At a recent Brookings Institution panel, US CTO Aneesh Chopra acknowledged that “While our culture celebrates that ‘there’s an app for that’, in Washington we still reside in a culture where…“there’s a form for that.” Last week, the GSA made strides towards improving civilian engagement with bureaucracy with the release of its newly revamped one-stop shop for all things government. The USA.gov site now provides a sleek new portal for users to easily access some 10,000 online government services and websites. Plugged with the tagline, “Government made easy”, the site — powered by Bing and Microsoft Enterprise Search — combines speed and simplicity to achieve a user experience that is superior to that of its predecessors.
The site’s homepage includes links to popular searches (topping today’s list: Lottery Results, Unemployment Extension and Passport Renewal, which leads me to suspect the nation’s masses are winning jackpot millions, quitting their jobs and touring the world) as well as indexes that allow users to search topics by local, state or federal government. Best of all, the main search is far more specific and helpful in accessing government services than a Google search: Looking up “Birth Certificates” on USA.gov will lead you to a Vital Records Homepage, whereas a Google search of the same thing yields a heap of sponsored links to dubiously rated 3rd party service sites.
In addition to improving search processes, the new site showcases 17 new government mobile apps; among them, a Product Recall App that allows consumers can search products for recalls and safety concerns, an Alternative Fuel Locator App and an EPA App that send users alerts on local UV index and air quality ratings. As yet, the site does not include 3rd party apps, but US CIO Vivek Kundra has said the agency is considering these for inclusion in the future. Currently, over 110 additional government apps are currently in development for the site.
For more information about the site and its features, check out these recent stories from the scoop.
USA.gov gets an Overhaul (Federal Times)
The New USA.gov: Enhanced Search, Mobile Applications, Easier to Use (Federal Computer Week)