,102

1,766

75

IL

447

4,218

57

4,323

1,687

459

3,626

1

IN

1,539

119

142

4,716

3,522

2,979

3,208

32

IA

1,284

112

208

4,456

4,445

1,755

2,447

50

KS

2,016

239

207

3,939

3,771

1,861

1,586

21

KY

847

1,046

111

3,106

2,611

2,909

1,292

2

LA

52

1

58

4,878

4,655

380

4,906

0

ME

2,188

265

169

4,383

4,720

697

1,333

26

MD

1,072

463

287

4,230

4,276

1,131

1,329

3

MA

2,245

311

197

4,242

3,571

5,373

2,307

32

MI

2,757

261

235

1,710

1,343

919

1,173

2

MN

1,469

369

372

4,607

3,417

4,953

1,171

9

MS

25

4

3

5,001

4,977

112

42

0

MO

650

687

74

4,305

4,255

5,212

1,786

106

MT

473

2,087

362

3,881

3,726

2,184

3,229

4

NE

1,225

134

44

3,883

3,835

799

1,620

19

NV

1,949

118

261

4,107

4,301

2,464

1,240

15

NH

660

429

66

3,201

3,138

666

1,277

80

NJ

1,696

172

382

4,410

4,409

884

3,127

133

NM

55

32

1

4,979

4,892

180

4,886

0

NY

476

87

140

2,043

2,351

4,340

2,001

10

NC

974

70

91

2,870

2,036

3,627

3,202

6

ND

520

295

14

731

638

658

330

2

OH

513

42

10

784

4,836

1,051

4,108

23

OK

819

1,305

45

3,497

3,089

733

2,056

28

OR

542

53

20

4,178

3,639

1,992

2,674

4

PA

406

539

5

4,817

146

24,164

0

0

RI

2,340

58

25

4,952

4,958

3,164

1,787

8

SC

721

355

268

3,872

3,723

2,889

3,156

23

SD

433

979

75

1,349

1,997

805

1,000

14

TN

1,537

488

71

3,566

3,155

1,541

2,327

73

TX

1,054

67

110

3,510

3,167

1,006

2,248

8

UT

515

17

413

4,463

4,388

1,812

2,249

6

VT

1,448

50

191

1,339

1,328

894

1,039

10

VA

901

94

554

4,873

4,680

969

3,204

45

WA

491

253

63

2,822

2,797

1,901

2,406

16

WV

1,174

92

278

4,951

4,947

629

2,386

11

WI

1,029

91

41

3,234

3,059

4,219

1,783

4

WY

1,222

20

53

4,648

4,602

876

1,391

0

 

 

 

 

 

Table A-4  Individual State/Fed Profiles for Publications, Databases, Foreign Language, and Services, 2004 

 

Pubs

Data

Audio

Video

For Lang

PDA

Has Services

User Fees

AK

94%

85%

24%

33%

15%

0%

52%

6%

AL

100

97

19

19

16

0

47

19

AR

90

83

21

24

14

3

59

14

AZ

100

88

6

31

47

0

69

13

CA

100

78

22

34

59

6

56

9

CO

100

77

26

32

42

3

55

16

CT

96

85

23

35

42

0

73

0

DE

100

84

19

23

58

0

68

6

FL

100

87

35

55

29

0

68

10

GA

94

77

29

45

26

3

55

10

HI

100

82

12

29

0

0

56

26

IA

100

80

37

17

30

0

60

10

ID

93

83

17

33

20

0

67

3

IL

97

94

47

53

44

0

81

13

IN

100

90

26

48

58

0

68

10

KS

100

94

39

19

23

13

52

13

KY

100

91

34

26

17

0

46

14

LA

97

90

61

55

6

3

65

16

MA

100

88

0

6

3

0

73

58

MD

100

97

13

16

23

0

45

23

ME

100

97

9

13

9

0

75

72

MI

100

90

7

13

0

0

57

27

MN

91

94

16

19

13

0

38

19

MO

97

97

13

13

13

0

52

16

MS

90

77

0

16

6

0

29

13

MT

97

93

0

3

0

0

53

33

NC

100

94

13

3

26

0

42

19

ND

100

88

28

19

0

0

41

13

NE

100

93

3

7

7

0

34

14

NH

97

87

10

0

3

0

32

19

NJ

100

97

13

23

13

0

53

23

NM

100

97

3

10

26

0

42

19

NV

100

93

3

13

43

0

37

20

NY

100

94

13

10

29

0

81

77

OH

100

100

13

22

6

0

59

31

OK

100

90

20

3

10

0

53

10

OR

100

100

17

13

30

0

50

20

PA

97

97

9

19

16

0

63

22

RI

100

67

17

13

23

0

57

3

SC

100

65

10

13

6

0

35

6

SD

100

80

20

10

0

0

47

3

TN

97

90

16

23

13

0

77

74

TX

100

97

30

30

64

6

67

21

US

100

95

32

35

40

2

77

8

UT

100

100

6

11

6

0

77

71

VA

96

85

0

4

33

4

67

0

VT

100

63

6

3

6

0

69

0

WA

100

84

3

28

31

13

63

6

WI

89

65

16

14

19

0

46

14

WV

87

67

0

10

0

0

63

0

WY

95

83

5

5

0

0

18

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table A-5  Individual State/Fed Profiles for Disability Access, Privacy, and Security, 2004

 

Email

Comment

Update

Personalization

Disabil

Privacy

Security

Ave Numb of DisabError

 

AK

94%

12%

18%

3%

27%

27%

9%

9.2

 

AL

91

9

16

0

25

28

16

15.4

 

AR

90

28

34

10

38

83

79

2.3

 

AZ

91

44

19

0

28

88

72

10.2

 

CA

88

34

34

3

34

88

78

6.5

 

CO

100

16

23

6

52

71

45

14.7

 

CT

100

27

35

4

58

77

69

3.5

 

DE

100

19

39

3

42

77

58

4.8