Government in America is practically a force of nature, an endless blizzard of power, information, giving and receiving, with effect upon nearly every human and commercial interaction in the universe and every square inch of the earth.
The $2,500 USA.gov video challenge
If only there were some enormous, centralized clearinghouse of public information, with answers to questions and descriptions of what out federal and state governments are doing!
It turns out there is such a thing: USA.gov.
Yes, it's like a highly focused and relevant version of Google, but linking only to useful government Websites and not to robot content aggregators, ad sites, or excessively outdated information.
In fact, the site is challenging users with a video contest: Users are asked to submit a video about the benefits of the Website-how it helped a user get a job, or answer questions, on taxes, student loans, Social Security, travel, whatever.
The winner will get a $2,500 prize and get the winning video features on the site and its YouTube channel. The contest runs from Feb. 22 to April 2. Videos will be judged on message, entertainment value and creativity. Complete information is at www.usa.gov/contest.
And a look at the site shows its usefulness. Content is divided on the home page into 14 main categories, plus numerous sub-categories. The search engine gets focused results--a search for "2010 Winter Games" found the Washington State Emergency Services Division and Department of Transportation home pages, along with information on required travel documents, for example. "Diabetes" leads to pages from the National Institutes for Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
This turns out to be a useful tool for tracking other things, like finding out what's happening with a certain company or issue across jurisdictions and in different contexts, although the inconsistent nature of the many state and local Websites brings some scattershot results.
The site includes more than 100 tasks that can be performed online (applying for student loan, bidding at a government auction, renewing a driver's license, for example) and also searches for images, maps and news.
So, for all this, including a contest to engage the public, USA.gov is the Government Video Website of the Week!
Read more about the FTC's video efforts and distribution network in the March issue of Government Video. Got a great government Website? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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