Feds' Web site gets Web 2.0 makeover

Following WhiteHouse.gov's lead, USA.gov upgrade adds RSS feeds and widgets

Taking a cue from the updated WhiteHouse.gov Web site, the federal government has gone Web 2.0 with is own site.

The General Services Administration announced that it has delivered on a promise to use Web 2.0 technology to give citizens electronic access to government information. The USA.gov Web site now is offering a governmentwide news feed service and a gallery of gadget applications.

"Using these Web 2.0 tools is a huge opportunity for government to be transparent and save valuable tax dollars," said Beverly Godwin, director of USA.gov, in a statement. "Tools such as RSS feeds and gadgets allow the public to directly access content from the original source, no matter which Web site they're on. It reduces duplication across government, because an agency creates content once and makes it available for reuse by others."

Last week, users got their first view of the changes on the WhiteHouse.gov Web site when it went live during President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony. The Web site not only switched over to represent the Obama administration, it also was updated with a new design that focused on new media.

For example, the White House site now has a feature called The Briefing Room, where users can read the latest White House blog posts and even sign up for e-mail news updates.

Additions to the USA.gov Web site include the Government News Aggregator, which is designed to use RSS feeds to deliver news and information from across the federal government. People can subscribe to RSS news feeds, which are based on NewsGator technology, on a variety of topics, including agriculture, economics, recalls, foreign affairs and science and technology.

Another new tool on the updated USA.gov Web site is the Government Gadget Gallery, which features a collection of gadgets or widgets that are created by experts from across government. The gadgets are online tools that can be embedded in individual home pages and blogs. One, for instance, is the Food and Drug Administration's drug finder widget, which is designed to help people search for specific information about medications. Other widgets include one that delivers an environmental tip of the day and another from the FBI that updates information on predators and missing persons, according to the GSA.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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