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Type of site
Spanish at USA.gov/espanol
|Alexa rank||6,252 (April 2014[update])|
|Launched||September 22, 2000|
USA.gov is the official web portal of the United States federal government. It is designed to improve the public's interaction with the US government by quickly directing website visitors to the services or information they are seeking, and by inviting the public to share ideas to improve government. USA.gov links to every federal agency and to state, local, and tribal governments, and is the most comprehensive site in—and about—the US government. While the primary target audience of USA.gov is the American public, about 25 percent of USA.gov's visitors come from outside the United States.
USA.gov is part of the Technology and Transformation Services in the General Services Administration (GSA), and includes the Spanish-language web portal to US government services, USAGOV en Español (formerly GobiernoUSA.gov).
USA.gov began in 2000 when Internet entrepreneur Eric Brewer, whose early research in parallel computing was funded by the United States Department of Defense, offered to donate a powerful search engine to the government. That donation helped accelerate the government's earlier work to create a government-wide portal. In June 2000, President Clinton announced the gift from the Federal Search Foundation, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Brewer and fellow entrepreneur David Binetti, and instructed that the portal be launched in 90 days.
FirstGov.gov was launched 87 days later on September 22, 2000, during the first-ever webcast originating from the White House Oval Office. GSA and 22 Federal agencies funded the initiative in 2001 and 2002. Since 2002, USA.gov has received an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress.
The name FirstGov.gov was changed in 2007 to USA.gov, in response to user suggestions and telephone surveys.
On July 2, 2010, USA.gov revamped the website to improve user access to citizen services through new mobile applications for on-the-go instant access; public engagement platforms; and the fastest, most comprehensive search function for government information.
USA.gov helps visitors find federal information in several ways, detailed below. Additionally, USA.gov invites the public to share feedback on apps they would find useful by using government information available on Data.gov and USAspending.gov, and to share ideas to improve government through public dialogues and government contests.
Visitors to USA.gov can sign up for free e-mail alerts in both English and Spanish, to learn about popular government topics and important services and benefits. The pages' subjects range from benefits, scams, and fraud, and contacting elected officials to hurricane recovery, travel, and jobs.
USAGov Contact Center
For more than 30 years, the contact center has been a source for answers to questions about consumer problems and government services.
If visitors cannot find the government information they are looking for online, they can call 1-844-USAGOV1, or get help through a live web chat service.
USA.gov links to diverse, useful, and timely citizen-centered government information and services that can help website visitors apply for a government job, register to vote, file their taxes, find government benefits, reserve a campsite at a national park, prepare for disasters, shop at government auctions, learn about visiting the United States, or report an unsafe product, among many other activities.
The site's policy is to link to websites of the federal government, quasi-government agencies, and those created by public sector/private sector partnerships; state and local governments; and recognized Indian tribes. In rare instances, the sites link to websites that are not government-owned or government-sponsored if these websites provide government information and/or services in a way that is not available on an official government website.
USA.gov offers live chat in English and Spanish, where service representatives can answer website visitors' questions about federal agencies, programs, benefits, or services.
USA.gov's search engine supports transparency of government information by providing access to government web pages from U.S. federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. The portal features state-of-the-art navigation aids and high-interest, agency-produced databases such as frequently asked questions, government forms, recalls, and government images. Search.USA.gov is also available on its mobile service. In addition, any U.S. government agency can apply through the USA Services Affiliate Program to install the Search.gov search capability on its own pages, thus allowing agencies at all levels to provide website searching for their own users.
USA.gov uses Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and Instagram to distribute timely official U.S. government information and emergency information, announce official government events and observances, share official government photos and videos, and gather feedback from the public.
A URL shortening service, go.USA.gov, is available to users that have a .gov email address (only .gov URLs may be submitted for shortening through this service). The service will generate a random URL following go.USA.gov/ which redirects the user to the longer .gov URL stored in the system.
USAGov en Español
A part of USA.gov, USAGov en Español pulls together all of the U.S. government's Spanish-language websites and makes them easily accessible to the public in one central location. The site, which was developed by Spanish speakers, represents an outreach effort to some 43 million Americans who report speaking Spanish at home.
Although most of the resources shared on USAGov en Español are federal, the site also links to Spanish-language content provided by states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and local government websites.
Web visitors also can search all federal and state web pages for Spanish content through the site's search engine, call 1-844USAGOV1 for help in Spanish and English or chat with a representative online. Spanish-speaking visitors can sign up for e-mail alerts in Spanish to let them know about important benefits and services. The website also offers information on the same topic in both English and Spanish by simply clicking on a toggle button.
Web best practices
USA.gov actively promotes best practices within the government web manager community to improve the overall quality of U.S. federal websites as well as public access to government information.
Federal Web Managers Council
Interagency Committee on Government Information
USA.gov has a leadership role on the Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI), formed to meet requirements of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-347, 44 U.S.C. Ch 36). The ICGI drafts recommendations and shares effective practices for federal government information access, dissemination, and retention.
Crisis response initiatives
USA.gov is a critical destination for information during national disasters. After the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States, USA.gov became a major tool for the U.S. government to provide the most accurate, timely, and comprehensive information, resources, and government services available during that crisis.
Several years later, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, USA.gov participated in efforts led by the Department of Homeland Security and worked with over 20 federal agencies to develop guidance to communicate response information related to the storm and its aftermath. Agencies were encouraged to coordinate web information to avoid duplication and inconsistencies so the public could quickly and easily find critical information.
Categories identified during Katrina matched information people would be looking for in "any" disaster, whether natural or man-made. The federal web community can now re-use a good deal of the content developed in response to the hurricane crisis, to enable them to be even better prepared when the next disaster occurs.
Model to other government websites
USA.gov serves as a model for other government websites and adheres to all requirements and guidelines for federal websites, including those established by the E-Government Act of 2002, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Policies for Federal Public Websites, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding website accessibility. The site also follows requirements of the Privacy Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act, and other privacy and security requirements.
USA.gov has won numerous awards and media endorsements, including:
- Listing among the "Best of..." by Money Magazine, "Favorite Places on the Web" by the Chicago Sun Times, "Hot Sites" by USATODAY.com, "Top 100 Classic Sites" by PC Magazine, and Time Magazine's 2007 "Top 25 Sites We Can't Live Without."
- It also has won "#1 Federal Government Website—Comparing Technology Innovation in the Private and Public Sectors," by the Brookings Institution; "#1 in Global E-Government Readiness" in the United Nations' Global E-Government Readiness Report 2005; "#1 in Overall Federal e-Government" by Brown University's Taubman Center for Public Policy; and the "Innovations in American Government Award" by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
USAGov en Español was named a finalist for the Arroba de oro, ("the golden @"), has won the Web Content Managers' "Best Practices" award, and consistently scores among the highest in government or private sectors in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
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