Photo: Governor Patrick

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Web site was recently named one of the nation's 10 best government Web sites by a national non-profit research group citing the site's user-friendly features and depth of information available to the public.

In its annual report on state and federal government technology -- State and Federal Electronic Government in the United States, 2008, the Brookings Institution ranked mass.gov fifth in the country, up one spot from the previous year.

That report noted the importance of consistency within a government Web site, singling out Mass.gov as an example. "States that had Web sites that were completely inconsistent from one agency to the next were harder to navigate, because each site seemed like an independent entity," the report stated. "Sites that were consistently formatted, however, were much easier to use because one knew where to find certain links with the prior knowledge of their relative locations on other state sites. For example, many Massachusetts state sites had consistent types of links on the top, left, right and bottom of each page, allowing for very straightforward navigation."

"The Patrick-Murray Administration has made transparency and civic engagement top priorities, and I am so pleased that the work of our team is paying off, making state government more accessible to all those seeking information," said Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie A. Kirwan, who oversees the Information Technology Division (ITD).

ITD has been working with Governor Deval Patrick's office to consolidate more than 100 individual agency Web sites into one top-level portal, and a handful of topic based sites that make information easily available to residents, businesses, municipalities, employees and visitors.

Prior to the consolidation, many agencies had numerous websites with varying content and design quality. For example, Health and Human Services had 17 separate Web sites. Today, there is one Health & Human Services site. Its content is organized by constituency and topic (not by agency) and related content from multiple agencies is integrated. Context-sensitive side modules, such as news, online services and publications, provide easy access to additional related content.

"Mass.Gov is more than a Web publishing platform, it is a community. We would not be where we are today without strong buy-in and participation from our customers," said Mass.gov Director Susan Parker.