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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.
Type of site
Spanish at GobiernoUSA.gov
|Alexa rank||6,252 (April 2014[update])|
|Launched||September 22, 2000|
USA.gov is part of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies in the General Services Administration (GSA), and includes the Spanish-language web portal to US government services, GobiernoUSA.gov (formerly espanol.gov). The portals, which are funded by US taxpayers and are offered as a public service, are a member of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies' family of websites that also includes Publications.USA.gov, Kids.gov, and HowTo.gov (formerly WebContent.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 when new content is added to the site's most popular pages. The pages' subjects range from benefits, seniors, and Internet fraud to hurricane recovery, the arts, and parents.
Frequently Asked Questions databaseEdit
USA.gov's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) database contains thousands of answers to the questions the public asks most via USA.gov or the contact center at 1 (800) FED-INFO. For more than 30 years, the contact center has been a source for answers to questions about consumer problems and government services.
If visitors still cannot find the government information they are looking for, they can call 1 (800) FED-INFO, e-mail USA.gov through the "Contact Us" link on USA.gov (e-mail inquiries receive a response within two business days), or get help through a live web chat service.
USA.gov offers an index of more than 10,000 links to official government information. The index is categorized by services and common topics, and can be accessed through five audience gateways: Businesses and Nonprofits, Citizens, Federal Employees, Government to Government (for state, local, and tribal governments), and Visitors to the U.S.
The index 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, e-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, where service representatives can answer website visitors' questions about federal agencies, programs, benefits, or services.
The USA.gov mobile apps gallery features:
- Department of State’s America.gov mobile and U.S. embassy locator
- Environmental Protection Agency’s EPA Mobile app and ultraviolet index
- FBI Most Wanted List
- Federal Emergency Management Agency mobile
- NASA app
- National Institutes of Health’s mobile MedlinePlus and body mass index calculator
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s alternative fuel station locator and FuelEconomy.gov
- Product recalls
- U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Food-a-Pedia
- U.S. Postal Service tools
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration's MyTSA app
- USA.gov Mobile
- Veterans Affairs mobile
USA.gov's performance dashboards allow the public to take a closer look into the details of government performance by tracking tax dollars, proposed agency rules, federal information technology investments, Medicare fraud prevention efforts, and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds.
USA.gov offers RSS feeds to help the public stay up to date on useful government information. "USA.gov Updates: News and Features" announces the new content added to the USA.gov website, while "RSS de GobiernoUSA.gov: News and Updates" announces the new content added to the GobiernoUSA.gov website. "Popular Government Questions from USA.gov" features the most popular questions and answers related to the U.S. government from USA.gov's frequently asked questions database. Website visitors can sign up for USA.gov RSS feeds, the GobiernoUSA.gov feed or visit USA.gov's RSS library for other government RSS feeds.
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. Search engine results are provided by Bing but managed technically and editorially in-house. 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.USA.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, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube 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 following go.USA.gov/ which redirects the user to the longer .gov URL stored in the system.
A part of USA.gov, GobiernoUSA.gov 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.
GobiernoUSA.gov features more than 900 external links and provides access to more than 125,000 Government pages in Spanish. Although most of the resources are federal, the site also links to Spanish-language content provided by 42 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, e-mail their questions and receive responses in Spanish, or call 1 (800) FED-INFO for help in Spanish and English. Spanish-speaking visitors can sign up for e-mail alerts in Spanish to let them know when new content is added to GobiernoUSA.gov. The website also offers information on the same topic in both English and Spanish by simply clicking on a toggle button.
Web best practicesEdit
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 CouncilEdit
Interagency Committee on Government InformationEdit
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 initiativesEdit
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 websitesEdit
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.
GobiernoUSA.gov 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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