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Fed Faces Don't Satisfy the Public

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By Melanie Bender October 30, 2009

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When ForeSee Results released its third-quarter e-government satisfaction scores this week, the big news was that public satisfaction with federal Web sites had reached a record high.

Eight federal portals/department main pages received superior satisfaction scores -- that of an 80 or above during the third quarter of 2009. And as I checked each site out, I noticed something I thought was interesting:

Not one of them featured a top agency official's face prominently on the homepage.

The prominence of photographs of officials on government Web sites is something I've felt forced to pay attention to since reading Gerry McGovern's sharp commentary on the role of government Web sites last year. McGovern likens using the face of an official prominently on a government Web site to North Korean propaganda. Like I said, sharp commentary.

He also says:

"The Department 'welcomes, launches, improves, exceeds, excels, is celebrating its anniversary, and on and on and on.' It's all about them. Giving control of a Web site to a government communicator is like giving a pub to an alcoholic."

Really sharp commentary.

But, in the case of the Peace Corps, NASA, GobiernoUSA.gov, the FBI, the National Parks Service, Cancer.gov, the CDC and NIAMS' public site, nary an official head appears (in NASA's case, at least not until the footer of the site) on the homepage. It's not all about them. They make their entry points all about the user and the information the user wants -- not about themselves or what they are doing.

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