Innovation in American E-Government: FirstGov.gov: The Sole Federal Agency Winner of the Prestigious Innovations in American Government Award for 2002 Offers Is an Organizational Model for Individual Federal, State, and Local Web Sites to Learn from and Adopt

By McGinnis, Patricia | The Public Manager, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Innovation in American E-Government: FirstGov.gov: The Sole Federal Agency Winner of the Prestigious Innovations in American Government Award for 2002 Offers Is an Organizational Model for Individual Federal, State, and Local Web Sites to Learn from and Adopt


McGinnis, Patricia, The Public Manager


Think about it. Until two and a half years ago, Internet users needing to get information from government or do business with it had hundreds of federal Web sites at their disposal. But there was no one-stop way to search all of them. There were millions of federal (and state and local) Web pages out there. But the problem was the same--too much information and no easy way to find it.

Beyond these technical problems, people lacked knowledge of what government offers. The federal establishment was a mass of unconnected stovepipes, not focused on the needs of citizens. Channels for the public's engagement with government were inadequate.

True, some federal government Web portals did exist. But none of them organized federal Web sites in a user-friendly way. Even the best of them were built on the mind-boggling flow charts of governmental chains of command. None had search engines that reached all of government. None was written in plain English. Alternatively, one could try one of the commercial search engines. But they came nowhere close to being able to search government wall-to-wall.

Enter FirstGov.gov

And then, in September 2000, came FirstGov.gov. Today this official online portal offers entry to all--repeat, all--federal government transactions, services, and information, plus links to state and local governments. It brings the public sector to people's computers--which is not so much a technological as an organizational feat. It is a citizen-centered facility structured by topics and audiences across agency lines and committed to public interaction. It aims to put users where they want to be in just three mouse clicks.

FirstGov, which this year won an Innovations in American Government award, enables people to find their way around online government without having to be familiar with agency functions or plow through layers of bureaucracy. It can search 500 million documents--180 million Web pages on 20,000 sites--in the blink of an eye and handle millions of such searches every day. It offers an always-current directory of reliable government services and information by category with direct links to government agencies where those services can be found. President Bush envisioned it as government's front door.

American Citizens

That's what it has become. Through FirstGov, individual Americans can file their taxes, find jobs, investigate and compare health care options, register new addresses with the post office, read and comment on proposed government regulations, buy coins or savings bonds, and apply for Social Security benefits or a student loan. They can get passport applications or copies of their birth certificates, file patents, find data on hearing aids, and renew their licenses to drive or practice medicine. FirstGov allows them to contact members of Congress, connect with state and local governments, and register ideas and complaints. In short, Americans can inform themselves or transact business in these and a hundred and one other ways important to their businesses, their health, their families, and their lives.

Businesses

Businesses can use FirstGov to identify the laws and regulations that apply to their activities, learn how to sell their products and services to government, report wage earnings, and file corporate taxes. Federal employees can discover training opportunities, manage payrolls, find agency directories, check civil service rules, and study the Web sites of other agencies they deal with. State and city workers can plug into intergovernmental networks for information about grants, disasters, and health benefits. The same is true for tribal governments concerning land use, education, and housing. Those are just a few examples among thousands. And the range is quite wide.

"What in the world is the federal government doing auctioning banana juice, a bear head, and a baby Jesus figurine?" the Washington Post wondered not long ago. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Innovation in American E-Government: FirstGov.gov: The Sole Federal Agency Winner of the Prestigious Innovations in American Government Award for 2002 Offers Is an Organizational Model for Individual Federal, State, and Local Web Sites to Learn from and Adopt
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.