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Ten Great Government Web Sites

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Joab Jackson at Government Computer News has, for the second year in a row, pulled together a compendium of 10 government Web sites that he says are embracing both social networking tools and transparency. (He produced his first list last August). This year's list includes sites that embrace the Web's full potential, Jackson writes, and they can offer ideas for other agencies seeking to improve their own sites.

Governmental agencies have realized that a Web presence is essential, since most citizens are now beginning to interact with government online. "By and large, agencies have responded to that demand by creating richer, more interactive sites," Jackson wrote. He quotes Sheila Campbell, co-chair of the Federal Web Managers Council, saying agencies are starting to see that they need to social media revolution and its larger information ecosystem. "Managing the Web isn't just managing the Web site. It means putting the content out where people are on the Web."

Making Jackson's list are:

Data.gov for fundamentally shifting how government interacts with the Web.

Forge.mil which provides an online meeting place for military agencies to build software in a collaborative fashion.

San Francisco's Trasit.511.org combines the schedules of dozens of subway, light-rail, trolley and bus systems to provide a one-stop shop that can help users plan a route from doorstep to doorstep.

The State Department's State.gov for using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other social media tools to get the word out about the agency's activities.

Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System offers public access to documents from all three branches of government through a single portal. "It is a Web site of sweeping scope," Jackson writes.

The State of Utah's Web site for pulling off what "is perhaps the most amazing trick of all: not looking like a state-run Web site."

Science.gov, out of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information within the Energy Department, presents information and makes it accessible by subject matter rather than by the office or agency that generated the information.

The U.S. Postal Service's site for making it possible to do online about 80 percent of everything you can do by taking a trip to the post office.

The Department of Health and Human Services' two sites Women's Health/Girl's Health that uses plain, easy-to-understand language, to address more than 800 topics related to women's health, such as fitness, nutrition, breastfeeding, pregnancy and reproductive health.

Federal Web Managers Council's WebContent.gov provides most of the information Web managers need to bring "uniformity and quiet sophistication" for federal Web sites.

It's highly encouraging to see government agencies responding to the public's demand for more helpful and easy-to-use online tools.