Federal websites that work

Obama’s election has raised interest in ways the government can use the Web to make itself more accountable to citizens. Jim Guest, the president of Consumers Union, has just pointed to a few federal websites that “just work.”

* Medlineplus.gov, the National Library of Medicine’s website, provides medical information and a searchable databse of clinical trials.
* FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) has searchable information on the safety of different types of accounts. Guest recommends beginning by typing “insured or uninsured?” into the site’s search box.
* EPA has two useful sites related to cars: www.epa.gov/greenvehicles compares vehicle emissions and environmental impact, and safercar.gov covers all things related to vehicle safety. Users can get bulletins on potential problems with a vehicle, and parents can register their child’s car seat model to get instant notification of a recall.
* GAO.gov, the Government Accountability Office website, is the widest ranging of these sites, with reports and data on shortcomings in the federal government’s performance. Guest says it’s for everyone who has “ever wondered whether anyone in government is paying attention.” He recommends doing a search on “food safety” for an example of what the site has to offer.

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